Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

They arrived just after dawn in flannel and backwards baseball caps, spilling out into Sarah Street clutching notebooks and fall handbags. They spoke fast, and with snark. They had very, very strong opinions about Jess, Dean and Logan.

About 200 small coffee shops and cafes across the country donned the iconic Luke Danes' persona at Gilmore Girls-inspired coffee shop pop-ups as a promotion for the nostalgia-clad Netflix reboot slated for November.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

A total of 3,383 drug-related overdose deaths were reported in Pennsylvania in 2015. That’s nearly 25 per cent more than the number of deaths in 2014. Governor Tom Wolf has called it a crisis and made dealing with it a priority. The governor spoke with 90.5 WESA’s Paul Guggenheimer about initiatives he and the legislature are working on in the handful of voting days that remain.

Their conversation has been edited for length and clarity.


Trade Group Seeks To Block New Drilling Rules

Oct 5, 2016
Marie Cusick / StateImpact Pennsylvania


An oil and gas trade group is seeking to block new Marcellus Shale drilling regulations scheduled to take effect later this week. The rules have been in development since 2011 and have been the subject of significant controversy.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

When 15-year-old Ryan Briggs’ teacher, Nicole Wadsworth, comes to his house once a week, they work on the same skill he’s been trying to master for the last decade: pulling small plastic pegs out of a foam pegboard.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

A small start-up in East Liberty is working on an in-home test kit that could help predict the risk of having a heart attack.

Accel Diagnostics is placing a common blood test done in hospitals onto a device no bigger than a credit card.

Vice President of Engineering Greg Lewis said the test could measure B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP) or troponin, both of which are released when heart muscles are overly stressed.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Jasmine Cook stood in front of her house in the North Side neighborhood of California-Kirkbride. She held her 7-month-old daughter, flanked by her other two children. Her 7-year-old daughter was a self-proclaimed singer-gymnast and her 4-year-old son was a superhero with laser eyes, graciously contained by a pair of plastic red sunglasses. Running around the side yard was a miniature Batman, the boy who lives next door.

  “All kids around here, nothing else, just all kids,” she said. “Everybody knows each other around here. It’s a good street to live on.”



When a construction fire damaged Pittsburgh's Liberty Bridge last month, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation closed it for 24 days to do repairs.

Simon Brass / flickr

In Allegheny County, eight people have been exonerated since 1990, sharing more than 125 years wrongfully imprisoned.  

Liz DeLosa, managing attorney of the new Pittsburgh chapter of the Pennsylvania Innocence Project, said most people aren’t aware of how the exonerated are treated in this state.

Ad War Emerges In Race For Pennsylvania Attorney General

Oct 4, 2016
NewsWorks and AP file photos


In the race to replace disgraced former Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane, voters will choose between a self-styled government reformer and a state senator -- both from Montgomery County. With just over a month until Election Day, the TV ad war has begun.

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre

Ballet is often praised for its precision, strong dancers and hypnotic music. But one thing that’s often overlooked is the costume department.

“Well, when you’re dancing, you have a certain structure about your dancing,” said Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre principal dancer Amanda Cochrane. “But when you put on those costumes, it really helps to bring out the artistry in your dancing. It makes you – puts your into character.”

Those costumes help bring the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s productions to life.

Musicians of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra

Members of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra remain on strike and on the picket line. 

The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra has canceled symphony concerts through the end of October.

The PSO’s contract with its musicians expired earlier this month, following months of negotiations. 


Good news if you like your cup of coffee with a serving of snark from your favorite grumpy diner owner. Two Pittsburgh cafes are turning into Luke’s Diner of Gilmore Girls fame on Wednesday.

Early-rising Gilmore Girls fans can nab a free cup of coffee starting at 7 a.m. at Big Dog Coffee in the South Side and Bookshelf Café in Morningside, in addition to coffee shops and cafes across the country.

How Safe Is Artifical Turf For Pittsburgh-Area Athletes?

Oct 3, 2016
Sarah Collins / PublicSource

Dominic Kimmerle dives and slides across the field. Anything to prevent the other team from scoring against his Golden Eagles. He stops the soccer ball. He kicks it back to his teammates. Black pellets spray from the goalie’s cleats.

The pellets stick to his skin and clothes. When he changes from his Keystone Oaks uniform, they scatter to the floor.

Lately, those tiny rubber bits are getting big attention.

Pittsburgh's Startup Activity Isn't As Strong As It Claims

Oct 3, 2016
Mike Petrucci / Upsplash

You’ve heard it in the news or maybe even from your neighbor: These days, Pittsburgh is hailed as the center for innovation. The Steel City is thriving and building the new economy and even “birthing the age of self-driving cars,” as Wired Magazine recently put it. The idea that Pittsburgh is the bleeding edge of the startup frontier seems to be as much a part of its present narrative as steel was in its past.

David Smith / AP

In a win for environmentalists and municipalities, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has struck down a number of provisions to the state’s oil and gas law. 

Bizuayehu Tesfaye / AP for College of American Pathologists

The most common treatment for women with breast cancer is a lumpectomy, followed by radiation therapy. But a growing number of patients who have pacemakers or mini defibrillators are recommended by doctors to opt for a mastectomy, for fear of negatively impacting those devices.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA


Sitting in their living room in McCandless, Bob and Dena Masterino struggled to answer what is usually a fairly easy question: who are you voting for?


In developing nations, acute intestinal diseases and respiratory infections are deadly.

In the United States, the same viruses are the most likely culprit when children are hospitalized.

“So this is a huge burden on society both for the children and for the families involved," said John Williams, chief of pediatric infectious diseases for Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. "(Especially) economically in terms of money spent caring for these illnesses, and time lost from work for parents, etcetera.” 

Gene J. Puskar / AP

The 2016 Major League Baseball season has reached the playoff stage and for the first time in four years, the Pirates will not be part of it. But, at this time 45 years ago, the Pirates were on their way to winning the World Series with a diverse group of players that made history in a way that rivaled Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in baseball.

Retraining The Brain After Losing The Ability To Smell

Oct 2, 2016
Todd Bookman / WHYY

  In 2012, Chris Kelly caught a cold, which then moved into her sinuses. It was a run-of-the-mill nuisance, until she woke up one morning and realized her condition had become something far more serious.

"I opened my eyes, I went into the bathroom, I uncapped the toothpaste, and was immediately aware that I couldn't smell anything," says Kelly, who was born in Maine and now lives in the United Kingdom.

This wasn't a stuffy nose. This was like the on/off switch had been flipped.

What Pennsylvania Must Do To Hit Its Carbon Reduction Goals By 2030

Oct 2, 2016
Zach Frailey / Uprooted

When the Obama administration announced its Clean Power Plan (CPP) back in 2015, it left it to individual states to figure out exactly how they would achieve the mandated cuts in greenhouse gases.

It’s clear some states will have an easier time than others.

For example, Pennsylvania’s target calls for a 33 percent reduction in carbon dioxide from 2005 levels. But the state may in fact already be halfway to meeting that goal.

Lawmakers On Spot To Revive Intensely Political Casino Tax

Oct 2, 2016
Cliff / Flickr

Pennsylvania lawmakers are on the spot to revive intensely political provisions for local governments and institutions to share casino revenue.

Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa says the Legislature could vote as early as October to pass a new revenue formula that's designed to pass constitutional muster.

But the Allegheny County Democrat says it'll surely take longer and become more complicated if lawmakers widen their focus to include an expansion of casino gambling or to change the distribution of the local casino revenue.

Bryan Y.W. Shin / Wikipedia

The University of Pennsylvania has become the latest college sued by a student fearing expulsion over what he calls an unfounded sexual-assault complaint. 

The lawsuit says the Ivy League school in Philadelphia could expel him if it concludes he had sex with a fellow senior without her permission.

The accused student calls the sex consensual. 

Federal guidelines instruct schools to hold students responsible if there's more evidence than not that an assault occurred. 

Brad Larrison / Newsworks

Last month, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump claimed the only way he would lose Pennsylvania in the presidential election would be through voter fraud.

"The only way we can lose, in my opinion, I really mean this, Pennsylvania, is if cheating goes on," he told a rally in Altoona in August.

The Science Of Making Rain

Oct 1, 2016
Charlie Riedel / AP

  For as long as humans have been around, we’ve been at the mercy of the weather. And as long as that’s been the case, we’ve wanted a way out—a way to control the weather to suit our needs. In the distant past, we used sacrifices and rain dances. Today, we turn to science.

This is where cloud seeding comes in. It’s humanity’s attempt to do what has always seemed impossible: To harness the clouds and make them rain.

Let’s begin in Fargo, North Dakota, at the headquarters of Weather Modification Incorporated, WMI. It’s the largest cloud seeding company in the world.


The city of Harrisburg's near-bankruptcy led to Pennsylvania's first and only local government takeover, the ousting of a seven-term mayor and his pending criminal trial - and aggressive, expensive parking enforcement in the state capit

Daveynln / Flickr

Unleash your curious side this weekend and explore some of Pittsburgh’s buildings and churches not usually open to the public.

Doors Open Pittsburgh, taking place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, will give locals access to 39 locations through Downtown and the Strip District.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

In a time of shrinking school budgets, arts education sometimes takes a back seat to academics. In order to introduce students to arts not often taught in schools, the Pittsburgh Promise hosted a series of immersive dance and music classes taught by local artists.

Fight Feels Familiar For Tribes At North Dakota Pipeline Protest

Sep 30, 2016
Amy Sisk / Inside Energy

More than a month after construction began on a controversial stretch of the Dakota Access Pipeline, the front line of the fight is filled with faces from Alaska to Florida.

The indigenous people here on the North Dakota prairie have waged similar fights on their reservations. Take the Sahme family, who set up camp a short walk from the central fire where people converge to hear prayer and song.

“My dad brought a good tent,” says Tiwani Sahme, as he opens the zipper.

Michael Sahaida / Wikipedia

Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra musicians are on strike after unanimously rejecting calls for a 15 percent pay cut, changes to their pension plan and staffing cuts they say management is proposing.

Management says the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra is more than $20 million in debt, leading them to ask musicians to take the pay cut that prompted a strike. Union members also are balking at pension changes and unspecified staffing cuts they say management proposed.