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.)

The next census won’t start until 2020, but the U.S. Census Bureau is already hard at work on preparing to count the more than 325 million people in the United States. The census is one of the few democratic norms that’s required by the Constitution, and the data collected has wide-ranging uses.

Powell Watts described her novel as "'The Great Gatsby' set in rural North Carolina, nine decades later, with desperate black people." Stephanie Powell Watts is a writer and associate professor of English at Lehigh University. Her debut novel, "No One Is Coming to Save Us," won the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work and was the inaugural selection by Sarah Jessica Parker for the American Library Association's Book Club Central.

We talked with Powell Watts about representation in literature and how her debut novel draws on F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby."

Ron Haviv
Adrian Whipple

Ron Haviv is an Emmy nominated, award-winning photojournalist and co-founder of the photo agency VII, which is dedicated to documenting conflict and raising awareness about human rights issues around the globe.

Shawn Morelli
Min Xian / WPSU

Penn State graduate and retired U.S. Army Major Shawn Morelli took up cycling after an explosion during her service in Afghanistan caused brain trauma, blindness in her left eye and severe damage to her spine and neck.

Katharine Hayhoe
Ashley Rodgers / Texas Tech University

An atmospheric scientist and evangelical Christian, Katharine Hayhoe is known for her ability to communicate science to everyday people, including skeptics of climate change. She is an award-winning professor at Texas Tech University and is involved in a number of educational initiatives, including hosting "Global Weirding," a public media program on YouTube.

Tanya Wright is a familiar face to television audiences. She appeared in ER, NYPD Blue, 24, and The Good Wife. She completed 7 seasons on HBO's cult hit True Blood as Deputy Kenya Jones. And she currently plays Crystal Burset on the Netflix show Orange is the New Black. 

She's also the writer, director and star of Butterfly Rising, a feature film that was a finalist in many competitions. She wrote a book of the same name. 

Lucinda Dickens Hawksley / Lucinda Dickens Hawksley

In this edition of Take Note, WPSU’s Kristine Allen speaks with Lucinda Dickens Hawksley, the great, great, great granddaughter of Charles Dickens.  Hawksley is also an author in her own right.  One of her many books, “Dickens’s Artistic Daughter Katey: Her Life, Loves and Impact,” has recently been updated with new information.

Seria Chatters is the director of diversity and inclusivity for the State College Area School District.
Cheraine Stanford / WPSU

Seria Chatters is the first-ever director of diversity and inclusivity for the State College Area School District. She draws from both her personal and professional experiences to inform her work.

Before taking her current position, she was an assistant professor in Penn State's Department of Educational Psychology, Counseling and Special Education. 

Chatters talked with WPSU about her first semester on the job and what she hopes to accomplish in the position. 

TRANSCRIPT:

Michael McDonald (right) and Micah Altman are the lead researchers for the Public Mapping Project.
Min Xian / WPSU

In most cases, Gerrymandering -- the practice of drawing political district boundaries to favor a specific political party -- creates unequal representation.

Michael McDonald and Micah Altman, the lead researchers for the Public Mapping Project, talked with WPSU about providing the public with tools and data to create and evaluate redistricting plans for transparency and encouraging greater participation in the process.

They are the winners of the McCourtney Institute for Democracy's 2018 Brown Democracy Medal. 

 

A retired four-star general, 2004 presidential contender, author and commentator, Wesley Clark is now starting a nonpartisan organization. The goal of Renew America is to encourage people to find common ground by promoting public and political discourse.

WPSU's Anne Danahy spoke with Clark about the organization, what he thinks needs to change in politics and how Americans can help make that happen.

Charlene Teters
Jason S. Ordaz

This interview originally aired July 20, 2018.

Charlene Teters is an artist, activist and educator whose artwork challenges the stereotypical portrayals of American Indians in American popular culture. She holds multiple degrees, including a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Illinois, where her activism against the use of Native Americans as sports mascots first began. Teters is a member of the Spokane Nation and is the academic dean at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico. WPSU’s Cheraine Stanford talked with her about her work. 

Justin Torres.
Winni Wintermeyer

Justin Torres is the author of the international bestseller "We the Animals," which tells the story of three brothers growing up in a tumultuous household. The novel was adapted into a film that will be released on DVD and Blu-Ray on November 20.

We talked with Torres about the film adaptation and how his life shaped his fiction.

Franklin Zimring from the University of California, Berkley, Vesla Weaver from Johns Hopkins University, and Michael Walzer from the Institute for Advanced Study.
Emily Reddy / WPSU

A recent conference by the Rock Ethics Institute at Penn State brought researchers into the Ethics of Policing to State College.

Franklin Zimring, from the University of California, Berkley, studies police use of lethal force in the United States. Vesla Weaver from Johns Hopkins University studies how contact with the criminal justice system affects political engagement. Michael Walzer from the Institute for Advanced Study studies the differences between police and soldiers.   

Two men sitting in radio studio
Anne Danahy / WPSU

Jonathan Landay, a national security correspondent for Reuters, and John Walcott, a former Reuters editor, were part of the team covering the war in Iraq that broke from the popular narrative of weapons of mass destruction. Instead, they reported on the lack of consensus about the existence of WMDs. Their award-winning work, recognized for its accuracy, is the subject of "Shock and Awe," a new film by Rob Reiner.

Recent MacArthur Fellowship award-winner Dominique Morisseau.
John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Award-winning playwright, poet and performer Dominique Morisseau was recently named a recipient of the 2018 MacArthur Fellowship, also known as the genius grant, for her work bringing the lives of those on the margins to center stage. 

Morisseau has served as a co-producer and story editor for the Showtime series Shameless. She also worked with Penn State graduate theatre students to create Blood At the Root, a play inspired by the controversial "Jena Six" case. 

Guest host Jenna Spinelle and Knight Foundation president and CEO, Alberto Ibargüen.
Emily Reddy / WPSU

Journalism and the free press are essential to a healthy democracy, but trust in media organizations is lower than at any time in recent history. The Knight Foundation’s Trust, Media, and Democracy initiative aims to understand why this is happening and what can be done restore that trust.

Alberto Ibargüen is the president and CEO of the Knight Foundation and joined us for a conversation on the role of the free press in a democracy and the future of journalism.

Abdalaziz “Aziz” Alhamza is the co-founder and spokesperson for Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently, a group of civilian journalists who worked to expose the crimes of ISIS in Raqqa, Syria.

We talked with Aziz about how life in Raqqa changed when ISIS came to power, why he continued this work despite increasing danger and what life is like in Raqqa today.

Photo: Penn State Law

David Frum is a senior editor at The Atlantic magazine, and a former speechwriter for George W. Bush.  He's a conservative, a Republican, and a fierce critic of President Trump.  His latest book is "Trumpocracy: The Corruption of the American Republic," which is out in paperback on October 9th.  In the book, Frum talks about the factors that led to the rise of Donald Trump, and other leaders like him around the globe.

Frum spoke with WPSU while visiting Penn State for a talk at Penn State Law.

The opioid epidemic has been described as the worst public health crisis in Pennsylvania.

Jason Snyder has both professional and personal experience with the battle against addiction. He is currently the regional director of outpatient services in Eastern Pennsylvania for Pinnacle Treatment Centers. Snyder previously served in the Wolf administration, where he oversaw the Governor’s Centers of Excellence.

This interview is a part of the statewide Battling Opioids project.

Marisa Vicere is the founder of the Jana Marie Foundation.
Shawn Henfling / Captured Chaos

After losing her sister to suicide in 2011, Marisa Vicere founded the Jana Marie Foundation in her sister’s honor.

The State College-based non-profit aims to educate and empower young people in the Centre County region and to build awareness about mental well-being and suicide prevention.

Vicere talked with WPSU during National Suicide Prevention Month about the foundation and her sister. 

Poet Julia Spicher Kasdorf and photojournalist Steven Rubin spent five years documenting Marcellus Shale drilling in Pennsylvania. The project became their new book, "Shale Play."
Zsuzsanna Nagy

Poet Julia Spicher Kasdorf and photojournalist Steven Rubin spent five years documenting Marcellus Shale drilling in Pennsylvania. The project became their new book, "Shale Play." 

We talked to them about what they’ve witnessed and how they decided to blend poetry and photography.

Evelyn and Jim Piazza.
Min Xian / WPSU

Jim and Evelyn Piazza ignited a national conversation about the dangers of hazing on college campuses after the death of their son Timothy in 2017.

The 19-year-old died from injuries sustained during alcohol hazing at the Penn State chapter of Beta Theta Pi fraternity.

The couple has turned their tragedy into action, starting a foundation in their son’s honor, advocating for stricter legislation and penalties for hazing, and calling for increased oversight and rule enforcement for fraternities and sororities.  

Harold Shapiro

This interview originally aired on Feb. 9, 2018. Since then, the book won the 2018 Pulitzer Prize in general nonfiction.  

"Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America" is a book that looks at how African American leaders–with the best intentions–made choices that eventually helped create mass incarceration.

Jeff Daniels
Luke Pline

Emmy Award-winning actor Jeff Daniels is known for his roles in movies like "Terms of Endearment," "The Purple Rose of Cairo," and "Dumb and Dumber" and for TV shows like "The News Room," "Godless," and "The Looming Tower."

He’s starred in a number of theatrical productions, both on and off Broadway, and was nominated for Tony Awards for his roles in "Blackbird" and "God of Carnage." Daniels founded The Purple Rose Theatre Company in his hometown of Chelsea, Michigan.

He’s also a prolific songwriter and musician. 

Take Note: New Book Explores "Evan Pugh's Penn State"

Aug 7, 2018

Dr. Roger Williams is the author of “Evan Pugh’s Penn State:  America’s Model Agricultural College.” It is the first book-length treatment of this mid-nineteenth century scientist-president who forged the nation’s first successful higher education institution dedicated to scientific agriculture -- what is now Penn State.

Williams served as Associate Vice President and Executive Director of the Penn State Alumni Association, the world’s largest, from 2003 to 2015 and as Affiliate Associate Professor in Penn State’s Higher Education Program.

Lego Grad Student has become popular among grad students because he addresses the mental hardships that many of them deal with.
Emily Reddy / WPSU

“LEGO Grad Student” is an anonymous blogger who creates LEGO scenes paired with humorous, but dark, captions that depict the difficulty of graduate school. In one, a spiky-haired LEGO figure has a distressing meeting with his adviser; in another he sneaks into an event for the free food; and in most he goes through some form of existential crisis.

LEGO Grad Student’s work clearly resonates with others. He has seventy-five thousand followers on Facebook alone.

Brian Southwell is director of science in the public sphere at RTI International. We spoke with Southwell about communicating science, whether fact checking works and the idea behind his weekly radio show and podcast, “The Measure of Everyday Life.”  

Danielle Dormer at the WPSU studios.
Min Xian / WPSU

This episode of Take Note is part of "State of Emergency: Searching for solutions to Pennsylvania’s opioids epidemic." State of Emergency is a combined effort of newsrooms across the state to draw attention to programs, therapies and strategies that are actually showing promise in the fight against this public health crisis.

Don Voigt is a retired a research associate for Penn State’s Ice and Climate Exploration group. During his career, he logged 18 seasons in Antarctica, seven in Greenland and two in Alaska. We’ll talk with him about his research with the Penn State Ice and Climate Exploration, his experiences at the ends of the earth, and his advice for aspiring scientists.  

Boaz Dvir spoke to the crowd at the rough cut screening of his upcoming documentary film, Cojot, on Penn State's University Park campus in April. He was joined by actor Judd Nelson, who narrated the film.
Min Xian / WPSU

Boaz Dvir is an American-Israeli award-winning filmmaker. His upcoming documentary, “Cojot,” tells the unknown story of Michel Cojot, a French man who played a pivotal role in a 1976 hostage rescue mission.

Previously, Dvir was a journalist and editor based in Florida. He now teaches documentary filmmaking and multimedia storytelling at Penn State’s College of Communications. WPSU's Min Xian talked to him about finding all the pieces to tell a story and the importance of passing down memories of the Holocaust.

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