Heather McClain

Assistant Producer, Essential Pittsburgh

Heather McClain is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, originally from the Main Line Philadelphia area. Her interests in the environment and sustainability have been reflected throughout her career, most recently as a news anchor and features reporter/producer at WBZH Community Radio in Pottstown, PA. At WBZH, Heather was host and producer of the weekly program Our Environment, and worked part-time as production assistant for the PBS TV program Growing a Greener World. Heather started her career at the CBS Early Show and the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric. She developed her public radio skills at WRTI public radio at Temple University.

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:51 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

Kevin Sousa’s New Restaurant Could be a Community-Driver for Braddock

Kevin Sousa, award-winning chef and owner of Salt of the Earth restaurant in East Liberty, has an ambitious plan to bring a community-driven restaurant to Braddock, PA.

And he’s appealing to the Pittsburgh community for help.

Sousa is working with community groups such as the Braddock Youth Project and Grow Pittsburgh to create a community-based, world class restaurant, which would include housing.

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Economy & Business
4:09 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

Namaste and the Business of Yoga in Pittsburgh

An outdoor yoga class in Grandview Park
Credit BYS yoga studio / Facebook

From the downward sun salutation, to the archer, yoga enthusiasts are striking poses across the country. And yoga studios are springing up everywhere.

According to business contributor Rebecca Harris, the classic techniques of yoga date back more than 5 thousand years, and come from a desire to develop greater personal freedom, health, and self understanding.

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Essential Pittsburgh
1:20 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

Wednesday Rundown: Helping Families in Crisis, Presidents in PA, and Rich Engler

US Congressman Tim Murphy talks about legislation designed to overhaul the nation's mental-health system.
Credit Tim Murphy / murphy.house.gov

These topics air Wednesday December 18, 2013 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. To leave a question or comment before or after the show dial 412-256-8783. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

More Essential Pittsburgh segments can be heard here.

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Arts & Culture
10:01 am
Tue December 17, 2013

That Weird Fridge in Your Garage May Be Destined for Carnegie Museum of Art

1960 Westinghouse Center Drawer Refrigerator Print Ad
Credit Amazon

Last week the Carnegie Museum of Art posted a tweet with an old advertisement for a 1960 Westinghouse Center Drawer Refrigerator asking,

“Have you seen one of these in your garage or in your neighbor’s basement?”

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Essential Pittsburgh
1:20 pm
Mon December 16, 2013

Tuesday Rundown: Supporting Goods & Services With a Sense of Place

Award-winning chef, Kevin Sousa hopes to incorporate a new farm to table approach for a restaurant in Braddock, PA.
Credit Braddock Youth Project / Superior Motors Kickstarter

These topics air Tuesday December 17, 2013 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. To leave a question or comment before or after the show dial 412-256-8783. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

More Essential Pittsburgh segments can be heard here.

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Essential Pittsburgh
1:21 pm
Sun December 15, 2013

Monday Rundown: Gluten-Free Diets & Top Sports Stories of 2013

'Tis the season for gluten-filled desserts. Exploring the merits of a gluten-free diet.
Credit Amy / Flickr

These topics air Monday December 16, 2013 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. To leave a question or comment before or after the show dial 412-256-8783. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

More Essential Pittsburgh segments can be heard here.

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Essential Pittsburgh
1:54 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

The World Cafe Sense of Place Series Comes to Pittsburgh

The Pittsburgh area band, Donora will be featured on the World Cafe Sense of Place Series this week
Credit World Cafe Live / WXPN

David Dye, host of WXPN's World Cafe Live came to Pittsburgh back in November for the Sense of Place Series. The collection of interviews and performances airs this week.

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Essential Pittsburgh
12:00 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch: Bricolage Raises Funds Following Theft

Last Saturday, during a production of Bricolage Theater's "Midnight Radio Animated Holidaze" show, a thief robbed the offices of computers and personal items. Ironically, Animated Holidaze includes a telling of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas."

In an email sent out this morning the owner of Bricolage wrote:

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Essential Pittsburgh
1:57 pm
Mon December 9, 2013

Making Child Abuse Easier to Define in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania legislators could vote this week to overhaul the state's child abuse laws.
Credit 90.5 WESA

The Pennsylvania Senate could be voting on legislation this week to overhaul the state's child abuse laws.

Three Senate committees have advanced six bills, the most important of which would change the definition of what constitutes child abuse, making it tougher and bringing it into line with the standards used in many other states.

The new wording would include, “intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causing bodily injury to a child.” It also lists a number of acts that would constitute abuse, such as kicking, burning or forcefully shaking or striking a child less than one year old.

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:30 pm
Tue December 3, 2013

The Jewish 20th Century Through the Experiences of One Family

One of David Laskin's relatives who immigrated to the US was Aunt Itel, a "genius at branding" who founded the Maidenform bra company.
Credit David Laskin

David Laskin is a Seattle based writer and author of the award-winning book, The Children’s Blizzard.

In his latest work, The Family: Three Journeys into the Heart of the Twentieth Century, Laskin tells the stories of three branches of his family: European victims of the Holocaust, pioneers of Palestine, and those who immigrated to America and founded the Maidenform Bra Company.

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:01 pm
Mon December 2, 2013

Remembering Dr. Rex Crawley

We remember the work of Dr. Rex Crawley
Credit Robert Morris University

Dr. Rex Crawley was a longtime professor at Robert Morris University and founder and co-director of the Black Male Leadership and Development Institute.

He died last week of complications of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. He was 49.

We spoke with him in June, as the institute’s week-long workshops were getting underway and talked about the need for such an institution in Southwestern PA.

Dr. Crawley is survived by his wife, Daria and two sons, Xavier and Vaughan.

Essential Pittsburgh
1:01 pm
Wed November 27, 2013

Author Amy Tan Explores Her Family Story with New Perspective

Author Amy Tan was in town for the Pittsburgh Arts and Lectures Monday night speaker series
Credit Ryan Loew / 90.5WESA

Through her new novel The Valley of Amazement author Amy Tan explores the struggles of mother-daughter relationships.

She says the staging of the book's characters in a Chinese courtesan house, was partly inspired by what she learned from an old photo of Chinese women, which reminded her of her grandmother.

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Essential Pittsburgh
1:00 pm
Wed November 27, 2013

Thanksgiving & Hanukkah Traditions Converge with Thanksgivukkah

American Gothikkah is just one of the images used to popularize the once in a lifetime holiday, Thanksgivukkah.
Credit Thanksgivukkah/Modern Tribe / Facebook

This year we will experience a once in a lifetime convergence of holidays. Thanksgiving and the first day of Hanukkah occur on the same day.

In celebration of what she calls a "Jewish-American mashup," Dana Reichman Gitell, a native of Squirrel Hill, has popularized the term “Thanksgivukkah” online.

She says most people are tickled by the playful cultural juxtaposition of imagery that can be found on sites like Modern Tribe.

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Essential Pittsburgh
3:26 pm
Tue November 26, 2013

The Ripple Effects: New Solutions for Water Pollution

Raw sewage and rainwater overflow into Chartiers Creek.
Credit 3 Rivers Wet Weather

The Allegheny County Sanitary Authority plans to spend more than $2 billion to build miles of new underground tunnels, and to upgrade its wastewater treatment plant.

Some clean river advocates are pushing for alternatives, like green infrastructure.

The Allegheny Front’s Julie Grant looks at the latest in the debate over ALCOSAN’s plan to renovate the region’s sewer system in an on-going series titled Ripple Effects.

Essential Pittsburgh
4:37 pm
Mon November 25, 2013

State Transportation Funding Passed Through Compromise

Credit joseph a / Flickr

The PA state legislature has finally approved a transportation bill that would fund mass transit and infrastructure improvements. Governor Tom Corbett and many others in the state have been pushing for its passage for well over a year.

State capitol correspondent Mary Wilson says by leading the most recent round of compromises between Republican and Democratic Representatives, the House speaker should be credited for the final adoption of this contentious bill.

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Essential Pittsburgh
7:32 pm
Fri November 22, 2013

For Drew Carey, Stand Up is Not So Different From Hosting Price is Right

Comedian and host, Drew Carey
Credit Drew Carey / Facebook

Drew Carey is a stand-up comic, turned actor and producer, who produced and hosted two hit shows simultaneously, the long-running ABC sitcom The Drew Carey Show, which ran from 1995-2004, and the improvisational comedy show Whose Line Is It Anyway?

In 2007, Carey became host of The Price Is Right, succeeding longtime host Bob Barker.

While he continues to have a successful TV career, Carey says stand-up comedy is something he's always enjoyed doing and it helps him in his work on the Price is Right.

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Essential Pittsburgh
7:01 pm
Fri November 22, 2013

Pittsburghers Relive Speeches of JFK & Share Remembrances

President Kennedy riding in a motorcade through Dallas, TX before being shot.
Credit Walt Cisco / Dallas Morning News

Fifty years after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Pittsburgh's Prime Stage Theatre is presenting The Kennedy Legacy, a program where audience members can relive the powerful speeches of President John F. Kennedy and share remembrances of that time period.

Prime Stage artistic director Wayne Brinda was 13 years old in 1963. And even though he was just a kid, Brinda remembers exactly where he was when he heard the president had been shot. 

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Essential Pittsburgh
6:25 pm
Fri November 22, 2013

Assassination of JFK Set The Stage For Breaking News Coverage

CBS News anchor Walter Cronkite removing his glasses as he announces that President Kennedy is dead.
Credit CBS archives / Wikipedia

The assassination of President John F. Kennedy changed the lives of many, as well as the trajectory of world and media history. 

For professor Jeff Ritter, chair of the department of communication at La Roche College, TV coverage of the assassination set the stage for breaking news coverage in the future, and the trust Americans would have in veteran journalists such as Walter Cronkite.

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:15 pm
Wed November 20, 2013

Western Europe Finds Common Ground in Braddock, PA

North Braddock, overlooking the steelworks.
Credit Joseph A. / Flickr

Recently a French film crew came to Braddock, PA sensing that the fate of Braddock might well be the same for Western Europe.

What they discovered is: From George Washington to Andrew Carnegie, through the French and Indian War, to the collapse of the steel industry, these few acres along the Monongahela River have always been a battleground.

The film Braddock America – which played at the Cannes Film Festival and the Three Rivers Film Festival– lets the people of Braddock tell their stories, as they weave together the past, the present, and the future.

Co-directors Gabriella Kessler and Jean-Loïc Portron have different backgrounds and experiences but they found common ground in Braddock.

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Essential Pittsburgh
3:31 pm
Wed November 20, 2013

Pittsburghers Aiding the Victims of Typhoon Haiyan

Loading medical supplies to ship to the Philippines.
Credit Brother's Brother Foundation / Facebook

In the wake of Typhoon Haiyan, which devastated the Philippines on November 8th, organizations all over the world have been sending aid to the victims.

Locally, Brother’s Brother Foundation is working with the Philippine American Medical Society of Western Pennsylvania to move medical supplies to the Philippines.

Luke Hingson, president of Brother’s Brother says his organization has been active in the Philippines since the 1950s. One of the inherent problems when responding to natural disasters is the uncertainty of what to expect from the situation.

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:55 pm
Wed November 20, 2013

In Line Behind A Billion People: What Scarcity in China Means For Pittsburgh

Where can Pittsburgh fit in when it comes to the world's fastest growing economy?
Credit Lim CK / Flickr

China has one of the world's fastest growing economies. But, how do changes in China affect people in Pittsburgh?

PNC Vice President and Senior International Economist Bill Adams is co-author of the new book, In Line Behind A Billion People: How Scarcity Will Define China’s Ascent in the Next Decade.

Looking at the state of its current economy, and projections for the future, Adams is concerned about what happens if China runs out of the things it needs to keep growing.

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Essential Pittsburgh
3:36 pm
Tue November 19, 2013

When "Silly Remarks" Become Landmarks: The Gettysburg Address 150 Years Later

An 1863 daguerreotype of Lincoln, at the time of the Gettysburg Address. He was 54 years old.
Credit Alexander Gardner / Wikipedia

150 years ago President Abraham Lincoln stood in Gettysburg, PA, at the site of one of the most important battles of the American Civil War to consecrate a cemetery for those who died for the Union cause. Lincoln’s speech was brief but had a lasting historical impact.

In the new book titled, The Greatest Speech Ever: The Remarkable Story of Abraham Lincoln and His Gettysburg Address, Judge James L. Cotton, Jr. looks at the influence Lincoln's famous words.

“The Gettysburg Address has just as much meaning and relevance today as it did 150 years ago,” says Cotton.

But he says the address received little appreciation in Lincoln’s lifetime.

The Retraction Heard 'Round the World

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:50 pm
Mon November 18, 2013

Banning Contact Sports for Young Players

Bob Dvorchak is sports writer emeritus for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Credit Bob Dvorchak / Sports n'at

Robert Morris University recently reported that nearly half of all Americans say they would favor a ban on contact football for kids that have not yet entered middle school.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette sports writer emeritus, Bob Dvorchak said on Essential Pittsburgh, “I think it speaks to the heightened awareness of head injuries on all levels of sports and especially youth sports.”

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Behavioral Health
4:48 pm
Thu November 14, 2013

Is Internet Addiction as Damaging as Drugs, Alcohol and Gambling?

Credit ebayink / flickr

Internet addiction is said to be more pervasive than alcoholism in the United States, and while treatment is available, how do you know when you need it?

Dr. Kimberly Young is founder of the Center for Internet Addiction at Bradford Regional Medical Center in central Pennsylvania, the first inpatient treatment program for Internet addiction in the nation.

Dr. Young says she first encountered internet addiction in 1994 when she learned that a friend’s husband was spending more than 50 hours a week in AOL chat rooms, at a time when internet usage was billed by the hour.

“It made me wonder, ‘could people get addicted to the internet in the same way we talk about drugs, alcohol, food, and gambling?’,” says Young.

From there she met people who have experienced job-loss, weight-loss and ruined relationships, because they couldn’t control their use of the internet.

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:06 pm
Thu November 14, 2013

Bill Peduto's New Administration More Diverse Than Pittsburgh Itself?

Bill Peduto once referred to as the mayor of the East End, invites the whole city to take part in his administration.
Credit Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

As Bill Peduto rolls out ideas for his new administration, Pittsburgh City Paper editor Chris Potter notes that the transition is an interesting honeymoon time period for the city and the mayor-elect. Diversity, accountability, and transparency have been common buzzwords for the emerging team.

He symbolically embraced the diversity of Pittsburgh's neighborhoods when he chose to hold his election night victory party at Homewood's Greater Pittsburgh Coliseum.

From there Potter says the Peduto cabinet is shaping up to be more diverse than the city of Pittsburgh itself, and not just for racial and ethnic reasons.

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