born1945 / Flickr

Homeless teenagers and young adults in Pittsburgh will soon have a drop-in center that will address a wide array of their needs.

The center will be called “412 Youth Zone” and will be targeted at youths between 16 and 24 years old, who are aging out of the foster care system. It will be located downtown in the Wood Street Commons building.

Local family agency Auberle will run the center and partner with other local agencies. They expect to serve about 1,500 young adults a year – that’s how many age out of the system.

zoetnet / flickr

Over the last several years, Pittsburgh has taken many steps towards becoming a greener city. 

And that effort continued Friday in Troy Hill when TreeVitalize Pittsburgh planted its 25,000th tree in the region.

90.5 WESA


Gov. Tom Wolf and legislative leaders this week agreed on a “framework” for a state budget with hopes for a full spending plan by Thanksgiving. The announcement comes nearly five months after the 2015-16 year began.

According to Senate minority leader Jay Costa (D-Allegheny), the budget is expected to include about $5.9 billion for basic education funding for public school districts, a $200 million increase from this past year.

Nanograms is 90.5 WESA's new technology and culture podcast. 

Season One, 'Borg in the USA, launched September 24, 2015.

Subscribe in iTunes


Episode #8: Live at Thrival


Pittsburgh has been referred to as “the city of champions” by many, but a new index by Pittsburgh Today places the city’s professional sports scene behind Boston, Detroit and Philadelphia.

Doug Heuck, director of Pittsburgh Today, which measured Pittsburgh against 15 “benchmark" U.S. cities, said the Steel City came in fourth in their recent Pittsburgh Sports Town Index.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

The love Steelers fans have for their team is the stuff of legend: hordes of faithful waving Terrible Towels, wearing logo-emblazoned pajama pants, cheering in one of the nation’s more than 700 Steelers bars. So I figured the best way to learn the back-story of the logo was to go right to the source: Heinz Field, on a Sunday, an hour before kickoff.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Westinghouse High School officials announced Thursday a new Emergency Response Technology program promising career training for students interested in public safety. 

Pittsburgh's location as a drug-trafficking corridor warranted the city's inclusion into a federal initiative aiming to stymie the nation's opiate epidemic.

“360 Strategy” coordinates federal agents, local officers and community groups into a three-fold approach, said Gary Tuggle, Special Agent in Charge for the Philadelphia Division for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. 


As the state budget impasse wears through its fifth month, service organizations and some of their funders are calling on state lawmakers to take action before services and programs statewide face more delays in funding.

The Pittsburgh Foundation partnered with the United Way of Allegheny County to launch a social media campaign using #PAPeopleCount. The groups are asking service providers, nonprofits and residents to let their digital voices be heard.

How Neighborhood Groups Are Transforming Forgotten Properties

Nov 12, 2015
Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Several Pittsburgh organizations have taken abandoned lots and properties and transformed them into community-oriented spaces. GTECH Strategies Director of Operations and Programming Evaine K. Sing walks us through the Northside's newest project, one of their "Green Playces," and we visit Homewood, where Operation Better Block Community Development Coordinator Demi Kolke tells us what's in the works for the neighborhood.

It’s Friday the 13th, oh no!

Josh from WESA and Rachel from Yelp Pittsburgh are here to help you get through the weekend without bringing yourself seven years bad luck. So remember, don’t walk under that ladder, don’t open your umbrella indoors, and for the love of all that is good in the world, DON’T BREAK ANY GLASS!

Speaking of glass, Pittsburgh Glass Center will be at the Carnegie Science Center’s 21+ Night, this Friday. Explore the science of melting glass with artists from the Pittsburgh Glass Center and make your own colorful fused-glass tile as well! Enjoy music, snacks, and a cash bar!

Lessons From Cuyahoga County On Land Banking

Nov 12, 2015
Cuyahoga Land Bank / Facebook

Since its creation in 2009, the Cuyahoga Land Bank has been a successful model for the Ohio land banking process, bringing in a hundred vacant properties a month.

Gus Frangos, president and general counsel of the land bank, joined Essential Pittsburgh’s Paul Guggemheimer to explain Cuyahoga’s success and how other counties can learn from it.

Screen Grab of / Allegheny County

As mobile devices have become the preferred method of online browsing for many people, more and more websites have had to change to accommodate them. 

That's why this week, Allegheny County launched its redesigned “mobile-friendly” website.

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said the county's seen a 38 percent increase in mobile users just this year. And he said the majority of the traffic to the site was for finding quick information such as park activities, job postings and tax records.

Manayunk Bridge Reopens As A Trail And A Symbol Of A Changing Economy

Nov 12, 2015
The Manayunk Bridge reopened Oct. 30 to pedestrians and cyclists connecting Philadelphia's Manayunk neighborhood to Lower Merion Township in Montgomery County, Pa.
Lindsay Lazarski / WHYY

Iconic. Ever since it opened in 1918, the Manayunk Bridge has been iconic, a symbol for its namesake section of Philadelphia.

"It's one of those things that's always been the symbol of Manayunk," says Kay Sykora, project director of the Destination Schuylkill River project at the Manayunk Development Corporation. 

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Vacant properties in Pittsburgh are increasingly becoming more abundant, driving property values down and costing tax payers nearly $400,000 a year.   Liz Hersh, Executive Director of the Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania says that although there are 16,000 to 20,000 vacant properties in Pittsburgh, blight in Pennsylvania is not just an urban issue.

“Because we’re an old state, we’ve had a lot of changes in industry, and we’ve had a lot of population loss over the years, and a lack of reinvestment, and a lack of policy to encourage or incentivize reuse of old properties,” Hersh explains.

Ryan Loew / 90.5 WESA

People use Kickstarter to fund everything from tuition payments to weddings. But now, it's being used for creative education programs in Pittsburgh-area schools.

Elizabeth Thomsen / via Flickr Creative Commons

Legislative aides are beginning to hammer out the details of a state budget, now that top lawmakers and the governor have agreed on the general shape of the plan.  

The sprawling, tentative package includes a 1.25 percent hike in the state sales tax, a reduction in state retirement benefits for future hires and some kind of change to the state liquor stores.

The deal promises to be unwieldy.

Gadgetdude / Flickr

The difference between a worker who has a high school diploma and one who doesn’t may have a larger impact on the economy than some may realize. 

Each year, Pennsylvanians without a high school diploma or GED cost taxpayers an average of $683 each, according to Jamie Baxter, director of legislative policy and advocacy at the Allegheny Intermediate Unit (AIU).

But getting them a high school diploma, according to the AIU, could mean the state getting up to $6,000 per year in taxes from each worker. 

Words From Inside The Detention Camp At Guantánamo Bay

Nov 11, 2015
Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Since 2002, Mohamedou Slahi has been imprisoned at the detention camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba even though the U.S. has never charged him with a crime. A federal judge ordered his release in March 2010, but he remains imprisoned. Slahi has kept a diary that has been published as "Guantanamo Diary." It was edited by Larry Siems who is appearing tonight as part of a City of Asylum presentation. He'll join us in studio to discuss the process he went through in editing the diary.

For military veterans, the transition from service to civilian life can be stressful and unpredictable. When she was a freshman in high school, Alexis Werner was startled by the changes she saw in her stepfather, who had recently returned from a tour in Afghanistan. She, along with Vietnam veteran and counselor Gregg Dietz, formed the nonprofit Seeds of Hope, to address issues of Post-Traumatic stress among servicemen and women. Their latest outreach project is a documentary called Our Way Home, which premieres tomorrow at Soldiers and Sailors Museum in Oakland.  Alexis Werner and Gregg Dietz explain the purpose of the film and how they plan on helping veterans and their families.

Marc Levy / AP

Champions of Cheyney University filled the state Capitol rotunda Tuesday, bringing a decades-long fight for more funding to lawmakers’ doorsteps.

The historically black state-owned university has been plagued by an enrollment slump, administrative turnover and what one federal judge called “historic neglect” by the state.

Chris Breeze / flickr

According to the Department of Defense Sexual Assault Prevention and Response decision, over 5,000 cases of rape or sexual assault were reported by military men and women in 2014.  While reporting was up by 50 percent, many criticized the statistics indicating that of the 5,000, less than ten percent went to trial and less than eight percent resulted in convictions.  

Since 2011, Attorney Susan Burke has been fighting for the rights of victims of military sexual assault.  She’s featured in the Academy Award nominated documentary The Invisible War, which will screen prior to her speaking this Saturday at the University of Pittsburgh.  She’ll share her experience defending victims and why she believes the chain of command military judicial system should be changed.


A new initiative will aim to reduce the number of jobless veterans in the region by coordinating existing job services for veterans with companies looking to hire.

If you’ve ever played the party game ‘Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon,’ you’ll get the gist of Carnegie Mellon University’s latest digital humanities project pretty quickly. 

Six Degrees of Francis Bacon is a web tool that maps the complex social network of Britain during the early modern period. It’s based on analysis of biographical records for more than 13,000 contemporaries of the philosopher and statesman Sir Francis Bacon.

Liz Reid


  Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto signed an executive order Tuesday that will mandate an eventual minimum wage of $15 for employees of the city of Pittsburgh beginning in January 2017.

cgkinla / Flickr

It’s become something of a routine in Pittsburgh City Council’s weekly committee meetings: when legislation to create a registry of rental properties in the city comes up for discussion, Public Safety Chair Councilman Daniel Lavelle asks that the bill be held for another week — or two, or three.

A May 2015 investigation into why the bill wasn’t moving forward in council garnered few solid answers, but it now appears that Mayor Bill Peduto’s administration is prepared to revive the long-dormant proposal.

Researcher's Port Authority Sensors Help Smooth Your Ride Into Work

Nov 10, 2015
Jennifer Szweda Jordan / 90

If you've ever ridden a subway, you've probably experienced a bump in the tracks that could send your coffee onto another rider.

George Lederman, doctoral candidate at Carnegie Mellon University, wants to fix that, though you may never notice his work.

Piezoelectric sensors fixed to train cars with electrical tape are at the heart of Lederman's monitoring equipment. They measure changes in pressure, acceleration, temperature, strain and force by converting these changes into an electrical charge. 

Erika Beras / 90.5 WESA


The state auditor general said Tuesday that he wants to disband a financial oversight group that's no longer needed in order to funnel funds into city pensions. 

Genetics And Environment Big Influences For Drug Addicts

Nov 10, 2015
Charles Williams / flickr

According to our guest heroin addiction is a desperation issue. Some addicts are seeking an inexpensive way to treat their pain. So, what does it take for someone addicted to heroin and other opiates to get treatment? We’ll pose that question to our guest Sarah Younger, a drug and alcohol counselor.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Trib Total Media announced Tuesday that it will lay off more than 150 employees as it consolidates the Valley News Dispatch, (Greensburg) Tribune-Review and Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

President and CEO of Trib Total Media Jennifer Bertetto said 153 full- and part-time employees from among the company's 1,100-person staff will be laid off, with another 91 layoffs possible if the newspapers The Valley Independent in Monessen and The Daily News in McKeesport aren’t sold in 60 days.