Katie Blackley

PRODUCER

Katie Blackley is a producer for 90.5 WESA, where she writes, edits and generates both web and on-air content for Essential Pittsburgh segments and daily broadcast. After graduating in 2014, Katie was an editor for KQV 1410 AM in downtown Pittsburgh and did freelance video work for the Civic Light Opera.

She’s passionate about all things Pittsburgh and believes someday she’ll solve the Pittsburgh Protractor Mystery. 

Why Do We Sympathize With Animal Suffering?

Feb 3, 2016
Keith Srakocic / AP Images

If you saw a runaway bus hurtling toward a dog or a tourist, who would you save? If you chose the dog, you’re not alone.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Out of the growing number of candidates running for Pennsylvania Attorney General, Josh Shapiro believes he's the best at cleaning up messes. As chairman of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners and PA Commission on Crime and Delinquency, Shapiro says his past reforms are proof that he’d succeed as the Commonwealth’s leading lawyer.

“I inherited a mess in Montgomery County,” Shapiro tells Essential Pittsburgh’s Paul Guggenheimer. “We turned things around. I can do the same thing in the Attorney General’s Office.”

401 (K) / flickr

For low-to-moderate income families, tax season can be a confusing and intimidating time.

Bridget Coila / flickr

For couples living with mixed HIV status, risk and stigma are unavoidable.  The infected partner carries the medical burden associated with their positive status and the uninfected partner must take precautions to prevent transmission. For couples wanting to conceive a child, however, these issues present greater challenges.  Fortunately for two families, the parent’s serodiscordant status didn’t stop them from having a healthy, uninfected baby.  The stories of these couples are chronicled by author and journalist Heather Boerner in “Positively Negative: Love, Pregnancy, and Science’s Surprising Victory Over HIV.”

Keith Srakocic / AP Images

New regulations for oil and gas drilling released by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection hope to address environmental concerns by many residents throughout the Commonwealth. Before Wednesday’s revisions were announced, the state hadn’t modified drilling rules since 1984.  Recent increases in hydraulic fracturing and concerns over potential health risks prompted the DEP to begin the process of updating the laws in 2011.  David Yoxtheimer, a hydrogeologist with Penn State’s Marcellus Center for Outreach and Research, explains the new statues were met with criticism from environmental advocates as well as members of the oil and gas industry.

“If you’re not making anybody happy on either side of the spectrum, then you must be doing something right,” he said.

Challenges Facing American Muslims

Dec 8, 2015
Wikipedia

Leading Republican candidate Donald Trump made headlines again when he called for a complete ban of Muslims entering the United States in light of recent acts of terror associated with ISIS on the home front.  Critics have called this proposal a “ratcheting up of the rhetoric aimed at American fears about members of the Islamic faith.”

“This would be hilarious if it was not so sickening and dangerous to the fabric of American society,” says Pittsburgh Muslim leader Safdar Khwaja. Khwaja recently wrote an article for the Pittsburgh Post Gazette called “They are not Islamic. They are not a state. They are Dae’sh,” in which he highlighted the often misunderstood differences between traditional Islam and the so-called Islamic State.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Civil rights activist and self-taught lawyer Chen Guangcheng made headlines in 2012 when he escaped house arrest in China and fled to the United States Embassy in Beijing.  He is in Pittsburgh for the second time to read from his memoir, “The Barefoot Lawyer.” Guancheng and his translator, Danica Mills, joined Essential Pittsburgh to reflect on his life and his thoughts on human rights throughout the world.  

brokinhrt2 / flickr

Infant mortality in Western Pennsylvania is more than 17 percent higher than the national average, with significant disparities between white and African American babies.  To combat these statistics and improve the health of newborns in the region, the Three Rivers Mothers’ Milk Bank will begin accepting donations of breast milk and distributing them to medical facilities.  Executive director Denise O’Connor says she thought it was important that Pittsburgh offered this service and has already had 90 women sign up to donate.

Perfecting Communication In The Workplace

Oct 23, 2015
International Railway Summit / flickr

Whether you’re preparing for a job interview or a big presentation at your current workplace, communication is an essential key to success.  Career coach and workplace contributor Sasha M. King shares her advice on rhetoric to avoid, styles to try and professional communication standards.

Analyzing Growth In Pennsylvania's Rural Counties

Oct 21, 2015
Nicholas A. Tonelli / flickr

An analysis of the commonwealth’s population by the Center for Rural Pennsylvania indicates new residents are choosing to settle in exurban areas over cities and suburbs.  The trend has caught the eye of community development groups in Western Pennsylvania, where counties like Butler and Washington are seeing rapid population growth.

“They see opportunity there and they’re taking advantage of it,” explains Rural Pennsylvania Senior Policy Analyst Jonathan Johnson.  He says Pennsylvania has 48 rural counties and 19 urban counties, which are based on whether they fall above or below a 284-persons per square mile population density line.  

John Locher / AP Images

When the five Democratic presidential candidates took the CNN stage last night at the Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas, the atmosphere strongly contrasted that of the previous two Republican debates. 

“It opened as sort of a championship boxing match,” observed Duquesne University Associate Law Professor Joseph Sabino Mistick. “It was a great debate, it was a real debate.  It was boxing, not a cage match like we’ve seen on the Republican side.”

Stephen Z / flickr

Alert. Lockdown. Inform. Counter. Evacuate.

Combined to form the acronym ALICE, these terms outline a strategy to prepare students, staff and officials for the possibility of an active shooter situation.

Following a string of recent shootings at schools and on college campuses, many districts and universities are looking to implement programs like ALICE. 

A Century Of Steel City Cinema

Oct 5, 2015
Stephan / flickr

Pittsburgh is no stranger to the cinema.  From blockbusters like “The Dark Knight Rises” to the cult classic, “Night of the Living Dead,” the Steel City has a long and close relationship with Hollywood.  Pop culture contributor Joe Wos says the region’s film industry has been strong for a century, beginning with the production of the feature “Cupid’s Garden Party.” 

Johnstown Is Hockeyville USA, Today, Tomorrow, Forever

Sep 29, 2015
Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 fm WESA

When the Pittsburgh Penguins take the ice against the Tampa Bay Lightning this evening at the historic Cambria County War Memorial Arena in Johnstown, PA, the experience will be anything but ordinary.  The match, along with several other special events, represents the small town’s contest win and the designation as “Hockeyville, USA.”   

“I don’t think we’ve ever seen this town with this kind of buzz,” Johnstown Tomahawks play-by-play announcer Rick Hull told Essential Pittsburgh’s Paul Guggenheimer.  “People are so happy and it’s just a celebration of Johnstown hockey in general. I don’t think anything could pull the plug on that.”

UPMC Stops Transplants Following Mold Outbreak

Sep 23, 2015
Dr. Amesh Adalja / trackingzebra.com

Following a mold outbreak last week that infected four transplant patients at UPMC Presbyterian and Montefiore, the hospital system has temporarily halted their transplant program. Three of the four patients have since died, although it’s not been confirmed whether the infections were the culprit.  Pittsburgh-based infectious disease expert Dr. Amesh Adalja explained to Essential Pittsburgh’s Paul Guggenheimer that mold is particularly difficult to contain because it’s so easy to spread.

Workplace Diversity Low In Pittsburgh Region

Sep 22, 2015
Perry Quan / flickr

Flashback to Pittsburgh in the 1950s and 60s: steel mills thrived, the economy boomed and the region was a destination for minorities looking to secure a job and start a life.  This reputation, however, began a decline throughout the next couple decades.  In a study released this year by Pittsburgh Today and Vibrant Pittsburgh, the area’s workforce ranked lowest among 15 comparable regions. Pittsburgh Today director Doug Heuck says the problem started more than 30 years ago. 

Robert Morris University / Facebook

It's hard to imagine Robert Morris University finding a better individual to fill the school's vacant presidency than Christopher Howard. The Air Force Academy and Harvard Business School graduate and Rhodes Scholar is a decorated veteran of the war in Afghanistan. In 2011, President Obama named him to the National Security Education Program Board. Howard spoke to Essential Pittsburgh’s Paul Guggenheimer from Waco, Texas and shared his plans for the future of the university.

HEARTH Celebrates 20 Years Helping Homeless Families

Sep 9, 2015
HEARTH Facebook

When a group of North Hills volunteers noticed a number of single homeless mothers and children struggling to find housing for their families, they took it upon themselves to step in. HEARTH Communications and Community Outreach Manager Victoria Gill says the organization is devoted to offering a “hand up, not a hand out” to area families.

Emily Stock / 90.5 WESA

For individuals with Parkinson’s disease, postural instability is a daily challenge.  Courtney Williamson knows this reality well.  Her mother was diagnosed with Parkinson’s when she was a toddler so she’s experienced firsthand the struggles facing those with alignment issues. 

“Living with someone with Parkinson’s or a movement disorder, you get to learn how to be creative in way to help them with daily activities,” explains Williamson.  Unable to find solutions or products that could remedy her mother’s balance issues, Williamson embraced her resources as a Carnegie Mellon University PhD candidate and started her own company, AbiliLife

John Keane / flickr

A bipartisan group of Pennsylvania lawmakers are looking to push the state’s primary elections a month earlier to ensure that voters have what they believe would be more of a say in the next presidential nominee. Since the 1950s during presidential election years, Pennsylvania’s primary elections have been held mid-April, meaning by the time ballots are tallied, both the Democratic and Republic parties have typically already chosen their nominee. House Bill 1318 proposes pushing the primary to mid-March, along with the primaries of Florida, Ohio, Illinois and Missouri.

Should Michael Vick Be a Pittsburgh Steeler?

Aug 26, 2015
Jeff Haynes / AP Images

Free agent quarterback Michael Vick signed a one-year contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers Tuesday night. The move has incited debate over Vick’s history and how that may affect the Steelers season. In 2007, Vick spent 21 months in federal prison for his role in a dog-fighting ring. Over 12,000 people have signed a digital petition protesting his contract. Tribune-Review reporter Ben Schmitt won an Emmy at the Detroit Free Press for his contribution to the series “Pit Bulls: Companions or Killers?” He offers his thoughts on the controversy.

Frankie Leon / flickr

In the 95 years since the passage of the 19th Amendment, women have not only earned the right to vote, but have been consistently outvoting men in elections. While the trend is significant, no woman has held the nation's top office and only 19% of the Pennsylvania legislature are women.  Dana Brown is the Executive Director of Chatham University’s Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics. She’s helping to organize Chatham’s celebration of Women’s Equality Day on August 26th and provides a history of women’s suffrage in the United States.

Rebecca Devereaux / 90.5 WESA

World War II ended 70 years ago this month, and we're commemorating the event by producing a show from the Heinz History Center’s exhibit: We Can Do It! WWII. The 10,000 square foot exhibit features 300 artifacts and focuses on Pittsburgh’s role on both the battlefield and the home front. We'll take a tour of the exhibit and talks with veterans from the area who served in both the European and Pacific theaters.  

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