2:40 pm
Thu September 18, 2014

Pittsburgh-Area Teachers Surprised By Google, As Classroom Wishes Fulfilled

Students in an AP calculus class at Pittsburgh Taylor Allderdice High School will each have a graphing calculator to work with, thanks to funding from Google.
Credit Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

As school budgets continue to shrink or remain flat, many teachers are left short of needed equipment, or have classroom wish lists that don’t fall into budgeting priorities.

Enter the website

Through Donors Choose, teachers submit requests and then anyone can donate to whichever project they chose – hence the name.

On Thursday, Google announced it was fully funding the requests of 79 Pittsburgh-area teachers.

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10:23 am
Thu September 18, 2014

Salvation Army To Host 6th Annual 'Most Amazing Race'

Thirty-two teams are gearing up to put both their mental and physical capacities to the test for a good cause. The Salvation Army of Western PA is hosting its 6th annual “Most Amazing Race” Saturday, September 20th, to benefit youth in Allegheny County.

In recent years there has been an increase IN demand for youth programming provided by the Salvation Army. Funds generated through the “Most Amazing Race” will allow the organization to keep its doors open according to Donna Fencik, Salvation Army Divisional Director of Fundraising

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:45 am
Thu September 18, 2014

Thursday Rundown: A New Generation of TED events

Credit TEDxYouthHMB / Facebook

These topics air Thursday September 18, 2014 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.


At age 15, Sophia Sterling-Angus attended her first TED talk, the first TEDx Grandview. She was so motivated by the event that she began to plan her own TEDx. Now as a 17 year old high school senior at the Ellis School for Girls, Sophia organized a group of volunteers to create TEDxYouth Hot Metal Bridge at the Carnegie Museum of Art on September 7th. One thing that made this event unique was the fact that it was developed with a younger demographic in mind and by teenagers. Find out how Sophia Sterling-Angus developed the TED talk and what she thinks about the future of TED.

Justin Currie

When Justin Currie was the lead singer for the band Del Amitri, he scored a top ten single in the U.S. and was heard regularly on top 40 radio. But earlier this month he had sold only nine tickets to his upcoming solo show at the Club Cafe. That's when he posted a desperate message on facebook saying that he was going ahead with the show and that the people of Western Pennsylvania ought to show up. He joins us along with WYEP Program Director Mike Sauter to discuss the business model for the modern musician.

Fall Festivals

In case the football games, cooler weather and heralding of all things pumpkin flavored escaped your attention, the celebration of the autumn season has begun. This week our woman for all seasons, travel contributor Elaine Labalme, joins us with a lineup of fall fairs and festivals you might enjoy. 

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Government & Politics
5:37 pm
Wed September 17, 2014

State Audit Expanded To Review Tomalis

The state’s top fiscal watchdog says an ongoing audit of the state Department of Education will now also look into certain employees, including Ron Tomalis, the former secretary and special advisor to the governor who resigned under a cloud of criticism this past August.

Democratic Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said the in-progress audit will review special advisors, contractors and short-term employees.

“It’s not just about Mr. Tomalis,” DePasquale said. “It’s an issue broadly about are people being hired and they don’t have an actual role to play?”

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Government & Politics
5:26 pm
Wed September 17, 2014

State Senate Committee Passes Bill To Abolish Property Taxes

A bill to eliminate school property tax in Pennsylvania was advanced by the Senate Finance Committee Tuesday on a 6-5 vote.

The “Property Tax Independence Act” would replace property taxes by increasing the state income tax from 3.07 percent to 4.34 percent; sales tax would jump from 6 to 7 percent (8 percent in Allegheny County), together generating an estimated $12 billion for public schools annually.

But, Sharon Ward, director of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, said the numbers don’t add up.

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Economy & Business
5:25 pm
Wed September 17, 2014

Pittsburgh Incubator Lands $800K Federal Grant

A business incubator in Pittsburgh has landed a nearly $1 million grant to help attract new investors. 

The $800,000 federal grant was awarded to Innovation Works to support its fairly successful AlphaLab program.

AlphaLab brings early-stage businesses into its workspace on the South Side where it provides the entrepreneurs with a small cash investment, goal-specific education, key mentorship opportunities, and an entrée into the Pittsburgh high-tech community.

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:17 pm
Wed September 17, 2014

Scottish Highland Games Return to Ligonier

A bagpipe performance at the Ligonier Highland Games
Credit Sandra Cole of Indiana, PA / ligonierhighlandgames

Break out the bagpipes and dust off that kilt because the Ligonier Highland Games are back this weekend, celebrating Celtic culture for a 56th year.

The festivities start Saturday morning at Idlewild Park with dancing, drumming, harping and piping contests, along with a Scottish-breed dog show.

The Heavy Athletics begin at 9 a.m. where the region’s biggest and baddest compete in events such as the caber toss, where contestants throw what looks like a telephone pole end-over end through the air. Athletes will also participate in the hammer throw and sheaf toss, where a 16 to 20 lbs. bundle of straw is launched into the air with a pitchfork.

Richard Wonderly, executive director of the games, said the athletics were originally used hundreds of years ago to prevent confrontation between Celtic clans.

“By getting together to show off your feats of strength, it helped to intimidate the other clans to avoid combat,” he said. “So basically, it was a way to say, ‘Here’s our guys, look how big and strong they are. Maybe you don’t want to mess with us.’”

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:03 pm
Wed September 17, 2014

Can Living Near a Fracking Site Cause Health Problems?

Credit Ari Moore / Flickr

 A new study has found that residents in Western Pennsylvania living close to natural gas drilling sites were twice as likely to report health problems than those living farther away. We talk with the study's lead author Dr. Peter Rabinowitz, who says public health researchers surveyed nearly 500 adults and children in Washington County, southwest of Pittsburgh.

Essential Pittsburgh
1:59 pm
Wed September 17, 2014

Pittsburgh Views as the Scottish Independence Vote Approaches

Credit Màrtainn MacDhòmhnaill / Flickr

Tomorrow, Scots will vote on possible independence from England, one of the most important issues facing the Scottish people and their heritage. We talk with Ron Linden, director of the European Studies Center and professor of political science at the University of Pittsburgh, as well as with John Kelman, one of the many natives of Scotland living in the Pittsburgh area, who talks about which way he'd like to see the vote go.

Pittsburgh native Talia Kirkland began as a fellow in the WESA news department in August 2014. She studied at Duquesne University, earning her bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism, and she is now pursuing her M.S. in Media Technology and Arts at the university. Talia describes her career aspirations as far-reaching and multidimensional — she wants to tackle the news from every possible medium.

Her ultimate career goal is to work as a White House correspondent. Talia aspires to continue her career in print, television and radio broadcasting. Essentially, Talia looks forward to being the Super Woman of Media.

Personal fun fact: Talia has been nominated “Most Talkative” seven consecutive times by seven different organizations.