Courtesy Mac & Gold

The laws that govern food trucks in Pittsburgh were written in an era when ice cream trucks were the only food vendors on wheels, well before mobile pierogi and taco vendors took to the streets, councilman Dan Gilman said.

For example, city code requires food trucks to move every 30 minutes.

Roll Out The Reel For Pittsburgh's Home Movie Day

Nov 4, 2015
popturf / flickr

Long before everyone had video capability on their smartphones there was the home movie camera. Home Movie Day is a worldwide celebration of amateur films and filmmaking. Joining us with a preview of Pittsburgh’s Home Movie Day is Emily Davis, senior research associate for the time –based media project at the Carnegie Museum of Art.

Jessica Nath / 90.5 WESA

  Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald had no problem winning a second, four-year term in Tuesday’s election.

Identifying Economic Anxiety With Marketplace's Dave Shaw

Nov 4, 2015
401(K) 2012 / flickr

While the great recession has officially been over for since 2009 many remain skeptical. As the wealth gap increases and wages remain stagnant. Marketplace, in conjunction with Edison Research, is launching the Economic Anxiety Index a poll designed to identify how Americans are really experiencing the economy. We’ll talk about the index with Marketplace Washington Bureau Chief Dave Shaw.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Iraq war veteran and former magisterial district judge Guy Reschenthaler has clinched the state Senate seat vacated by former Democratic Sen. Matt Smith in June.

Democrats swept all three open seats on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in Tuesday's election, locking in a majority on the state's highest court for at least a decade that could help shape the legislative redistricting that will follow the 2020 census.

The winners of the seven-way race were Philadelphia Judge Kevin Dougherty and Superior Court judges David Wecht and Christine Donohue of Allegheny County.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA News

Three technologists worked with city departments for almost a year to reform the way the city buys goods and services like fire trucks and office supplies – a process known as procurement.

Laura Meixell, analytics and strategy manager for the city's open data program, said there used to be a page buried in the city’s website where businesses could find contract openings.

The requests weren't categorized, and vendors would have to check back if there was a new post, she said.

Digital Dentistry: Tooth Fixes While You Wait

Nov 3, 2015
Jennifer Szweda Jordan / 90.5 WESA

Dental fixes are getting quicker as schools, private practices and the military add new in-office technology to create replacement teeth and crowns.

J. Scott Applewhite / AP File Photo

Leaders and community members released a local “playbook” on Friday reflecting how Pittsburghers can best harness their collective efforts to meet President Barack Obama’s challenge to become a My Brother’s Keeper Community.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

As extensive surveillance by the government becomes more prevalent, citizens are starting to feel like Big Brother really is watching them. Bricolage Theater’s Midnight Radio series will present George Orwell’s classic 1984 in the form of a radio broadcast this Thursday.  Before the program, attendees are invited to participate in a free Foley sound effects workshop.

Matt Slocum / AP Photo

  This year’s race for three open seats on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has just broken a national record.

Total campaign spending has reached $15.8 million, according to advocacy groups. That figure breaks the record held by Illinois for its two-way Supreme Court race in 2004.

For its new title, Pennsylvania can thank an unprecedented number of open Supreme Court seats as well as several groups that care about how the high court handles cases involving them.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

It’s been nearly two years since a Shop ‘n Save grocery store opened on Centre Avenue in the Hill District. For decades, the neighborhood was considered a food desert, which the federal government defines as an area where residents lack access to healthy, nutritious foods, such as fruits and vegetables and whole grains.

Environmental Protection Agency

  Residents driving past the Clack Health Complex in Lawrenceville might notice green, orange and red flags flying over the building -- a visual guide for those concerned about local air quality.  

The Allegheny County Health Department has adopted the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s program of flying pennants to signify air quality levels. The color-coded banners went up last week.

Robert Couse-Baker / Flickr

Hands-free systems, supposedly the answer to safe texting and calling in the car, are still distracting us -- even after we're done using them.

How The Nation's First Methane Rules Impact Pennsylvania

Nov 3, 2015
Emilian Robert Vicol / flickr

For the first time in its history, the Environmental Protection Agency has established a set of methane standards. These regulations come as part of the White House’s Climate Action plan, which aims to reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas industry by 40-45% by 2025, and are open to public comment through Nov. 17. To analyze the impact of the standards, Essential Pittsburgh’s Paul Guggenheimer spoke with Dr. Evelyn Talbott, professor of epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh.

Daniel Shanken / AP File Photo

  The Pennsylvania Supreme Court is deferring action on whether one of its justices violated conduct rules by sending and receiving explicit emails.

The court issued a statement Monday that left judgment to the Judicial Conduct Board based on the recommendation of a law firm it hired to review the email scandal surrounding Justice Michael Eakin.

The Legacy Of Pittsburgh Magician Harry Albacker

Nov 2, 2015
Joe Wos

Magician Harry Albacker claimed to have been born a few minutes after famed illusionist Harry Houdini died in 1926, even suggesting that he was the reincarnation of the long-adored magician. But Albacker's greatest claim to fame was not through slight-of-hand; he is the credited inventor of polka-dot paint. Pop culture contributor Joe Wos joined us for a look at this little-known Pittsburgher.

David Trawin / Flickr

  The Pennsylvania Medical Society won’t support medicinal marijuana legalization until further research better proves its viability as a treatment option. That position was one of several adopted at the group’s annual House of Delegates meeting late last month.

Sheila Sund / Flickr

  By a 26-20 vote, the State Senate has approved a measure that would amend the Cemetery and Funeral Merchandise Trust Fund Law in what proponents call an attempt to better protect consumers. /

State Sen. Matt Smith's surprise announcement in May that he would leave office in June to become the head of the Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce has resulted in this week’s special election pitting Democrat Heather Arnet against Republican Guy Reschenthaler.

Daniel X. O'Neil / Flickr

Duquesne University laid off nearly all its part-time English faculty last week prompting criticism from union organizers who cast the move as both retaliatory and possibly illegal.

The department is at the center of a labor battle still being adjudicated by federal regulators more than three years after faculty voted to unionize with the United Steelworkers. 

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

What happens when a neighborhood is gentrified? Who leaves the neighborhood and what cultural influence do they take with them? In neighborhoods like Lawrenceville and the South Side, many young, native Pittsburgh residents are having trouble finding an affordable place to live.  Michael Eichler, playwright and University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work graduate, reflects on these questions in his new play, Repulsing the Monkey.   A staged reading of the play premieres this week at the University of Pittsburgh.

Dan Moyle / Flickr

More homes sold and more quickly in the Pittsburgh region in the third quarter of 2015 compared to the previous year, according to the latest residential real estate report from West Penn Multi-List, Inc.

Compared to the 2014 third quarter, the number of homes for sale increased by 8.8%, the number of homes sold increased 8.2%, and average sales price increased 1.7%. The number of days on the on the market decreased by 2.8% to an average of 70 days.

Fishhawk / Flickr

Competition from foreign markets and struggles in the global economy are causing a drop in milk prices in Pennsylvania and across the United States.

The price for milk in 2014 was the highest in Pennsylvania history, but this year farmers are facing a 28 percent price drop. In Allegheny County, a gallon of milk currently costs a minimum of $3.70, compared to last November’s price of $4.36, as established by the Pennsylvania Milk Marketing Board.

RikkisRefuge Other

Pennsylvania students might graduate high school without being taught how to balance a checkbook, what a credit score is, or how to establish savings.

That is according to a study conducted by Vermont's Champlain College, which tested the finance education requirements of all 50 states. Pennsylvania tied with ten other states for last place.

Rebecca Devereaux / 90.5 WESA

  Ceramic sculptor, printmaker and mosaic artist Laura Jean McLaughlin has welcomed patrons to her Penn Avenue studio for 14 years.

She was an early investor in Garfield, a newly re-imagined Pittsburgh neighborhood. But that wasn’t always the plan.

Susanne Nilsson / flickr

Seemingly, the scariest thing that can happen to a road in Pennsylvania is closing for construction. But author and Duquesne University archivist Thomas White has made driving in Pittsburgh much more frightening with his new book “Haunted Roads of Western Pennsylvania.” White sat down with Essential Pittsburgh’s Paul Guggenheimer to talk about the book and its ghastly contents.

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 #6: Vital $igns

Psychic Mediums Use Their Gifts To Help Police And Families

Oct 30, 2015
Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

For over 25 years sisters Suzanne Vincent and Jean Mackenzie Vincent have used their psychic abilities to help others. We’ll learn how they’ve been helping law enforcement and families solve cold cases. And in time for Halloween they’ll tell us about their experiences as ghost hunters.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

 It would be easy to breeze past the mountain goats on their sliver of vertical cliff in the Hall of North American Wildlife or to step around the black rhino milling about in the hallway. But these are not just any animals: they’re animals remade by humans.