Larkin Page-Jacobs

Reporter/Host, All Things Considered

Larkin got her start in radio as a newsroom volunteer in 2006. She went on to work for 90.5 as a reporter, Weekend Edition host, and Morning Edition producer, before taking on her current role as the All Things Considered host in 2009. She has won regional and statewide awards for her reporting, including stories on art, criminal justice, domestic violence, and breaking news. Her work has been featured across Pennsylvania and nationally on NPR.

Ways To Connect

Larkin Page-Jacobs / 90.5 WESA

    

The golden French fries and basket of wings ordered at the bar or restaurant are made delicious through the frying process. But the oil used in restaurants and commercial kitchens can’t go down the drain, so it’s set aside for pickup. Companies big and small specialize in the collection and recycling of the grease.

In Pittsburgh, Fossil Free Fuel is one business that reuses the residual oil. In this segment of On The House, Larkin Page-Jacobs looks at where the grease goes.

Summer is prime time for road construction, and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is taking advantage of the mild weather to push forward on major construction on Parkway West (I-376).

The project also involves $14.2 million worth of repairs and upgrades to the Fort Pitt Tunnel, including concrete repair work to the tunnel walls, electrical updates, drainage improvements and resurfacing of the roadway. Work on the tunnel is expected to be finished by the spring of 2016.

AP Photo/Mel Evans

Kate is 25 and began drinking, smoking and experimenting with prescription drugs when she was a teenager in Washington County.

“I started doing pills in high school, 15, I think. Something just happened in high school and I just was, you know, curious and then it just turned into doing it too much."

Larkin Page-Jacobs

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette dining critic Melissa McCart took a roundabout path on her way to Pittsburgh. She’s worked in restaurants since she was a teenager and first started writing about the dining scene in Washington D.C. in the early 2000s. She moved to south Florida to become a critic in the Ft. Lauderdale area and made the leap to the Post-Gazette three years ago. In this segment of On The House, Larkin Page­-Jacobs asks McCart about her role as a critic and what makes Pittsburgh's dining scene unique.

Larkin Page-Jacobs / 90.5 WESA

 


Salt of the Earth opened in Pittsburgh’s Garfield neighborhood in 2010, and it was unlike any restaurant the city had seen before. The menu was adventurous and ever-changing, the minimalist design was warm and the high-end food belied its location in one of the city’s poorer communities. Recently the architect-owners announced Salt would close Aug. 1 so they could focus solely on their architectural practice. 

Rebecca Devereaux / 90.5 WESA

In "Oliver!" the musical adaptation of Charles Dicken’s "Oliver Twist," orphan boys at a workhouse sing “food glorious food” as they fantasize about a bountiful spread. That vision is realized in the small, eponymous bakery in Pittsburgh’s Highland Park neighborhood. In this segment of On The House, Larkin Page-Jacobs talks to owner and baker Tom Hambor about the tricks and tips he’s learned over a lifetime of baking.

Chris Squier / 90.5 WESA

Bill Fuller is the corporate chef for the big Burrito Group, a restaurant company that began in Pittsburgh two decades ago. Fuller grew up in Dubois, a small town a couple hours northeast of Pittsburgh and pursued degrees in chemistry before learning about the upstart restaurant group. He joined the team as a chef and today big Burrito has a portfolio of 5 specialty restaurants, 13 Mad Mex restaurants and a catering company.

In this segment of On The House, Larkin Page-Jacobs visits the kitchen at Eleven in the Strip District to ask Fuller what exactly the corporate chef job entails.

Larkin Page-Jacobs / 90.5 WESA

Eating can be mundane. Throwing another item in the grocery cart, ordering the same dish at your go-to restaurant or grabbing something from the fridge. It’s all apart of the routine. But it doesn’t have to be.

In this installment of On the House, food writer and teacher Jessica Server tells Larkin Page-Jacobs about using food as a conduit for mindfulness, exploration and reflection.

Gov. Tom Wolf's proposed Pennsylvania budget has a detractor: the Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania (HAP).

The group, which represents all of the state's hospitals, takes issue with a $166.5 million reduction to hospital Medicaid payments. HAP's Vice President for Research Martin Ciccocioppo said the reduction is significant for a program that already doesn't cover the costs hospitals incur.

Ryan Loew / 90.5 WESA


Produce distributor Paragon Foods is a behemoth in the region, providing fresh produce, dairy and poultry to institutions large and small, including Pittsburgh Public Schools, Google, Olive Garden, Mad Mex and Meat and Potatoes — even universities, hospitals and living facilities. In this episode of On The House, Larkin Page-Jacobs visits Paragon’s Chief Operating Officer John McClelland at their Lawrenceville facility.

Larkin Page-Jacobs / 90.5 WESA

Making a living wage in the restaurant industry can be tough. Servers and bartenders rely on tips for the bulk of their income, and in the kitchen, the wage is set by the business owner.

Recently the restaurant Bar Marco made waves by announcing it would pay all of its workers a living wage. But at least one restaurant in Pittsburgh — Dinette in East Liberty — has been paying above industry standard for years.

pittonkatonk.com

Pittonkatonk, Pittsburgh’s “May Day Brass Bar-B-Que” steps off Saturday in the Veteran’s Pavilion in Schenley Park.

Rich Randall, co-director of Pittonkatonk, describes the free event as a cross between a festival, and a family reunion. He and co-director Pete Spynda came up with the idea a couple years ago, and it's since taken off.

Pittonkatonk takes place from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday.

Julie Sokolow

Independent filmmaker and Pittsburgher Julie Sokolow first met David Matthews hanging out in coffee shops and around town. Eventually he found her on Facebook and messaged her, suggesting she make a movie about him.

Public domain, via Pixabay

    

Meat is in demand, and prices are up — 11 percent for beef and pork from 2013-2014. And as people pay more per pound at the counter, they may be more selective and interested in just how their meat gets from the farm to the butcher to the dinner table.

Ryan Loew / 90.5 WESA

Lidia Bastianich is a chef, restaurateur, cookbook author, host of a cooking show on PBS and a children's book author.

Her most recent book, "Lidia's Egg-citing Farm Adventure," teaches kids about the chicken and the egg, the way the animals should be treated, how the life cycle works and recipes for egg and chicken-centered dishes.

Bastianich said her grandchildren often asked about her childhood in northern Italy. She explained that recounting those memories helped inspire her book.

http://www.johnchampsey.com

Author John Hampsey grew up in Mt. Lebanon in the 1950s and '60s. In 1972 he left for college, and today he's a professor of Romantic and Classical Literature at Cal Poly.

But Hampsey revisits the Pittsburgh area and his childhood in his new memoir "Kaufman's Hill." In an interview, Hampsey said he began the book years ago, but other projects got in the way until 2004 following his mother's death.

Charter schools in the commonwealth have grown rapidly. Over a five year period beginning in 2006, enrollment in the state increased by 54 percent, and according to the most recent data, 6 percent of Pennsylvania students now attend a charter school.

But a study by the Center for Rural Pennsylvania at Penn State has found that charter schools are more racially segregated than their public school counterparts. 

A new Pittsburgh start-up is trying to position itself as Netflix for art. CEO Ashwin Muthiah says the  concept behind their company Easely is to make art accessible. Muthiah said the idea for Easely was inspired by an art crawl in Philadelphia last year. He stopped by the station to talk about the new company.

 

The way chemistry is taught has changed a lot over the years. With the advent of new technology, molecules and chemical reactions can be brought to life through digital models.

Now, a new quantum repository at the University of Pittsburgh will supplement college science lessons with a web-based database of 3D molecules and other data. Chemistry professor Daniel Lambrecht says the repository will begin with 50,000 to 100,000 molecules and chemical data.

Legislation that would give city of Pittsburgh employees six weeks of full paid family leave was submitted in City Council Tuesday.

It would amend the current rules that allow leave, but must be unpaid if all vacation and sick time has been used. The current policy adheres to the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak submitted the bill and said it applies to everyone, “regardless of their marital status, or their gender and it also allows employees who have children, who are adopting children, or who are fostering children to take advantage of this.”

The flu season is reaching its peak and many have been feeling the effects.

That’s according to Dr. David Nace, director of long-term care and flu programs for the Division of Geriatric Medicine at UPMC and medical director at the University of Pittsburgh Institute on Aging.

Nace says the flu has been widespread this season, but not as virulent.
“We’re certainly seeing a lot more overall activity than we did last year, in terms of numbers of hospitalizations," he said. "What’s interesting though is last year we saw a lot more critical illness.”

Governor-elect Tom Wolf has named Dennis Davin, 52, director of Allegheny County Economic Development, as secretary for the Department of Community and Economic Development.

Davin has worked for the county for 10 years and also serves as director of the County Redevelopment Authority and executive director of the Industrial Development Authority.

After pushing for a grocery store in Pittsburgh's Garfield neighborhood for years, Bottom Dollar Food opened on Penn Avenue in June.

In November it was announced that another grocery chain, ALDI, Inc. had bought the low-cost food company for $15 million and would be closing the city's Bottom Dollar stores, including the six-month-old facility in Garfield. It is unclear whether another grocery store will open in its place.

As we speed toward the new year, the Pittsburgh region offers up a glut of holiday activities. Here are some ideas to help you get out of the house.  

Ryan Loew / 90.5 WESA

In June, the Pittsburgh neighborhood of Larimer was awarded a highly competitive $30 million Housing and Urban Development Choice Neighborhoods grant.

The money will go toward building 350 mixed income housing units. But the grant is just one step in a long and ongoing process of turning the neighborhood around.

Larimer is a small neighborhood, and much of it is made up of open space. Blocks are scored with empty lots and vacant houses. Many families moved away for better schools and less crime, leaving behind mainly elderly and low income residents.

Do not expect to hear much out of the August Wilson Center for African American Culture for the next few months.

According to Pittsburgh Foundation spokesman Doug Root the Center will be entering a "quiet period" as an interim governing body has the facility assessed and searches for a new permanent oversight board.  

The temporary panel will include the heads of the Heinz Endowments, R.K. Mellon and the Pittsburgh Foundation — the three foundations that were instrumental in orchestrating a purchase of the bankrupt building from Dollar Bank.

A new Pennsylvania law was enacted Monday changing the Department of Public Welfare's title to the Department of Human Services.

Pennsylvania's DPW had been the last in the country to include the word "welfare" in its title — a term some considered weighted with negative connotations. DHS spokeswoman Cait Gillis said another problem is that the name was not reflective of the work they do at the department.

Pittsburgh’s Department of Public Works will conduct a pothole “blitz” beginning Monday.

Department director Mike Gable said they have been patching potholes from last winter all spring, summer and fall, but the window for the production and use of “hot mix” is closing soon.

“That’s the stuff you’d rather work with rather than the cold patch,” Gable said. “Last year we learned with the cold patch it’s a very temporary fix. The hot mix bonds better, stays in the hole better and we get longevity out of it.”

The ride-sharing service Uber has won conditional license approval across the state, including Pittsburgh.

The two-year experimental service will only go into effect if Uber meets a number of conditions laid out by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission within the next 30 days. One of those conditions is that Uber drivers get insurance coverage for all three stages of their customer interactions: making themselves available via the Uber app, connecting with a passenger and dropping the passenger off at his or her destination.

Courtesy photo

In 1999, Lisa and Sumner Bemis met at a bar during a Penguins hockey game. She was intrigued by his unusual name, “and the fact that he had a Camaro," recalled Lisa.

"I loved muscle cars, " she said, "so it worked.”

Less than three years later they were married. After the Sept. 11 terror attacks happened Sumner was deployed as part of the National Guard and was in Iraq from 2005-2006. When he returned, Lisa was overjoyed to have him back. But she said he was a different person.

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