90.5 WESA's Essential Pittsburgh

Essential Pittsburgh airs weekdays from noon to 1 p.m. and is repeated at 8 p.m.
  • Hosted by Paul Guggenheimer

Essential Pittsburgh is a locally produced program from 90.5 WESA dedicated to developing a deep, ongoing exploration of critical issues affecting Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania.

Essential Pittsburgh features community leaders and newsmakers in the arts, sciences, technology, business, healthcare, government and education.

  • Call (412) 246-2002 from noon to 1 p.m. weekdays to participate in the discussion.  
  • Tweet your question to @esspgh
  • Subscribe to the podcast in iTunes.
  • What stories are we missing? Send your thoughts to esspgh@wesa.fm 
Robyn Lambert

If walls could talk could be the premise for a tour of vacant homes taking place this weekend in Wilkinsburg.  The Wilkinsburg Community Development Corporation  and Carnegie Mellon University students are combining their efforts to attract potential residents to the borough. How do they plan to accomplish this task? We’ll find out from Wilkinsburg CDC Communications & Outreach Coordinator Marlee Gallagher and Carnegie Mellon School of Public Policy and Management at Heinz College student Kenneth Chu.

Gallagher says that although they're encouraging a change in the area, the community's overall well-being and identity is still in the forefront of the initiative:

"I don't think it is gentrification necessarily. At the WCDC something that we strive to do and will continue to strive to do is to help the existing businesses that are in Wilkinsburg. We're working on a big small marketing campaign to show the Pittsburgh region and beyond what is in Wilkinsburg, what Wilkinsburg has to offer; and we do want more businesses to move in but its not necessarily to push out the businesses that are there. That's not something we ever want to see happen." -Marlee Gallagher

Also in the program, the Austin-based innovation movement titled "Black Sheep" stops in Pittsburgh to hear stories of renewal on its "America's True North" tour and business contributor Rebecca Harris puts a spotlight on Wilkinsburg. 

Fibonacci Blue / flickr

The six Baltimore police officers involved in the arrest of Freddie Gray have been charged with a number of crimes, including murder and manslaughter. Pitt Law Professor David Harris joins us to explain the details behind the charges and what they mean.

Considering the charges, Harris explains how they figure into the usual categories of homicide charges:

"In the universe of homicide charges, there are different possibilities. One is first-degree murder, one is second-degree murder, then you go to manslaughter and then, maybe, negligent homicide. ... Both of the types of homicide charges involved here do not involve intentional killing. They involve degrees of reckless behavior." -- David Harris

Also in the program, Nazila Fathi talks about her book "The Lonely War," which paints an intense and intricate portrait of post-revolution Iran, and Pittsburgh cartoonist Joe Wos explains Mazetoons, his newly syndicated puzzle/cartoon hybrid.

Chuck LeClaire

This Saturday is the Pittsburgh marathon. In addition to thousands of adults running and walking many children will be running their “final mile” as part of the 2015 Kids of Steel Program. Promoting healthy exercise and nutrition habits in younger runners are Patrice Matamoros, CEO of the Pittsburgh Three Rivers Marathon, and Michele Nichols, program director for Kids of Steel. (Starts at 20:20)

Matamoros explains that Kids of Steel grew out of the Pittsburgh Marathon's desire to see kids grow up with an early discovery of running as a sport:

"The American Medical Association was starting to say that kids of this generation were going to have a shorter life span than their parents...We certainly didn't want to leave them out and watch their parents and their guardians getting healthier and watching the kids' health not making improvements." -Patrice Matamoros

Also on the program, Dr. Ron Roth, Pittsburgh Marathon medical director and emergency medicine physician joins Dr. Kelley Anderson, overseer of elite runners, to instruct marathon runners on how to stay healthy in Sunday's predicted high heat. Emily Gordon is a biochemistry major at UCLA who won her very first marathon and has already qualified for the 2016 Olympic trials. 

AP Photo/Matt Rourke

In the wake of its 2001 riots, Cincinnati assembled an Ohio Task Force on Community-Police Relations, the results of which were released earlier this week. Cincinnati police studied community problem solving, revised use-of-force policies, worked to eliminate biased policing and collected data on police stops. In light of the recent events in Baltimore, former Pittsburgh Police officer and overseer of riot control Sheldon Williams, along with Andrew Conte, who was present at the 2001 Cincinnati riots, join us to discuss what other major cities can take away from large-scale riots. 

Giving his analysis of how the Baltimore case showed how rioting can sometimes interfere with the objectives of a demonstration, Conte says: 

"When you have this kind of rioting that goes beyond spreading the message to causing property damage and people are getting injured, they start to lose the impact of the message... The focus has to be on the message and -- yes, breaking the law, perhaps --  but doing it in a way that emboldens your message. In this case, they lost control of the narrative." -- Andrew Conte

Williams emphasizes that demonstrations like the ones seen in Baltimore can get out of hand easily, and that's why law enforcement needs to be ready with an appropriate response:

"This type of behavior has the ability to just spur out of control into a point where people -- and not only just property, but people -- can get hurt. So, that's why you have to have the response necessary to quell that type of activity" -- Sheldon Williams

Also in the program, Emily Saliers of Indigo Girls and Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra conductor Robert Bernhardt talk about their upcoming collaborative performance.

AP Photo/Wally Santana

The Nepalese-Bhutanese community is the largest refugee group in Pittsburgh. In the aftermath of last weekend’s devastating earthquake in Nepal, we’ll discover how members of the local Nepalese-Bhutanese community are reaching out to aid their homeland with Bibhuti Aryal President / Co-Founder Rukmini Foundation.

Aryal tells how the actions of aid hope to raise awareness and support the people of Nepal:

"We need help from all our neighbors far and wide and we hope we can get a strong Pittsburgh community to come and mourn with us but also help us with the rebuilding efforts. It's part educational to show the scale of the damage and how much it is effecting our country and our people here as well but also to provide some hope that there is something we can do as a global community to make a difference. - Bibhuti Aryal

Also in the program,  Michael Kobald of the Soarway Foundation had several employees caught in the earthquake. Sasha King explains how networking doesn't have to be an overwhelming process, and Founder and CEO of Belt Publishing Anne Trubek describes how Belt is choosing to anthologize Pittsburgh.

Buzzword Pgh

PNC announced on Saturday that it will grant $1.5 million to Buzzword Pittsburgh, an organization in Homewood that engages families with young children to develop vocabulary and language practices. Buzzword is one project of the Grow Up Great initiative supported by the Carnegie Science Center, the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy. Sally McCrady, president and chair of the PNC Foundation, describes PNC's investment and Buzzword Pittsburgh.

Describing the efforts of Buzzword Pittsburgh to connect with children, McCrady explains:

"Fun is the key here, and our partners have just done a fabulous job of working together to create really fun activities that the whole family can be engaged in and really focus and take advantage of kids' natural sense of curiosity." -- Sally McCrady

Also in the program, retired Colonel Stuart Herrington shares stories from Vietnam in a new PBS documentary, Margaret J. Krauss tells the story of South Park and business contributor Rebecca Harris describes the business of medical devices.

The American Council on Germany

The goal of the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh has been to promote a better understanding of international affairs. Since 2010 Steve Sokol has been president of the organization. Before he leaves the Steel City to take on a new role as President-Elect of the American Council on Germany, he joins us for an exit interview.

Sokol says that engaging the younger generation in global affairs is not always easy, but not doing so would leave the city at a great disadvantage:

"It's a much bigger argument to be making constantly...that what happens around the world matters to us. I firmly believe that in this increasingly multicultural, multi-ethnic and multi-lingual world of the 21st century, even if one doesn't go out into the world, the world is coming to us." -Steven Sokol

Also on today's program, Nafari Vanaski writes her final column for the Tribune-Review, and Pittsburgh's oldest commercial building is in danger of being beyond repair. 

Brock Fleeger / flickr

Former Pirates pitcher Kent Tekulve was known as a workhorse out of the bullpen during his 16 year Major League Baseball career. He led the majors in games pitched four times, appearing in 90 or more in three different seasons. Tekulve saved three games in the 1979 World Series including the winner, as the Pirates defeated the Baltimore Orioles. But the biggest save of his life came last fall when he received a life-saving heart transplant. Teke, as he is known, joins us to talk about his recovery and return to the airwaves as a member of the Pirates broadcast team.

Kent Tekulve (starting at 28:10) remains humble despite all of his successes:

I never thought of myself as a Hall of Famer. I think I'm just very proud to be able to do what I was able to do and to compete against a whole lot of Hall of Famers and have some success against them while I was playing.

Also in today's show: Pittsburgh design firm MAYA and StoryCorps team up to create a mobile version of the StoryCorps recording and archiving experience, and the Pittsburgh Thunderbirds begin their season, giving the sport of Ultimate Disc a firm foothold in the Pittsburgh area. 

Lawrence Jackson / Wikipedia

Mayor Peduto recently announced his support for Natalia Rudiak's call for a Will of Council in regards to an international trade deal that might go straight to Congress without input from state and city representatives. Rudiak, along with other local and national legislators, worries that "fast-tracking" the trade agreement with Asian nations will give multinational corporations new, sweeping offshore profits and limit sovereign governments from regulating environmental quality, land use, food safety and telecommunications. Rudiak joins us to explain her reservations about the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Asked to discuss critics' concerns regarding the trade deal, Rudiak explains that one of the biggest fears is loss of employment:

"We're talking about hundreds of thousands of jobs being potentially lost. That's what we saw from NAFTA, that's what we saw from CAFTA, that's what we saw from the U.S./Korea trade deal. ... What's scary about this is that we're talking about 21 countries that represent 40% of the country's GDP, so it's sort of like NAFTA on steroids." -- Natalia Rudiak

Also in the program, 1960s pop star and native Pittsburgher Lou Christie looks back on his musical career as he his honored by the Pittsburgh Rock 'n Roll Legends Award, and travel contributor Elaine Labalme warns us to not wait and to start planning for the beach.

theatlantic.com

As part of the EverPower Earth Day Festival today in Market Square, Robert Swan is appearing in Pittsburgh. Swan is the first man ever to walk to both the North and South poles. He is currently an advocate for the protection of Antarctica and renewable energy.

Swan explains how traveling through wilderness changes a person's perception of the world:

"You realize that actually we, the human race, tend to feel that we can dominate the wilderness...dominate our planet. When you have walked the South pole or the North pole you know how small we really are, how insignificant we really are and how our world is a hell of a lot more powerful and if we carry on as we are it'll just spit us out."

Also in the program, Chatham is in the process of building the first campus in the world to be built solely for the study of sustainability, and Joylette Portlock of Communitopia helps us to see the positive side of a historically negative topic: climate change and our evolving environment.

dfbphotos / flickr

Since 2004, the amount of radon present in Pennsylvania air has steadily increased -- an increase that our guest Dr. Joan Casey notes began the same year that the state's first fracking sites became operational. Dr. Casey recently published her findings that quantify PA radon levels, and she joins us to discuss the possible cause of its decade-long spike as well as what PA residents can do to protect themselves from the toxic gas, which is the second leading cause of lung cancer nationwide. 

Asked about the importance of checking radon levels in the home -- especially homes near hydraulic fracturing sites -- Casey explains:

"Radon is colorless, it's odorless, but it's also this carcinogenic gas. And so, it is important for people in Pennsylvania to be checking their indoor radon levels because we know that historically Pennsylvania has had a lot of radon, and there are potentially new pathways opening up due to this industry." -- Dr. Joan Casey

Also in the program, Illah Nourbakhsh and Bea Dias explain how CMU's CREATE Lab has developed an affordable way for families to test the indoor air quality of their homes, Jody Bell describes a lending program for the devices that is being offered by the Squirrel Hill branch of the Carnegie Library, Margaret J. Krauss takes us through the saga of the polio vaccine, and Rebecca Harris breaks down mobile businesses.

Borya / flickr

A conversation with award winning New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast about her graphic memoir “Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant” which takes a head on look at issues involved with aging, dying and death. She's speaking in Pittsburgh on Thursday at Temple Rodef Shalom in Oakland to benefit Family Hospice and Palliative Care.

Chast explains her reasoning for sketching her mother as she lay dying-- it jump started her memoir:

"It was something to do. There's nothing really to do when you're sitting at your parents' bed side and you want to be with them but they're in that stage of life where they're not really talking anymore and sleeping most of the time. I wanted to be with her in a deeper way and for me drawing is part of that."

Also in this program, Nancy Spielberg's latest film, Above and Beyond, tells the story of a group of Jewish American pilots flying for Israel in its War of Independence. 

Lollie-Pop / flickr

What’s being described as a major effort to forge a new model of urban growth and development is underway. The P4 international summit has brought experts from around the world to the Steel City and we’ll talk with one of them, Amory Lovins, Co-founder and Chief Scientist of the Rocky Mountain Institute. He’ll talk about what the renewable power revolution means for cities like ours.    Amory Lovins shares some of the benefits of using renewable energy in relation to fossil fuels: 

"Just the routine improvement in both wind and solar power have made them already cheaper than new gas power in almost all of the country."

 Also in this hour Jason and Melora Angst from the Artisan Tattoo parlor speak about their plan to save their shop, and Elaine Labalme shares the best hiking and biking spots in Pittsburgh. 


Scott Davidson / flickr

This week a video was released of an Arizona officer using his police cruiser to intentionally run down a suspect-- the latest event involving a police officer's overt use of force. It comes shortly after the shooting death of Walter Scott, as he was running away, by an officer in South Carolina. Are law enforcement officials using an increasing amount of what is sometimes deadly force? We're posing that question to Pitt Law Professor David Harris.

Harris suggests that while it's unlikely that deadly force on the part of police has actually increased, video footage of it has become more common, and increased accountability has followed:

"I don't know that we have evidence that it's worse. I do think there's a greater awareness, a much greater likelihood that we'll have video proof, and, you know, when you see it, even on only a cellphone camera, it's just different than hearing a report of it afterwards. And that's why I think that this seems to be a kind of watershed moment." -- David Harris

Also in the program, a new book co-edited by Trabian Shorters observes the everyday lives of 40 black men, paining a picture of how black men are "living, leading and succeeding" in modern America.

Michael Lynch / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto makes his monthly visit to the show. He talks about this week's educational summit in Pittsburgh focusing on sustainable urban development and how it will establish Pittsburgh as "the city of the future" as well as the city's new bike share program.  

Peduto says that, after a long period of managing decline, it's time to help the city grow. When looking at sustainability, however, he says we still have to proceed carefully.

"We don't want to put too much salt in the soup. We want to be able to make sure that the growth enhances what we already have... We want to be able to hit standards that exceed world standards, or at least match them, to make Pittsburgh a world leader once again on a global scale."

Also in today's show, Margaret Krauss throws back to opening day 80 years ago, when the Pittsburgh Crawfords were the best name in baseball. President of the Senator John Heinz History Center Andy Masich reveals the contents of John Brashear's time capsule, found beneath the Pittsburgh factory where he worked as a leader in developing scientific tools. 

Essential Pittsburgh: The Local 'Fight for 15'

Apr 14, 2015
pennsylvanianow.org

On Wednesday, April 15th, low-wage workers around the country are going on strike. They’re coming together to demand the minimum wage be raised to $15 an hour. We’re previewing the rally taking place here in Pittsburgh with Rev. Richard Freeman, President of the Pennsylvania Interfaith Impact Network, and fast food worker Ashona Osborne. 

Rev. Freeman explains the rally and the involvement of PIIN by saying:

 "Central to the rally is -- rooted in our moral thought -- that everybody who works 40 hours a week should be able to sustain their families. ... I think the problem is a moral problem. Ergo, that's why the Pennsylvania Inferfaith Impact Network and our congregations are engaged." -- Rev. Richard Freeman

Asked to explain the difficulties of living on the current minimum wage, Osborne explains:

"7.25 is just chump change. I have to decide which bill is more important that week and let the other one slip until my next paycheck. ... That's either: do I pay rent off this paycheck, or do I go food shopping? Do I get my baby clothes or do I pay my light bill? And it shouldn't be like that." -- Ashona Osborne

Also in the program, Robert Morris University professor Brian O'Roark offers his assessment of how the enactment of a $15 minimum wage would impact workers, employers and the economy, and Post-Gazette reporter Len Barcousky describes how, 150 years ago today, the first presidential assassination threw the nation, and its major media outlets, for an unprecedented loop. 

flickr

April 14th marks how far into the year a woman must work in order to earn the same amount of money as a man in the previous year. The Bayer Center for Nonprofit Management will host a “Great Debate,” in which opinion leaders will argue their stances on the event’s theme: how nonprofits are addressing the gender pay gap, and whether or not it should be their priority. Robert Morris Associate Professor Daria C. Crawley and Bayer Center executive director and founder Peggy Morrison Outon join us to discuss how nonprofits take responsibility for wage inequities.

Peggy Morrison explains why there is a pattern of lower salaries among female workers in non-profits:

"One thing in the 70 interviews that I did in our research shows that women will negotiate for salary before they join a non-profit, but once they join the non-profit it becomes their family and they are very reluctant to advocate for themselves. "

Also in today's show, Bob Dvorchak joins us to debrief the recent announcement of Troy Polamalu's retirement, the Pirate's home opener, and a prediction for Penguin's playoff games.

Jon Dawson / flickr

How do residents and visitors perceive the South Side? Pitt students enrolled in Professor Michael Glass’ urban skills seminar spent a semester interviewing people from all parts of the neighborhood. Michael Glass and student Jason Wald join us to reveal the findings of their research. 

Professor Glass says the goal of the study was the capture the different perspectives of South Side's diverse community rather than to call attention to its rowdier, more buzz-worthy elements.

"We don't want to say the nightlife is a bad thing...What we want to be mindful of is that South Side is used not only by those drinkers but also the people living above the bars, living on Sarah and Jane Streets. Trying to figure out a way where those two communities can coexist is really important." - Professor Michael Glass

Also in today's show, Elaine Labalme tells us where to find art hotels in the Pittsburgh area. 

Fox Valley Institute/Flickr

New research within the field of epigenetics may change the way we look at the treatment of mental health issues in children. Dr. Sharna Olfman, a professor of developmental psychology at Point Park University and a practicing psychologist, has published a new book, The Science and Pseudoscience of Children's Mental Health, that aims to de-mystify how mental health issues are introduced within a child's developing brain.

Dr. Olfman believes that the question is no longer confined to internal factors, but instead an integration of children's changing environments with the processes of early brain development and transferrable genetics.   

"We put tens of thousands of chemical toxins into our environment, kids are sitting in front of screens for hours a day…we’ve radically changed the way kids eat…we’ve really changed every facet of their environment." - Dr. Sharna Olfman

Also on the program, a new application out of the Entertainment Technology Center helps children cope with traumatic experiences through gameplay, and the President of the Senator John Heinz History Center Andy Masich commemorates the 150th anniversary of the day the American Civil War came to an end. 

Ryan Stanton/Flickr

This weekend marks the 50th anniversary of the Elementary and Secondary Education Acts. Reauthored in 2001 and now more widely known as No Child Left Behind, the law will be getting a major rewrite in 2015. NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia covers the changes coming to the most enduring education legislation that Congress has ever passed. 

Eskelsen Garcia says the complaints of parents and teachers have provided a chance to make major changes to the acts.

"We have an opportunity because more and more members of Congress might have an open mind about ending this test-and-punish routine and replacing it with better information."-Lily Eskelsen Garcia

Also today, we explore the idea of technological fluency, and civil rights activist and UMBC President Freeman Hrabowski works to institute minorities in STEM-related careers. 


Essential Pittsburgh: Running Out of Road

Apr 7, 2015
Doug Kerr/Flickr

As spring and summer road construction projects are about to get underway, they could be stopped before they get started. The reason being that the Highway Trust Fund will be broke come the end of May. We’ll address how this can impact southwestern PA with Chris Sandvig, Regional Policy Director of the Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group.

Asked to explain the Trust Fund and its current status, Sandvig says: 

"Locally, within our Southwestern Pennsylvania region, we receive well over $100 million a year in federal funds that are spent on roads, bridges, mass transit, pedestrian and bicycle facilities. The Highway Trust Fund is where that money comes from.  ... Long story short, we're running out of money." -- Chris Sandvig

Also in the program: Christopher Powell and Dayton Kinney discuss an innovative collaboration between Carnegie Mellon and the Pittsburgh Opera, Margaret J. Krauss reports on a harrowing 1902 prison break that gave us our modern police force and Rebecca Harris explains revitalization planned for the Pittsburgh neighborhood of St. Clair.

Essential Pittsburgh: The Pirates Hit the Field

Apr 6, 2015
Dan Gaken/Flickr

The decision to uphold the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate PA State Attorney General Kathleen Kane is the latest setback in her once rising political career.  We’ll get an update on the current troubles of the beleaguered attorney general with WESA’s capitol reporter Mary Wilson.

Mary Wilson talks about the next steps for Kane and how she plans to proceed :

“Well there is no date that I would circle [on a calendar]… Kane says she is not going to resign. Her attorney and spokesman Lanny Davis says that, ‘She’s not stepping down and she’s not going to give into the fight.’ The line from her office is that she’s under siege by people who feel insulted about her rise to power ...”

Also in this hour, Al Yellon talks about the history and future of AstroTurf in baseball, we talk to George Coury, a 46-year Pirates season ticket holder, and Post-Gazette Sportswriter Bob Dvorchak shares his predictions for the performance of the Pirates this season.


Castrin Austin/Flickr

An event billed as the Pittsburgh Rockin' Reunion will take place this weekend. Joining us for a look at Pittsburghers who made rock ‘n’roll music in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s is Ed Salamon, author of the book "Pittsburgh's Golden Age of Rock 'n' Roll."

"All of the elements that created rock 'n roll were present here in Pittsburgh. A lot of musicologists say it's a combination of jazz, of pop, of rhythm and blues. All of those musics existed here in Pittsburgh, and they cross-pollinated in Pittsburgh as in few other places." - Ed Salamon

Also on today's show: Justin Hayward--singer, songwriter, and lead guitarist for the legendary rock group The Moody Blues--remembers a long career of classics, and WYEP's Mike Sauter lays out the steel city's rock 'n roll future: Ringo, Rosanne Cash and none other than The Rolling Stones. 


Becky Wetherington/Flickr

In commemoration of World Autism Awareness Day, Lu Randall, Executive Director at Autism Connection of PA and April Artz,Coordinator for the EmployAble program at the Squirrel Hill Career Development Center, are working to place adults with mental health issues in STEM jobs. The EmployAble program, which provides supportive services along with their job placements, acquired the funds to include services for adults on the autism spectrum in 2014.

Asked about the challenges faced by job seekers on the autism spectrum, Artz explains:

"When people go to apply for a job, there's still a lot of concern on their end about disclosing or talking about it to their employer. And I think in some ways that is justified because there is still a lot of misunderstanding despite the fact [that] this is very prevalent, and this is sort of being a human, we still have a lot of stigma and anxiety around this."

Explaining her outlook on helping the people she works with to seek employment, Randall says: 

"I see my role, in particular, as providing kind of a cross-cultural explanation of a group that's really not well understood. And it's very similar, when we listen to the issues, to any other minority groups in the past or currently who have a hard time being taken seriously, being respected, not having stereotypes put out there that are untrue."

Also in the program, Pitt professor Michael Kenney talks about why some Americans become interested in joining ISIS, and travel contributor Elaine Labalme gives suggestions on where to go for some extra March Madness.

 

Essential Pittsburgh: Re-Drafting 'You and The Police'

Apr 1, 2015
macwagen / flickr

The original version of the pamphlet titled "You and The Police" has been around since the mid-1990s, published after Jonny Gammage's death during a traffic stop. Now, the Pittsburgh police bureau has collaborated with the Black Political Empowerment Project, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Citizen Police Review Board on an updated version of the brochure, which they hope will be distributed in public schools and churches across the city. The handout offers tips on how to handle interactions with the police at traffic stops, within a private home and during an arrest. B-PEP Founder Tim Stevens, ACLU Legal Director Vic Walczak, and Executive Director of the CPRB Beth Pittinger explain the new information and why the city believes the pamphlet's re-introduction is necessary.  Walczak cautioned that, though he thought the brochure is helpful and would minimize negative police interactions, it wouldn't completely solve the problem. 

"There's no silver bullet. No matter how good the brochure is and how wide a distribution you put out, it's not a guarantee that everything is going to be hunky dory. You're going to have misunderstandings. Some employees, like in any business, are not going to follow the rules or do the right thing."- Vic Walczak

Also today, Joe Wos presents the story of the "world's greatest liar" (a Pittsburgh-er, of course) in honor of April Fool's Day. 


Chatham University

Our guest Cokie Roberts has long been familiar to NPR listeners. She offers political commentary during Morning Edition on Mondays and provides analysis for ABC News. This year, Ms. Roberts is being honored as Chatham University’s Elsie Hillman Chair in Women and Politics. On Wednesday she’ll present the lecture An Insider’s View on Washington, D.C.

Asked about how she manages her own political beliefs when reporting on political issues, Roberts explains:

"When you do it as long as I have, you stop, really, having political beliefs. You care about the issues, and you care that people understand the issues, but you see both sides all the time. And you see people who make a lot of sense on one side, and people who don't make any sense on the same side and vice versa. So it's really a question of just trying to explain it." -- Cokie Roberts

Also in the program, Career Consultant Sasha King offers up tips for peer evaluations, Margaret J. Krauss re-lives Pittsburgh's Whiskey Rebellion and business contributor Rebecca Harris preps us for impending holy holidays with the business of Easter. 


Essential Pittsburgh: Celebrating Courageous Women in Journalism

Mar 30, 2015
James McGrath Morris

As Women’s History Month comes to a close we’ll celebrate the achievements of Ethel Payne. The pioneering journalist was the third African American in history given a White House press pass. In his new book Eye on the Struggle, our guest James McGrath Morris chronicles the life of Ethel Payne.

Morris talks about just one of the many legacies left by Ethel Payne:

" One of the legacies of her story is a constant reminder of who has a seat at the table makes an enormous difference. And as each group begins to gain rights-- gay rights, transsexual rights, Hispanic rights--whatever group. If those folks are not at the table, not asking questions of those in power... The groups who are there will fail to ask the questions that are significant for that audience." -- James McGrath Morris

Also in the hour, independent director and presenter at Pittsburgh's first Humanities Festival John Sayles  discusses the past and present of independent cinema. Then, the Director of International Media, Advocacy and Communications at Columbia University Anya Schiffrin visits City of Asylum and recalls a century of global investigative journalism.  


Essential Pittsburgh

Joyce Brabner and Mark Zingarelli produced a book last year that puts the history of AIDS into a vastly new perspective. With comic-book-style graphics and vivid, larger-than-life characters, Second Avenue Caper describes the beginning of the AIDS epidemic in America with the kind of humor and imagination that is seldom associated with such a poignant topic. 

Brabner talks about the heroes in this story in the fight against AIDS :

"The real heroes are my friends who made space in their crowded NY apartment for people who didn’t have the strength to walk up five flights of stairs. My friends who fed, cared, clothed everybody." -- Joyce Brabner

Also in this hour, AIDS researcher Dr. Charles Rinaldo and Alan Jones of the Pittsburgh AIDS Taskforce talk about the beginning of the AIDS epidemic. Furthermore,  Tom Baxter of Friends of the Riverfront and Carl Knoch of the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy talk about their thoughts on the Three Rivers Heritage Trail.


Essential Pittsburgh / WESA

Former congressman Joe Sestak is running for the U.S. Senate by walking. He's making a 422-mile trek across the state to better connect with Pennsylvanians. Joe Sestak joins us in Studio A for a talk about his plans to challenge Senator Pat Toomey and why the state's Democratic party doesn't want him to run.

Sestak comments on his opponent Senator Pat Toomey's action regarding Iran and the nuclear weapons issue:

"What I saw is the unrivaled respect that the presidency of the United States has as the foremost instrument to secure our freedoms and our security overseas. To actually have had Senator Toomey sign a letter that says disregard our presidency shows reckless abandon of the responsibilities of a Senator, it shows truly no experience in world affairs and it also shows a disregard for the security of America, placing politics above security." -- Joe Sestak

Also in this hour, a Pittsburgh artist's sketches of servicemen are finding their way back home and Louis Ortiz, star of the documentary "Bronx Obama" and the President's closest doppelganger visits for a screening of the film. 

Tony Webster / Flickr

Controversy continues to surround Governor Wolf’s nominee for State Police Commissioner Marcus Brown. The former Maryland State Police Commissioner has come under fire for wearing the PA State Trooper uniform. He is now under investigation for allegations of misdemeanor theft. We get the latest on the beleaguered nominee with Patriot News Capitol Reporter Christian Alexandersen.

"In a couple different interviews, [Marcus Brown] made the point of using the word honor and showing respect for the people he's going to lead. He said that to lead the organization it would make sense for him to wear the uniform...The retired state troopers have been pretty vocal, especially on social media and online, about their feelings...One retired officer said [Brown's] decision to wear the uniform was to show his power and authority." - Christian Alexandersen

Also in this hour, cities around the globe go dark this Saturday in honor of Earth Hour (including parts of Pittsburgh), we revisit the history of the Fort Pitt Block House, and the Farm to Table Food Conference connects Pittsburghers directly to their local growers. 


Pages