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
8:06 pm
Mon June 24, 2013

Speaking Volumes on Essential Pittsburgh: Steve Tuell

Steve Tuell is a professor at the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.
Credit Josh Raulerson / 90.5 WESA

Steve Tuell studies Hebrew and the Old Testament at the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. As a theologian and a scholar of ancient languages, he has a special appreciation for the fantasy fiction of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. Steve Tuell shares his current reading interests with 90.5 WESA Morning Edition Host Josh Raulerson.

Essential Pittsburgh
7:51 pm
Mon June 24, 2013

The Business of Landscaping with Rebecca Harris

A recent national survey showed 81 percent of people with a yard say the upkeep is important to the look of their home. This week it’s all about the curb appeal and joining us to talk about the business of landscaping and what it can do for your home is business contributor Rebecca Harris.

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:14 pm
Thu June 13, 2013

Sole Power: Getting an Innovative Product to Market

Sole Power captures the energy in a step normally lost to the surrounding environment and converts it into electrical power.
Credit Sole Power

Like a power-packed Dr. Scholl's insert, Sole Power is a device that allows people to charge devices as they walk. It's currently in the prototype, fundraising phase, but is said to have the potential to fully charge small devices like a cell phone with 2 and a half miles of walking.

"We're hoping to serve military personnel, people stuck in emergency situations, hikers and people in developing nations who don’t have access to electricity on a regular basis."  Says Matthew Stanton, Founder of Sole Power.

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:13 pm
Thu June 13, 2013

Americans for the Arts

Art All Night in Lawrenceville
Credit Cory Cousins / Flickr

Over the next three days, arts and community leaders from around the country are gathering around town to strategize about how to better communicate the impact the arts make in U.S. cities. Robert Lynch, President and CEO of Americans for the Arts, joins us to talk about the convention and how Pittsburgh's strategy in this area has become the benchmark for others.

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Essential Pittsburgh
11:21 pm
Wed June 12, 2013

The Cultural Impact of Pittsburgh Pride Fest

What kind of cultural impact do you think PrideFest makes in Pittsburgh?
Credit Ginny / Flickr

This weekend the Pittsburgh Pride Festival is expected to generate huge revenue for the city and bring thousands of individuals and families to Liberty Avenue. The parade and concerts at Pride Fest have become mainstream collaborations with city groups like Visit Pittsburgh and major sponsorship.

Pittsburgh Pride's website quotes Richard Florida in his best-selling book on economic growth, The Rise of the Creative Class, “the most successful regions welcome all kinds of people. The presence of an LGBT community in large numbers is an indicator of an underlying culture that is open-minded and diverse. People look for cities with lots of gay people when they are hunting for a place to live and work. The presence of gays signals an exciting place, where people can fit in and be themselves.“

But how representative of Pittsburgh's LGBTQ community is Pride Fest? And how do you go about organizing a large scale festival such as Pride, in a way that's inclusive for all aspects of the LGBTQ community and Pittsburgh as a whole?

We'll have a conversation about Pittsburgh PrideFest and its cultural impact with Gary Van Horn, President of the Delta Foundation, which organizes PrideFest and Sue Kerr, Editor of Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondence, an LGBTQ Blog.

Essential Pittsburgh
10:49 pm
Wed June 12, 2013

Kitchen Conversations with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Food Section and Joey Fatone

Special cooking guest, Joey Fatone does some grilling with Post Gazette food writer Gretchen McKay
Haldan Kirsch 90.5 WESA

We recently teamed up with food writer, Gretchen McKay, dining critic Melissa McCart and food editor Bob Batz Jr., the folks behind the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Food Section and PG Plate for a discussion on outdoor cooking trends.

And just in time for Father's Day, pop music singer, dancer, father and cooking show host, Joey Fatone was recently in town for the Pittsburgh CLO production of 42nd Street. So Gretchen made him a classic Pittsburgh dish with a twist in the Post-Gazette Outdoor Test Kitchen.

Essential Pittsburgh
10:29 pm
Wed June 12, 2013

Getting Where You're Going with the New Girl in Town

Exploring modes of travel with Pop City writer and travel contributor Elaine Labalme
Credit Ryan Lane / Flickr

Whether you’re traveling by plane, train or automobile, sometimes the journey is more fun than the destination. This week travel contributor Elaine Labalme looks at various modes of transportation.

Essential Pittsburgh
6:30 pm
Tue June 11, 2013

Pittsburgh Public Housing Shortage

Nearly 23,000 people are on the wait list for public housing in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County. Including 51 year old Yvonne Smith, who waited 6 months for a low income apartment
Credit Halle Stockton / PublicSource

Pittsburgh's city housing authority recently closed the waitlist for the majority of public housing properties. This is the  first time in 17 years this has happened and reflects the critical shortage of public housing in the city and Allegheny County.

Reporter Halle Stockton has written about this issue for our content partner Public Source and joins us to look at this issue.

Essential Pittsburgh
6:20 pm
Tue June 11, 2013

The War at Home: Expansion Plans for the Mexican War Streets

The Mexican War Streets on Pittsburgh's Northside are named after battles from the Mexican War
Credit Via Tsuji / Flickr

Expansion plans to designate more of the North Side as a historic district are causing an uproar in the Mexican War Streets. It's an issue that has neighbors split and calls into question the issue of who has a say in the neighborhood's master plan.

Paul Johnson, president of the Mexican War Streets Society and Post-Gazette reporter Diana Nelson Jones who covers the city's neighborhoods talk about the controversy.

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Essential Pittsburgh
6:35 pm
Mon June 10, 2013

The Life of Learning Initiative on 90.5 WESA

Kevin Gavin is the Executive Producer of 90.5 WESA's Life of Learning initiative
Credit Kevin Gavin / WESA

This week 90.5 WESA is  launching a three-year learning initiative.

Life of Learning will focus on learning and education activities, opportunities and challenges in the Greater Pittsburgh area. A five part series begins airing this week during Morning Edition and All Things Considered. Kevin Gavin, Executive Producer of 90.5 WESA’s Life of Learning talks about the scope of the initiative.

Essential Pittsburgh
6:26 pm
Mon June 10, 2013

Cyber Security Basics: Assume That Private Communication Is Never Private

Mark Wuegler is senior security researcher at Immunity Inc. A cyber security firm
Credit Michael Sias / Immunity Inc.

Edward Snowden is the source of leaks of government surveillance programs within the United States. Which have raised questions about our privacy and how much information the government is gathering about us by phone and on the internet. 

Mark Wuergler, Senior Security Researcher for the cyber security firm Immunity, says the NSA has the means and motive to spy on anyone. We'll talk with him about the NSA and security.

The government has been watching ever since the NSA was created. They've been finding and trying new ways of watching and listening and recording. And they're really good at it.

 

Essential Pittsburgh
6:25 pm
Mon June 10, 2013

Speaking Volumes on Essential Pittsburgh: Tim Sweterlitsch

Pittsburgh writer Tim Sweterlitsch talks with WESA Morning Edition host Josh Raulerson about his wide-ranging interests in fiction.

Essential Pittsburgh
6:24 pm
Mon June 10, 2013

The Business of Non-Profits

Rebecca Harris is the Executive Director of the Center for Women's Entrepreneurship at Chatham University
Credit Rebecca Harris / Chatham Center for Women's Entrepreneurship

Business Contributor Rebecca Harris and Peggy Outon, the Executive Director, Bayer Center for Nonprofit Management at Robert Morris University discuss the business of nonprofits, and how the nonprofit sector enhances the business environment in our region.

For statistics on earnings in the non-profit industry visit the United Way of Allegheny County  and Guidestar,  a resource for statistics on all things nonprofit

Essential Pittsburgh
6:01 pm
Fri June 7, 2013

Political Commentary on Essential Pittsburgh

A former Pittsburgh police detective who served on Mayor Luke Ravenstahl's security detail has been approached by the FBI about using debit cards tied to an unauthorized account at the Greater Pittsburgh Police Federal Credit Union. Will his testimony open Mayor Ravenstahl to federal investigation?

Pittsburgh City Council President Darlene Harris changed her party affiliation from democratic to independent in April. Many wonder if she's planning to make a play for mayor

And State Representative Jesse White is under investigation for using a fake online identity to bash his political opponents.

Guests: Eric Heyl of the Tribune-Review and Bram Reichbaum of the Pittsburgh Comet discuss these political topics and more.

Essential Pittsburgh
6:01 pm
Fri June 7, 2013

Urban Alchemy: Restoring Joy in America's Sorted Out Cities

We're all products of our environment so maybe we need to improve our prospects neighborhood by neighborhood.
Credit WESA

In her new book Urban Alchemy: Restoring Joy in America's Sorted Out Cities, Dr. Mindy Fullilove presents a psychiatrist’s views on how to fix the American city. We'll discuss how a public health and well-being approach to urban planning and design can benefit neighborhoods and the people who live in them.

Essential Pittsburgh
5:50 pm
Fri June 7, 2013

Life of Learning Series: Why Do We Have Summer Vacation?

Kids playing in the PPG Place Fountain during their summer vacation probably never stop to think about why they have those 3 months of R & R
Credit Flickr

Alice Cooper famously sang, "School's out for summer," but why, exactly, do schools close from June to September? WESA's Life of Learning initiative begins with this report by 90.5 WESA Senior News Editor Mark Nootbaar.

Essential Pittsburgh
5:09 pm
Fri June 7, 2013

Sports Talk with Bob Dvorchak

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

Sports Illustrated's inaugural Male College Athlete of the Year award has gone to a wrestler at Cornell University, just as the International Olympic Committee announced that the sport of wrestling is still in the running for inclusion in the 2020 games.

Guest: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Sportswriter Emeritus, Bob Dvorchak discusses a possible reinstatement of wrestling in the Olympics and the ongoing story of performance enhancing drugs in baseball.

Essential Pittsburgh
6:48 pm
Thu June 6, 2013

Defending Joe Paterno and Challenging the Freeh Report

Former PA Governor and Attorney General Dick Thornburgh
Credit Dominic McDevit / Wikipedia

    

Former Pennsylvania Governor Dick Thornburgh feels former FBI director Louis Freeh's investigation of the Jerry Sandusky abuse case was not conclusively supported by evidence. The Penn State case marked the first time the NCAA punished an institution solely for transgressions related to a criminal matter.

The family of former coach Joe Paterno and other plaintiffs sued the NCAA last week, accusing the organization of intentionally defaming and commercially disparaging them through the imposition of sanctions against Penn State.

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Essential Pittsburgh
6:34 pm
Thu June 6, 2013

Welcoming Back the Point State Park Fountain

Friday marks the completion of the final phase in the renovation of Point State Park
Credit Image by Pressley Associates, courtesy Riverlife

It's been four years since the fountain in Point State Park was last in operation. The fountain and the Park were in constant use, without any renovations for more than 30 years, until Pittsburgh's 250th anniversary. The reopening of the fountain marks the final phase of a 6 year renovation process, which has been documented on the Riverlife Taskforce Blog with before and after photos.

The waterworks resume this weekend, just in time for the Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival.

Guest: Lisa Schroeder is President and Chief Executive Officer of Riverlife Pittsburgh a group that's promoting the rebirth of Point State Park and the fountain.

Essential Pittsburgh
6:13 pm
Thu June 6, 2013

Opera Theater and Fallingwater: Two Worlds Making Beautiful Music Together

The Opera Theater of Pittsburgh will be performing from the terraces of Fallingwater
Marcus Charleston WESA

Celebrated American architect Frank Lloyd Wright once drew up plans for the area occupied by Point State Park. While those plans didn’t come to fruition, the area is proud to boast two homes designed by the visionary architect – Kentuck Knob and the iconic Fallingwater. This weekend, which would have been Frank Lloyd Wright’s 146th birthday, the Opera Theater of Pittsburgh, in conjunction with the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, will present Shining Brow, an opera covering eleven years in the life of Frank Lloyd Wright, performed on the exterior terraces of Fallingwater.

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Essential Pittsburgh
5:55 pm
Thu June 6, 2013

Pedaling The GAP Trail By Rickshaw

Travel the Great Allegheny Passage by pedicab
Credit Green Gears Pedicabs

The Great Allegheny Passage runs 150 miles between Pittsburgh and Cumberland Maryland. This year the Allegheny Trail Alliance celebrates its near completion.

Jennifer Szweda Jordan, host of the Allegheny Front takes a short trip, by rickshaw, in the Pittsburgh section of the trail with Green Gears Pedicabs.

Essential Pittsburgh
4:27 pm
Thu June 6, 2013

The Wonder Boys Explore the Mysteries of Pittsburgh

The view from the highest point in Pittsburgh. Can you tell where it is?
Credit Daniel Tkacik and Ellis Robinson / I Wonder

Ellis Robinson and Daniel Tkacik are Ph.D candidates at Carnegie Mellon University. When they’re not in the lab or studying, they’ve found time to produce and host a podcast called I Wonder. Each episode starts with a question, which Ellis and Daniel attempt to answer within a half hour. In this clip, they start with a story of Ellis cursing the hills of Pittsburgh on his single speed bike and wondering about the highest point in Pittsburgh.

Essential Pittsburgh
6:28 pm
Wed June 5, 2013

Senator Jay Costa on Adopting Medicaid Expansion

Time is running out for PA to make a decision on Medicaid Expansion
Credit Flickr

When the Supreme Court's ruled in favor of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) last year, they gave states the option to opt out of the law's Medicaid expansion. This left the decision of whether or not to participate in the hands of our governors and state lawmakers.

If adopted in Pennsylvania, the Medicaid expansion would cover people earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, about $15,400 for a single person and $31,800 for a family of four. And the federal government  would pay 100 percent of the cost of the expansion for the first three years, with the federal share dropping to 90 percent by 2021 and remaining 90 percent thereafter.

Governor Corbett has said he does not want to adopt the expansion because it would "add to a budget burden that's unsustainable. "

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Essential Pittsburgh
5:55 pm
Wed June 5, 2013

Previewing the Three Rivers Arts Festival With Rosemary Welsch

It's that time of year again!
Credit 91.3 WYEP

The 54th annual Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival opens Downtown this Friday, at an exciting time. The Point State Park fountain will be up and running again for the first time in 4 years, serving as a backdrop for the bands, visual artists and vendors. Festival media sponsor, 91.3 WYEP will be broadcasting live from the Point on Friday afternoon as the fountain starts up again and the first act starts to play the main stage.

WYEP Afternoon Mix Host, Rosemary Welsch will host the kickoff show and previews the most anticipated acts coming to the Three Rivers Arts Festival, including Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, as well as local favorite, Donora.

Essential Pittsburgh
5:54 pm
Wed June 5, 2013

The New Girl Visits America's National Parks Part Two: Western Parks

Take a long scenic hike through Yellowstone National Park
Credit Kim Seng / Flickr

Ever think of spending your summer vacation visiting America’s national parks? Last week travel contributor Elaine Labalme focused on national parks in the eastern half of the United States. This week we’re heading west to Yellowstone, Yosemite, Zion, Glacier and Rocky Mountain National Parks. Take in the sights, get active outdoors, and guard your picnic baskets!

Essential Pittsburgh
3:19 pm
Tue June 4, 2013

Exiled Voices of China and Tibet Come To Pittsburgh

Dr. Martin-Liao is President of Independent Chinese PEN (Poets, Essayists and Novelists) and Poet and musician Liao Yiwu will read from his prison memoir
Credit City of Asylum

The Pittsburgh based online magazine, Sampsonia Way, seeks to protect and advocate for writers in asylum, educate the public about threats to literary expression, and to create a community where endangered writers can thrive. This is made possible by the Northside's City of Asylum Pittsburgh.

Exiled Voices of China and Tibet is an event taking place this weekend at the City of Asylum.  Notable international writers will for the first time, be able to talk about the exercise of fundamental human rights in China. For many of these writers, they've never been in the same room at the same time or been able to speak freely about human rights.

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:26 pm
Mon June 3, 2013

Federal Investigation of State Prison's Treatment of Inmates with Mental Illness

How many PA prisons have been holding mentally prisoners in solitary confinement?
Credit Jenn Vargas / Flickr

 

  

The US Department of Justice released a report last Friday stating that a Pennsylvania State prison violated the civil rights of inmates with serious mental illness and/or intellectual disabilities.

The investigators found that the Cambria County prison they investigated placed mentally ill inmates in solitary confinement for prolonged periods of time as a way of "warehousing" them.

The percentage of prisoners on the state's mental health roster has increased by more than 50 percent, since 1999, accounting for more than 20 percent of all inmates in the PA prison system.

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:10 pm
Mon June 3, 2013

Jazz Live International Preview and Anniversary

This year marks the 10th anniversary of live summertime Jazz in Katz Plaza
Credit OZinOH / Flickr

This year marks the tenth anniversary of Pittsburgh Cultural Trust's summer long Jazz concert series in Katz Plaza. This year also marks the third annual Jazz Live International Festival.

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:00 pm
Mon June 3, 2013

Speaking Volumes on Essential Pittsburgh: Gary Terner

Gary Terner likes edgy contemporary fiction and Gonzo-style sports writing.
Credit Josh Raulerson/90.5 WESA

Mt. Lebanon resident Gery Terner was blown away by the new short story collection from George Saunders.

New York Times Magazine calls Tenth of December the best book you'll read this year. Is it really worth the hype?

"Yeah, I think so," says Terner

He tells WESA Morning Edition Host Josh Raulerson what he found so impressive about the stories.

Essential Pittsburgh
1:30 pm
Mon June 3, 2013

The Business of Outdoor Recreation

There are so many outdoor activities to do in Pittsburgh. Find out about the business industry that keeps it all afloat.
Credit Schultzlabs / Flickr

    

Whether it’s hiking, biking or some other activity, outdoor recreation is big business. A coalition of non-profits in the region is proclaiming this the Summer of Outdoor Recreation. for those looking to get into the business of recreation, The Progress Fund supports local entrepreneurs in the tourism industry. Trail Towns is also a resource for businesses along the Great Allegheny Passage.

Local environmental resources like Family Tyes and Friends of the Riverfront teach kids about our waterways. And the PA Environmental Council and Sustainable Pittsburgh offer a wide range of eco-friendly outdoor ideas.

And for active explorers there's the Three Rivers Rowing Association,Venture Outdoors, and Bike Pittsburgh.

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