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.)

Penn State associate professor Dr. Darryl Thomas and professor Dr. Gary King, who wrote "More Rivers to Cross: A Report on the Status of African American Professors at Penn State University."
Min Xian / WPSU

A new report titled "More Rivers to Cross: A Report on the Status of African American Professors at Penn State University" finds that there's a shortage of black faculty at the university and offers some reasons for why that is.

Penn State professor Dr. Gary King, and associate professor Dr. Darryl Thomas prepared the report with the input of other black faculty.

Bill Doan is a professor of theatre at Penn State. The university selected Doan to be the 2019-20 Penn State Laureate, a role that spotlights the arts and humanities. For Doan, that means performances, drawings and talks focused on anxiety and depression and how art, science and health can work together. WPSU's Anne Danahy spoke with Doan about his work and his own struggles with anxiety, depression and loss.

Documentary filmmaker Judith Helfand in the WPSU studios.
Min Xian / WPSU

In 1995, one of the deadliest heat waves in the United States killed 739 people in Chicago. Why was the death count so high? And why were the deaths concentrated in poor, mostly African American neighborhoods? In her new documentary "Cooked: Survival by Zip Code," filmmaker Judith Helfand says it wasn't the heat that killed these people, but generations of institutional racism. 

Doug Wentzel, program director at the Shaver's Creek Environmental Center, and retired Penn State researcher Greg Grove sitting in studio
Anne Danahy / WPSU

A recent study published in the journal Science found the number of birds in North America is plummeting. The bird population dropped by more than a quarter over the past 50 years. Grassland birds, shore birds and songbirds are all affected. WPSU's Anne Danahy spoke with Greg Grove, editor of Pennsylvania Birds, and Doug Wentzel, president of the State College Bird Club, about bird watching and those trends

Shaheen Pasha is launching a prison journalism program in central Pennsylvania.
Min Xian / WPSU

Penn State assistant teaching professor Shaheen Pasha is an advocate for more journalism courses to be taught in prison.

She talked with WPSU about a reporting class she taught to both prisoners and journalism students in Massachusetts, the benefits of learning about our mass incarceration system from the people who are living it and her plan to create a program here in central Pennsylvania. TRANSCRIPT:  

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

Maxwell King talks about his books that tells the story of Fred Rogers.
photo provided

Maxwell King is the best-selling author of "The Good Neighbor: The Life and Work of Fred Rogers." King talks about why he wrote the book and gives insight into the life of Mister Rogers, the unfailingly kind, compassionate namesake neighbor of the beloved "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood."

To learn more about Rogers' legacy visit the Fred Rogers Center and Fred Rogers Productions.

TRANSCRIPT:

Brian Wray discusses his books that focus on issues related to children's mental and emotional health.
Min Xian / WPSU

Brian Wray is an award-winning children’s book author for his book “Unraveling Rose” about a toy bunny rabbit with OCD. His latest book, “Max’s Box,” talks about what happens when negative emotions are suppressed. Both of his picture books focus on children’s mental and emotional health.

TRANSCRIPT:

Kirsten Tekavec: Welcome to Take Note on WPSU, I'm Kirsten Tekavec.

Underground cartoonist R. Crumb and Penn State Professor Jerry Zolten sitting in the WPSU studio
Anne Danahy / WPSU

Robert Crumb is best known as an underground cartoonist, whose work, including Fritz the Cat and Mr. Natural, remains controversial. But Crumb is also a collector and celebrator of old blues records. Jerry Zolten is a professor of communication arts and sciences and integrative arts at Penn State Altoona. His work includes the book “Great God A’Mighty! The Dixie Hummingbirds: Celebrating the Rise of Soul Gospel Music.” WPSU's Anne Danahy spoke with Crumb and Zolten about their love of old blues music and records.

Shih-In Ma
Cheraine Stanford / WPSU

Shih-In Ma is a social justice advocate who works to promote diversity and inclusion in Centre County. 

The State College native and Penn State alum, left a corporate career at IBM to begin a journey of spirituality, self-reflection and meditation. Her journey has taken her around the world and included spending four years in India with Amma, who's known as the hugging saint.

Shih-In Ma teaches meditation and shares opportunities for others to gain better insight and understanding of those around them.

TRANSCRIPT:

Jessie Sage, left, and James Tison talk about the stigma their communities face.
WPSU

Jessie Sage is a sex worker who writes and speaks publicly on issues related to sex work, feminism, and social justice. James Tison is a stand-up comedian in New York who uses humor to fight stigma against his LGBTQ identity and life with HIV.

Sage and Tison recently spoke at an event at Penn State called “Facts not Fear: A Night to Fight Stigma,” and talked with WPSU about fighting the sigma their communities face. 

This Take Note interview talks about sex work and might not be suitable for children to hear. 

Peter Forster talks with WPSU about why cybersecurity shouldn't be an afterthought in today's world.
Min Xian / WPSU

Peter Forster is an associate professor who teaches security and risk analysis at Penn State’s College of Information Sciences and Technology. His research focuses on cybersecurity, counter-terrorism and social networks. Forster has worked on improving law enforcement’s situational awareness of issues such as drug and human trafficking. He also oversees a research project on better understanding of how extremist organizations recruit Americans in cyberspace.

Molly Melching sitting in front of microphone
Anne Danahy / WPSU

Molly Melching first went to Senegal in 1974 as an exchange student from the University of Illinois. But, instead of returning to the United States, she stayed on, eventually creating a nonprofit organization to educate and empower women and communities. That organization Tostan created and implemented educational programs focused on human rights, health, literacy, financial management and childhood development. It may be best known for leading thousands of communities in Africa to end female genital cutting and forced childhood marriage.

Take Note: Lacresha Berry On Bringing Vulnerabilities Into Her Art And Her One Woman Show, "Tubman"
Min Xian / WPSU

Ben Wideman is the campus pastor for 3rd Way Collective. He helps Penn State students grapple with big questions that lie at the intersection of faith, peace, and social justice.

Wideman talked with WPSU about his Mennonite background, how he came to do this work, and what it means to find a third way in a country that often wants us to choose sides.

Lacresha Berry talks about her most recent show, "Tubman," with WPSU.
Courtesy of Lacresha Berry

Lacresha Berry is a singer, actor, writer and educator living in Queens, New York. Her work infuses her life experiences into a broader, historical context. She received her BA in Theatre from the University of Kentucky. Her most recent one woman show, "Tubman," reimagines Harriet Tubman, the famous underground railroad conductor, as a 21st century student in Harlem, New York. 

Berry talked with WPSU about why she think Tubman's story still resonates with today's audience and how her career in teaching influence her art work, and vice versa.

TRANSCRIPT:

Project Drawdown Executive Director Jonathan Foley and Director of the Institutes of Energy and the Environment at Penn State Tom Richard.
Penn State

We hear a lot about global warming, but not necessarily about how effective different proposed solutions actually are.

We talked with Tom Richard, the director of the Institutes of Energy and the Environment at Penn State, who helped organize the first ever Project Drawdown conference – which looked at the top 100 actions to reverse climate change.

And we talked with Jonathan Foley, the executive director of Project Drawdown, about the conference and the book it’s based on.  

TRANSCRIPT:

Mike Domitrz is the founder of the Center for Respect.
Min Xian / WPSU

After his sister was sexually assaulted in 1989, Mike Domitrz started teaching in schools about dating and intimacy with the goal of reducing sexual violence. He founded the Center for Respect in 2002, headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and travels across the country to give trainings on how to build healthy relationships and support survivors of sexual assault.

Rich Lord, an investigative reporter at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and Lillian Thomas, an assistant managing editor there, sitting for an interview
Anne Danahy / WPSU

On Oct. 27, 2018, a man entered a synagogue in Pittsburgh and began shooting. In the end, 11 people were killed in a massacre officials have said was a hate crime. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette was there to report on the attack, its aftermath and its impact on the community. WPSU's Anne Danahy spoke with Lillian Thomas, an assistant managing editor at the Post-Gazette, and Rich Lord, an investigative reporter, who were part of the team that earned a Pulitzer Prize this year for that coverage. 

Penn State Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice Glenn Sterner speaks to the audience at the Share Your Opioid Story event in State College.
Sam Newhouse / WPSU

WPSU has a new podcast: “Overcoming an Epidemic: Opioids in Pennsylvania," where we explore evidence-based solutions to the opioid epidemic.

Over seven episodes, WPSU reporters Anne Danahy, Min Xian and Emily Reddy look at what researchers, communities and government agencies are doing to try to treat and prevent opioid addiction. Today, you’ll hear two episodes, one on rural opioid care, but first, an episode on stigma.

Author Jamie Ford in Seattle.
Jamie Ford

Author Jamie Ford explores his Chinese heritage and the history of his hometown of Seattle in his novels.

His debut novel, “Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet” tells the story of two young friends during the time of WWII’s Japanese internment camps. It was a New York Times bestseller and won the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature.

His most recent novel, “Love and Other Consolation Prizes,” follows a boy and his two love interests during Seattle’s 1909 and 1962 World Fairs.   

Eva Pell standing in front of tree
Photo provided

After working at Penn State for 36 years and then retiring as undersecretary for science at the Smithsonian Institution, Eva Pell is writing children’s books. Pell was the senior vice president for research at Penn State and dean of the Graduate School, and a professor of plant pathology. Now, she is taking her background in science and bringing it to the first in a series of books focused on 11- and 12-year-old cousins who, along with their grandmother, use their intellect and passion to rescue animals.

Shoba Wadhia
Penn State Law

Enforcing immigration law requires a complicated mix of government agencies whose direction can change from administration to administration.

Our guest this week, Penn State’s Shoba Wadhia, is an expert on immigration law and author of the new book “Banned: Immigration Enforcement in the Time of Trump.” She directs the Center for Immigrants’ Rights Clinic and has represented refugees and asylum seekers.

Ken Baxter

Ken Baxter is a Central Pennsylvania singer/songwriter, originally from Boston. He lost his son, Alex, to suicide years ago. On Saturday, September 21 at 7:00 p.m, he’ll play a concert called "The Philosophy of Hope," at the State Theatre in State College to raise funds for the Jana Marie Foundation, a local group that works on suicide prevention.  Joining him on stage for the concert will be his other son, Nick Baxter, who’s a music producer in Hollywood. Ken Baxter talks about suicide, life lessons, and moving forward.

Hands of Pennsylvania state prison inmate discussing peer support program
Min Xian / WPSU

As part of the WPSU project “Overcoming an Epidemic: Opioids in Pennsylvania,” WPSU's Anne Danahy spoke with six inmates at Rockview state prison in Centre County. The inmates are participants in the state Department of Corrections Certified Peer Specialist program or CPS, which trains them to provide peer support to other inmates. “Overcoming an Epidemic” is a WPSU multimedia project looking at what researchers, communities and government agencies are doing to try to treat and prevent opioid addiction. 

Penn State professors Esther Obonyo and Erica Smithwick will be speakers at the Project Drawdown conference Sept. 16-18.
Emily Reddy / WPSU

Penn State will host the Project Drawdown conference Sept. 16-18. It’s based on a book that outlines the 100 top actions to reverse climate change.

We talked with two conference presenters about “Drawdown” and the research they’re doing into fighting global warming.

Joyce Ladner
Joyce Ladner

Dr. Joyce Ladner was at the forefront of fighting for civil rights in Mississippi. She talked about racial inequality, voter suppression and what she makes of today’s social movements.

This interview is from the Democracy Works podcast, a collaboration between WPSU and the McCourtney Institute for Democracy at Penn State. Our guest host for today’s interview is the McCourtney Institute's Jenna Spinelle.

Goldie Blumenstyk is a senior writer and editor at the Chronicle of Higher Education. She talks to WPSU about how colleges can better serve the growing number of adult learners.
Min Xian / WPSU

Goldie Blumenstyk is a reporter and editor at The Chronicle of Higher Education. She covers a wide range of topics and is known for her expertise on for-profit higher education, college finances and more. Her book, "American Higher Education in Crisis? What Everyone Needs to Know," talks about changing demographics in colleges and the rising cost of higher education.

Jason Wright headshot
Jody Barshinger

Jason Wright is an associate professor of astronomy and astrophysics at Penn State. Wright is also a champion of the search for extraterrestrial life. WPSU's Anne Danahy spoke with him about whether he thinks there is other life in the universe, how we might go about finding it and why it matters.

Sarah Koenig spent a year inside Cleveland's criminal justice system for season three of the Serial podcast. Along the way, she met some interesting people and had a birds-eye view of what justice (and injustice) look like for lawyers, judges, defendants, police officers, and the countless others who pass through the building's courtrooms each day.

Antoine van Agtmael was the founder and CEO of the investment management firm, Emerging Markets Management, and now serves as a Senior Advisor at the Foreign Policy Group. He and Fred Bakker co-author the book, “The smartest places on Earth: Why rustbelts are the emerging hotspots of global innovation.” 

His work analyses how “emerging markets” across the globe grow and he spoke with WPSU about how the West could respond to the challenges they bring.

 

Clio Andris, assistant professor of geography, leads the Friendly Cities Lab in Penn State's Department of Geography. She and graduate student Xi Liu are in the WPSU studio for an interview.
Anne Danahy / WPSU

Clio Andris, an assistant professor of geography at Penn State, and graduate student Xi Liu are using artificial intelligence to study how people around the world decorate their homes. WPSU's Anne Danahy spoke with them about that and other research, including what a town needs to support romantic relationships.

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