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
9:34 pm
Tue March 19, 2013

Hedrick Smith: Who Stole the American Dream?

Journalist, Hedrick Smith examines how historic policy changes have impacted the American middle class.
Credit Hedrick Smith

  Hedrick Smith is the Pulitzer Prize winning former reporter with the NY Times, Emmy Award winning reporter/producer for PBS’s Frontline. In his new book Who Stole the American Dream, the author talks with 90.5 WESA reporter Kevin Gavin about how the dream has been dismantled and we became two Americas.

Essential Pittsburgh
9:10 pm
Tue March 19, 2013

The Capitol Steps: 30 Years of Satire

Elaina Newport is a founding member of the Capitol Steps
Credit Capitol Steps

  The political performers known as The Capitol Steps, are a singing troupe that began with a group of Senate staffers who set out to satirize the government that employed them. Collectively, they’re said to represent 18 Congressional offices and 62 years of collective House and Senate staff experience. This week, members of the Capitol Steps are coming to town to perform for the Traffic Club of Pittsburgh. We'll talk with Elaina Newport, a founding member and writer who worked in the Senate as a legislative aid.

Watch the Capitol Steps' 30 Years of Satire video

Essential Pittsburgh
9:00 pm
Mon March 18, 2013

Lean In: Can Women Really Have It All?

Our Business Contributor, Rebecca Harris is the Director of Chatham University's Center for Women's Entrepreneurship
Credit Rebecca Harris / Chatham Center for Women's Entrepreneurship

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg has been on a media blitz since the release of her book Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead. Our business contributor Rebecca Harris takes a look at the controversy surrounding Sheryl Sandberg. Can all women have it all? Or just the privileged?

Speaking Volumes
9:00 pm
Mon March 18, 2013

Speaking Volumes on Essential Pittsburgh: Kate Dewey

Forbes Fund President Kate Dewey
Credit Vantagen

As President of the Forbes Funds, Kate Dewey is interested in how nonprofits can adapt along with changing technology. She talks with 90.5 WESA host, Josh Raulerson about some of her favorite reading picks, including Trillions: Thriving in the Emerging Information Ecology by local authors Peter Lucas, Joe Ballay & Mickey McManus of Maya Design.

Essential Pittsburgh
9:00 pm
Mon March 18, 2013

How Can Pittsburgh Be More Liveable?

Is Pittsburgh really the most livable city for everyone?
Credit Van Corey / Flickr

Pittsburgh has been on a number of lists praising its livability. However, a new regional study titled Pittsburgh Today & Tomorrow, finds city residents have a number of concerns when it comes to the quality of life. We'll discuss those concerns with Pittsburgh Quarterly publisher Doug Heuck and reporter Jeffery Fraser.

Essential Pittsburgh
9:00 pm
Mon March 18, 2013

Seton Hill in Mourning

Seton Hill University administration building located in Greensburg, PA
Credit Irteagle102704 / Wikipedia

The Seton Hill women's lacrosse team continues to mourn the loss of head coach Kristina Quigley who died in a bus crash Saturday while traveling with her team. With wounds on the campus still fresh, Penn Live.com and Patriot News newspaper writer John Luciew has been covering the story and joins us to talk about the mood on campus.

Essential Pittsburgh
1:39 pm
Mon March 18, 2013

Breaking Down the Steubenville Verdict

David Harris teaches criminal law at the University of Pittsburgh Law School.
Credit University of Pittsburgh Law School

On Sunday, a verdict was announced in the rape case of two high school football players in Steubenville, Ohio. University of Pittsburgh law professor, David Harris breaks down the details of the verdict and the role of social media in the case.

Essential Pittsburgh
10:16 pm
Sun March 17, 2013

Liquor Sales in PA: Modernize or Privatize?

Are private liquor stores the answer for the Commonwealth?
Credit William Ward / Flickr

Many policy makers in the commonwealth are looking for ways to change the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board. But not all agree on what changes need to be made. State Senator Jim Ferlo joins us to explain how he thinks the PLCB should be modernized.  And Matthew Brouillette, President and CEO of the public policy group, the Commonwealth Foundation explains his group's privatization approach, which the Corbett administration is in favor of. 

Essential Pittsburgh
4:35 pm
Sat March 16, 2013

Pittsburgh City Council News with Noah

WESA City Council Reporter Noah Brode gives us an update on council legislation.
Credit 90.5 WESA / 90.5 WESA

  90.5 WESA reporter Noah Brode gives us a weekly look at Pittsburgh City Council. We talk about how council members hope to clean up police accounts and improve police staffing and promotions.

Essential Pittsburgh
3:58 pm
Sat March 16, 2013

What About Bob? Sports Talk With Bob Dvorchak

Sports writer Bob Dvorchak joins us each week for a little Monday morning quarterbacking
Credit Bob Dvorchak / Sports n'at

  Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Sportswriter Emeritus Bob Dvorchak joins us for his regular Monday segment. This week he'll preview Pitt's appearance in the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament, discuss NHL realignment and how free agency is draining the Steelers' star players.  

Essential Pittsburgh
5:00 am
Fri March 15, 2013

A Taste of Wigle Whiskey

A taste of Wigle Whiskey's distillery tour/history lesson
Credit Heather McClain / 90.5 WESA

Each weekend Wigle Whiskey, located in the Strip District, offers distillery tours connecting whiskey lovers to Pittsburgh history. On the tour, Meredith Grelli tells 2 stories. The first is a story about turning organic rye grains into whiskey. The other is about the distillery’s namesake, the rebellious Philip Wigle; who almost died for the sake of whiskey. Here’s a taste of the Wigle tour.

This segment of Essential Pittsburgh originally aired on August 23, 2012

Essential Pittsburgh
5:00 am
Fri March 15, 2013

Failed Evidence

David Harris is the author of Failed Evidence
Credit University of Pittsburgh Law School

Pitt Law Professor David Harris discusses his latest book, Failed Evidence, which challenges police and prosecutors to embrace science when investigating crimes, in order to prevent miscarriages of justice.

This segment originally aired on Essential Pittsburgh September 11, 2012

Essential Pittsburgh
5:00 am
Fri March 15, 2013

How Is Your School Doing?

The interactive site, How's Your School Doing? is based on PSSA data and other local school stats
Credit Shannan Muskopf / Flickr

How Is Your School Doing? is an interactive tool that allows parents and residents to see how their district is performing. Enter a child's grade and demographic subdivision — white, black, male, female, etc. — and you'll be able to see how your school compares to others in your district, how your child's demographic is being served and where your school stacks up statewide.  Developer and Pittsburgh Post Gazette Reporter, Andrew McGill talks about how the program works.

This segment originally aired on Essential Pittsburgh on October 30, 2012

Government & Politics
5:00 am
Fri March 15, 2013

Haitian Families First

Pittsburgh natives, Jamie and Alie McMutrie have been running an orphanage in Haiti for 8 years and talk about life in Port-au-Prince before and after the earthquake struck.
Credit Haitian Families First / Facebook

Sisters Jamie and Alie McMutrie, founders of Haitian Families First, talk about their work helping orphaned children in Haiti before and after the country's earthquake.

This segment of Essential Pittsburgh originally aired November 1, 2012

Essential Pittsburgh
9:00 pm
Wed March 13, 2013

Choosing a New Pope

Cardinal Jorge M. Bergoglio SJ (later to become Pope Francis) celebrating mass in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He's the first Latin American Pope.
Credit Aibdescalzo / Wikipedia

It was white smoke and a new Pope Tuesday evening. The Pittsburgh Tribune Review Middle East correspondent, Betsy Hiel has been covering the historic event from Vatican City. She talks about reactions in Rome to the selection of Pope Francis.

And Pope Francis decided to adopt the name of the patron saint of the environment and animals--St Francis of Assisi. Catholic nuns who have devoted their lives to living in the way of St Francis were over the moon when the announcement was made. Our content partners at the Allegheny Front talked with the Sisters of St Francis of the Providence of God Convent in the White Hall section of Pittsburgh about the 12th century saint.

Then, Protocol and ceremony are always part of the selection of a new Pope. So what goes on behind the scenes in the Conclave? What went into the selection of Pope Francis, the first Latin American Pope? What's next for him? Duquesne University Law Professor and Canon Law Scholar, Nicholas Cafardi  talks about the conclave and the papacy.

Essential Pittsburgh
9:00 pm
Wed March 13, 2013

What's a St. Patrick's Day Parade Without Bag Pipes?

Taking a look at the history of the bag pipe and it's connection to St. Patrick's Day
Credit Bonnie Cousins / Pittsburgh St. Patrick's Day Parade

Award Winning Bagpiper, E.A. Channon, author of "Ballad of a Bagpiper: Whatever Blows Up Your Kilt" has performed for royals like Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Diana and icons like Bill Gates and President Reagan. He tells us everything we could possibly want to know about bagpipes.

Then, Pittsburgh St. Patrick's Day Parade Committee Chairman Pat O'Brien joins us to talk about how the Steel City's St. Patty's Day parade has become the second biggest in the country.

Essential Pittsburgh
9:00 pm
Wed March 13, 2013

Spa Day with the New Girl

Our Travel Contributor, Elaine Labalme also writes for the e-zine Pop City
Credit Heather McClain / 90.5 WESA

Whether it’s an exotic locale or a local day spa, a massage, facial and aromatherapy could be just what the doctor ordered. Travel contibutor Elaine Labalme offers some tempting spa suggestions.

Essential Pittsburgh
9:00 pm
Tue March 12, 2013

South by Southwest: Spotlight on Pittsburgh

Each year, thousands gather at the Austin Texas Convention Center for SXSW Music, Film and Interactive conferences & festival
Credit Scott Beale / Flickr

One of the best known music events in the country is the South by Southwest Music, Film and Interactive Festival. We'll take a look at the growing relationship between music and innovation at the festival, and how Pittsburgh innovation fits in. This year marked the first time Pittsburgh has had an official presence at SXSW. The Pittsburgh Innovation Party was hosted by Heinz College at CMU and the Pittsburgh Technology Council. Ari Lightman, Distinguished Service Professor and Director of the CIO institute at Heinz College and Brad Stephenson, senior web media and marketing manager at Heinz College have just returned from SXSW and talk about Pittsburgh's interactive presence.

And Pittsburgh-based electronic music Producer and DJ, Buku talks about his future plans, including a performance at SXSW, and the challenges of getting noticed in the music business. Sample his music at Soundcloud.

Essential Pittsburgh
9:00 pm
Tue March 12, 2013

Christopher Kennedy Lawford: Kicking Habits and Recovering to Live

Christopher Kennedy Lawford has been sober for 24 years. Hear how he recovered from drug and alcohol addiction.
Credit Christopher Kennedy Lawford

New York Times Best selling Author, Activist, and Actor Christopher Kennedy Lawford  chronicled his battle with near-fatal drug and alcohol addiction in the memoir Symptoms of Withdrawal. We'll talk with him about his latest book RECOVER TO LIVE: Kick Any Habit, Manage Any Addiction and his journey back to sobriety.

Essential Pittsburgh
9:00 pm
Mon March 11, 2013

Speaking from Experience: Former Police Chiefs on Selection of a New Chief

How do other police chiefs view the ousting of Nate Harper? And what course do they think we should take once a new mayor is elected?
Credit Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

On Monday, Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl told reporters he’s decided to leave the hiring of a new police chief to whomever the next Mayor will be. We'll talk with Elizabeth Township Chief of Police, Robert McNeilly about his experience as Pittsburgh police chief from 1996 to 2006; the pressures of the position, potential for corruption and the attributes to look for in a new chief. And Darrel Stephens Executive Director of Major Cities Chiefs Association talks about his experience as a police chief and consultant to cities like Pittsburgh.

Essential Pittsburgh
9:00 pm
Mon March 11, 2013

Downtown Pittsburgh Living: From 9 to 5 to Full-Fledged Neighborhood

Downtown Pittsburgh is becoming more of a neighborhood, as more people move there to live, not just work.
Credit Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA News

It’s often said Pittsburgh is a city of neighborhoods. There are the bustling neighborhoods of Oakland and Squirrel Hill, the struggling neighborhood of Homewood, and the transitioning neighborhoods in between. Then there’s a shadow neighborhood. Some people call it the Golden Triangle, some call it the business district, and others call it home. 90.5 WESA reporter, Deanna Garcia looks at the present and the future of Downtown living.

Essential Pittsburgh
9:00 pm
Mon March 11, 2013

Speaking Volumes on Essential Pittsburgh: Alex Johnson

Alex Johnson
Credit Josh Raulerson/90.5 WESA

It may not be Hogwarts, but Community College of Allegheny County president and Harry Potter fan Alex Johnson is passionate about his school. He shares his reading recommendations with 90.5 WESA Morning Edition Host Josh Raulerson.

Essential Pittsburgh
9:00 pm
Mon March 11, 2013

Women and the Business of Sports Management

Rebecca Harris is our weekly business contributor
Credit Rebecca Harris / Chatham Center for Women's Entrepreneurship

While Hilary Clinton declared the glass ceiling for women seeking the highest political office has 18-million cracks, some fields like pro sports remain a boys club. Contributor Rebecca Harris looks at the business of  women in sports management.Want to learn more about the sports management industry? Becca Harris recommends Women in Sports and Events and sports management Networking

Essential Pittsburgh
9:57 am
Fri March 8, 2013

Patrick Dowd: What's Next for the City?

City Councilman Patrick Dowd discusses police force improvements council members would like to see in the wake of former Chief Harper's resignation.
Credit Patrick Dowd / Facebook

Pittsburgh City Councilman Patrick Dowd discusses police force improvements council members would like to see and what Mayor Ravenstahl's decision not to run for reelection means for the city.

Essential Pittsburgh
9:00 pm
Thu March 7, 2013

Local Goodness: Maple Syrup Season is Here

Grades of maple syrup can range from light to dark coloring, which dictates the strength of the maple flavor.
Credit Wikipedia

When one thinks of pure maple syrup, Vermont often comes to mind. However, Pennsylvania's maple season is also highly anticipated for those with a sweet tooth. Our local food contributor Rhonda Schuldt shares some maple syrup cooking tips and talks about the abundance of local festivals.

Celebrate Maple Season at a local festival:

March 16 & 17 - 10th Annual NW Pennsylvania Maple Association Taste & Tour Weekend in the Erie area 

March 16, 17, 20-24 - 66th Annual PA Maple Festival in Somerset, PA 

April 6 & 7 - The Beaver County Maple Syrup Festival at Brady's Run Park in Beaver, PA

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