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
8:33 pm
Wed May 29, 2013

How Do You Gather Community Consensus on Fracking?

To frack or not to frack on Allegheny College land
Credit Doug Butchy / Flickr

Allegheny College, located 90 minutes north of Pittsburgh, has been nationally recognized for its sustainable initiatives. But could the green campus get a black eye if it leases land for hydraulic fracking? Right now it's the campus is considering whether or not to open portions of the college's land to the option of shale gas drilling.

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Essential Pittsburgh
8:03 pm
Wed May 29, 2013

Taking Advantage of the Homestead Tax Exemption

Why are so many Pittsburgh homeowners not taking advantage of the Homestead tax exemption?
Credit Mark Knobil / Flickr

In Allegheny County Homestead tax exemption is a tax break that deducts $85 from every homeowner's property tax bill. It's a useful bit of financial relief for many area homeowners. But residents in Pittsburgh's poorer neighborhoods, where the deduction could be most useful, are not taking advantage of the exemption. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Andrew McGill has reviewed the situation and says, "Amid all the hubbub over re-assessments, I was surprised more people weren't aware of it, and how this lack of awareness is split along income lines."

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Essential Pittsburgh
6:53 pm
Wed May 29, 2013

The New Girl Visits America's National Parks Part One: Eastern Parks

The New Girl gives you a taste of the National Parks, including the scenic Everglades.
Credit Matthew Paulson / Flickr

Now that summer’s here, one of the best places to go and explore the great outdoors is a national park. With so many parks in the U.S. we begin a two part look, focusing on the eastern half of the country including The Everglades, The Great Smoky Mountains, Acadia, Shenandoah, and 
 Cuyahoga Valley

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Essential Pittsburgh
7:24 pm
Tue May 28, 2013

University of Pittsburgh Alzheimer's Research

A recent study with lab mice could reverse some of the effects of Alzheimer's Disease
Credit Rick / Flickr

Millions of Americans suffer from Alzheimer's Disease and the number is expected to increase. Researchers at Pitt have recently confirmed a cancer drug that improves brain function in mice. Could this be a breakthrough in helping humans?

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Essential Pittsburgh
7:09 pm
Tue May 28, 2013

Exploring Pittsburgh's Innovation Trends

In places like China where people experience major respiratory problems, the Hemolung can be invaluable. But who has the rights to the technology when it's in a country with different laws?
Credit ALung

What happens when Pittsburgh's biggest innovators branch out to new territory?

ALung has been making waves with the Hemolung Respiratory Assist System. They've gathered major funding to sell in Europe and now China. But big questions must be raised about intellectual property rights. How can companies protect themselves and flourish at the same time?

And right now one of the hottest trends in the startup world is hardware. Instead of building apps and Web products, companies are building physical hardware that you can buy and use, like the folks at 4Moms.

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Essential Pittsburgh
9:49 pm
Sat May 25, 2013

Occupy Monsanto: Protesting Genetically Engineered Food

Donna Terlecki and her daughter Carla Martinez.
Heather McClain 90.5 WESA

An activist movement known as Occupy Monsanto staged a global protest Saturday afternoon to raise awareness of genetically modified organisms, also known as GMOs.

A Pittsburgh contingent marched from the Strip District to City Hall chanting about GMOs and the biotechnology company, Monsanto.

Donna Terlecki, who calls herself a “mom against Monsanto,” marched with her daughter Carla Martinez and said she's concerned about the health effects of genetically engineered food.

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Essential Pittsburgh
6:07 pm
Fri May 24, 2013

The Right To Know and Pennsylvania's Open Records Law

Where do we stand with PA's Right to Know law?
Credit 90.5 WESA

Pennsylvania's open records law went into effect in 2009, ideally making it possible for citizens to easily search government records. But some say it hasn't made good on its promise of accessibility. WESA Capitol Correspondent Mary Wilson has written about tweaks to the law being proposed in the legislature, and those who have violated it.

Leah Samuel recently took an in depth look at the status of PA's open records law for PublicSource, including anecdotes from citizens who have been thwarted in their search for information.

Pennsylvania Office of Open Records Executive Director, Terry Mutchler says citizen requests should not be denied.

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Speaking Volumes
6:07 pm
Fri May 24, 2013

Speaking Volumes on Essential Pittsburgh: Lori Jakiela

Lori Jakiela has written two memoirs The Bridge to Take When Things Get Serious and Miss New York Has Everything
Credit Lori Jakiela / ljwritesbooks.com

WESA Morning Edition Host Josh Raulerson interviews poet, memoirist and devotee of sparse, unsentimental prose, Lori Jakiela about her reading selections.

Essential Pittsburgh
6:07 pm
Fri May 24, 2013

The Business of Interviewing with Rebecca Harris

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

Can you really answer the question “tell me about yourself” in an interview, while being sure to talk about  skills relevant to the job?  How about describing  a difficult work situation and making it sound like you're a great problem solver? Effective interviewing is a skill and our business contributor Rebecca Harris offers some advice to help you ace the interview.

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Essential Pittsburgh
6:00 pm
Thu May 23, 2013

World Affairs: Peter Bergen From 9/11 to Abbottabad

Peter Bergen talks about national security and terrorism
Credit Peter Bergen / PeterBergen.com

Peter Bergen is a National Security Analyst for CNN, and a journalist who has reported for publications such as Foreign Affairs, The Atlantic, and The Washington Post. He's authored three New York Times best-sellers, won multiple awards for his non-fiction writing, produced the first ever television interview with Osama Bin Laden, and much more.

Bergen's most recent book is Manhunt: The Ten Year Search for bin Laden, from 9/11 to Abbottabad. He comes to Pittsburgh to be the keynote speaker for the World Affairs Council's 82nd annual meeting and leads a discussion titled Learning from Abbottabad: Combating Global Terrorism in a Post-9/11 World.

Essential Pittsburgh
5:50 pm
Thu May 23, 2013

Mike Sears and the Warrior Foundation

Technical Sergeant Mike Sears in Afghanistan in 2012
Credit Mike Sears

  

Mike Sears put his life on the line to save a wounded soldier in the heat of battle in Afghanistan. For his bravery, he received the Purple Heart and Bronze Star. We'll begin the Memorial Day weekend with a conversation with Mike Sears covering his war experiences and his involvement with the Warrior Foundation.

Essential Pittsburgh
5:45 pm
Thu May 23, 2013

Local Goodness: Farmers Market Season

Rhonda Schuldt writes for LocalGoodness.com
Credit Heather McClain / 90.5 WESA

Does this week's summer-like weather put you in the mood for some fresh corn or warm, sun rippened tomatoes? How about a tote bag full of cukes and zukes? While these foods aren't quite ready at the local farm, we are definitely headed into outdoor farmers market season.

Food contributor Rhonda Schuldt stops in to talk about what to expect from Pittsburgh's many farmers markets.

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Essential Pittsburgh
7:09 pm
Wed May 22, 2013

Bill Peduto Post Primary: Where Do We Go From Here?

Former city councilman Bill Peduto is now the Democratic candidate for Mayor
Credit Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh City Councilman Bill Peduto has won Pittsburgh's Democratic Mayoral Primary.

Eight years after first running for mayor, he talks about what it means to be so close to realizing his dream and the "new Pittsburgh" he envisions.

Essential Pittsburgh
6:59 pm
Wed May 22, 2013

Coleen Rowley: Is There a War on Whistleblowers & Journalists?

Former FBI special agent and division counsel, Coleen Rowley made headlines with her May 2002 memo describing some of the FBI's pre-9/11 failures. She was named one of Time Magazine's "Persons of the Year" in 2002 and now says President Obama has dramatically increased governmental secrecy by declaring what she calls "a war on whistleblowers and a war on journalists." 

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Essential Pittsburgh
6:26 pm
Wed May 22, 2013

Drawing a Crowd At The Pittsburgh Comic Arts Festival

Joe Wos, Executive Director and Founder of the Toonseum curates the Reuben Awards Exhibit
Credit Joe Wos

In the world of comic strip art, The Reuben Awards, are on par with the Oscars. Named after Rube Goldberg, the Reuben has been awarded by the National Cartoonists Society to artists such as Charles Schulz, Chester Gould and Bill Watterson.

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Essential Pittsburgh
5:51 pm
Wed May 22, 2013

The New Girl in Town is Hitting the Beach

It's Memorial Day, time to hit kick off your shoes and get some sand between your toes.
Credit Heather McClain / WESA

Memorial Day is the official start to the summer season and many people will be headed to the beach. One shore town you may want to visit is Rehoboth Beach in Delaware. You'll find something for nature lovers at Prime Hook, something for sports adventurers, and for those who just want to stroll along the Boardwalk.

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Essential Pittsburgh
9:05 pm
Tue May 21, 2013

The Results Are In: Analysis of the Pittsburgh Primary Races

Signs outside a polling place in the neighborhood of Beechview
Credit Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

The polls opened at 7am Tuesday for the Pittsburgh Democratic Primary election.  Turnout at most voting places was light, despite a hotly contested mayoral race and contested city council positions.

At the end of the night, City Councilman Bill Peduto accepted the democratic nomination for Mayor, incumbent City Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak kept her place in Pittsburgh's southern neighborhoods, Daniel Lavelle kept his city council seat in district 6, and Bill Peduto's former council seat went to his former Chief of Staff, Dan Gilman.

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Essential Pittsburgh
9:00 pm
Tue May 21, 2013

Pop City Innovation News

Debra Diamond Smit is the tech and innovation reporter for the ezine Pop City
Credit Pop City Media

Innovative product development and manufacturing is not new in Pittsburgh. Each week, Pop City tech and innovation reporter Deb Smit has a plethora of companies and concepts to choose from when reporting on the next big thing.

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Essential Pittsburgh
9:44 am
Tue May 21, 2013

How Much is Too Much? Should Bars Be Responsible For Irresponsible Drinkers?

What can bar owners do to intercede when a customer has had too much to drink?
Credit Heather McClain / WESA

Two weeks ago Hofbrauhaus in the South Side agreed to pay $15.6 million in a settlement after one of their patrons consumed copious amounts of alcohol and proceeded to kill a seven year old girl while driving drunk down Carson Street. When a bar patron has too much to drink resulting in an accident who is ultimately at fault? And when it comes to serving drinks, how do you know when a patron has had too much. How do you handle the situation?

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Speaking Volumes
9:20 am
Tue May 21, 2013

Speaking Volumes on Essential Pittsburgh: Patrick Dowd

Find our which books Councilman and former historian, Patrick Dowd recommends
Credit Heather McClain / WESA

Pittsburgh City Councilman Patrick Dowd started out as a historian and while he's no longer in academia his reading still reflects that background. Dowd talks with WESA Morning Edition Host Josh Raulerson about his  reading selections which include historical nonfiction mixed with fiction "with a historical bent."

Essential Pittsburgh
9:07 am
Tue May 21, 2013

Building the Perfect Resume with Rebecca Harris

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

Graduation season is here and as a new group of college graduates enters the real world, how do you stand out in a tough job market? This week, business contributor Rebecca Harris offers suggestions for building the perfect resume. And find some surprising and not so surprising facts on new graduate employment.

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Essential Pittsburgh
12:28 pm
Sun May 19, 2013

The Host with the Most Comes to Pittsburgh

Rico Gagliano uses his B.A. in Film Studies from Pitt, and M.F.A. in Screenwriting from the American Film Institute to offer up unique culture, food, and conversation for your next dinner party
Credit Rico Gagliano / Twitter

Rico Gagliano, arts and culture journalist, producer, and host is best known for his work in public radio. He spent several years reporting for the business show Marketplace, filing stories from all over the world and across the U.S. 

Rico currently co-hosts and co-produces The Dinner Party Download for American Public Media.  The Pittsburgh native talks about his show and his favorite hometown haunts, past and present.

Essential Pittsburgh
12:18 pm
Sun May 19, 2013

The Overshadowing Presence of Mayor Ravenstahl

Is Mayor Ravenstahl really Captain Distraction?
Credit Noah Brode / WESA

In his latest column, Pittsburgh Tribune columnist Eric Heyl gives Mayor Ravenstahl the moniker Captain Distraction, referring to his overshadowing presence in this year's Democratic mayoral primary. On this day before the election we'll discuss how the mayor's travails continue to hold public fascination.

Essential Pittsburgh
7:48 pm
Thu May 16, 2013

The Pennsylvania Pension Crisis: How Did We Get Here?

In recent years, the Public School Employees Retirement System went from 123 percent funded in 2000 to an 81 percent funding level six years later. The State Employees Retirement System has had a similar fate. The Corbett administration has introduced legislation to reform the pension systems, but unions argue the governor's plan violates the state constitution.
Credit 90.5 WESA

Gov. Tom Corbett and his allies in the state Legislature have introduced controversial legislation to reform the pension systems for state employees and public school teachers.

The sponsors say the bills make necessary cuts to reduce the state’s massive liability problem. Unions argue that the measures are illegal because they cut current workers’ future benefits.

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Essential Pittsburgh
1:30 pm
Thu May 16, 2013

A Dialogue On The Death Penalty With Sister Helen Prejean

Sister Helen Prejean shares her experience working with inmates on death row
Credit Rodef Shalom Congregation

Sister Helen Prejean, has been an advocate for the abolishment of the death penalty, and a spiritual advisor for death row inmates and their families for decades.

Her bestselling book, Dead Man Walking: An Eyewitness Account of the Death Penalty in the United States inspired an Oscar nominated film of the same name. This week, Sister Helen comes to Pittsburgh's Rodef Shalom Congregation to speak about capital punishment and the nation's criminal justice system.

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