Mark Nootbaar

Senior News Editor

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



Environment & Energy
3:48 pm
Wed February 19, 2014

CMU's Cohon to Head Energy Institute

A former president of Carnegie Mellon University is bringing his clout and his ability to raise money to a relatively new institute on campus designed to explore the intersection of energy use, production and policy.

Starting July 1, CMU President Emeritus and University Professor Jared Cohon will add to his business card the title of Scott Energy Institute Director.

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Winter Weather
2:19 pm
Tue February 18, 2014

You Think The Winter Has You Down, Try Being an Insurance Agent

Insurance claims are flowing into agents as fast as they can be processed.
Credit Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

If you walk down any street these days you are likely to hear a Pittsburgher proclaiming, “I am so ready for this winter to be over.”  Snowfall and low temperature records have been set throughout the northeast and Pittsburgh has been averaging well below normal when it comes to thermometer readings and well above when it comes to snow.

All that has led to higher-than-normal insurance claims and Pennsylvania’s largest homeowner’s and auto insurance provider, State Farm, has been feeling the pinch. 

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Winter Weather
7:37 am
Tue February 18, 2014

Region's Low Salt Stores Stretched With Higher Temps

A Southside resident digs out from Tuesday's storm, which brought several inches of snow and ice to the region.
Credit Marina Weis / 90.5 WESA

UPDATE: 1:19 p.m.

When Pittsburgh City Council gathered Tuesday it offered a wide range of opinions on how the Public Works Department handled the most recent storm.  Councilwoman Darlene Harris came down on the critical side.

“This morning on the way to work, I came down what you would call an emergency route, to find a bus sideways on the street, cars stuck everywhere sideways, with a salt truck sitting there with only sand on it,” said Harris.

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Election 2014
3:32 pm
Mon February 10, 2014

Off to the Races: Candidates Can Get Petitions Tuesday

Current and would-be politicians will be downloading ballot petition forms starting Tuesday as they prepare to run in the May primary. 

Candidates and their supporters can begin collecting signatures next week and then have a little less than a month to get the required number, which changes depending on the office being sought.  At least six candidates have said they plan to run in the Democratic primary for governor.

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Election 2014
4:52 pm
Fri January 31, 2014

Newcomer Runs in 3rd PA Congressional District

A 26-year-old political newcomer is hoping to swing the 3rd Congressional District in Pennsylvania back into the Democratic column.

Dan LaVallee officially announced his campaign Friday with a Youtube posting and then began a tour of the northern portion of the district that stretches from Cranberry to Erie.

“To me it’s about getting to everyone in our area figuring what we can do to move forward,” said LaValle.

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Government & Politics
1:56 pm
Thu January 30, 2014

Corbett to Ask Lawmakers for a $10M Increase for Early Ed Grants

Gov. Tom Corbett plans to ask lawmakers for a $10 million increase for early education grants in his budget address next week.

The proposal would amount to a 16 percent increase in funding for the Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts program.

"Our Pre-K Counts programs consistently deliver high-quality pre-k education," Corbett said. "We’re not talking just babysitting, we’re talking care, we’re talking about teaching, we’re talking about nurturing."

Estimates show more than a one billion dollar deficit going into the fiscal year beginning in July.

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Government & Politics
4:20 pm
Wed January 29, 2014

State Police Bet Against PA Gambling Law

A small battle is brewing over the legality of sports betting in Pennsylvania, and it’s pitting the state police commissioner against a state senator with social clubs left in the middle scratching their heads.

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State of the Union
11:25 am
Wed January 29, 2014

Local Reaction to State of the Union Mixed

Reaction from southwestern Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address has unsurprisingly been mixed.

Congressman Tim Murphy (R-PA 18) was pleased to hear the president say that he wanted to work with Congress but was a bit concerned with his willingness to “go it alone.” The president spoke of using executive orders to make progress on pet projects as diverse as encouraging the increase of minimum wage to creating a new retirement savings option for working Americans.

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:50 pm
Fri January 24, 2014

Penn State's Moon Shot Looks For Crowdsource Funding

Computer generated image of Penn State's Lunar Lion Lander in Space
Credit Penn State University Lunar Lion

A crew at Penn State is hoping to use crowd funding to help get a rocket to the moon. 

The team is working on grabbing the Google Lunar Xprize which is offering more than $40 million dollars in prizes to anyone who can safely land a craft on the moon, travel 500 meters above, below, or on the Lunar surface, and send two “Mooncasts” back to Earth. Half of the money will go to the first successful mission, but there are other milestone accomplishments that can free up some funding.

The team at Penn State, known as Lunar Lion, is looking to keep its effort on track by raising $406,536 through the crowd funding site

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4:11 pm
Thu January 23, 2014

Report Finds Poor Communications During VA Legionella Outbreak

A report released Thursday by the American Legion finds that the VA Pittsburgh Health System has responded well to the outbreak of Legionella in 2011 and 2012 that took the lives of at least five veterans. 

However, the report finds the Veterans Administration needs to empower the 152 hospitals in the system to better communicate during a crisis.

Jacob Gadd, American Legion deputy director for healthcare, said that since the outbreak the Pittsburgh VA has formed a water safety committee, which had made important recommendations that have been implemented.

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Marcellus Shale
4:02 pm
Thu January 23, 2014

DEP Drilling Rules Subject of Regional Hearings

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection continues its swing through southwestern Pennsylvania Thursday night as it takes testimony on proposed changes to the rules that govern gas and oil drilling in the state.

The DEP took input for several hours Wednesday night in Washington County and will be in Indiana County Thursday night ant the IUP Convention and Athletic Complex. The rules change, known as Chapter 78, represents the first major overhaul in decades.

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Environment & Energy
1:32 pm
Mon January 13, 2014

Energy Alliance: Fracking Is Not a 'Four-Letter Word'

An energy supply and consumption watchdog group is taking its fight against a proposed moratorium on shale drilling in Pennsylvania to the lawmakers sponsoring the bill and to their constituents. 

The Consumer Energy Alliance sent a letter to State Sen. Jim Ferlo (D-Allegheny) asking him to pull the legislation from consideration.  SB 1100 was introduced in September and was referred to the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee where it has languished ever since.

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Environment & Energy
3:05 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

Pitt Lab to Help Build Power System of the Future

What is the best way to build an AC/DC hybrid power system? What does the power grid control system of the future look like?

Those are the types of questions researchers and students at the University of Pittsburgh are hoping to answer with Thursday’s opening of a new electric power systems lab.

The lab was created with the support of the Dublin, Ireland-based power management company EATON, which has offices in the Pittsburgh area. 

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Winter Weather
7:59 am
Tue January 7, 2014

Sub-Zero Temps Cause Disruptions, But No Major Problems in Pittsburgh Region

As the cold descended on the region overnight Monday, the number of warming centers open throughout Allegheny County grew.

Centers in Carnegie, Clairton, Munhall, Oakdale, Shaler, West Deer, and West Mifflin were open all night.  Several other location in the county and five in the City of Pittsburgh were to open Tuesday morning.

Temperatures dipped as low as nine degrees below zero over night and are expected to clime to just seven above throughout the day.

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Winter Weather
2:11 pm
Mon January 6, 2014

As Severe Cold Descends on Southwest PA, How to Keep You and Your Pets Safe

Wind chill temperatures are expected to dip to more than 30 below zero in southwestern Pennsylvania Monday night and Tuesday morning, which means exposed skin could freeze in less than 5 minutes.

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Winter Weather
12:14 pm
Mon January 6, 2014

Emergency Responders Prepare for Deep Freeze

As the region begins to experience low temperatures not seen for nearly two decades, city and county officials are preparing for the worst.

Allegheny County has joined up with city officials to staff the Emergency Operations Center.

The Associated Press reports temperatures will continue to fall throughout the day and will not stop until hitting an expected low of nine below zero. Wind gusts of up to 30 miles an hour will result in wind chills of 31 below zero.

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3:30 am
Mon January 6, 2014

Late-Stage Breast Cancer Patients Might Benefit From Immediate Surgery

Early detection of breast cancer is one of the most important factors when calculating survival rates, but a Magee Hospital surgeon thinks he has found a way to help women who’s cancer is not detected until it has already spread to their bones.

Patients who first present with stage four breast cancer with bone metastasis have a short life expectancy, but a study of 278 women in Turkey suggests that by sending the patient directly to the operating room might be able to help hundreds of American women each year survive.

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City in Transition
3:30 am
Thu January 2, 2014

Who Will Be The Next Council President?

The first order of business after City Council swears in its newly elected members Jan. 6 is to choose a new president who will run the council for the next two years. The semi-annual election is always fraught with back room deals and unlikely alliances.

“That vote won’t be decided until five minutes before that meeting,” said Jim Motznik, former Pittsburgh City Councilman (2001-2010) and current District Municipal Court Justice.

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3:30 am
Sun December 29, 2013

Animal Friends To Go Door-to-Door With Care

Social service agencies are always struggling to find the best way to reach those who need help and the same holds true for agencies that care for animals.

Animal Friends is hoping to reach thousands of dogs and cats in some of Pittsburgh’s poorest neighborhoods using a door-to-door approach funded through a $50,000 grant from the PetSmart Foundation.

Starting in 2014, Animal Friends will send crews into a few North Side neighborhoods to offer free spay and neutering, vaccinations and flea treatments.

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Economy & Business
3:30 am
Fri December 27, 2013

PNC Likes the Economy in 2014

When Pittsburgh-based PNC Financial Services’ top economist looks forward to 2014, he is doing it with cautious optimism.

“We think we can sustain (good economic growth) for at least one more year and maybe for several beyond that,” said PNC Chief Economist Stuart Hoffman.

Hoffman thinks the economy will see GDP growth inching up and unemployment inching down. By the end of 2014 Hoffman is predicting GDP growth of 2.5 percent and an unemployment rate of about 6.5 percent. 

On the local employment front, new jobs in construction will lead the way.

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3:30 am
Thu December 26, 2013

Pittsburgh Economy Fared Well in 2013, PNC Chief Economist Says

The 2013 economy might have stumbled a bit coming out of the gate, but at least one local economist says it recovered well.

“As the year went on it gathered some momentum,” said PNC Chief Economist Stuart Hoffman.

The year began with “sequestration” which reduced government spending nearly across the board and made several tax law changes including a hike in the payroll tax from 4.2 percent to 6.2 percent, a phase out a some key tax exemptions, an increase to the so-called death tax, and an increase in the top marginal tax rate from 35 percent to 39.6 percent. 

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College Savings
3:30 am
Mon December 23, 2013

Need a Last-Minute Gift Idea? PA Treasurer McCord Suggests Donating to a 529

While many holiday gift givers will be heading out to the stores Monday and Tuesday for a few last-minute gifts, Pennsylvania Treasurer Rob McCord is offering another solution: give to a loved one’s college fund.

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Public Safety
3:30 am
Mon December 23, 2013

PA Agencies Look for Designated Drivers

Following fatal traffic accidents, the duty of informing loved ones often falls to a state police officer.

“There is probably few more tragic events in the life of a Pennsylvania state trooper,” said Frank Noonan, PA State Policy Commissioner. “And it’s even more tragic when we find that the accident was caused by a drunk driver because all of those are preventable.”

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5:23 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

Pittsburgh Company Grabs Free App of the Year Title from Apple

A screenshot from the app of the year, Duolingo. One of the app's many French lessons.
Credit Nick Frost / 90.5 WESA

Apple has chosen a Pittsburgh-born app as its free app of the year.

Duolingo teaches people how to speak a new language, and it's been downloaded more than 10 million times since being released a year ago. 

Duolingo CEO Louis Von Ahn said more than a billion people are trying to learn a new language. He believes two-thirds of them are from the lower rungs of the socio-economic ladder, and the reason they are learning a new language is because they are trying to get ahead in life.

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Government & Politics
4:10 pm
Wed December 18, 2013

One Year After Sandyhook, Mental Health Overhaul Offered

US Congressman Tim Murphy
Credit Tim Murphy /

The shootings and Sandyhook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. focused the nation’s attention on mental health care but now that the tragedy is a year behind us, debate on the subject has waned.

However, U.S. Congressman Tim Murphy (PA-18) is hoping to throw it back into the spotlight with a bill he is calling the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act.

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Arts & Culture
3:38 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

Carnegie Museum Continues Tradition of Building Its Collection Through the International

When Andrew Carnegie decided Pittsburgh needed an art museum he did not have any artwork to put in it, so he devised a plan to build a collection using a regularly occurring art exhibition.

“The genesis for the (Carnegie) International, when it was built in 1896 by Andrew Carnegie, was to bring new art to Pittsburgh and to find ‘the old masters of tomorrow’ and collect them for the museum,” said 2013 Carnegie International Co-Curator Tina Kukielski.

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Government & Politics
5:17 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

In PA Legislature, Package of Bills Addresses Issues from 'Revenge Porn' to Pay Equity

A group of Pennsylvania state lawmakers is gathering momentum on a package of bills that deal with issues as diverse as “revenge porn” and pay equity.

Sen. Judy Schwank (D-Berks County) said the overarching theme is that all seven bills deal with strengthening the lives of women in Pennsylvania. 

“When women are healthy and protected by Pennsylvania’s laws, Pennsylvania families will be stronger and more stable,” said Schwank, who co-chairs the Legislature’s Women’s Health Caucus. “This package is a major step in that direction.”

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11:47 am
Tue December 10, 2013

Rare Andean Condors Roost on the North Shore

The female Andean condor Precious stretches her wings at the National Aviary in Pittsburgh.
Credit National Aviary

As the snow falls on the city, a few of those flakes are finding the bald heads of a pair of birds at the National Aviary that many hope will someday find love on the North Shore. 

The Aviary recently obtained a pair of Andean condors with the hopes of getting the pair to breed. But with the male checking in at 43 years of age and the female 36 years old, these are no spring chicks.

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4:25 pm
Mon December 9, 2013

Movement Seeks to Reclaim the 'Promise of Public Education'

Small groups of parents and education activists gathered in Pittsburgh and across the country Monday to mark a “National Day of Action to Reclaim the Promise of Public Education.”

“The promise of public education is how we help and actually do our collective responsibility to ensure every single child can dream his or her dreams and achieve them,” said Randi Weingarten, American Federation of Teachers president.

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Economy & Business
3:30 am
Mon December 9, 2013

Triple Bottom Line Explored in Pittsburgh

Some of the leading minds in sustainable business models will gather in Pittsburgh Tuesday for a rapid-fire event exploring what has become known as the triple bottom line.

“This is the essence of sustainability,” said Court Gould, Sustainable Pittsburgh executive director. 

The group is putting on the conference, Sustainability EXPOsed.

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