Arts & Culture

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Mobile BBC Experiment Stops by the Steel City

Nov 7, 2014
Marcus Charleston / WESA

The BBC's first mobile bureau is currently in the middle of its six-month experimental project and they’re stopping here in Pittsburgh.

Joining us in Studio A to tell us more about this latest British invasion are BBC journalists Benjamin Zand and Matthew Danzico.

For those of you who haven’t fully recovered from the post-Halloween sugar crash, 90.5 WESA’s Josh and Yelp’s Rachel have a great set of events to get you back on your feet. Listen in for why, “I honestly thought for a minute there that there might be one weekend in Pittsburgh where there wasn’t a beer event. But … no.” 

Light Up Night To Go Big With Multiple Fireworks Shows

Nov 5, 2014
Flickr user Brock Fleeger

Continuing a more than five-decade tradition, the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership (PDP) will fill the streets of the Golden Triangle with carriage rides, musical and dance performances, and Santa Clause himself for Light Up Night on Nov. 21.

“We are excited to present these incredible talents and launch new family friendly activities planned for the season, as we launch an entire month of programming ushered in by Light Up Night,” said Jeremy Waldrup, president and CEO of the PDP.  

Life in a Walk / Facebook

Yogi Roth has turned a trip with his ailing father into a documentary called "Life in a Walk." Roth, who played football at the University of Pittsburgh from 2001-2003, is now an analyst with the Pac-12 Network.

When his Dad developed prostate cancer, the two of them decided to take a three-week walk through Portugal and Spain. Yogi joins us to discuss the trip and his documentary.

Chris Squier / 90.5 WESA

The bank holding the delinquent mortgage on the debt-ridden August Wilson Center for African American Culture is now in control of the property following a sheriff's sale.

Dollar Bank, which has a $7.96 million mortgage judgment on the center, paid a little over $1,900 in taxes and costs associated with Monday's sale in Pittsburgh.

A consortium of charities was unable to complete an $8.85 million acquisition of the center by a Friday deadline due to an appeal filed by a security firm owed money by the center.

The city of Pittsburgh is hoping to team up with some local artists to land a share of $1 million being offered by Bloomberg Philanthropies to enhance the public art offerings in larger cities.

Morton Brown, the public art manager for Pittsburgh says the city has long been searching for a way to join the community and local artists in one collective project, and the Bloomberg grant presents the perfect opportunity.

Jennifer Schatten

Before Elizabeth Gilbert wrote her bestselling memoir "Eat Pray Love," she was known for critically acclaimed novels about travel, adventure and characters who defy convention. 

Gilbert comes to town for the Pittsburgh Arts and Lectures’ Monday Night Speakers Series at the Carnegie Music Hall in Oakland. But first she joins us in studio to talk about her latest book, “The Signature of All Things” and her return to novels.

Where Does Halloween Come From?

Oct 31, 2014
Matt Niemi / flickr

Halloween is the second biggest consumer holiday after Christmas. But what are its origins? Pop culture contributor Joe Wos joins us to provide a history of All Hallow’s Eve and how it’s been celebrated in the Steel City.

Heather McClain / 90.5 WESA

For over twenty years, Bill Cardille hosted Chiller Theater, a television institution for Pittsburghers. Running from 1963-1984 on Channel 11, Chiller Theater was a late-night movie program highlighting spooky films from throughout cinema history. 

Cardille also acted in the original 1968 “Night of the Living Dead,” as well as the 1990 remake of the film. He and his daughter Lori Cardille join us to discuss the show, their current projects and Bill's illustrious career on stage and screen. 

Bricolage Debuts the Musical Stage Adaptation "Scarrie"

Oct 31, 2014
Heather McClain / 90.5WESA

Bricolage Theatre's "Midnight Radio" has created its own stage adaptation of the horror film "Carrie," with a musical called SCarrie which casts Carrie as a senior at Alderdice High School. We'll talk with Tami Dixon, creator of this musical version, and SCarrie actor Connor McCanlus.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Photographer Duane Michals grew up in McKeesport, but it was a trip to Russia that prompted his foray into photography.

"So going to Russia, I figured I should take pictures, so I borrowed a camera," said Michals. "Though I did take a course in photography, I didn't even own a camera. And I didn't take a light meter because I thought if I owned a light meter that meant I was officially a photographer, and that would have been intimidating ... if I had never gone to Russia, I never would have been a photographer, it literally changed my life."

Happy Halloween, Pittsburgh! Halloween is on a Friday this year, so this week 90.5 WESA’s Josh and Yelp’s Rachel have a fear-filled weekend planned for you. Listen in for why, “I can confirm this: atheists are not Satanists.” 

Stand Clear of the Closing Doors / Facebook

The second annual ReelAbilities Film Festival is taking place in Pittsburgh, focusing on movies telling the stories of people with disabilities.

We'll talk with director Sam Fleischner and Jesus Sanchez-Velez who stars in the film "Stand Clear of the Closing Doors." The movie won a Special Jury Prize at the Tribeca Film Festival and has played at film festivals around the world.

Traveling to Haunted Attractions

Oct 30, 2014
MacKensie Cornelius / Flickr

From Salem to Savannah, there are a number of sites across America that are home to things that go bump in the night. If you're in the mood for a little ghost hunting, travel contributor Elaine Labalme recommends some of her favorite haunts.

Bob Studebaker / 90.5 WESA

Iron City Aerials has performed with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the Pittsburgh Zoo, the National Aviary, the Science Center and the Kelly Strayhorn Theater. It all began when Kelsey Keller was earning her Ph.D. in biophysics.

Kelsey Keller is the artistic director for Iron City Aerials. They hang and perform from what are essentially silk scarves and amaze people at public and private events. You can even arrange for an aerial bartender. Kelsey describes what they do as a "combination of dance and acrobatics.”

Cathleen Bailey

Sam Robinson doesn’t consider himself to be an artist, but he sure can tell a story.

“I kind of got used to asking questions and learning about things from my father,” he said. “So certainly that heritage has made it easier for me…”

The 64-year-old tour guide is one of 12 regional artists and storytellers being honored by the Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area Wednesday for their work in preserving history and culture.

Why Do We Love to be Scared?

Oct 29, 2014
Scarehouse / Facebook

Halloween is a great time of year to be a thrill-seeker. Many people search for an adrenaline kick of fear in haunted attractions, horror movies and pranks. But why? What makes a good scare so thrilling? And do other cultures enjoy recreational fear in the same ways?

If you’ve visited Scarehouse recently you may have been part of research which explores these questions. Greg Siegle, Director of the Program in Cognitive Affective Neuroscience (PICAN) at the University of Pittsburgh and Pitt Sociologist Margee Kerr talk about their Ecological Emotional Experience Protocol (EEEP!) experiments and Kerr’s forthcoming book, “Scream: Adventures in the Upside of Fear.”

Western Pennsylvania's Supernatural History

Oct 29, 2014
The Pittsburgh Collection / The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh

How haunted is Western PA? From the ghost of Slag Pile Annie to fog that engulfs Blue Mist Road, we’ll explore the region’s haunted history with Thomas White, author of the book "Supernatural Lore of Pennsylvania."

GamerGate Highlights Culture Changes and Clashes

Oct 29, 2014
wlodi / Flickr

Video games -- as well as the people who play them -- have changed a lot in the last 10 or 20 years. With improvements in gaming technology and a host of new video game platforms, more people are gaming than ever before. The old stereotype of video gamers as straight, young, white men has been challenged by a growing diversity of gamers, especially women. 

The recent Gamergate controversy, however, shows that some hardcore gamers are not happy with the diversification of the video game culture. Joining us to talk about Gamergate and what it shows about how video games -- and society -- are diversifying, is Max Parker, video game journalist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

A new roof for City Theatre Company on the South Side, lighting for the baseball field at Boyce Mayview Park in Upper St. Clair and an updated heating and air conditioning system for the Mattress Factory museum on the North Side.

These are just a few of the dozens of projects the Allegheny Regional Asset District is planning to fund in 2015.

The ARAD board met Monday afternoon to consider the proposed $93.7 million budget, up from $91.2 million in 2014, and to hear public comment.

Pittsburgh To Paris Program Grows Downtown

Oct 27, 2014

The Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership’s Paris to Pittsburgh program has been given life for at least another year with the Colcom Foundation coming on board with a $350,000 grant. 

Downtown business and building owners can apply for 50 percent matching grants of up to $30,000 to renovate the street-level façade of their establishments. Since its inception in 2007, the program has given more than $1.7 million to 73 projects.

The 44th Annual Jazz Seminar and Concert Runs Next Week

Oct 24, 2014
Charlie Llewellin / Flickr

The 44th annual Jazz Seminar and Concert will take place next week. WESA Jazz host Bob Studebaker previews the event with Geri Allen, director of the Jazz Studies program at the University of Pittsburgh.

Social Club For The Weekend Of Oct. 24

Oct 23, 2014

Carved pumpkin? Check. Trick-or-treat candy? Check. Costume … well, if you’re anything like Yelp’s Rachel, you might not be quite ready for Halloween just yet. If you’re looking for a diversion, Rachel and 90.5 WESA’s Josh have this week’s happenings to keep you occupied. Listen in for why, “They don't have the quiet dignity of the feline species."

What's Hot in the Box Office This Fall

Oct 23, 2014
Janne Moren / Flickr

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Film Editor Barbara Vancheri discusses the movies "Ouija," "Gone Girl," "The Judge," "Fury," "St. Vincent," and "Birdman." We also talk about Pittsburgh Native, Michael Keaton and how "Birdman" could be a life changing film for his career.

The horror movie “Ouija,” Vancheri says the film might make you even more afraid to use the classic board game referenced in the title. “Gone Girl,” which has been a major success at the cineplex, is full of twists and surprises and has a strong cast. “Fury” is an intense, historical film that takes place at the end of WWII. Also, lookout for "St.Vincent" that is coming out tomorrow the film “Birdman” that Vancheri would describe as brilliant, coming out next week.

Thoughts from Vancheri:

“If you're an adult and you’ve seen something like 'The Exorcist' I don’t think it will make you quake or shake but it seemed to entertain the teens and tweens who were in the audience.” - Vancheri on the movie “Ouija”

"We watched a screening a couple weeks ago and I think two of us used the same word, and that was 'brilliant'."- Vancheri on the movie 'Birdman.'"

Watch the official "Birdman" trailer 

Fall Getaways

Oct 23, 2014
Willscrlt / Flickr

Are you feeling an overwhelming need to get away? Would a quick autumnal excursion sate your wanderlust? This week travel contributor Elaine Labalme suggests five quick fall getaways.

An in depth Discussion of Flight 93 with Author Tom McMillian

Oct 21, 2014
Mike Renlund / Flickr

The book "Flight 93: the Story, the Aftermath and the Legacy of American Courage on 9/11" is an in-depth look at the events and people involved in the United Airlines plane that crashed in Shanksville, PA. Joining us to discuss this detailed account is journalist Tom McMillan. Regarding the recent news of a fire at the Flight 93 memorial, McMillan explains that fortunately the damage was minimal, and no one was injured. 

He later talks about his research process for his book and what makes this story interesting. 

"... This wasn't New York City, it wasn't Washington D.C. I was fascinated about how this story was different because it was in small town America." - Tom McMillan 

A Brief History of Hysteria and Public Panic with Joe Wos

Oct 20, 2014
revjdevans / Flickr

The spread of the Ebola virus is the latest news issue receiving widespread coverage. From the Y2K panic, to killer bees and more, pop culture contributor Joe Wos joins us to discuss the history of public panic and hysteria.

Courtesy Conflict Kitchen

Conflict Kitchen -- an Oakland restaurant that specializes in cuisine from nations with which the United States is in conflict -- recently introduced a Palestinian menu to coincide with Middle East talks at the University Honors College at Pitt. 

This week, the restaurant hosted Laila El-Haddad, a Palestinian journalist, blogger, chef and author of the book “The Gaza Kitchen.” She orchestrated a Gazan meal and gave a talk about Palestine, its food and its politics. She joins us to talk about food, culture and politics in the Middle East.

Pittsburgh Symphony

The Pittsburgh Symphony Pops is making it a movie night this weekend with "Heroes and Villains," a show that will have Grammy award winning vocalist Sheena Easton taking center stage.

Easton will sing the title song of the James Bond film "For Your Eyes Only," which she recorded for the film's title sequence and "Nobody Does It Better" from "The Spy Who Loved Me" by Marvin Hamlisch.


Halloween is creeping closer (see what we did there?), and 90.5 WESA’s Josh and Yelp’s Rachel have some spooky seasonal activities for the scare-fans and the squeamish alike. On tap this week: some beer with your barge, no touching in the haunted house and Seth Meyers's yinzer accent. Listen in for why, “I give you credit for being up for most things, but everybody has their limit.”