Take Note

Fridays at 12:00 p.m. and Sundays at 7:00 a.m.

Listen to conversations about issues that matter. WPSU’s weekly community affairs radio program features in-depth interviews with central Pennsylvania newsmakers.

Subscribe to the Take Note podcast.

(Transcripts available upon request.)

Portrait of Aimee Burns
Photo courtesy of Aimee Burns

More people have felt anxious and isolated during the pandemic. At the same time, mental health services have been harder to access.


Aimee Burns, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness in Blair County, talked with WPSU's Min Xian about COVID-19’s impacts on the mental health care system and shared her personal story of living with mental illness.


Here’s their interview:

Min Xian: Welcome to Take Note on WPSU. I’m Min Xian.

Courtesy of Nyla Holland

On this episode of Take Note, we talk with Nyla Holland, an active member of the 3/20 Coalition in State College and the former president of Penn State's Black Caucus. She spent her four years at Penn State as an activist at the university and the local community. In the fall, she will continue her education at Penn State in pursuit of a master's degree in public policy where she'll continue as an activist.

Here is the interview:

Scott Weidensaul holding a snowy owl
Chris DeSorbo

Scott Weidensaul is a naturalist and writer, the author of about 30 books, including one out in March of this year, “A World on the Wing: The Global Odyssey of Migratory Birds.” In the book, Weidensaul takes readers across the word to see the incredible feats of migrating birds. We learn that some birds travel thousands of miles at a time and many of them make those treks in the darkness of night. Weidensaul also writes about the added challenges birds are facing from loss of habitat and climate change.

The pandemic has been challenging for many artists. On this episode of Take Note we talked with Joy Ike, a full time singer-songwriter from Philadelphia, about how she's made music during quarantine.

For just over a decade, Joy has been traveling the country doing house concerts and performing in festivals. But during shutdowns, Joy had to adapt to creating music in a new way. That included producing a whole song and music video from her apartment.

And now, she is helping other artists grow.  

Check out her music here.

“But what about me?”—that’s common pushback around movements that focus on the rights of specific marginalized populations like Black Lives Matter and Stop Asian Hate. Karen Armstrong, director of Inclusion, Equity, and Diversity at Penn State Outreach and Online Education, talks with WPSU's Lindsey Whissel Fenton about why this type of activism elicits such strong reactions and the fallacy that supporting the rights of one group takes away from another. 

For Penn State diversity resources, click here

Psychologist Guy Winch is a leading advocate for integrating the science of emotional health into our daily lives. He’s written several books, including How to Fix a Broken Heart. Winch talked with WPSU's Lindsey Whissel Fenton about the disenfranchised grief experiences of romantic heartbreak and the death of a beloved pet and about what we can do for ourselves and for each other during these experiences.    

To watch Guy's Ted Talk How to Fix a Broken Heart, click here

Joshua Yospyn

Dr. Michael E. Mann is distinguished professor of atmospheric science at Penn State and director of the Penn State Earth System Science Center. He is recognized around the world as a leading expert on climate change. His latest book is “The New Climate War: The Fight to Take Back Our Planet,” published by Hachette. WPSU’s Kristine Allen talked with Michael Mann about tactics used by climate change deniers, what needs to be done about the climate crisis, and why he's optimistic about tackling climate change.



On this Take Note, we hear about the Colored Conventions Project. For much of the 19th Century, African Americans gathered in cities across the United States to participate in state and national-level political meetings that went far beyond slavery and conventional racial narratives to discuss education, labor, and what true equal citizenship would look like.

Courtesy Gary Abdullah

Lydia and Gary Abdullah are longtime State College residents who met at Penn State in the early 1970s. They talked with WPSU's Cheraine Stanford about the evolution of their relationship and what’s made their marriage work for more than four decades.

Here is the interview.

Cheraine Stanford 

Ben Locke
Courtesy of Ben Locke

On this episode of Take Note, we talk with Ben Locke, the director of Penn State's Counseling and Psycological Services and the director of the Center for Collegiate Mental Health at Penn State. He founded the Center in 2005 and began leading the process of conducting an annual reporter of mental health services for colleges across the U.S. in 2008.

Here is the interview:

Courtesy Ola Ojewumi

On this week's Take Note, Ola Ojewumi talks with WPSU's Cheraine Stanford. Ola is a public speaker, patient advocate and mentor. A double transplant and cancer survivor, Ola graduated from the University of Maryland College Park with a bachelor's degree in government and politics. As a student, she founded two nonprofits that distribute toys and books to children awaiting organ transplants, provide scholarships to low-income students, and funding for women's education programs. She's an outspoken advocate for the rights of people with disabilities.

Here is the interview: 

Larry Krasner
Larry Krasner

On this Take Note, we’re going to hear an interview with Philadelphia district attorney Larry Krasner.


Before he was elected to be Philadelphia’s chief prosecutor in 2017, Krasner was a criminal defense attorney specializing in civil rights. He was elected on the promise he’d reform the criminal justice system from within and reduce incarceration.


Head shots of State College mayoral candidates Ezra Nanes and Jim Leous
Photos provided

Two Democrats — and no Republicans — are on the ballot in this year’s primary race for State College mayor. Ezra Nanes is director of business development at AccuWeather. He previously ran for state Senate and tried for a seat on the State College Borough Council, and he's a member of the Centre County Democratic Committee. Jim Leous leads the emerging technologies group for Penn State's Information Technology Services. He’s also a member of the State College Area school board and adviser to the Penn State College Democrats.

As an End-of-Life Doula, Oceana Sawyer helps people die in a context of love, grace, and beauty. She draws upon her training in expressive arts, meditation practices, and integral counseling psychology, among other things, to help her clients create a conscious—even pleasurable—death experience. Oceana talked with us about what it means to be an End-of-Life doula, her own experiences with death and grief that led her to this vocation, and how we can learn to die as consciously as we live.

Kidada Williams
Kidada Williams

Today we’re going to hear the untold stories of Black Americans during the Reconstruction era that followed the Civil War.

The podcast “Seizing Freedom” draws from historical records of formerly enslaved people who fought for the everyday freedoms many of us now take for granted.

Our guest is the host and producer of the podcast, Kidada Williams. Williams is an associate professor of history at Wayne State University.

Deirdre Mask is the author of "The Address Book."
Deirdre Mask

For most of us having a home address isn't something we think about much, but parts of the world and even parts of the United States don't have addresses.

For Take Note, we talked with Deirdre Mask, the author of "The Address Book: What Street Addresses Reveal About Identity, Race, Wealth and Power." "The Address Book" is the Centre County Reads book for 2021. The book takes readers around the world -- to India, London, Philadelphia, South Africa, New York City and more -- to look at the importance of addresses.

Lennon Flowers is passionate about creating spaces where “humans can be human.” In service to that goal, she co-founded The Dinner Party—a platform that connects grieving 20- and 30-somethings. Today, The Dinner Party has more than four thousand active members that gather at local tables in more than 100 cities and towns around the world. Lennon talked with us about her own experience with grief, the unique challenges of experiencing loss in early adulthood, and how The Dinner Party Works. 

Patricia Best and Leslie Laing are members of the State College/Centre County Task Force on Mental Health Crisis Services.
Patricia Best photo by Chuck Fong; Leslie Laing photo provided

A task force spent a year looking at mental health crisis services in State College and Centre County. Members of the task force Patricia Best and Leslie Laing talked with WPSU about the current state of those services, the challenges service providers face and the recommended changes for reform. Here's their conversation.

Min Xian: Welcome to Take Note on WPSU. I’m Min Xian.

Judith "Judy" Heumann is an activist, author, wife, and public speaker who has spent her lifetime fighting for the rights of people with disabilities. Her advocacy began at an early age, inspired in part by the ways that her mother fought to ensure that she had access to education and opportunities as a child.

Every year, the Governor of Pennsylvania and the General Assembly have to agree on budget. But this year, lawmakers are also tackling the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Added to that are hot button issues including the outcome of the presidential election and legislative redistricting. WPSU's Anne Danahy spoke with two elected leaders from Centre County: Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman and House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff.


courtesy of Fred Guttenberg

Fred Guttenberg’s 14-year-old daughter, Jaime, was killed on Valentine's Day in 2008 during a mass shooting at her high school in Parkland, Florida. Guttenberg is now an activist against gun violence.

Erin Bagwell is a stay-at-home mom, filmmaker, and blogger. Her latest documentary, Year One, offers an intimate look at the first year of motherhood through Erin's eyes. She talked with us about the film, about how becoming a mom challenged her identity, and about her experience with postpartum depression.

For more from this interview:

To watch the Year One trailer, click here.

Epidemiologist Dr. Nita Bharti
Nita Bharti

The COVID-19 vaccine is slowly rolling out across the country. Some people still have concerns about these new vaccines and their safety.

We had epidemiologist Nita Bharti answer some of those questions. Dr. Bharti is an Assistant Professor of Biology in the Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics at Penn State. She’s been educating the community about COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic. 

This Take Note is from the Democracy Works podcast.

We’ll hear about Gerrymandering and the people fighting to take the politics out of drawing districts. Redistricting, which happens every 10 years, is set to happen this year. The guest is David Daley, who just published his second book about Gerrymandering, titled “Unrigged: How Americans Are Battling Back to Save Democracy.” 


Chris Beem: From the McCourtney Institute for Democracy at Penn State University, I'm Chris Beem.

Candis Smith: I'm Candis Watts Smith.

Joyal Mulheron describes bereavement as an “invisible public health crisis”—and she’s working to address it. She founded and serves as executive director of Evermore, a non-profit aimed at improving the lives of bereaved families through research, policy, and education.

Casey Affleck won an Academy Award for playing a grieving father in Manchester by the Sea and has explored the grief experience in other roles. He uses his celebrity to bring awareness to the plight of grieving families as a victims’ advocate. 


This year marks the 30th anniversary of when the Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law. WPSU's Anne Danahy talked about the landmark legislation and the challenges people with disabilities still face with Leah Zimmerman, executive director of Student Disability Resources at Penn State, and Michael Bérubé, Edwin Earle Sparks Professor of Literature. Zimmerman and Bérubé are co-chairs of Penn State’s new Disability Access Initiative working group.

Shirley Moody-Turner is an associate professor of English and African American studies and co-director of the Center for Black Digital Research at Penn State. Denise Burgher is a doctoral candidate in English at the University of Delaware and project coordinator for The Colored Conventions project. They talked with us about about the contributions of black women to the suffrage movement and the role of black women in political organizing.


Wynton Marsalis
Wynton Marsalis

What does jazz music have to do with democracy? We’ll find that out from this week’s guest, jazz great Wynton Marsalis. He’ll explore power, struggle, finding common ground and how those factor into his new album, The Ever Fonky Lowdown.

Taylor Mickal

Daniella Zalcman is an award-winning documentary photographer whose work focuses on the legacies of western colonization. We talked with her about her work sharing stories of indigenous peoples in North America, about the legacy of coercive assimilation, and about why we need to spend more time thinking about who is responsible for telling our collective stories.

Watch Daniella’s Penn State Fall Journalism talk here.


Dr. Tara Pixley and award-winning photojournalist and professor. Her work focuses on rethinking visual representations of gender, race and sexuality. We talked with  her about her work covering the Black Lives Matter movement, about the lack of diverse representation in the news media , and about the line between documentation and exploitation. 

To view some of Tara's work, click here

For more from this interview: