Posts tagged ‘WPSU’

Fresh Memories of Vietnam

The annual Penn State Forum speaker series kicked off Wednesday with guest speaker Doug Bradley, a Vietnam vet turned professor and co-author of We Gotta Get Out Of This Place: The Soundtrack of the Vietnam War. Bradley talked about his experience and that of many of the vets he’s interviewed, played some of the classic songs of the era, and offered sometimes surprising context for how and why those songs so resonated with soldiers, both during and after the war.

Bradley’s appearance coincides with a flood of events and media, both nationally and at Penn State, marking 50 years since the height of U.S. involvement in Vietnam. WPSU is the driving force behind a multimedia project called A Time To Heal — The Vietnam War: Telling the Pennsylvania Story, a companion piece to the new Ken Burns documentary on PBS. The campus public broadcasting station is also sponsoring a visit by the Traveling Wall (pictured above), an 80 percent scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C. The wall will be on display at University Park Oct. 5-8.

Ryan Jones, deputy editor


September 21, 2017 at 9:50 am 2 comments

At the Age of 103, Looking Back for WPSU’s “Story Corps”

In 1936, a huge flood hit Clearfield, Pa. Ray Walker ’35, a recent graduate at the time and the founder of the Bradford Coal Company, lived nearby and rescued people who were impacted by the flood with the help of a rowboat. Now 103, Walker recently sat down to discuss those memories and others with his son, C. Alan Walker ’68g, for WPSU’s Story Corps project. The pair also talked about Ray’s career in the coal business and how he began working with coal as a student.

If you’d like to listen to listen to the discussion between the Walkers, along with the rest of the fascinating stories from WPSU’s Story Corps, head here.

Bill DiFilippo, online editor

October 21, 2015 at 11:37 am 2 comments

Getting Serious About Conserving Water

Videographer, Mark Stitzer focuses on a heron in Tanner Springs Park, Portland.

Videographer Mark Stitzer focuses on a heron in Tanner Springs Park, Portland.

A couple of weeks ago, I found myself in a discussion group with eight other Penn State students talking about climate issues. It was part of a World in Conversation program, which encouraged us to be truthful. We talked about recycling and why it’s not a top priority for us. Our consensus: because recycling doesn’t incorporate instant gratification.

We care about eating healthy, for example, because we almost instantly see weight loss or improved health. But what actually happens when we take the time to separate our glass and plastic bottles to put them in the correct recycling containers? Are we making a positive impact on Earth by putting the Canyon Pizza box into the cardboard recycling bin?

And then, by coincidence, The Penn Stater editors asked me to attend the premiere of “Water Blues, Green Solutions,” a collaboration between Penn State Public Media and Penn State’s Sustainability Institute. The documentary wasn’t about recycling per se, but it was a powerful depiction of the positive effects of caring about water. I believe the documentary was able to achieve this because the people who were involved in making it were just like so many of us. They weren’t completely versed on the details of green infrastructure or conservation of aquifers, either.

“I share my ignorance with others who don’t know about water,” director Frank Christopher told the audience. In the past, he’s worked on films about war, health care, and even Cirque du Soleil, but he thought that it was time to be responsible and communicate the urgency of why we need to think about how we use and protect our water sources.

Members of the Penn State Water Brigades, a club on campus dedicated to improving access to clean water and sanitation, had a table set up in the lobby of the theatre before the screening. The co-president of the club, junior Deidre Carlson, might have summed up the urgency of our water crisis best. Carlson said, “In the U.S., we have our own water problems, and they aren’t being addressed. We have issues in our own backyard.”

Diedre Carlson of Penn State Water Brigades at the premiere.

Diedre Carlson of Penn State Water Brigades at the premiere.

“Water Blues, Green Solutions” addressed this issue from multiple angles. The documentary leads viewers on a tour of four cities – Philadelphia, Portland, San Antonio, and the Bronx, all of which are dealing with unique water dilemmas.

I lived in Philadelphia all summer and I didn’t know the city’s water department was beginning to implement green infrastructure until I watched the documentary. Portland, on the other hand, is already a leader in creating green projects and is serving as example to others. San Antonio’s water crisis might have been the most drastic: Droughts have plagued the area causing some lakes to almost completely dry up. The visual of a barely there lake puts the water crisis into context pretty fast. Perhaps the most optimistic view of green solutions was in the Bronx’s efforts of cleaning up the Bronx River, which created new jobs and opportunities for community members. In short, all of these cities are working with nature instead of against it. By doing so, they’ve created new jobs and saved lots of money. Green Solutions may not be instant but it is possible, present, and important.

It also helps that the documentary didn’t take a doom and gloom approach. It most certainly was not the PETA approach. You know, where they show you pictures of beaten animals to pluck on your heartstrings.

Instead, videographer Mark Stitzer ’02 took the approach of having individuals in the cities directly tell the audience their stories, including a teacher in Philadelphia conducting class on a new eco-friendly play ground and a  woman in the Bronx enjoying her new job creating green infrastructure. I got a sense that people are taking away something positive from solving their water blues.

Stitzer captures shots of Greenfield Elementary School in Philadelphia, one of the first schools to adopt a self-sustaining green play ground.

Stitzer captures shots of Philadelphia’s Greenfield Elementary School, one of the first schools to adopt a self-sustaining green play ground.

Those involved in the making of this film said their ultimate hope is for the documentary to create civic engagement and for it to urge people to seek their own green solutions for their water blues. The precursor to this project, another documentary titled “Liquid Assets,” reached every member of Congress. It’s just a matter of what people do with the knowledge.

If I took anything out of this film, it’s that you can transform sewage into water cleaner than what’s sold in a bottle. I’m just kidding. Not quite. No matter, this documentary teaches you many things about water that pertain to you and your everyday life a lot more than you think.

The broadcasting schedule of “Water Blues, Green Solutions” is updated weekly and is available here.

Kelly Godzik, intern

February 27, 2014 at 4:22 pm Leave a comment

The Penn Stater Daily — Feb. 19, 2014

A moraler for life: If you’re a Penn Stater, you know THON. And if you know THON, you know that among the key figures on the BJC floor for 46 hours are the moralers, who help dancers stay at least functional, if not perky, through the ordeal. Onward State asks the key question: What if we had moralers for our real lives? The result: This series of videos starring “Max the Life Moraler,” which made associate editor Mary Murphy and me laugh pretty hard Tuesday afternoon in the office. Bet the clips make you laugh, too.

Ty Burrell Media Tour: Ty Burrell ’97g is making the interview rounds promoting his upcoming movie Mr. Peabody and Sherman, a remake of a 1960s cartoon about a genius dog, Mr. Peabody, and a little boy he raises. I’m not sure how I missed that back in the day, but somehow I did. Anyhow, even playing a genius dog can’t make anyone forget Burrell’s breakout role, Phil Dunphy on Modern Family, and in this clip, he discusses his favorite Phil Dunphy scene. It involves an airplane. And he adds, “It’s just so fun playing this big little boy. I’m very lucky.”

State Patty’s Day Prevention: Yet again this year, Penn State will pay downtown bars to not open on State Patty’s Day, the student-created faux-holiday that has become the worst day of the year for area police and EMTs. As explained in this Collegian story, The amount of money will depend on how many the bar serves: It ranges from $7,500 to those with a 350-person occupancy to $2,500 for those with less than 100. For the record, State Patty’s Day this year is Saturday, March 1.

ICYMI Eric Barron interviews: Video of the president elect’s introductory news conference and his interview with WPSU’s Patty Satalia are available online: click here to watch the news conference, and click here to watch the WPSU interview. In other Eric Barron coverage, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette weighs in with an editorial that praised the choice but not the secrecy surrounding the search.

Lori Shontz, senior editor

February 19, 2014 at 10:10 am 1 comment

Why We Dance: The Story of THON

A documentary screening doesn’t sound like the first thing a college student would do at 10 p.m. on a Friday. So when I saw a plethora of THON student volunteers pour into the State Theatre on Friday night––many sporting dresses, high heels, ties, and slacks, no less––you could say I was surprised.

Students at the Bryce Jordan Center make the trademark diamond symbol during THON weekend — an image captured in the documentary that will debut this Thursday.

But the featured documentary,Why We Dance: The Story of THON, helps to explain what 15,000 Penn State students devote themselves to every year––the largest student-run philanthropy in the world, Penn State’s Interfraternity / Panhellenic Dance Marathon (otherwise known as THON). That’s a reason to dress up.

Why We Dance chronicles the year-round efforts put toward Four Diamonds families and the 46-hour dance marathon, which, since 1977, has raised about $88 million dollars for pediatric cancer.

THON is a culture of its own. If you walk down College Avenue and see dozens of people sporting Penn State shirts and sweatpants, you’ll see that many people wearing THON gear, too. I recently noticed that almost 200 of my Facebook friends posted the THON 2013 promo video, especially when THON “captains” were selected. The energy of these students involved is palpable; Kevin O’Connor, a Rules and Regulations captain sitting next to me in the State Theatre on Friday night, agreed with a laugh that THON volunteers are “a different breed” of people––it’s like they’re perpetually over-caffeinated and just excited about life.

Right before the film began, I heard a student volunteer blurt out that (more…)

September 26, 2012 at 10:01 am 2 comments

Get Ready for a THON Documentary

Let’s face it—THON is so big that it’s impossible, probably even in four years of college, to fully grasp the scope of it. Most Penn Staters know the basics: It’s the largest student-run philanthropy in the world, it’s raised $88 million since 1978, about 15,000 students volunteer to help with it every year. And, of course, the dancers stay on their feet for 46 hours.

A new documentary by Penn State Public Broadcasting broadens the picture. Check out the trailer above.

Called Why We Dance: The Story of THON, the documentary takes viewers far from the dance floor. It visits the homes of some THON families, follows some independent dancers as they try to win one of the lottery spots (for students not affiliated with a fraternity, sorority, or other group), and goes canning with the Penn State Croquet Club. Behind-the-scenes glimpses include the creation of the line dance, the overall committee calculating the 2012 total, and a small party in Hershey for the children too sick to attend THON in person.

Of course, by the end, there isn’t a dry eye in the Bryce Jordan Center. I bet there won’t be in theatres and living rooms, either.

WPSU began work on the project in 2010; among the funders is the Alumni Association. The documentary premieres at 8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 27, online and on WPSU television, and some other public television stations around the state. You can read more about the documentary in this news release at Penn State Live and at its official website.

And if you’re so inspired, we’d like to hear your best THON memories for an upcoming feature in the magazine. In 250 words or less, tell us your THON story, and email it to Our deadline is Oct. 10.

Lori Shontz, senior editor

August 21, 2012 at 10:05 am Leave a comment

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