Arts & Culture

Essential Pittsburgh
4:30 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

New WWII Memorial Reflects Pittsburgh in Glass & Steel

The Southwest PA WWII Memorial is due to be unveiled Friday on the North Shore
Credit SWPA WWII Memorial

This Friday, Southwestern Pennsylvania World War II memorial will be unveiled on the North Shore. Larry Kirkland, the artist behind the project says it was a long time coming.

“The memorial has had four different locations and four different designs. It really has been a challenge. No one had any idea how complicated building something like this would be and we had no idea how to go about fundraising for it,” he says.

The memorial is meant to represent Pittsburgh's unique role in the war, "very quickly they shifted from making pickles to making airplanes" he explains.

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:30 pm
Tue December 3, 2013

The Jewish 20th Century Through the Experiences of One Family

One of David Laskin's relatives who immigrated to the US was Aunt Itel, a "genius at branding" who founded the Maidenform bra company.
Credit David Laskin

David Laskin is a Seattle based writer and author of the award-winning book, The Children’s Blizzard.

In his latest work, The Family: Three Journeys into the Heart of the Twentieth Century, Laskin tells the stories of three branches of his family: European victims of the Holocaust, pioneers of Palestine, and those who immigrated to America and founded the Maidenform Bra Company.

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Essential Pittsburgh
1:01 pm
Wed November 27, 2013

Author Amy Tan Explores Her Family Story with New Perspective

Author Amy Tan was in town for the Pittsburgh Arts and Lectures Monday night speaker series
Credit Ryan Loew / 90.5WESA

Through her new novel The Valley of Amazement author Amy Tan explores the struggles of mother-daughter relationships.

She says the staging of the book's characters in a Chinese courtesan house, was partly inspired by what she learned from an old photo of Chinese women, which reminded her of her grandmother.

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Essential Pittsburgh
1:00 pm
Wed November 27, 2013

Thanksgiving & Hanukkah Traditions Converge with Thanksgivukkah

American Gothikkah is just one of the images used to popularize the once in a lifetime holiday, Thanksgivukkah.
Credit Thanksgivukkah/Modern Tribe / Facebook

This year we will experience a once in a lifetime convergence of holidays. Thanksgiving and the first day of Hanukkah occur on the same day.

In celebration of what she calls a "Jewish-American mashup," Dana Reichman Gitell, a native of Squirrel Hill, has popularized the term “Thanksgivukkah” online.

She says most people are tickled by the playful cultural juxtaposition of imagery that can be found on sites like Modern Tribe.

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Arts & Culture
3:35 pm
Tue November 26, 2013

Local Filmmakers Vie for Grants; Community Input Sought

Thirty-five filmmakers have submitted their projects for a chance at a $10,000 grant from the Sprout Fund, a nonprofit funding organization.

The films are community-based projects in the form of short- or feature-length films, documentaries, online videos or multimedia experiences.

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Essential Pittsburgh
3:35 pm
Tue November 26, 2013

Millennials Return Home: The Business of the Boomerang

Credit Rebecca Harris / Chatham Center for Women's Entrepreneurship

As Thomas Wolfe famously stated, “You can’t go home again.” Yet millennials in Pittsburgh aren’t taking heed.

Along with Cleveland and Albuquerque, Pittsburgh was recently listed in an article by The Atlantic as a town luring back its townies.

Business contributor Rebecca Harris comments on this trend and how it can affect the city’s demographics and economy.

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Essential Pittsburgh
3:09 pm
Tue November 26, 2013

For Celeste Headlee, the Middle Ground is Not Flyover Country

Middle Ground, hosted by Celeste Headlee, covers the news, politics and culture in the states between California and the eastern seaboard.
Credit Celeste Headlee / Middle Ground Kickstarter

Celeste Headlee is a public radio veteran. She co-hosted the daily news show The Takeaway, has guest-hosted Weekend All Things Considered & Tell Me More and covered the Midwest for NPR. Her experience reporting on the Midwest is an important part of her latest project,  Middle Ground.

She says the goal of the show is to bring “voices, stories, songs, and news from Middle America” to listeners of public radio.

Coverage will include news, politics and culture in the states between California and the eastern seaboard, including Pittsburgh.

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:54 pm
Tue November 26, 2013

Nothin' But Blue Skies: Revitalization in the Post-Industrial Heartland

Smokestacks in Homestead, PA serve as a reminder of the city's industrial past.
Credit Devon Christopher Adams / flickr

In his recent book, Nothin' But Blue Skies: The Heyday, Hard Times and Hopes of America's Industrial Heartland, Ed McClelland chronicles the rise, fall, and hopeful revitalization of some of America’s boomtowns.

He says blue skies is referenced in the title of his novel as a twofold approach to the past and future of these post-industrial cities.

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Essential Pittsburgh
7:32 pm
Fri November 22, 2013

For Drew Carey, Stand Up is Not So Different From Hosting Price is Right

Comedian and host, Drew Carey
Credit Drew Carey / Facebook

Drew Carey is a stand-up comic, turned actor and producer, who produced and hosted two hit shows simultaneously, the long-running ABC sitcom The Drew Carey Show, which ran from 1995-2004, and the improvisational comedy show Whose Line Is It Anyway?

In 2007, Carey became host of The Price Is Right, succeeding longtime host Bob Barker.

While he continues to have a successful TV career, Carey says stand-up comedy is something he's always enjoyed doing and it helps him in his work on the Price is Right.

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Essential Pittsburgh
7:01 pm
Fri November 22, 2013

Pittsburghers Relive Speeches of JFK & Share Remembrances

President Kennedy riding in a motorcade through Dallas, TX before being shot.
Credit Walt Cisco / Dallas Morning News

Fifty years after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Pittsburgh's Prime Stage Theatre is presenting The Kennedy Legacy, a program where audience members can relive the powerful speeches of President John F. Kennedy and share remembrances of that time period.

Prime Stage artistic director Wayne Brinda was 13 years old in 1963. And even though he was just a kid, Brinda remembers exactly where he was when he heard the president had been shot. 

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Essential Pittsburgh
6:25 pm
Fri November 22, 2013

Assassination of JFK Set The Stage For Breaking News Coverage

CBS News anchor Walter Cronkite removing his glasses as he announces that President Kennedy is dead.
Credit CBS archives / Wikipedia

The assassination of President John F. Kennedy changed the lives of many, as well as the trajectory of world and media history. 

For professor Jeff Ritter, chair of the department of communication at La Roche College, TV coverage of the assassination set the stage for breaking news coverage in the future, and the trust Americans would have in veteran journalists such as Walter Cronkite.

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Arts & Culture
12:33 pm
Fri November 22, 2013

90.5 WESA Weekend Watch 11/23 & 11/24

Dance lovers rejoice: the 13th Annual PittStop Lindy Hop runs through this weekend. Dancers of all ages and experience levels swing dance to live bands and deejayed music. Hundreds of dancers from across the country come out to celebrate dances of days gone by. The event features seven dances — including two late-nights — as well as spacious venues and great bands Gordon Webster, The Boilermaker Jazz Band, Dr. Zoot and the Solomon Douglas Sextet featuring Alison Dreyfuss.

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:15 pm
Wed November 20, 2013

Western Europe Finds Common Ground in Braddock, PA

North Braddock, overlooking the steelworks.
Credit Joseph A. / Flickr

Recently a French film crew came to Braddock, PA sensing that the fate of Braddock might well be the same for Western Europe.

What they discovered is: From George Washington to Andrew Carnegie, through the French and Indian War, to the collapse of the steel industry, these few acres along the Monongahela River have always been a battleground.

The film Braddock America – which played at the Cannes Film Festival and the Three Rivers Film Festival– lets the people of Braddock tell their stories, as they weave together the past, the present, and the future.

Co-directors Gabriella Kessler and Jean-Loïc Portron have different backgrounds and experiences but they found common ground in Braddock.

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:02 pm
Tue November 19, 2013

Arsenals & Agreements: Pittsburgh's Role in WWI & Reshaping Europe

The Pittsburgh Agreement historic marker sits at the corner of Penn Avenue and Seventh Street in the Pittsburgh Cultural District
Credit Joseph / flickr

Seeds of Independent Czechoslovakia Began in Pittsburgh

Behind the doors of the Czechoslovakian Nationality Room in the University of Pittsburgh Cathedral of Learning is a copy of the 1918 Pittsburgh Agreement.

The little-known document outlines the desires of Czech and Slovak community members to form an independent Czechoslovakian nation. E. Maxine Bruhns, director of the University of Pittsburgh Nationality Rooms and Intercultural Exchange Programs, celebrates the city as the founding region for Czech independence.

The arrival of the Agreement’s primary author, Thomas Masaryk, spurred what Bruhns says was the “largest political rally of its time.” He came to Pittsburgh to seek support for the new nation.

Following his successful visit, the document was sent to President Woodrow Wilson, who began to recognize an independent Czechoslovakia.

Pittsburgh in World War I: Arsenal of the Allies

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Essential Pittsburgh
3:36 pm
Tue November 19, 2013

When "Silly Remarks" Become Landmarks: The Gettysburg Address 150 Years Later

An 1863 daguerreotype of Lincoln, at the time of the Gettysburg Address. He was 54 years old.
Credit Alexander Gardner / Wikipedia

150 years ago President Abraham Lincoln stood in Gettysburg, PA, at the site of one of the most important battles of the American Civil War to consecrate a cemetery for those who died for the Union cause. Lincoln’s speech was brief but had a lasting historical impact.

In the new book titled, The Greatest Speech Ever: The Remarkable Story of Abraham Lincoln and His Gettysburg Address, Judge James L. Cotton, Jr. looks at the influence Lincoln's famous words.

“The Gettysburg Address has just as much meaning and relevance today as it did 150 years ago,” says Cotton.

But he says the address received little appreciation in Lincoln’s lifetime.

The Retraction Heard 'Round the World

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Arts & Culture
3:30 am
Mon November 18, 2013

Kennedy Presidency and Assassination Explored by Pittsburgh Playwright

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. One of the events marking the occasion is a reading of the play “Noah’s Ark,” which was inspired by James Douglass’ book “JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters.”

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Arts & Culture
2:10 pm
Fri November 15, 2013

90.5 WESA Weekend Watch 11/16 & 11/17

The Heinz History Center teams up with Pittsburgh Tintype Studio this Saturday for Frozen in Time: Tintype Photography in the Civil War. Expert Jason Snyder, owner of Pittsburgh Tintype Studio, will be on hand to discuss the 19th century process and technique that was popular with soldiers during the Civil War. The exhibition also includes an 1860 tintype camera on loan from the Smithsonian.

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Essential Pittsburgh
3:29 pm
Thu November 14, 2013

Getting Away With That Special Someone Before the Holidays

Find some relaxing and scenic places to visit before the hustle and bustle of the holidays. El Tovar Hotel is one of the premiere lodges in the Grand Canyon region.
Credit Dustin Williams / Flickr

With winter on the way, there’s no better time to escape the early snows by flying south, taking in gorgeous views, or embracing the snowy winter, with high alpine excursions.

Travel contributor Elaine Labalme shares her top four favorite pre-holiday destinations.

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:22 pm
Wed November 13, 2013

No Horizon Anymore: A Yearlong Journey at the Bottom of the World

Still from the film No Horizon Anymore
Credit Keith Reimink / No Horizon

When Keith Reimink graduated from film school in New York City it was just a year after 9/11, and there was no film work to be found anywhere in the city.

His solution? Get as far away as possible and work as a cook in the interior of Alaska. This job spawned fifteen years of cooking and traveling.

Reimink's travels eventually lead him to the South Pole in 2009 and resulted in the self-directed, self-funded documentary No Horizon Anymore: A Year Long Journey at the Bottom of the World

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:04 pm
Wed November 13, 2013

A Conversation with the Iconic Diane Rehm

Diane Rehm in studio A
Credit Ryan Loew / 90.5 WESA

Celebrated NPR host, Diane Rehm conducts her daily interview show with a distinct curiosity and a distinctive voice.

As host of The Diane Rehm Show for more than 30 years she was the first radio talk show host to interview a sitting president in the Oval Office.

With no formal radio training, Rehm says she has always felt at home on the air.

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:29 pm
Tue November 12, 2013

Blood Brother Comes Back to Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh native Rocky Braat is known as Rocky Anna by the orphans he lives with in India, Anna is a term of endearment meaning big brother.
Credit Blood Brother Film

This week, the award-winning documentary, Blood Brother comes to Pittsburgh's  Three Rivers film festival. It's about a remarkable Pittsburgh man named Rocky Braat, who has made a drastic change in his life in order to help others.

Rocky made the decision to change his career path and gave up his life in the Steel City to go to India and live with children at an HIV/AIDS orphanage.  His best friend from school, director Steve Hoover decided to follow Rocky and chronicle his journey.

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Essential Pittsburgh
3:27 pm
Mon November 11, 2013

Father and Son Go to War

Credit Flickr

It has been twelve years since the US war in Afghanistan began, and for some families the conflict spans two generations.

Army Colonel Tom Stokes, and Air Force Reservist Brenden Stokes, a father and son duo, both served in Afghanistan within months of each other.

Colonel Stokes was deployed to Afghanistan as a behavioral health social worker whose job is to provide behavioral prevention and outreach to soldiers in the most harsh locations.

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:35 pm
Mon November 11, 2013

Reporting on America's Longest War

War reporter Carmen Gentile
Credit Carmen Gentile / Facebook

Pittsburgh native Carmen Gentile, has been an embedded freelance reporter with American troops throughout the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, America’s longest war.  

Despite a slow removal of troops from the Middle East, Gentile says the violence is far from under control.

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:10 pm
Mon November 11, 2013

What Makes a Child a Gold Star Child?

Gold Star Children, was founded in 2008 to raise awareness about American child survivors whose mothers or fathers were killed or died while serving in the US military.
Credit Gold Star Children

An estimated five-thousand American children have lost a parent to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq since 2001.

Children who have lost a parent to war are the subject of the documentary Gold Star Children: Two Generations Sharing Loss and Healing, premiering today on the Pentagon channel.

The film’s writer, producer and director Mitty Griffis Mirrer, is a gold star child. Mirrer says the documentary is about helping the current group of gold star children.

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Weekend Watch
12:07 pm
Fri November 8, 2013

90.5 WESA Weekend Watch 11/9 & 11/10

The largest film festival in the region returns beginning this weekend. The 32nd Three Rivers Film Festival is a celebration of all the things that film can be. This year’s docket features approximately 80 films from a wide variety of genres, from independent American cinema to documentaries, restored classics, international films, and competitive short films. The event features visiting filmmakers, informal discussions, live music events and more.

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:41 pm
Thu November 7, 2013

Autumn Coastal Destinations with the New Girl

This is an ideal time of year to see the famous light houses of the Outer Banks.
Credit Nathan Adams / Flickr

Coastal Destinations make for the best fall travel, according to travel contributor Elaine Labalme.

With better prices on off-season and cozy spots for cuddling, Labalme outlines her top five waterfront excursions. 

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Weekend Watch
8:50 am
Sat November 2, 2013

90.5 WESA Weekend Watch 11/2 & 11/3

Shimmiers and shakers unite: the first ever Pittsburgh Bellydance Festival runs this weekend. The premiere festival features several days of dynamic workshops, lectures, vendors, and performances. Workshops will be held throughout the weekend, and non-preformers can come out and cheer on competitors in the intense Belly-Off in the Burgh competition.

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:36 pm
Fri November 1, 2013

Día de los Muertos: The Pittsburgh Way

Together, families do arts and crafts like decorating sugar skulls, to celebrate the Day of the Dead.
Credit Flickr

According to Tomas Tecuanhuehue, Head Chef at Casa Reyna Mexican Restaurant in the Strip District and native of the Cholula, Puebla, Mexico, El Día de los Muertos celebrations often span over five days.

Celebrations begin on the 28th of October and end on November 1st. Each day celebrates something different.

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:22 pm
Fri November 1, 2013

The Phoenix: A Rising Theatre in Pittsburgh

Blue/Orange will be the first play performed by the Phoenix Theatre Company.
Credit phoenixtheatrepgh.org

“One door closing, is another one opening up” says Andrew Paul, former artistic director and co-founder of Pittsburgh Irish & Classical Theatre.

This appears to be  a relevant motto for him and Pittsburgh theater veteran Mark Clayton Southers, founder of the 10-year-old Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre Company, and former arts director at the August Wilson Center. Southers and Paul had been let go from their former theatres earlier this year.

Now the two journeymen are collaborating to start a new theater company in Pittsburgh called, The Phoenix, designed to produce cutting edge plays and a focus on diverse casts. The company will be christened this evening with an opening night performance of the play Blue/Orange, which deals with issues related to race and the mental health care system.

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Essential Pittsburgh
7:05 pm
Thu October 31, 2013

Tom Savini Master of Special Effects Make-Up

Tom Savini sculpting "Fluffy," one of the grotesque monsters from the 1982 film Creepshow.
Credit Tom Savini / Savini.com

Celebrated as the "King of Splatter" and "Wizard of Gore," Tom Savini is a legendary special effects makeup artist who has worked on dozens of films from Dawn of the Dead to Friday the 13th.

Now he passes along his passion with his Special Effects Make-up Program at Douglas Education Center in Monessen, PA.

The Bloomfield native recounts his early horror movie influences, his relationship and work with George Romero, and how his experiences in Vietnam shaped his work as an artist.

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