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.

Matt Rourke / AP

Legislative leaders and the Wolf administration said Monday they have a rough map to reach a final budget deal by Thanksgiving.

“This is the first time I think that we’ve seen a light at the end of the tunnel,” said Jeff Sheridan, spokesman for Governor Tom Wolf.

gackmc / flickr

Heroin related deaths in the U.S. have tripled from 2010 to 2014, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Overdoses are now the leading cause of death for people 24 to 44 in Western Pennsylvania, mainly in the suburbs of Pittsburgh, showing that heroin use is no longer just an inner-city problem. Data from the University of Pittsburgh underscore the demographic shift: 65% percent of people dying from heroin overdoses in the Pittsburgh region are men (35% women), most are white, and their ages range from teens up to the early 70s. 

Sam Quinones, author of Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic, says the problem originates not from street gangs and drug trafficking, but in suburban medicine cabinets.

Keith Srakocic / AP

Pittsburgh City Council will get to take its shot at the 2016 operating and capital budgets as proposed by Mayor Bill Peduto on Monday.

“I think there are some things that council is going to move around,” said council Finance and Law Committee Chair Natalia Rudiak. “Of course it’s a matter of where are we going to add, and… where are we going to take away.”

Keith Srakocic / AP Photo

  County Controller Chelsa Wagner might appeal a decision Friday that prohibits her from auditing the performance of most county authorities.

Wagner may conduct performance audits of entities subject to county jurisdiction, including the jail and county police and health departments, but can’t assess its Airport Authority, Sanitary Authority, Port Authority and the city-county Sports Exhibition Authority, Common Pleas Judge Joseph M. James said Friday.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Congresswoman Barbara Lee is the 2015 Thomas Merton Award winner and will be honored at a dinner tonight in Pittsburgh. She is known as a forceful and progressive voice  who was the only member of either house of Congress to vote against the authorization of the use of force following the September 11, 2001 attacks. Congresswoman Lee will join us in studio. 


Kaffeeeinstein / Flickr

Nearly a year after President Barack Obama proposed funding for 50,000 body-worn cameras for police officers nationwide, the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police is getting its share.

Matt Rourke / AP

Things were off to a rocky start between state Attorney General Kathleen Kane and the unusual Senate committee formed to consider whether she can do her job. Kane disputed the panel’s legal authority in a lengthy letter Friday.

What Does The Changing PA Supreme Court Mean For Education Funding, Charter Schools?

Nov 9, 2015
Matt Rourke / AP Photo

  The results of last week's Pennsylvania Supreme Court election could have wide-ranging implications for a number of high-profile cases related to education issues in Pennsylvania.

Three Democrats swept the open seats on the state's highest court – shifting the balance of power 5-to-2 in their favor when they assume the bench in January.

WikiMedia Commons

A group representing 20,000 Pennsylvania doctors and medical students is hoping to shed light on continued disparities in health care access for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender residents.

The Pennsylvania Medical Society (PAMED) is recommending expanded access, increased research and funding for research, and a better dissemination of research results.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

The North Side will become the home of the city's newest bike lanes. 

The City of Pittsburgh is installing bike lanes on East Street in the North Side, between Suffolk Street and Lareda Street.

In September, the city installed bike lanes along Bigelow Boulevard and Bayard Street in Oakland.

West Midlands Police / Flickr

In the first quarter of this year, more than 1,500 felons in Pennsylvania did not have their criminal history entered into a state database, meaning their records would not appear on a background check.


It has been 26 years since the Berlin wall came down. This year also marks the 25th anniversary of the unification of Germany. Joining us to address the impact these events have had on the world and what they mean to Pittsburgh are Dr. Stephen Szabo, executive director of the Transatlantic Academy in Washington, DC and Steve Sokol, former president of the World Affairs Council Pittsburgh who is now president of the American Council on Germany. 

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

You've seen them — homeless veterans living in large cardboard boxes or shabby tents under a bridges and underpasses. But the clearest image might come from the narratives of and photos taken by the homeless vets themselves.


Arborists from around the nation will convene in Pittsburgh for the Tree Care Industry Expo, at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center from November 12th through the 14th.

Peter Gerstenberger, Tree Care Industry Association safety advisor, said the expo is usually held in a city east of the Mississippi River, because that is where the majority of the nation’s tree cover is, but the expo includes information valuable to arborists all over the nation.

State Won’t Disclose Names Of Doctors Prescribing In Youth Corrections

Nov 7, 2015
Illustration by Anita Dufalla / PublicSource


The state defied an Office of Open Records ruling and took the matter to court to conceal the names of doctors prescribing to kids confined in its six correctional facilities.

The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services insisted the physicians who care for and prescribe to the state’s most chronic or violent youth offenders would be endangered if their names were made public.

PublicSource requested the names of the doctors with whom the state contracts to determine their qualifications, disciplinary history and if they’re taking payments from drug companies.

David Amsler / Flickr


One of the many victims of Pennsylvania’s budget impasse is domestic violence organizations that rely on government funding.

With the impasse well into its fourth month, organizations that rely on state or federal funding aren’t getting either, and there are fears that some may have to temporarily shutter their doors. That means victims of domestic violence may not get the help they need.

The Unique Experience Of A Football Placekicker

Nov 6, 2015
Pete Madia / University of Pittsburgh Athletics

The life of long-distance football placekicker is unusual.  Although he only gets in for a few plays per game, he has the potential to be the most criticized.  University of Pittsburgh placekicker Chris Blewitt knows this all too well.

“You could say that it’s fair or unfair, but I mean, there are always eleven guys on the field at a time, so everyone’s working together.  Everyone could share and take part and credit for the game.”

brokinhrt2 / flickr

Infant mortality in Western Pennsylvania is more than 17 percent higher than the national average, with significant disparities between white and African American babies.  To combat these statistics and improve the health of newborns in the region, the Three Rivers Mothers’ Milk Bank will begin accepting donations of breast milk and distributing them to medical facilities.  Executive director Denise O’Connor says she thought it was important that Pittsburgh offered this service and has already had 90 women sign up to donate.

Nanograms: I/O

Nov 6, 2015

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

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

Subscribe in iTunes


U.S. Army Corps of Engineers / Flickr

  The Pennsylvania Department of Health  and the Department of Education announced Thursday a joint proposal to revise immunization regulations for school children.

Health Secretary Karen Murphy and Education Secretary Pedro Rivera said this week they want to better protect students’ health by requiring students to finish all immunizations within the first five days of school. If guardians fail to complete that schedule, a written note from a doctor outlining the plan to immunize the student must be submitted to school officials within the first five days of class.  Currently families have up to eight months to make sure school children have their vaccinations.

Kylie Stackis / Tree Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh's fall foliage is expected to produce the peak, prismatic experience this weekend.

To celebrate, Tree Pittsburgh will host "Ginkgo Fest" from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Maple Grove Shelter in Highland Park honoring the city’s colorful Ginkgo Biloba trees. 

“Ginkgos have this very distinctive fan-shaped leaf, and in the fall they have a brilliant gold color, so they’re a very beautiful fall tree,” said Kylie Stackis, program assistant with Tree Pittsburgh.

PA Juvenile Offenders Given Psychiatric Drugs At High Rates

Nov 6, 2015
Illustration by Anita Dufalia / PublicSource

They are the toughest kids in the juvenile justice system. And, in some ways, the most vulnerable.

In the months they spend at correctional facilities, they receive mood-altering psychiatric medications at strikingly high rates, particularly antipsychotic drugs that expose them to significant health risks.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Anchored at the corner of Fifth Avenue and McKee Place in Oakland, Hieber’s Pharmacy sports a glass block window that reads, “We Create Medicine For Your Family.” Inside, white cabinets hold powdered chemicals and a rainbow assortment of empty capsules waiting to be filled.

Hieber's is a compounding pharmacy.

Pride In Players Key To CMU Football Coaching Success

Nov 6, 2015
Marcus Charleston / 90.5 WESA

With 193 victories over his 40 years with the Carnegie Mellon Tartans, head football coach Rich Lackner has more than demonstrated his ability to create and maintain winning teams.  His success earned him the title of 5th most winning coach in Division III football. Essential Pittsburgh’s Paul Guggenheimer caught up with the coach to talk about his long-standing career.

“The level of intensity that I display during a football game is incredible, and I love to win,” Lackner said.

Mr.T77 / Flickr

U.S. Steel has decided against building a new headquarters on the site of the former Civic Arena.

“This decision has been shared with employees by President and CEO Mario Longhi. U.S. Steel will remain in the U.S. Steel Tower through the term of its lease,” spokeswoman Sarah Cassalla said in a statement. The lease expires in 2017.

Courtesy Brandon Blache-Cohen via the Heinz History Center

Next week marks the anniversary of a major event leading up to the Holocaust: Kristallnacht.

Brandon Blache-Cohen's grandfather, Werner Josef Cohen, lived through it. Blache-Cohen never met his grandfather, who died in 1977, but he became interested in the elder Cohen’s history – and now shares his family’s story with as many people as possible.

    While we can always hope for an artisanal water party, we will live in reality and enjoy some of these amazing events going on in Pittsburgh this weekend! Josh from WESA and Rachel from Yelp Pittsburgh tell you everything you need to know post-Halloween. Let’s celebrate Christmas! Just kidding…not yet.

Pittsburgh Record Fest # 14 is this Friday at Spirit. Buy and sell vinyl and enjoy a night-time record swap! Join for music, booze and more!

November Food Truck Roundup is happening this Saturday at Brew Gentlemen Beer Co in Braddock. Enjoy some of the best food trucks Pittsburgh has to offer including Leona’s Ice Cream Sandwiches!

Pitt To Celebrate Fifth Annual Audubon Day

Nov 5, 2015
John James Audubon / University of Pittsburgh

The University of Pittsburgh celebrates its fifth annual Audubon Day this weekend, as 24 of the 435 prints in the John James Audubon’s “Birds of America” collection are displayed in the school’s library.  Assistant University Librarian Mike Dabrishus and President of Second Story Books Alan Stypeck joined Essential Pittsburgh to preview this event.