Mark Nootbaar

Special Reporter

Mark Nootbaar is a native of Illinois but moved to Pittsburgh more than 16 years ago to become the Assistant News Director at National Public Radio Charter Member Station WDUQ. As assistant News Director, Mark served as WDUQ’s lead reporter and morning assignment editor. After WDUQ was sold in 2011, Mark moved with the frequency to the new station to become the Senior News Editor. In 2016 he returned to his reporting roots as Special Reporter and in that context oversees such reporting projects as 90.5 WESA Celebrates, Tech Reports, and more.

Mark has also worked in Illinois and Texas. He lives in the North Hills with his lovely wife and daughter.


Ways to Connect

Rebekah Zook / 90.5 WESA

Janet Vukotich began her involvement with the South Hills Junior Orchestra simply as an “orchestra mom.”

Sung Kwon Cho

In the 1966 movie The Fantastic Voyage, a team of scientists were shrunk to microscopic proportions and sent inside the human body. Now, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh are taking that idea into the 21st Century -- sort of. 

Pitt mechanical engineering associate professor Sung Kwon Cho hasn't figured out how to shrink a submarine, but he has figured out how to control the movement of a tiny device through a simulated blood stream using nothing more than an air bubble and an ultrasound machine.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

About 15 years ago, most chambers of commerce would likely say cutting edge corporate research was happening in suburban business parks, according to Bruce Katz, a centennial scholar at the Brookings Institution.

But that same research today is more often happening in urban locations.

Katz called those new urban research cores “innovation districts.”

A collection of mayors from across the country stopped in Pittsburgh Monday to explore ways to grow their own innovation districts using the Steel City as a model.  

Joshua Rappeneker / flickr

The Centers for Disease Control found that 15 percent of mothers of newborns suffer from postpartum depression, which could lead to slower physical growth and mental development for their child.

“And those are just the [mothers] that seek help or admit that they have a problem,” said Camera Bartolotta (R-Washington, Greene). “There is such a stigma to moms with post-partum depression and a lot of them don’t even know what they have.”

Marcus Charleston / WESA

Higher fees and more enforcement were among the recommendations made by the Pittsburgh City Controller’s office following a performance audit of the residential parking permit program.

“People generally feel that it is a good program,” said Controller Michael Lamb.  “Particularly when you live in one of those areas that are impacted by a lot of nonresident parking.”

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 FM WESA

Each year, hundreds of kids go through the Open Door in Crafton Heights and many others take part in the Crafton Heights First United Presbyterian Church youth programs.  At both places there is a very good chance they will come in contact with Tim Salinetro.

Four months ago, Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene Depasquale released a scathing interim report on the operations of the state’s child abuse reporting hotline. 

On Wednesday, he praised recent improvements to the ChildLine but then released eight more findings and 24 new recommendations.

rob zand / flickr

The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority has filed suit against Veolia Water North America-Northeast LLC, which managed the authority for three-and-a-half trouble-filled years.

“They botched the procurement and implementation of a new automatic water meter reading system. They failed to properly bill PWSA customers. And they mishandled the change in chemical related to lead corrosion control at the water treatment plant,” said PWSA Board of Directors Chairman Alex W. Thomson.

Sam Howzit / Flickr

 A Pittsburgh suburb wracked by a shooting at its major indoor shopping mall and other violent incidents now has new surveillance cameras in place.

Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala Jr. and the Monroeville Area Chamber of Commerce announced the move Wednesday.

Chamber of Commerce President Sean Logan said the new cameras are aimed at catching criminals and deterring others. 

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 FM WESA

On the day she was released from prison, Katy Anke and her parents learned there was an open bed at a private treatment facility near Pittsburgh. She could check herself in at 10 a.m. the following day. After weeks of trying to find a place that would take her, it sounded perfect.  

Gene Puskar / AP

The uninsured rate in the U.S. is at a record low and studies show Pittsburgh is beating the average.

According to research from the personal finance website WalletHub, Pittsburgh ranks 8th in the nation among the 64 largest cities, with a 6.42 percent uninsured rate. That compares to a national average of 8.6 percent.

University of Pittsburgh health economist Lindsay Sabik said having health insurance doesn’t always lead to access to affordable health care.

Rebekah Zook / 90.5 WESA

In 1982, when Bobbee Kramer’s husband's heart failed while they were traveling to Texas, she had no choice but to remain in Houston, away from home with no connections, while he got the medical attention he needed to survive.

Kramer said she sat alone in the intensive care waiting room, until a woman approached her one day. She asked Kramer if she lived in Houston, and if she knew someone in the hospital. Kramer explained her situation.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 FM WESA

When then-Pittsburgh Mayor Richard Caliguiri died from amyloidosis in 1988 not much was known about the disease. Since then, research and awareness has increased and now an endowed chair is being created to further research and treatment at the University of Pittsburgh.

Amyloidosis is a systemic disease that usually attacks the heart but can impact other internal organs.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 FM WESA

Law enforcement, public health officials and policy experts are hoping a 64-page report released Wednesday will serve as a model for the rest of the world when it comes to combating the growing opioid crisis.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

A small start-up in East Liberty is working on an in-home test kit that could help predict the risk of having a heart attack.

Accel Diagnostics is placing a common blood test done in hospitals onto a device no bigger than a credit card.

Vice President of Engineering Greg Lewis said the test could measure B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP) or troponin, both of which are released when heart muscles are overly stressed.

Bizuayehu Tesfaye / AP for College of American Pathologists

The most common treatment for women with breast cancer is a lumpectomy, followed by radiation therapy. But a growing number of patients who have pacemakers or mini defibrillators are recommended by doctors to opt for a mastectomy, for fear of negatively impacting those devices.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA


Sitting in their living room in McCandless, Bob and Dena Masterino struggled to answer what is usually a fairly easy question: who are you voting for?

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

If you drive into Johnstown from the west, it’s hard to miss the flower boxes that line the streets. The boxes were originally made for a citywide celebration that has been long forgotten — but since 2006, the West End Improvement Group has been keeping them filled for the neighborhood all summer long.

“We started with 13 flower boxes that we had asked businesses in the West End to kind of adopt and take care of,” said Rose Howarth, who runs the all-volunteer organization.

US Army Corps of Engineers / flickr

The Allegheny County Health Department is attempting to cut the number of flu cases this season by offering four types of vaccines, all injection-based.

Allegheny County Health Department Director Karen Hacker said the vaccinations are all available at the department’s clinic in Oakland.

This year, it will not offer the FluMist nasal spray vaccine. Hacker said it was not as effective as other vaccines and is not recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

The Liberty Bridge reopened on Monday to vehicles weighing less than nine tons.

“The bridge is good for cars, ambulances and pick-up trucks,” said PennDOT District Executive Dan Cessna. “It excludes buses, empty tri-axle trucks and heavier trucks than that.”

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr


When Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf brings his message on combating the opioid epidemic to a joint session of the state legislature Wednesday, he will be speaking to a group that for the most part is already aware of the issue.

“They’re all fed up with this,” said State Sen. Camera Bartolotta (R-Beaver, Greene, Washington) of her constituents.  “It’s a scourge and they know that we have to all stand together and try every angle we possibly can.”

Last year, more than 3,000 Pennsylvanians died of an opioid overdose including 424 in Allegheny County.

Alan Diaz / AP

Most mental and behavioral health patients first get help through their primary care doctor.  In fact, more prescriptions for antidepressants drugs are written by primary care physicians than by mental health doctors. 

Evan Vucci / AP


Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump went before a group of shale gas industry professionals gathered in Pittsburgh Thursday and promised that energy industry workers are going to “love Donald Trump,” if elected.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

More than 1,300 energy industry representatives are in downtown Pittsburgh this week for the annual Shale Insight Conference that this year is focusing on getting the gas from the well to the user.

Marcellus Shale Coalition President David Spigelmyer told a crowd gathered inside the David L. Lawrence Convention Center that the Pittsburgh region is lacking when it comes to pipelines and other infrastructure needed to get the gas to market.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

A law requiring businesses in Pittsburgh to give workers paid sick leave has been tied up for nearly a year in the courts, so a workers advocacy group is taking the fight directly to restaurant owners.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA


The lead acid battery, invented in the mid-1800s, has been the technology of choice when it comes to starting cars for decades. Though small advances over the years have made car batteries more reliable, lead acid batteries are still essentially the same.

Michael Conroy / AP

When the for-profit college ITT Technical Institute ceased operations this month, officials at the Community College of Allegheny County decided to help.

“This is a group of people who are just blindsided by this, they have an interest in moving forward and maybe we can help,” CCAC Provost Stuart Blacklaw said.

Blacklaw said CCAC has several programs similar to ones offered at ITT.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA


Navy veteran Ken Haynes stepped off a beefed-up RV, sporting military logos and said he was impressed with the vehicle.

The RV was a Vet Center’s mobile unit, touring the Pittsburgh area this week. Haynes stopped by on Wednesday when it was parked outside the Veterans Leadership Program offices in the Strip District. Later, it parked and opened its doors at the River Hounds Game on the South Side.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

Under a tent in a Canonsburg parking lot Wednesday, the free hamburgers and chips flowed like shale gas through Washington County.

The food was there to feed a few hundred supporters of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at his new volunteer center, located in an office building.  

Many of them held hand-made signs reading, “Deplorables for Trump.”

Katie Meyer / WITF

This year, state legislators determined that the Department of Health would be responsible for reducing the backlog of untested rape kits. So far, department of health officials said that effort has not been successful.

Part of that agreement also stipulated that the Department of Health would ensure that local police departments submitted all of the untested kits.