News

How Smiley Became The Face Of Eat'N Park

Apr 13, 2016
Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

When it came time to reshape the image of Eat’n Park the idea was in plain sight. A smiley cookie. Cliff Miller is the man responsible for turning the classic cookie into one of the region’s most iconic brands and joins us for an exit interview.

How Communities Around The World Are Combatting Climate Change

Apr 13, 2016
Wikipedia

The latest news on climate change is how it’s tilting the Earth’s axis. Is it too late for the world to reverse the effects of climate change? In his new documentary, How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can’t Change, director Josh Fox travels the world to discover how communities are combating the impacts of climate change.

Eleanor Klibanoff / WPSU

 

If you had $50,000 to improve your community, what would you do? Would you invest in infrastructure, build a park or fund a non-profit organization? Or might you try something a little more creative?

The Knight Cities Challenge pushes urban thinkers to do just that: think creatively about how to engage their community. There are 26 Knight Cities around the country, including Philadelphia and State College, and anyone in those cities can submit a project to the challenge. The winners, announced Tuesday, get a portion of $5 million.

U.S. Attorney's Office Western District of PA

Our guest, U.S. Attorney David Hickton, says he may prosecute members of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown under the federal Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), a law typically meant to indict those affiliated with major organized crime.

Women & Girls Foundation of Western PA / Facebook

Fifty-six years after the Equal Pay Law took effect in Pennsylvania, politicians and advocates gathered in Market Square in downtown Pittsburgh on Tuesday to call attention to the continuing pay disparity in the state and nationwide.  

Melinda Roeder / 90.5 WESA

Managers at the Beaver Valley Nuclear Power Station got some advice this year from a panel of unlikely consultants – high school students.

Blackhawk High School students studied federal regulations for problems like workers' exposure to dangerous gases and the disposal of radioactive waste. Nuclear engineers and scientists from First Energy Corporation challenged the teens to produce energy safely and more efficiently.

George Yost Coffin / Wikimedia Commons

As Pennsylvania’s government faces a budget deficit of well more than $1 billion in the next fiscal year, one legislator is teaming up with a Harrisburg think tank to call for changes to income tax rates.

According to state Sen. Art Haywood (D-Philadelphia) and the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, the three proposals hashed out Monday would close the state’s “structural” budget deficit by shifting the income tax burden from low- and middle-income residents to the wealthiest Pennsylvanians.

1916 Easter Rising's Continued Impact On Ireland And Abroad

Apr 12, 2016
Pittsburgh Remembers 1916 / Dublin City Library and Archive

100 years after the Irish rebel forces collided with the British Army in the bloody Easter Rising, the country continues to experience political tension. This weekend as part of the “Easter 1916: Pittsburgh Remembers” organization, author and historian Tim Pat Coogan will discuss his latest book on the Rising and talk about its lasting impact in Ireland and abroad.

Celebrating 60 Years Of The Ant Farm

Apr 12, 2016
UncleMilton.com

Currently on display at the Heinz History Center is an exhibit celebrating toys from the 50’s through the 80’s. One toy marking its 60th anniversary has roots here in Pittsburgh. Maze Toons cartoonist and pop-culture contributor Joe Wos brings us the history of the ant farm.

Matt Rourke / AP

A long-sought measure to retroactively change the statute of limitations on child sex abuse cases has been queued up for a final vote in the state House. 

The proposal would erase the statute of limitations in criminal cases of child sex abuse going forward, and extend the limit for civil cases from the victim’s 30th birthday to when he or she turns 50.

Marufish / Flickr

SolarCity, the largest solar energy provider in the nation, announced Monday it's extending service into the western Pennsylvania region.

Allegheny County Airport Authority

The Allegheny County Airport Authority is rebranding as its international arm courts new partnerships and adds additional routes.

The new look includes a colorful logo unveiled Monday and a change in signage and local advertising campaign. Allegheny County Airport Authority Spokeswoman Alyson Walls said concept delivery and development cost about $60,000 and was in the works since late last year.  

A collaboration with Visit Pittsburgh aims to improve the experience of those traveling to the city, Walls said.

The Counterculture Approach Of Fred Rogers

Apr 12, 2016
Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood / PBS

Growing up in China, Junlei Li did not spend his childhood watching Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood.

In fact, his first experience with Mr. Rogers was as an adult living in the U.S. when he saw Eddie Murphy’s impression on Saturday Night Live.

Paul Hirschberger

Tonight the JFilm Festival is screening "Touchdown Israel," an exploration of the fast growing sport of American tackle football in Israel. The screening features a post film conversation with former Pittsburgh Steelers defensive lineman Chris Hoke. Hoke joins us to talk about his reaction to seeing American football catching on in Israel and whether it can truly become a global game.. Also, taking part in the conversation is Kathryn Spitz Cohan, Executive Director of JFilm.

Wilfredo Lee / AP Images

The Pennsylvania Primary is just over two weeks away and the Democratic presidential candidates have begun making appearances in Pittsburgh with the Republicans soon to follow. We'll talk with 90.5 WESA reporter Virginia Alvino and Multimedia Editor Megan Harris about the message candidates are trying to get across and how it's resonating with Steel city voters.

Julie Jacobson / AP

Republican front-runner Donald Trump is scheduled to visit Pittsburgh on Wednesday.

Trump will tape a one hour special with Sean Hannity for Fox News at Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall in Oakland.

The free event is first come, first served for the general public. It starts at 5:30 p.m., and doors open at 2:30 p.m. 

Governor Tom Wolf / Flickr

 

Senate backers hope medical marijuana legislation in Pennsylvania will get to Gov. Tom Wolf's desk this week.

A Senate committee made changes to the bill Monday, and the bill's backers say they hope it can win passage in the House and Senate this week.

xMizLitx / Flickr

 

Some scholarship providers in western Pennsylvania say they're having trouble giving away free money.

Officials with the National Scholarship Providers Association tell The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that community foundations that award local scholarships can find it more difficult to give out money than larger, national scholarships.

Daniel Lobo / flickr

Only 15 percent of Pennsylvania mothers breastfeed their babies up to six month without supplement, according to a recent CDC study. Despite the health benefits of breastfeeding, many mothers receive conflicting messages, especially after they have their first child. In her article “Barriers to Breastfeeding,” PublicSource reporter Andrea Frazier looks at why breastfeeding rates in the Pittsburgh region have been unusually low and what health professionals are doing to increase awareness. We’ll also hear from Ellen Rubin of La Leche League, a local organization helping women successfully breastfeed their children through education and outreach.

Margot Callahan

Margot Callahan, of Highland Park, is providing her voice for a stranger – literally. She’s one of thousands of people who have donated their voices to people with vocal disabilities, caused by a range of factors such as a stroke, cerebral palsy or Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

VocaliD is collecting those voices and using them for voice software devices. The goal is to provide a more accurate representation of the actual person’s voice, rather than being stuck with a robotic generic one.

Keith Srakocic / AP

President Barack Obama’s major climate change initiative, the Clean Power Plan, is currently in legal limbo as federal courts decide its fate.  

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

While the South Side maybe known for its bar crawls, this Sunday it will also be the site of the second annual church crawl. Nine churches from South Side’s faith community will offer free, guided tours of their buildings to anyone interested in learning about each church's history, artwork and faith.

Sharon Sobol, the event organizer, said South Side residents have a strong connection with their churches.

Michel Martin On Hosting NPR's 'Most Tinkered With' Program

Apr 8, 2016
NPR

Last month Weekend All Things Considered host Michel Martin was in Pittsburgh. She moderated NPR Presents Going There with Michel Martin: Reinventing the American City; an evening of conversation and performance at the August Wilson Center. She joins us for a conversation about the event, the current political climate and hosting NPR’s “most tinkered with” show.

Justin Tsucalas

They say grass is always greener on the other side, but where is it most creative? That is the question former NPR correspondent Eric Weiner tries to answer with his newest book, The Geography of Genius. Essential Pittsburgh’s Paul Guggenheimer spoke with Weiner about the book and the search for the world’s smartest places.

90.5 WESA

For nearly four decades, NPR host Diane Rehm has graced the airways, interviewing actors, poets and musicians alike.  Later this year, she will step away from the microphone and into the next chapter of her life, a chapter without her husband John “Scoop” Rehm, who passed away last year from Parkinson’s disease.

In her latest book, On My Own, Rehm recounts her husband’s passing, life on her own and the right to dying with dignity. 

    Do you think to yourself, "my loneliness is killing me, I must confess I still believe?" Well, don't worry anymore. Like a "genie in a bottle"coming to grant you a wish, WESA's Josh and Sarah and Yelp Pittsburgh's Rachel are here to give you some weekend plans, with a little '90s flair. 

Victor Bjorkund / Flickr

Pennsylvania school board members came to the Capitol earlier this week, some of them downright weary.

“It’s been a grueling year,” said Nathan Mains, director of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association. PSBA was in town for its annual legislative lobbying day. Its members wanted to underscore the damage caused by the budget stalemate.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

Each month, about 20 volunteers help to hand out food to more than 200 individuals and families at the Westinghouse Valley Food Pantry in Turtle Creek. 

Among those volunteers is Rose Smeltzer, who serves as the pantry's coordinator. 

“This is my passion," Smeltzer said. "It is what I was born to do, I guess." 

Smeltzer also recruited her husband, children and grandchildren to help at the food pantry each month. 

Charles Williams / Flickr

While much of the testimony at a state Senate hearing in Pittsburgh on Thursday focused on the need for the state to fund opioid addiction treatment regimens, one expert recommended the state take legal action against insurers who illegally deny coverage of long-term rehabilitation programs for those addicted to heroin or prescription painkillers.

Using 'Surgery Robots' To Perform Minimally Invasive Procedures

Apr 7, 2016
Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Since the introduction of robot-assisted surgery in the early 1980s, engineers and medical professionals have been working to perfect the technology and increase public awareness of the machine’s benefits. As part of its mall walkers program, the Westmoreland Mall invited health professionals from Excela Health to explain the purpose and workings of one of their most advanced robots, the DaVinci surgical system. Essential Pittsburgh’s Katie Blackley spoke with physicians James Longhi and Michael Szwerc about their experience with DaVinci and minimally invasive surgery.

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