Paul Guggenheimer

Special Reporter

Paul Guggenheimer reports features and conducts interviews with Pittsburgh newsmakers. He is a Pittsburgh native who got his start in broadcast writing stories for WDUQ at the age of 16. After graduating from Emerson College, Paul wrote for NPR, providing spot news stories, features and essays for Morning Edition and All Things Considered. 

Paul completed a sportscaster stint in Minnesota before landing in Sioux City, Iowa where he began his news anchor/talk show host career. In the past, he worked for South Dakota Public Broadcasting, where he hosted the live, daily talk show Dakota Midday, as well as serving as anchor for election and special news coverage. He hosted Essential Pittsburgh, a daily news and talk show on 90.5 WESA, from February 2012 until July 2016. 

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It seemed like a typical low-budget horror flick, the kind being churned out by aspiring directors in the 1960s. The cost of production was only $150,000, shot on black and white film and crew members used Bosco chocolate syrup for blood.

And yet “Night of the Living Dead,” a movie made entirely in Pittsburgh with Pittsburgh-based actors, defied the odds and the critics to become a cult classic that has brought an entire zombie culture to life and made a profit well into the millions -- all that despite a rocky start.


The World Series gets underway in Cleveland Tuesday night. Forty-five years ago though, it was Pittsburgh in the Fall Classic. The Pirates were not expected to win that year, until a moment of extreme on-field confusion turned the series in their favor.         

The 1971 World Series, a best of seven game affair, pitted the Pirates against the defending champions, the Baltimore Orioles. Baltimore had four pitchers who each won 20 games that year, which was only the second time to happen in Major League baseball.

Amie Downs

Imagine taking a Port Authority bus during your regular rush hour commute. Only instead of making your way along in the manner of fluid trickling from an eye dropper, your bus is traveling at a swift and steady pace thanks to a newly installed short-range communication device that shares routes with the traffic signal network.

Harry Cabluck / AP

The University of Pittsburgh's football team is enjoying another winning season so far. The Panthers are third in the last four years. But it wasn’t always this way for Pitt. The program had bottomed out in the early 1970s and the Panthers won just one game and lost 10 in 1972. That was the season before the arrival of legendary coach Johnny Majors who led a dramatic turnaround. By 1976, Pitt went undefeated and won the national championship.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Now that Mayor Bill Peduto’s 2017 budget has been approved by the Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority Board, there are other hurdles to be cleared before it becomes law. They include coming up with at least $10 million in gaming revenue to balance the budget. In his monthly conversation with Mayor Peduto, 90.5 WESA’s Paul Guggenheimer dives into that topic and other aspects of his spending plan.

Their conversation has been edited for length and clarity


Phelan M. Ebenhack / AP

When Steelers punter Jordan Berry was growing up in Melbourne, Australia, he didn’t follow American professional football and didn’t know there was such a thing as college football. But with his strong leg, developed playing Australian Rules football, he was offered an athletic scholarship by Eastern Kentucky University. He excelled there and was signed by the Steelers in 2015. 

Now, in his second season in Pittsburgh, Berry said the biggest adjustment to playing American football was learning how to be ready to come into the game cold.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

A total of 3,383 drug-related overdose deaths were reported in Pennsylvania in 2015. That’s nearly 25 per cent more than the number of deaths in 2014. Governor Tom Wolf has called it a crisis and made dealing with it a priority. The governor spoke with 90.5 WESA’s Paul Guggenheimer about initiatives he and the legislature are working on in the handful of voting days that remain.

Their conversation has been edited for length and clarity.


Gene J. Puskar / AP

The 2016 Major League Baseball season has reached the playoff stage and for the first time in four years, the Pirates will not be part of it. But, at this time 45 years ago, the Pirates were on their way to winning the World Series with a diverse group of players that made history in a way that rivaled Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in baseball.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Over the last half-century, there have been few pop culture phenomenons that have exceeded the popularity of Star Trek. The original TV series starring William Shatner as Captain Kirk and Leonard Nimoy as Mr. Spock, made its network television debut on NBC 50 years ago this month.

Keith Srakocic / AP

As natural gas and energy industry leaders gather at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center this week for the Shale Insight conference, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald remembered years ago when conference organizers didn’t want to come to Pittsburgh because the Steel City was perceived to be a haven for the anti-fracking movement.

Wally Gobetz / Flickr


When Andrew Choe was growing up in Seoul, South Korea, he said he didn’t think much about the Korean War or the men who fought it. That changed when he moved to the United States with his family a few years later.

“(Veterans) are so proud to see the developed, advanced Korea,” Choe said. “They are American citizens, of course, but I could feel that they felt Korea is like their child country, you know, the country that they helped to build in a certain way."

Keith Srakocic / AP

University of Pittsburgh Athletic Director Scott Barnes said traditional rivalries like the one between Pitt and Penn State University are an essential part of college football. On the eve of the first gridiron clash between the Panthers and Nittany Lions in 16 years, Barnes sat down with 90.5 WESA’s Paul Guggenheimer to discuss Saturday's sold out game at Heinz Field and what the future holds for a rivalry that dates back to 1893.

Their conversation has been edited for length and clarity


Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Key changes are being made among the top staff of the state attorney general’s office. New Attorney General Bruce Beemer announced Robert Mulle is taking over as First Deputy Attorney General and James Donahue III will be Acting Chief of Staff. 

Tom Hurley / 90.5 WESA

The 2016-17 school year is set to begin for Pittsburgh Public Schools next week after a tumultuous summer capped by the controversial hiring of new Superintendent Anthony Hamlet, who fielded questions for weeks over whether he plagiarized and misrepresented portions of the resume he used to earn the district's top job. The board voted to retain him in June.

Lee Jin-man / AP

Leah Smith was not necessarily looking to set any records in the Olympic 4x200m freestyle relay in Rio. As she swam the second leg last night at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium, Smith realized her job was to keep the United States within striking distance of Australia and China, close enough to give the world’s best female swimmer, Katie Ledecky, a chance to pull ahead of the competition in the anchor leg. And that’s exactly what happened.

The Americans finished the race in 7:43.03, good for the gold medal, Smith’s first of the Olympics.

Dylan Lovan / AP Photo

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is wrapping up his week-long, 10-city "Ready for Success" bus tour in Pittsburgh today. Duncan held a rally this afternoon for students at Barack Obama Academy of International Studies in East Liberty and appeared at Carnegie Mellon University to discuss college access and STEM education. He spoke with Essential Pittsburgh host Paul Guggenheimer about why he felt it was important to make Pittsburgh part of the tour.

Zennie Abraham / Flickr

Last Friday night, former Pittsburgh Steelers Head Coach Chuck Noll died in his home of natural causes at the age of 82.

Noll coached the Steelers for 23 seasons and transformed the team from a long-standing joke to a championship dynasty, becoming the only coach to win four Super Bowls.

It can also be said that he transformed the city of Pittsburgh into a football town; with Franco’s Italian Army, the whirls of yellow at each game in the form of Myron Cope’s Terrible Towels, and the one play that's been viewed as the true turning point in Steelers history "The Immaculate Reception."

Noll was there for all of this and the driving force behind it all.

Jack Butler Pro Football Hall Of Fame / Facebook

Listen to the Essential Pittsburgh interview with Jack Butler from July 2012

The voice on the other end of the telephone was husky and polite. It belonged to an octogenarian and one of the greatest defensive backs ever to play pro football, Jack Butler. It was the middle of last summer and Mr. Butler was getting a lot of attention because at the age of 84, he was finally going to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. I was hoping he would be able to come in to our studios to be a guest on Essential Pittsburgh. Mine was but the latest in a long line of requests.