Mark Nootbaar

News Director

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 where he is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the 90.5 WESA newsroom. In 2015, he was appointed News Director.

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


Ways to Connect

Greg Nichols / Thomas Dunne Books

July 1959 500,000 steel workers in southwestern Pennsylvania walked off the job in a contract dispute.  They expected a quick end to the strike like they had seen in previous work stoppages but as the summer turned to fall and the men were still idle and the one bright spot was a local high school football team on the verge of setting a national record.

A National Acrobat / flickr

UPDATE 8/26/15:

As of 8:00 am PennDOT has  postponed the work for 24 hours.  The project is now slated to begin Thursday Aug. 27.


Getting from Oakland to Bloomfield will get a bit harder starting Wednesday morning. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is closing Baum and Bigelow (officially designated as PA Route 380) boulevards from Melwood Avenue to the Bloomfield Bridge for an estimated 91 days.

UPDATE: Tuesday 8/25/15

Early Tuesday morning the teacher's union called off the strike after a tentative contract agreement was reached. 

“We are happy to have been able to reach a responsible agreement together with the BVAEA (Belle Vernon Area Education Association). We have a responsibility to the taxpayers and citizens of the Belle Vernon Area School District,” said School Board President Aaron J. Bialon.

Rebecca Devereaux / 90.5 WESA

All 90 Pittsburgh neighborhoods will see an influx of bike riders this week as Bike Pittsburgh celebrates the 11th annual BikeFest.

The 10 days of events began Friday with a breakfast for bike commuters and wraps up Sunday with the group’s biggest fundraiser of the year, Pedal Pittsburgh.

Gerry Dincher / flickr

A coalition representing students attending Mars Area School District teamed up with the American Civil Liberties Union to fight a lawsuit brought by shale drilling corporations that contends the group’s actions are halting appropriate and legal drilling opportunities.

ACLU of Pennsylvania Legal Director Vic Walczak called the suit filed by Dewey Homes & Investment Properties a "SLAPP" suit, or strategic lawsuit against public participation. Such suits have been made illegal in nearly half of U.S. states including Pennsylvania.

“What these are is lawsuits that really have no merit that are typically filed by corporate interests, often developers, against political opponents," Walczak said. "And they have virtually no chance of succeeding.”

22 Pirates Baseball Hats Sent To Cuba From Pittsburgh

Aug 17, 2015
Mayor Bill Peduto

Cubans love baseball. They especially love former Pittsburgh Pirate and Puerto Rican native Roberto Clemente so when Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto led a delegation of business leaders to the island nation in May, it was no surprise that the Pirates and Clemente often came up in conversation. 

What was a surprise was the email Bill Peduto received after returning home.

Allegheny CleanWays

At last count, Joe Divack noted 15 abandoned garages and more than 30 trashed, vacant lots in Beltzhoover, most so overgrown he said he’d need a machete just to uncover it all.

Overhauling those sites will be the next year-long focus for the Clean Pittsburgh Commission’s new effort to reclaim blighted Pittsburgh neighborhoods.

AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf is hanging not only his budget proposal, but at least some of the state’s economic future, on continued growth in natural gas production in the state, but rumors of gas being sold at 60 cents per thousand cubic feet (MCF) is prompting concern among many.

AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File

Long-time Republican political insider and well-known philanthropist Elsie Hillman has died at the age of 89.

The family says she passed away peacefully Tuesday surrounded by family.

State Sen. John Sabatina (D-Philadelphia) believes the Americans with Disabilities Act has greatly improved access to the physical world and employment for those with special needs since its passage 25 years ago, but says it has fallen short when it comes to protecting life.

Individuals with mental or physical disabilities are often denied the opportunity to be listed on organ transplant lists because of their disability, he said. Sabatina introduced legislation to change that as a House member in February, and said he intends to file a similar measure as a freshman member of the Senate.

Voters in Pennsylvania’s 37th senatorial district now have two candidates from which to choose as they begin to think about the November special election. 

The Allegheny County Democratic Committee chose Heather Arnet as its candidate on Saturday. Last month the Republicans chose Guy Reschenthaler as its candidate.

The seat was left vacant when Democrat Matt Smith resigned to run the Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce. 

Talk Radio News Service / flickr

Allegheny County health officials say they are already in line with new White House standards to fight HIV and AIDS.

The plan unveiled Thursday updates one issued by the Obama administration five years ago. Developments since then include new diagnostic tests, a daily pill for infection prevention and the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, which allows for more American’s to receive treatment and testing.

The U.S. Department of Defense extended its secure software system contract with Carnegie Mellon University researchers for the the next five years, officials announced Tuesday.

“[The contract] endorses the fact that over the last 30-plus years, we have made some major contributions and major impact for the Department of Defense in the area of software engineering and cybersecurity,” said Robert Behler, deputy director and chief operation officer of CMU’s Software Engineering Institute.

Every 10 years a fight explodes in Harrisburg over how to redraw state House, Senate and U.S. Congressional districts, with Republican and Democratic lawmakers wrangling over what often becomes a map full of oddly shaped districts drawn in an effort to keep one party or the other in power. 

State Rep. Ted Harhai (D-Westmoreland) wants to end the fight by creating a new independent panel to redraw the districts following the decennial U.S. census.

Reid Frazier / The Allegheny Front

Gov. Tom Wolf said he would be "willing to have conversations" about compromises on the 5 percent severance tax on natural gas he's proposed to balance the state budget.

"I'm willing to have conversations," Wold told reporters while touring Big Beaver Elementary School in Darlington on Monday. "I want a better Pennsylvania. If I'm convinced we can have a better Pennsylvania with something better than what I've proposed, then I'm all ears."

A long-standing Downtown feud could be on its way to resolution.

Point Park University President Paul Hennigan announced Monday that his administration had dropped its objection to the unionization of the school’s full-time faculty.

“This case started ... under a different administration,” Hennigan said.  “This administration is just not interested in a fight.”

U.S. Rep. Keith Rothfus (R-Sewickley) has enlisted the support of the entire Pennsylvania delegation and more than 200 other members of Congress in asking fellow members working on appropriations bills to force the U.S. Army to leave the Apache helicopters currently assigned to National Guard units right where they are. 

The Republican this week circulated for signatures a letter asking that funding to move the 200 helicopters be removed from the pending budget. Twenty-four of those aircraft are based in Johnstown.

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto said the long-overdue system to merge the payroll operations of the city and Allegheny County will be in place by the end of the year.

The lack of an operational system prompted the Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority, which has financial oversight of the city, to withhold millions of dollars in slot machine revenues.

Pennsylvania State Police are short more than 400 officers with hundreds more retirements on the way, officials said Monday, but recruitment and retention in recent years continues to plummet.

Police recruiter Cpl. Brian Carpenter said tough background checks, college education or military experience  requirements and the recent, high-profile backlash against police in general has given potential applicants pause despite a state budget cushion that could support scores of new hires.

Silk Screen Film Fest

With 30 films from 18 countries, the 10th annual Silk Screen Film festival opens in Pittsburgh Thursday with an opening night gala followed by 10 days of screenings and discussions. All of the films have Asian roots.

“Asia is defined like it used to be defined when you were in high school, which is starting with Turkey all the way to Japan,” said Silk Screen Executive Director Harish Saluja. “That includes Israel and India and Afghanistan and Pakistan … In fact our opening film this year is called Theeb which is from Jordan and UAE (United Arab Emirates).”

AP Photo/Chris Knight

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf says even though formal budget negotiations will not begin until Monday morning, he and his staff will be busy over the holiday weekend. 

The Democratic governor rejected the budget passed by the Republican-controlled House and Senate, leaving the state without a spending plan as of Wednesday. He said both sides have put down their markers.

AP Photo/Chris Knight

The war of rhetoric has begun in earnest in Harrisburg over the state budget. This week, the Republican controlled House and Senate approved a balanced $30 billion budget that was quickly vetoed by Gov. Tom Wolf Tuesday.

Wolf, who is a Democrat, said the budget is based on gimmicks and lacks fiscal integrity.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf is applauding the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage, but says state lawmakers should follow up by passing a law to protect people against discrimination based on their sexual or gender preference.

Wolf said in a statement Friday that the high court's 5-4 decision makes clear that "gay marriage" is now simply marriage and same-sex couples cannot be denied the pursuit of happiness.

Senate Democrats

  Democrats in the Pennsylvania Senate have offered a compromise plan that would shift school funding from property taxes to a mix of sales and income taxes but would not make the payments directly to school districts.

“We are trying to change the culture. I call it a paradigm shift in how we pay taxes,” said Sen. Jim Brewster (D-McKeesport). “The burden of school property taxes has fallen on a group of folks and it’s now time to look at that and change that methodology so that everyone shares in that burden for education.”

After a year of committee meetings, public input sessions, one-one-one interviews and open surveys, a mayoral advisory council has released 47 pages of recommendations to build a “more welcoming Pittsburgh.”

“To be competitive, we need to fill the gaps in our labor force and cultivate the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs that will create jobs for new and native Pittsburghers alike,” Mayor Bill Peduto said.

AP Photo/Matt Rourke

It took just 500 write-in votes for lifelong Democrats Chelsa Wagner and John Weinstein to get their names on the November ballots as Republicans, but it will take 2,328 signatures if a third-party candidate wants to have the same opportunity.

AP Photo/Marc Levy

Gov. Tom Wolf has pulled the nomination of Marcus Brown to lead the Pennsylvania State Police. The Senate was to vote this week on Brown’s nomination. Last week a committee sent the nomination to the full body without making a recommendation.

The Community Foundation of Westmoreland County tapped a Chicago native with an education background to be its next executive director. Philip Koch takes over the post on Monday.

“One of the things that was most interesting to me was the potential that exists in Westmoreland County to make an impact,” Koch said, referring to both the possibility of creating new philanthropists and “the possible impact that the dollars could make in revitalizing those communities.”

Created in 1995, the foundation merged with the Pittsburgh Foundation in 2010 but retained its own board.

A state lawmaker wants to launch an overhaul of the type and number of board members directing Penn State University's Board of Trustees.

In the wake of the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal, 31 Penn State alumni ran for three seats on the board. Months later, the new group approved changes in the make up of the board to allow for more student and staff representation.

Pennsylvania Sen. John Yudichak (D-Luzerne), who received his bachelor's and master's degrees from PSU in 1993 and 2004, respectively, said this week those measures aren't enough.

The Cranberry Township Emergency Medical Service is hoping to destroy 50 car seats this week. 

“The thing that people fail to realize is that car seats have expiration dates,” said Cranberry Twp. EMS Deputy Chief Ted Fessides. “Typically it’s seven years from the date of manufacture.”

In an effort to get old and otherwise unsafe car seats off the roads the township will be conducting an “Old Car Seat Take Back” from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday, May 27 at 20727 Route 19 in Cranberry Township.