90.5 WESA's Essential Pittsburgh

Essential Pittsburgh airs weekdays from noon to 1 p.m. and is repeated at 8 p.m.
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, as well as featuring 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.
  • Dial (412) 256-8783 to leave a question or comment before or after the show.
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  • What stories are we missing? Send your thoughts to esspgh@wesa.fm 
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Essential Pittsburgh
10:51 pm
Thu July 24, 2014

Friday Rundown: Has the World Gotten Louder?

Are we exposed to higher decibels than previous generations?
Credit Nick Allen / Flickr

These topics air Friday July 25, 2014 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

Is the World Getting Noisier?

From annoying ring tones to everyday noise pollution, doesn’t it seem like our world is noisier? Our Wonder Boys, Ellis Robinson and Daniel Tkacik, went in search of an answer. Their findings are revealed in this thrilling installment of the Mysteries of Pittsburgh.

Hearing Loss/Job Discrimination

A new research survey by EPIC Hearing Healthcare finds that 30 percent of U.S. employees suspect they have hearing loss, but have not sought treatment. Of those, almost 95 percent say it impacts them on the job yet many go out of their way to hide their hearing loss for fear of losing their job. Pittsburgh audiologist, Dr. Suzanne Yoder is our guest.

Power Player

The Pittsburgh Power, the city’s professional arena football team, are having their best season, ever. They’re undefeated at home and just clinched their first-ever playoff berth. While they don’t get as much recognition as the Steelers, what is life like for the men who play in the arena league? We’ll pose that question to Tommy Grady, quarterback for the Pittsburgh Power, join us in Studio A. 

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Essential Pittsburgh
5:56 pm
Thu July 24, 2014

The Governor's Jobs 1st Summit Coming to Pittsburgh

The "titans of industry" will be speaking at a jobs summit taking place next month, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry Secretary. Julia Hearthway said the "Governor's Jobs 1st Summit" will be speaking to employers about making sure their workforce is ready to embrace a changing industry landscape. She said it will also feature a discussion between Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett and business magnate T. Boone Pickens.

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Essential Pittsburgh
5:33 pm
Thu July 24, 2014

Summer in the City of Brotherly Love

Credit Gary McCabe / Flickr

Philadelphia is the largest and most populous city in the commonwealth. There’s a wealth of things to do as well as great things to eat. Travel contributor Elaine Labalme, who tweets about food and travel under the twitter handle New Girl in Town, takes us across the state to talk about enjoying summer in the city of brotherly love.

Philadelphia has many charms and certainly where the arts are concerned. Check out Elaine's list of places to stay, eat, drink and explore:

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Essential Pittsburgh
5:05 pm
Thu July 24, 2014

A New Phase in the Net Neutrality Public Comment Period

Credit Seeweb / Flickr

Net Neutrality is the principle that internet service providers should enable access to all content and applications, regardless of the source and without favoring or blocking particular products or websites.

During the most recent comment period, the Federal Communications Commission has received an overwhelming response from the public on this issue. In addition, Google as well as other companies are in support of the initiative. Orion Czarnecki Founder/Director of the security company known as Threat Level. He says when it comes to “paid privatization,” a phrase that’s at the heart of the issue, an ISP can charge a service provider or edge provider an additional fee for faster access by end users. 

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Essential Pittsburgh
11:06 pm
Wed July 23, 2014

Thursday Rundown: What's Next for Net Neutrality?

Credit lizzardo / Flickr

These topics air Thursday July 24, 2014 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

Net Neutrality

The FCC has received an overwhelming number of public comments on the issue of net neutrality. In addition, Google as well as other companies are in support of the initiative. Orion Czarnecki Founder/Director of Security Threat Level joins us to discuss the latest developments on this issue.

Job Growth in the Commonwealth

How do you prepare the workforce to handle the jobs of the new millennia? Governor Tom Corbett would like to see an alignment of education, training and technology resources to better connect employers and employees. Next month Pittsburgh will be the site of Pennsylvania’s JOBS 1st Summit. We’ll preview the event and learn about job growth in the commonwealth from Julia Hearthway, Secretary Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry.

Philadelphia

This week travel contributor Elaine Labalme takes us to Philadelphia. From an abundance of eateries to historic sites we'll discover why the city of brotherly love is a great place to visit this summer. 

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Essential Pittsburgh
7:43 pm
Wed July 23, 2014

A Pitt Professor’s Inside Look into Ukraine

A pro-Russian rally with members of one of the militias believed to have shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.
Credit Andrew Butko / Wikipedia

University of Pittsburgh assistant professor of economics Tymofiy Mylovanov is in Kiev participating in talks with the Prime Minister of Ukraine to try and help stabilize the country after this past winter's events.

Mylovanov’s visit is at a time of extreme tension after a civilian plane was shot down as it was flying over Ukraine.

Mylovanov said Kiev was surprisingly quiet when he arrived.

"It's a little bit of a surreal feeling. It is as if there was no war. There are no military or uniformed police on the streets and everything was very, very quiet."

To add to this surreal feeling, Ukrainian government officials still can't view the crash site because separatists have closed off access. It's believed that they may be clearing the site so there will be no evidence that they were responsible for shooting down the plane.

The officials appear to have accepted that separatists are responsible for the downed plane and instead of discussing the plane, Mylovanov said officials are focusing on reform efforts.

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Essential Pittsburgh
7:34 pm
Wed July 23, 2014

Songs of the Summer: For WYEP's Rosemary Welsch It's All About Classic R&B with a Twist

For 91.3 WYEP host Rosemary Welsch, summertime is all about classic R&B with a Brazilian beat.
Credit Mike Vondran / Flickr

As the heat of July blazes on, we’ve been talking with some of the hosts at our sister station 91.3 WYEP, about music of the summer. Throughout July and August the hosts talk about what makes for a great summer song, and new music for the summer.

For WYEP afternoon mix host, Rosemary Welsch, a summer jam is about sense of place and time, and “The Brazil Connection” met these requirements.

“It's this wonderful project that was put together by the Berman brothers, they’re a production team. Where they took the original masters of incredible soul ballads like Bill Withers and Aretha Franklin and Marvin Gaye and Billie Holiday and they brought in Brazilian musicians to put either Bossa Nova or Samba rhythms under those great vocals. And it’s a wonderful record that marries two perfect worlds together.”

Preview selections from The Brazil Connection

Essential Pittsburgh
6:55 pm
Wed July 23, 2014

The Economic Cost of Financial Illiteracy

Could financially literacy save people from retirement and unemployment problems?
Credit Credit Alan Cleaver / Flickr

How much do you know, or think you know, about your personal finances? In a world where savings and investment options are increasingly complex, studies show that millions of Americans lack financial literacy.

Paul Brahim, Chairman and CEO of BPU investment firm and a member of the Board of Directors of the Pittsburgh Chapter of the Financial Planning Association, says financial illiteracy is causing a social crisis in retirement.

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Essential Pittsburgh
7:23 pm
Tue July 22, 2014

Wednesday Rundown: A Local Economics Professor Negotiates in Ukraine

A pro-Russian rally with members of one of the militias believed to have shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.
Credit Andrew Butko / Wikipedia

These topics air Wednesday July 23, 2014 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

A Pitt Professor in Ukraine

With outrage over the downing of a civilian plane over Ukraine intensifying, we'll talk with University of Pittsburgh assistant professor of economics Tymofiy Mylovanov who is in Kiev participating in talks with the prime minister. He'll describe how the Ukrainian government feels about the situation as well as average citizens there.

WESA Celebrates - Judy Bannon

This week WESA Celebrates profiles Judy Bannon, former executive director of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) of Pennsylvania. She created Cribs for Kids to combat unsafe sleeping arrangements contributing to sudden infant death syndrome.

Songs of the Summer Series

As the heat of July blazes on, we’ve been talking with some of the hosts at our sister station 91.3 WYEP, about music of the summer. Throughout July and August the hosts talk about what makes for a great summer song, and new music for the summer. For WYEP afternoon mix host, Rosemary Welsch, a summer jam is about sense of place and time. Listen to her review of a new album with an old twist.

The Economic Cost of Financial Illiteracy

How much do you know, or think you know, about your personal finances? In a world where savings and investment options are increasingly complex, studies show that millions of Americans lack financial literacy. Paul Brahim, Chairman and CEO of BPU investment firm and a member of the Board of Directors of the Pittsburgh Chapter of the Financial Planning Association says financial illiteracy is causing a social crisis in retirement, which in turn influences unemployment. He’ll talk about the scope of this problem and how this connects to a current push for increased regulation of the financial planning industry.

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Essential Pittsburgh
5:48 pm
Tue July 22, 2014

What Changing Views of Zero Tolerance Mean for Pittsburgh Public Schools

Pittsburgh Public Schools is looking at amending the Code of Student Conduct to decrease the use of exclusionary discipline.
Credit Gates Foundation / Flickr

Pittsburgh Public Schools may be modifying its Code of Student Conduct to reflect changing attitudes on zero tolerance. With input from parents, educators and students, the school board will vote Wednesday on whether or not to decrease the use of exclusionary discipline, such as expulsion and suspension, among other changes.

Cheryl Kleiman, a staff attorney with the Education Law Center, was one of the collaborators in the new proposal.

“The Education Law Center has been looking at school discipline and zero tolerance policies in Pittsburgh, around the state and nationally for years...zero tolerance policy is a policy that assigns predetermined punishment to a specific violation of school rules regardless of the situation or the context."

Kleiman goes on to say, while it's become the norm nationally, zero tolerance rules have come under scrutiny because they are viewed as too rigid.

"The changes that are being voted on tomorrow night reflect a lot of stakeholder input," said Kleiman. "Parents, students, educators, teachers, as well as recent federal guidance on this issue. And reiterates the concerns for zero tolerance policies and instead provides more support and resources for school districts to minimize exclusionary discipline while keeping the schools safe."

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Essential Pittsburgh
5:35 pm
Tue July 22, 2014

How the Business of Weddings is Changing with the Times

One of the many changes in the wedding business is an increase in destination weddings.
Credit Grand Velas Riviera Maya / Flickr

From bridal shops to reception venues and more, weddings are big business. Whether you’re part of the wedding party or simply attending the event you can expect to shell out some serious coin.

Business contributor Rebecca Harris revealed some facts that show weddings are changing.

One of Harris's discoveries was that June and September are now the most popular months for marriage.

"15% of US weddings take place in each of those months. It used to be summer time but as you can see from a day like today, people are really selecting to get married in cooler months."

The cost for weddings is also at a record high as Harris reported the average cost of a wedding in the United States is $30,000. With these rising costs the wedding business now makes up $40 billion of the economy.

Among other changes are the ages of the people getting married. The average age of a bride is 29 while the average age of a groom is 31 and Harris noted, "It used to be much younger."

Another major change is the increase of destination weddings, which now make up 24% of all weddings. But as Paul Guggenheimer pointed out this increase in destination weddings means a higher cost for the guests.

Check out these websites and ideas for keeping wedding plans local:

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Essential Pittsburgh
1:30 pm
Tue July 22, 2014

Is It Time to Raise the Minimum Wage?

Does Seattle's raise in the minimum wage to $15 an hour raise the bar for other cities?
Credit Olivia Becker / Vice News

Seattle has raised their minimum wage to $15 an hour, CEO's wages continue to increase, and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is recommending that the city minimum wage be increased to $13 an hour. On the Federal level, President Obama hopes to increase the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.

While some people are on Emanuel and Obama's side and believe that increasing the minimum wage will help people out of poverty, critics feel the minimum wage should be eliminated altogether.

Brian O’ Roark, a professor of economics at Robert Morris University weighs the pros and cons of the minimum wage decision.

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Essential Pittsburgh
8:53 pm
Mon July 21, 2014

Tuesday Rundown: Would We Be Better Off Without Minimum Wage?

What happens if we do away with the minimum wage altogether?
Credit Vincenzo Iaconianni / Wikipedia

These topics air Tuesday July 22, 2014 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

Changing Views on Zero Tolerance in Public Schools

Pittsburgh Public Schools may be modifying its Code of Student Conduct to reflect changing attitudes on zero tolerance. With input from parents, educators and students, the school board will vote on whether or not to decrease the use of exclusionary discipline, such as suspension. Cheryl Kleiman is a staff attorney with the Education Law Center and was one of the collaborators in the new proposal.

Minimum Wage

While some believe increasing the minimum wage will help people out of poverty, critics feel it should be eliminated altogether. We’ve invited Brian O’Roark, a professor of economics at Robert Morris University in to give us a primer on the minimum wage.

Business of Weddings

From bridal shops to reception venues and more, weddings are big business. Whether you’re part of the wedding party or simply attending the event you can expect to shell out some serious coin. This week contributor Rebecca Harris delves into the business of weddings. 

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Essential Pittsburgh
6:13 pm
Mon July 21, 2014

How Soon Are 3D Printers Likely to Become a Household Product?

Piece Maker Technologies shows the result of 3D Printing the Essential Pittsburgh Logo.
Credit Piece Maker Technologies

    

Unless you are a researcher or technology professional, 3D printers are probably an unknown technology for you. But now Home Depot will carry and sell desktop 3D printers.

Locally, the Carnegie Library has offered sessions on the basics of how 3D printing works. It’s the latest innovation in high-tech manufacturing for the masses.

Senior Librarian Wes Roberts runs the Job and Career Education Center at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh and said that the 3D printing workshops show computing education workshop participants a new world.

"Providing access to education in this new realm of digital manufacturing. So that was the whole crux. To get people connected we do a lot of classes on general computing, Microsoft Office, but to bring them to this higher tier of creative design, the idea was to kind of welcome people to the new world of technology."

Despite the already big benefits of the workshop Roberts said that the programs will continue to grow and develop.

"Moving forward, it's at a pretty beginning stage with this technology, but I think we've got a really good ground work for what we're doing with our children's and our teen programs. So that we'll keep building on it for the adult level and really kind of merge them all together."

With patents expiring and more companies getting on board with the product, Roberts predicts that the price of 3D printers will drop from thousands of dollars into the hundreds of dollars range.

But until that time, Arden Rosenblatt, co-founder and CEO of Pittsburgh-based Piece Maker Technologies said you can create and design items for 3D printing at Piece Maker Technologies.

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Essential Pittsburgh
5:16 pm
Mon July 21, 2014

Peace Corps to Revamp Application Process

Karen Corey is the Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania Recruiter for the Peace Corps.
Credit Marcus Charleston / WESA

Since its creation over 50 years ago, the Peace Corps has been sending Americans overseas. Volunteers are sent to countries where their work can make a difference in the lives of others. However, applications for the Peace Corps are at an all time low.

Karen Corey, a recruiter for Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania, talks about changes the Peace Corps is making to the application process, in order to attract more volunteers. Corey says there are three main changes to the application process to make it easier to enroll. The first step was making the initial online application easier.

“The actual application used to take about eight hours to fill out. What we’ve done is we’ve looked at the application again, we’ve thought about ‘what do we really know from our applicants right up front?’ We’re only asking for that most essential information, so now the application really only takes about an hour. We’re trying to eliminate the application itself as a barrier to Peace Corps service.”

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Essential Pittsburgh
10:00 am
Sat July 19, 2014

Monday Rundown: Bringing 3D Printing to the Pittsburgh Masses

One of Piece Maker Technologies' 3D printers
Credit Piece Maker / Facebook

These topics air Monday July 21, 2014 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA.

Morning Edition host Josh Raulerson takes over the hosting chair for Paul Guggenheimer.

Mass Produced 3D Printers

In addition to purchasing all of your home repair needs Home Depot is now selling a desktop 3D printer. Locally, the Carnegie Library has offered sessions on the basics of how 3D printing works. It’s the latest innovation in bringing high-tech manufacturing to the masses. Joining us are Senior Librarian Wes Roberts who runs the Job and Career Education Center at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh and Arden Rosenblatt, co-founder and CEO of Pittsburgh-based PieceMaker Technologies.

Summer Book Recommendations for Young Readers

According to the National Summer Learning Association, summer learning loss amounts to two month’s worth of reading for lower income students. Jonathan Auxier’s lifelong love of children’s books has turned into a career as an author writing for readers ages 8-14. We’ve asked him to recommend some books young readers will enjoy spending time with this summer.

Peace Corps

Since it’s creation over 50 years ago, the Peace Corps has been sending Americans overseas. Volunteers are sent to countries where their work can make a difference in the lives of others. However, applications for the Peace Corps are at an all time low. We’ll talk with recruiter for Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania, Karen Corey, about changes to the application process the Peace Corps is making in order to attract more volunteers.

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90.5 WESA Celebrates
3:30 am
Fri July 18, 2014

Judy Bannon, Providing Cribs For Kids

Judy Bannon
Credit Debbi Casini Klein / 90.5 WESA

Read and listen to a story about Judy Bannon as part of a series honoring the individuals who make a difference in people’s lives: 90.5 WESA Celebrates People Making a Difference.

In 1992, research revealed that sleeping babies should be put on their backs instead of their stomachs. That discovery lead to a 50 percent drop in Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS.

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Special Programming
9:00 pm
Thu July 17, 2014

Today on Q: A Revealing Interview with Tom Petty

Artist Tom Petty with a revealing interview on The Really Big Questions, with host Dean Olsher.
Credit Brian R. Grubb / Wikipedia

Essential Pittsburgh will take a summer break July 14th – 18th.  We’ll return with live shows on July 21st.

While we’re away enjoy the daily arts and culture program Q with Jian Ghomeshi at noon. At 8pm find out what drives human behavior on the program The Really Big Questions (TRBQ) with Dean Olsher. 

You can listen to past episodes of Essential Pittsburgh here or check out the podcast in iTunes.

Today at noon on Q, with Jian Ghomeshi: The first hour of the show is completely devoted to Jian’s revealing interview with Tom Petty, who talks about his new record, his extensive list of hit singles, and his views of modern music.

At 8pm, The Really Big Questions, hosted by Dean Olsher: What’s your story? Research confirms our minds depend on the story as the driving force for comprehending, deciphering, recalling and organizing our lives. Why do stories have such power over our beliefs and behaviors?

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Special Programming
9:00 pm
Wed July 16, 2014

Today on Q: Comedian Maz Jobrani and the Challenges of Middle Eastern Entertainment

Comedian and actor Maz Jobrani tells Jian Ghomeshi the challenges of bringing those from the Middle East into entertainment.
Credit Gulzar Babaeva & Bobak Ha'Eri / Wikipedia

 Essential Pittsburgh will take a summer break July 14th – 18th. We’ll return with live shows on July 21st.

While we’re away enjoy the daily arts and culture program Q with Jian Ghomeshi at noon. At 8pm find out what drives human behavior on the program The Really Big Questions (TRBQ) with Dean Olsher.

You can listen to past episodes of Essential Pittsburgh here or check out the podcast in iTunes.

Today at noon on Q, with Jian Ghomeshi: Comedian and actor Maz Jobrani talks about the challenges of bringing those from the Middle East into mainstream entertainment and why the World Cup has helped Americans progress.

At 8pm, The Really Big Questions, hosted by Dean Olsher: What defines a “good death?” Most people hope to go quietly at home, surrounded by family. Today, we hear from people seeking to bring engagement with death back into our culture, through death salons, green funerals, and meaningful end-of-life care.

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Special Programming
9:00 pm
Tue July 15, 2014

Today at Noon on Q: Zoo Animals and Their Discontents

Today on Q with Jian Ghomeshi, journalist Alex Halberstadt looks at the psychological problems of animals in zoos.
Credit Rob Bixby / Flickr

Essential Pittsburgh will take a summer break July 14th – 18th. We’ll return with live shows on July 21st.

While we’re away enjoy the daily arts and culture program Q with Jian Ghomeshi at noon. At 8pm find out what drives human behavior on the program The Really Big Questions (TRBQ) with Dean Olsher.

You can listen to past episodes of Essential Pittsburgh here or check out the podcast in iTunes.

Today at noon on Q, with Jian Ghomeshi: With his latest New York Times Magazine report “Zoo Animals and Their Discontents,” journalist Alex Halberstadt looks at the psychological problems of animals living in captivity.

At 8pm, The Really Big Questions, hosted by Dean Olsher: Today’s big question? Why does music move us? If music is a human universal, why do people of different cultures experience music differently?

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Special Programming
9:00 pm
Mon July 14, 2014

Tonight on TRBQ: Why Are We Giving One Day and Greedy the Next?

What makes humans cooperate? Tune in to TRBQ tonight at 8 p.m.
Credit Flickr user Flazingo Photos

Essential Pittsburgh will take a summer break July 14th – 18th. We’ll return with live shows on July 21st. 

While we’re away, enjoy the daily arts and culture program Q with Jian Ghomeshi at noon. At 8pm find out what drives human behavior on the program The Really Big Questions (TRBQ) with Dean Olsher. 

You can listen to past episodes of Essential Pittsburgh here or check out the podcast in iTunes.

Today at noon on Q, with Jian Ghomeshi: Filmmaker Paul Verhoeven, the brains behind sensational films such as “Robocop” and “Showgirls,” sees his works of the 80’s assessed.

At 8pm, The Really Big Questions, hosted by Dean Olsher: Today’s program is all about the mysteries of cooperation, collaboration and altruism. What drives us to be greedy one day and giving the next?

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Essential Pittsburgh
11:23 am
Mon July 14, 2014

Noon and 8pm Programming for Monday, July 14th

Is constant distraction affecting our ability to appreciate literature?
Credit Kate Ter Haar / Flickr

Essential Pittsburgh will take a summer break July 14th – 18th. We’ll return with live shows on July 21st.

While we’re away enjoy the daily arts and culture program Q with Jian Ghomeshi at noon. At 8pm find out what drives human behavior on the program The Really Big Questions (TRBQ) with Dean Olsher.

You can listen to past episodes of Essential Pittsburgh here or check out the podcast in iTunes.

Today at noon on Q: Is constant distraction affecting our ability to appreciate literature? UK author Tim Parks and Globe & Mail editor Jared Bland debate that question.

At 8pm on The Really Big Questions, hosted by Dean Olsher: Why do humans feel the need to pair up? Hear from a variety of guests, including neurologist Lucy Brown, who says the brain of a person head-over-heels is similar to that of a person’s high on cocaine.

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:35 pm
Fri July 11, 2014

New Novel Explores A Digital Recreation Of Pittsburgh, Pre-Apocalypse

Credit Eric Fuentecilla / Penguin Books

There aren’t too many writers whose first attempt at a novel gets published- and even fewer have the movie right to their debut scooped up immediately by a major film company.

If Thomas Sweterlitsch's experience in literature has been anything but ordinary, that’s because his first novel, Tomorrow And Tomorrow, has been too.

The book tells the story of John Dominic Blaxton, an investigator living in the future who explores a digital recreation of Pittsburgh, in order to explore the city a decade after it was reduced to dust by a nuclear detonation.

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:19 pm
Fri July 11, 2014

In Her New Book, Lisa Kirchner Reveals What She Learned About Women in Qatar

Lisa Kirchner writes about her experiences in Qatar in her latest novel, Hello American Lady Creature.
Credit Lisa Kirchner

Lisa Kirchner’s book Hello American Lady Creature: What I Learned as a Woman in Qatar has been compared to Elizabeth Gilbert’s bestseller Eat, Pray, Love. Kirchner doesn’t mind the comparison, after all both books deal with a woman’s journey of self-discovery. Although guest host Josh Raulerson thinks Kirchner's book has a little more humor than Gilbert's bestseller.

Kirchner made her trip to Qatar to help out with Carnegie Mellon University's new campus and she had some very challenging times while over there. The hardest change for Kirchner was the heat.

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:09 pm
Fri July 11, 2014

Pittsburgh Native Anthony Breznican Writes his First Novel set in Western Pennsylvania

First time novelist, Anthony Breznican, is a Pittsburgh native and his first novel is set in a Catholic school in Pittsburgh.
Credit Breznican

Watch any movie about friends reuniting and it’s a near guarantee one of the characters will be a writer.

With Anthony Breznican it’s a case of life imitating art. The senior writer for Entertainment Weekly magazine came home to Pittsburgh for a high school reunion, which coincides with the release of his first novel, Brutal Youth.

The story is inspired by Favorite Hour, an Elvis Costello song that was released in 1994, the year Breznican graduated high school.

The story is set at a crumbling, Catholic high school in Western Pennsylvania called St. Michael the Archangel. The school is a dumping ground for troubled kids and for kids of protective parents who are trying to shelter them from public school.

Breznican said that this ironic combination creates "sort of a perfect Darwinist mix of survival of the fittest."

Between these groups, the book shows the two different types of people in difficult situations.

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