Sean Ray

Production Assistant, Essential Pittsburgh
Keith Srakocic / AP Images

During a presentation at the Pennsylvania Bar Institute Environmental Law Forum in Harrisburg earlier this month, Range Resources Vice President of Legislative & Regulatory Affairs Terry Bossert said that the company tries to position gas wells away from larger, nice looking homes.

While Bossert later claimed that the statement was an example of “dry sarcasm,” Patrick Grenter, executive director of the Center for Coalfield Justice, and Joanne Kilgour, director of the Pennsylvania Chapter of the Sierra Club, say that it is all too true. Bossert later issued an apology for his comments.

Is Technology Ruining Millennials' Study Abroad Experience?

Apr 22, 2016
Marco Verch / flickr

Studying abroad is an American college tradition. It is the chance for students to go outside of their comfort zone and explore a foreign land. But is technology ruining the experience? Duquesne Law Professor Jacob Rooksby thinks so, as outlined in his essay, Digital Cocoons and the Raw Abroad. Essential Pittsburgh’s Paul Guggenheimer spoke with Rooksby about this development.

Christophe Ena / AP Images

As U.S. Secretary of Agriculture for all eight years of the Obama administration, Tom Vilsack has closely monitored changes in farming and horticulture. During a stump for presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, Vilsack sits down with Essential Pittsburgh’s Paul Guggenheimer about the biggest challenges facing rural growing communities in the U.S. and here in Pennsylvania.

J Burkhalter / flickr

Since the 2008 economic recession, the national unemployment rate has been closely monitored. In elections year, politicians use the statistics to promote their own economic agendas. Robert Morris University professor of economics Brian O’Roark says to fully understand what the rate means for the U.S. labor force, it’s important to examine all elements involved.

Strong Women Strong Girls / Twitter

Since 2006, Strong Women, Strong Girls has been providing mentors for female students in grades 3-5, teaching them self-confidence and empowering them to succeed. Essential Pittsburgh’s Katie Blackley spoke with Sabrina Saunders, SWSG’s Executive Director, about the group’s impact in the Pittsburgh area over the last decade.

1916 Easter Rising's Continued Impact On Ireland And Abroad

Apr 12, 2016
Pittsburgh Remembers 1916 / Dublin City Library and Archive

100 years after the Irish rebel forces collided with the British Army in the bloody Easter Rising, the country continues to experience political tension. This weekend as part of the “Easter 1916: Pittsburgh Remembers” organization, author and historian Tim Pat Coogan will discuss his latest book on the Rising and talk about its lasting impact in Ireland and abroad.

Justin Tsucalas

They say grass is always greener on the other side, but where is it most creative? That is the question former NPR correspondent Eric Weiner tries to answer with his newest book, The Geography of Genius. Essential Pittsburgh’s Paul Guggenheimer spoke with Weiner about the book and the search for the world’s smartest places.

Something Better To Come / Facebook

For 14 years Oscar nominated director Hanna Polak followed the life of a young homeless girl named Yula who was living in a Russian garbage dump. She chronicles Yula’s experiences and talks about hope in her new documentary, Something Better to Come. Ahead of the film’s screening at the Carnegie Mellon University International Film Festival, Polak spoke with Essential Pittsburgh’s Paul Guggenheimer.

J. Chan / flickr

Pennsylvania’s incarceration rates are the highest of any northeastern state.  Beginning in the 1980's with the advent of the “War on Drugs,” Pennsylvania American Civil Liberties Union director Reggie Shuford said the commonwealth has a history of mass jailing. He told Essential Pittsburgh’s Paul Guggenheimer about an upcoming ACLU roundtable discussion at the August Wilson Center addressing the incarceration debate.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Bring out the birthday cake, Pittsburgh is turning 200!

While 2008 marked the 250th anniversary of the founding of Fort Pitt, 2016 marks the bicentennial of the city’s incorporation. One of the people leading the celebration will be Heinz History Center President and CEO Andy Masich. An expert on the city’s history, Masich sat down with Essential Pittsburgh’s Paul Guggenheimer to discuss the upcoming events.

Corey O'Connor On His Family's Irish Origins And Traditions

Mar 17, 2016
Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Among the many Irish families in Pittsburgh, the O’Connors are one of the most well-known. The late Bob O’Connor served as city councilman and mayor and his son, Corey, is currently a member of Council, representing District 5. Corey says celebrating their Irish heritage is an essential part of being an O’Connor.  He recounted his family’s story and modern commemoration of their culture for Essential Pittsburgh’s Paul Guggenheimer.

Carlos Osorio / AP Images

When investigative journalist Curt Guyette was hired by the Michigan branch of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), he never expected to be breaking one of the biggest stories of 2015. Guyette, who is speaking at Point Park University tomorrow, told Essential Pittsburgh’s Paul Guggenheimer that the Flint water crisis story was a collaborative mission by many local organizations to find and reveal truth.

William Penn Centennial Pays Tribute To Storied Past

Mar 8, 2016
Emily Stock / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh’s “Grande Dame,” the Omni William Penn Hotel, celebrates its 100th birthday this year. The downtown hotel’s rich history will be remembered through both public and VIP events this week. Bob Page, director of sales and marketing for the William Penn, previewed the events from the building’s lobby.

Diagnosing And Treating A Pulmonary Embolism

Mar 4, 2016
Yale Rosen / flickr

Pulmonary embolism is the third leading cause of cardiovascular death in the United States after heart attack and stroke, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But “PE” is also treatable and preventable, so why does the mortality rate continue to climb?

Wesleyan University

Today's young adults pressured into pursuing degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics might be left to wonder about the relevancy of liberal arts in the modern world.

Michael Roth, president of Wesleyan University in Connecticut and author of the book Beyond the University: Why Liberal Education Matters, told Essential Pittsburgh’s Paul Guggenheimer that liberal arts educations enhance not only students' subjects of study, but also how that subject relates to the world around them.

Preparing And Retaining Urban Teachers

Feb 29, 2016
Norton Gusky / flickr

A 2015 report by the National Center for Education Statistics stated that 17 percent, or one out of six, of teachers leave the profession within four years, with one out of ten doing so after the first year alone. These high rates are even worse for urban schools, with Pittsburgh Public Schools seeing an average turnover rate of 22 percent over the last three years. 90.5 WESA’s Kevin Gavin spoke with Shirley Johnson, professor of education at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and Randy Bartlett, senior director of teacher residency at Propel Charter Schools, about what can be done to better prepare urban educators.

Bill Hildabrand

Staff turnover rates are a consistent problem when recruiting teacher talent. How do you prepare future teachers studying education for the challenges and rigors of urban schooling? 90.5 WESA’s Kevin Gavin posed the question to Bill Hildabrand, seventh grade teacher at Chartiers Valley Middle School, and Lacey Hohl, second grade teacher at Faison Elementary School.

Najaa Young

Currently sitting on display in the lobby of the City Council building is an exhibit honoring African American filmmakers with ties to Pittsburgh. The exhibit, known as “A History of Film,” features writers, directors, producers, and more. Among those honored is Najaa Young, whose most recent movie, “Blood First,” was shot in the Homestead area. Essential Pittsburgh’s Paul Guggenheimer sat down with Young to discuss her thoughts on the honor and her history making movies.

Beating Hollywood: Crafting The Perfect Screenplay

Feb 26, 2016
Steve Cuden

Thousands of screenplays make the rounds in Hollywood, in the hopes of being made into a film or TV episode. Many are rejected. However, Steve Cuden, author of Beating Hollywood: Tips for Creating Unforgettable Screenplays,  has created a “how to” book on screenplays. Essential Pittsburgh’s Paul Guggenheimer spoke with Cuden about screenwriting.

2016 Poised To Be Profitable For Pittsburgh's Film Industry

Feb 24, 2016
Jay Phanaga / flickr

It’s the week of the Oscars and not only Hollywood is abuzz with excitement. Since Pennsylvania’s film tax credit was restored, Pittsburgh has been drawing attention from movie studios and was even listed as one of the top smaller cities for film making by Movie Maker Magazine. Essential Pittsburgh’s Paul Guggenheimer spoke with Dawn Keezer, CEO of the Pittsburgh Film Office, to learn the impact a growing film industry has on the city.

How Realistic Is The American Dream?

Feb 22, 2016
Marcus Charleston / WESA

Wealthy, poorly educated students are still statistically more likely to do well in college than poorer children with higher ambitions and intellectual aptitude. Income inequality and class divides are some of the most significant problems facing American society, according to public policy expert Robert D. Putnam.

Helping SNAP Recipients Keep Their Benefits

Feb 19, 2016
Nick Saltmarsh / flickr

Beginning June 1st, nearly 10,000 residents of Allegheny County will see their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits taken away. SNAP provides food stamps for unemployed or underemployed adults across the country. The loss of benefits has Rochelle Jackson, public policy advocate for the Southside based Just Harvest, concerned. She spoke with Essential Pittsburgh’s Paul Guggenheimer about this issue.

MGM / Youtube

At the turn of the 20th century, Pittsburgh played host to a story of crime, murder, passion, and escape. The tale of the Biddle brothers made front page news across the country and was even later adapted into a movie starring Mel Gibson. Essential Pittsburgh’s Paul Guggenheimer sat down with Andy Masich, president and CEO of the Heinz History Center, to hear the tale of this legendary prison escape.

Pablo Martinez Monsivias / AP Images

The passing of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is leading to a political maelstrom over who should select the next Supreme Court appointee.  Scalia, 79, was one of four members of the high court over the age of 75. The age of the justices has garnered attention after Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was seen sleeping during part of the State of the Union address. This has lead some to wonder about the mental cognition of the justices as they age.

University of Pittsburgh Law Professor David Garrow believes the advanced age of many Supreme Court Justices could be a detriment to the welfare of the nation. He recently wrote an op-ed for the LA Times titled, “Four Supreme Court Justices are Older Than 75. Is That a Problem?” Essential Pittsburgh’s Katie Blackley spoke with Garrow to about his perspective and research on the topic.

Exploring McKinley's Beginnings At Allegheny College

Feb 15, 2016
Doug Butchy / flickr

President William McKinley is perhaps best known for leading America to victory in the Spanish-American War, but lesser known are his ties to the Pittsburgh area. The future leader of the free world served one term at Allegheny College, where he was known as a skilled debater, a gentleman, and a model student. Essential Pittsburgh’s Paul Guggenheimer talked with Allegheny College historian Jonathan Helmreich about the legacy McKinley left during his short time at the university.

Ian Ransley / flickr

While they may not be investigating high-profile crimes like homicide or robbery, Pittsburgh’s anti-graffiti squad provides a valuable resource to the city. Revived in Nov. 2015, the squad recently arrested one of Pittsburgh’s major taggers. To get the scoop on what led up to the arrest, Essential Pittsburgh’s Paul Guggenheimer sat down with graffiti squad detectives Alphonso Sloan and Braden Seese.

Local Runners To Compete For Spot On Olympic Marathon Team

Feb 11, 2016
Laura Harnish

Hundreds of long distance runners will converge in Los Angeles for the Olympic Marathon Trials Saturday, each hoping to qualify to represent the United States in the games this summer in Brazil. Three of those who have met the requirements are Pittsburgh-area residents. Essential Pittsburgh’s Paul Guggenheimer sat down with two them, Jed Christiansen and Laura Harnish, to learn what it takes to qualify for the Olympics.

Matt Rourke / AP Images

Does Pennsylvania have too many state legislators? That’s what Brian O’Neill, columnist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, believes. He has been advocating shrinking the legislature since 1994. Essential Pittsburgh’s Paul Guggenheimer sat down with O’Neill to discuss the idea and how to make it a reality.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Acrobatic lion dance teams and traditional Chinese melodies entertained attendees at this past Saturday’s celebration of the beginning of the Chinese New Year in Pittsburgh's Squirrel Hill neighborhood. In the 12-year Chinese zodiac rotation, 2016 is the Year of the Red Fire Monkey. Essential Pittsburgh assistant producer Katie Blackley spoke with Squirrel Hill Urban Coalition executive director Marian Lien about what to expect during the two weeks of festivities.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

After quadrupling visitation during his previous position as head of a New Zealand museum, Eric Dorfman hopes he can use his techniques and experience to improve profits as new director of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. Dorfman comes to the Steel City after five years with the Whanganui Regional Museum and Ward Observatory. He shared his vision for the museum’s future with Essential Pittsburgh’s Paul Guggenheimer.

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