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.
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  • What stories are we missing? Send your thoughts to esspgh@wesa.fm 
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Essential Pittsburgh
5:47 pm
Tue September 30, 2014

A New Deal for the August Wilson Center

Credit Heather McClain / 90.5 WESA

With an August Wilson Center deal all but done, we'll look at the surprise agreement to sell the embattled downtown cultural center to a coalition of foundations for $8.85 million. A New York-based developer with plans of turning the building into a hotel has offered $9.5 million for the structure, but community outcry asking for the center to remain a locally held cultural institute apparently tipped the scales toward the foundations' bid. Tribune-Review reporter Natasha Lindstrom joins us for an update.

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Essential Pittsburgh
5:38 pm
Tue September 30, 2014

Pittsburgh: A Top Real Estate Buyer’s Market

Credit erjkprunczyk / Flickr

According to the Real Estate Firm Zillow, Pittsburgh is one of the nation’s top 10 buyer’s markets. This week contributor Rebecca Harris looks at the business of residential real estate.

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Essential Pittsburgh
5:28 pm
Tue September 30, 2014

Google's Presence in Pittsburgh and it's Impact on Local Startups

Google has been growing in Pittsburgh since 2006, fueled by our local talent, the universities and collaborations with the startup community.

With the opening of their new office space in Bakery Square earlier this year, we wanted to talk with Kamal Nigam, co-director of Google Pittsburgh about the future of Google in the Steel City. Along with Terri Glueck Director of Communications and Community Development at Innovation Works, about how Pittsburgh startups factor into that vision.

Essential Pittsburgh
10:32 pm
Mon September 29, 2014

Tuesday Rundown: A Second Chance for the August Wilson Center?

Credit Heather McClain / 90.5 WESA

These topics air Tuesday September 30, 2014 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA.

August Wilson Center Deal

With an August Wilson Center deal all but done, we'll look at the surprise agreement to sell the embattled downtown cultural center to a coalition of foundations for $8.85 million. A New York-based developer with plans of turning the building into a hotel has offered $9.5 million for the structure, but community outcry asking for the center to remain a locally held cultural institute apparently tipped the scales toward the foundations' bid. Tribune-Review reporter Natasha Lindstrom joins us for an update.

The Future of Google in Pittsburgh

Google has been growing in Pittsburgh since 2006, fueled by our local talent, the universities and collaborations with the startup community. With the opening of their new office space in Bakery Square 2.0 earlier this year, we wanted to talk with Kamal Nigam, co-director of Google Pittsburgh about the future of Google in the Steel City. Along with Terri Glueck Director of Communications and Community Development at Innovation Works, they talk about how Pittsburgh startups factor into that vision.

WESA Celebrates-Ella Horvat

Eleven-year old Ella Horvat is a sixth grader at Dorseyville Middle School. She was born in Guatemala and was adopted by her American parents, Jill and Michael, at the age of two. In the past year Ella has collected about 200 pairs of shoes from family and friends to send to orphanages in Guatemala. Hear Ella's story

Business Segment - Residential Real Estate

According to the Real Estate Firm Zillow, Pittsburgh is one of the nation’s top 10 buyer’s markets. This week contributor Rebecca Harris looks at the business of residential real estate.

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:47 pm
Mon September 29, 2014

Keystone Crossroads Holds Statewide Town Hall Meetings

Harris Sokoloff (left) of Penn Project for Civic Engagement welcomes participants to Keystone Crossroads’ first community forum to discuss the urgent challenges facing Pennsylvania cities at WHYY in Philadelphia.
Credit Lindsey Lazarski / WHYY

On Tuesday evening, the third Keystone Crossroads community forum will be held at the Community Broadcast center on the South Side. Titled, “Rust or Revival: Which Way is Our Town Heading?" these evenings are all about community engagement.

Similar forums have been held in Philadelphia and Harrisburg with the goal of parsing out our community problems and potential solutions. 

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:41 pm
Mon September 29, 2014

James Harrison's Return to the NFL Brings Controversy

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Sportswriter Emeritus Bob Dvorchak joins us to talk about the controversy over the return of James Harrison to the Steelers. And now that the Pirates have returned to the post-season for the second consecutive year, what are their chances of reaching the World Series?

Essential Pittsburgh
4:39 pm
Mon September 29, 2014

State Government Faces Email Scandals, Considers LGBT Protections and Medical Marijuana Legislation

Credit Elizabeth Thomsen / via Flickr Creative Commons

 It's been a busy week in Harrisburg, PennLive and Patriot-News editorial and opinions Editor John Micek joins us to lay it all out.

Topics include: the eight former and current state officials alleged to be involved in an exchange of hundreds of racy emails using state computers, calls for protection of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Pennsylvanians and the Senate passing legislation to legalize certain kinds of marijuana.

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:34 pm
Mon September 29, 2014

HeadSmart Labs Works to Lower Concussions in Football

Credit HeadSmart Labs

Carnegie Mellon mechanical engineering student Tom Healy has been a punter for the Tartans throughout his college career. He’s seen many of his teammates sustain concussions while playing. With the help of some of the top names in concussion research Healy founded HeadSmart Labs, an independent research company that develops testing devices, products and procedures for reducing concussions.

Tom Healy talks about the discoveries HeadSmart has made so far and the impact they’re making in the sports equipment industries.

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Essential Pittsburgh
11:41 pm
Sun September 28, 2014

Monday Rundown: The Impact of Independent Concussion Research

Tom Healy, CMU mechanical engineering student and founder of HeadSmart Labs.
Credit HeadSmart Labs

These topics air Monday September 29, 2014 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

Unpacking An Eventful Week in Harrisburg

It's been a busy week in Harrisburg, PennLive and Patriot-News editorial and opinions Editor John Micek joins us to lay it all out. Topics include: the eight former and current state officials alleged to be involved in an exchange of hundreds of racy emails using state computers, calls for protection of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Pennsylvanians and the Senate passing legislation to legalize certain kinds of marijuana.

Keystone Crossroads Holds Statewide Town Hall Meetings

On Tuesday evening, the third Keystone Crossroads community forum will be held at the Community Broadcast center on the South Side. Titled, “Rust or Revival: Which Way is Our Town Heading?" these evenings are all about community engagement. Similar forums have been held in Philadelphia and Harrisburg with the goal of parsing out our community problems and potential solutions. Keystone Crossroads reporter Irina Zhorov and editor Naomi Starobin talk about the statewide project and the issues people in other Pennsylvania cities face, both large and small.

HeadSmart Labs

Carnegie Mellon mechanical engineering student Tom Healy has been a punter for the Tartans throughout his college career. He’s seen many of his teammates sustain concussions while playing. With the help of some of the top names in concussion research Healy founded HeadSmart Labs, an independent research company that develops testing devices, products and procedures for reducing concussions. Tom Healy talks about the discoveries HeadSmart has made so far and the impact they’re making in the sports equipment industries.

Sports with Bob

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Sportswriter Emeritus Bob Dvorchak joins us to talk about the controversy over the return of James Harrison to the Steelers. And now that the Pirates have returned to the post-season for the second consecutive year, what are their chances of reaching the World Series?

Read more
Essential Pittsburgh
3:39 pm
Fri September 26, 2014

NPR Journalist Michele Norris Talks Race in America

Credit Michele Norris / Shoxclix

When award-winning NPR journalist and former All Things Considered c0-host Michele Norris released her first book "The Grace of Silence: A Memoir" in 2010, it was the beginning of a unique national conversation on race. 

On October 1st, Norris comes to Pittsburgh to give a talk entitled "Eavesdropping on America's Conversation on Race," a part of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History exhibition, "Race: Are We So Different?" She talks with us about how far we've come with that conversation on race.

Essential Pittsburgh
3:29 pm
Fri September 26, 2014

UPMC Voice Center Takes Steps to Conserve A Variety of Voices

Entertainment Manager and performer Karl Bailey of the Homestead Waterfront Dueling Piano Bar, Sing Sing, is a patient at the UPMC Voice Center
Credit Dara Bailey

The UPMC Voice Center is a unique place in Pittsburgh for more than just vocalists. They often work with those who, knowingly or not, use their voice on a regular basis and are susceptible to injury; teachers, clergy, even people in customer service.

The center's mission is to prevent injury and rehabilitate patients through therapy and cutting edge research. Dr. Jackie Gartner-Schmidt, Director of Speech Language Pathology, and patient Karl Bailey of the Homestead Waterfront Dueling Piano Bar, Sing Sing join us to talk about what it takes to conserve one's voice into old age.

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Essential Pittsburgh
3:22 pm
Fri September 26, 2014

Following Eric Holder's Resignation, A Look Back at His Career

Credit US Department of Education / Flickr

On the heels of the resignation of U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Duquesne University Law School Dean Ken Gormley joins us for an assessment of Holder's tenure as AG.

Gormley moderated a Q & A session with Holder during his 2011 visit to Duquesne to deliver the School of Law's Centennial Address.

Essential Pittsburgh
5:02 am
Fri September 26, 2014

Friday Rundown: Looking at America's Conversation on Race with Michele Norris

NPR journalist Michele Norris at the 2014 Peabody Awards
Credit Peabody Awards / Wikipedia

These topics air Friday September 26, 2014 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between noon & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

Eavesdropping on America's Conversation on Race

When award-winning NPR journalist and former All Things Considered host Michele Norris released her first book "The Grace of Silence: A Memoir" in 2010, it was the beginning of a unique national conversation on race. On October 1st, Norris comes to Pittsburgh to give a talk entitled "Eavesdropping on America's Conversation on Race," a part of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History exhibition, "Race: Are We So Different?" She'll talk about how far we've come with that conversation on race.

University of Pittsburgh Voice Center

The UPMC Voice Center is a unique place in Pittsburgh for more than just vocalists. They often work with those who, knowingly or not, use their voice on a regular basis; teachers, clergy, even people in customer service. The center's mission is to prevent injury and rehabilitate patients who have voice problems, through therapy and cutting edge research. Dr. Jackie Gartner-Schmidt, Director of Speech Language Pathology, and patient Karl Bailey of the Homestead Waterfront Dueling Piano Bar, Sing Sing join us to talk about what it takes to conserve one's voice into old age.

Holder Resigns

On the heels of the resignation of U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Duquesne University Law School Dean Ken Gormley joins us for an assessment of Holder's tenure as AG. Gormley moderated a Q & A session with Holder during his 2011 visit to Duquesne to deliver the School of Law's Centennial Address. 

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Essential Pittsburgh
5:49 pm
Thu September 25, 2014

Discussing the Threat Posed by Aging Natural Gas Lines

Credit Consumers Energy / Flickr

In the last 10 years, accidents involving gas distribution lines killed more than 120 people and injured more than 500. Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reporter Mike Wereschagin discusses his recent series on the complications, dangers and costs of managing gas lines that are, in some cases, 100 years old.

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Essential Pittsburgh
5:37 pm
Thu September 25, 2014

"Ask This Old House" Plumbing and Heating Expert, Richard Trethewey Comes to Pittsburgh

Credit Ask This Old House

Long before HGTV there was "This Old House." The long-running PBS show has branched out to include a magazine and the companion series "Ask This Old House," which is in Pittsburgh this week. Joining us in studio is the program’s plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey

Essential Pittsburgh
5:06 pm
Thu September 25, 2014

Johnny Appleseed: Beyond the Myth

Credit Rudolf Vlček / Flickr

You may not recognize the name John Chapman from your history books. The pioneering American nurseryman is better known as Johnny Appleseed, who introduced apple trees to large parts of Pennsylvania, Ohio and the Midwest. We’ll mark the 240th anniversary of Johnny Appleseed’s birth and his connection to Pittsburgh with culture contributor Joe Wos.

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Essential Pittsburgh
8:17 pm
Wed September 24, 2014

Thursday Rundown: This Old House and These Old Pipes

Richard Trethewey, Plumbing and Heating Expert for Ask This Old House
Credit Ask This Old House

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

The Invisible Danger Posed by Our Aging Natural Gaslines

In the last 10 years, accidents involving gas distribution lines killed more than 120 people and injured more than 500. Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reporter Mike Wereschagin discusses his recent series on the complications, dangers and costs of managing gas lines that are, in some cases 100 years old.

Ask This Old House

Long before HGTV there was This Old House. The long-running PBS show has branched out to include a magazine and the companion series Ask This Old House which is in Pittsburgh this week. Joining us in studio is the program’s plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey.

Johnny Appleseed

You may not recognize the name John Chapman from your history books. The pioneering American nurseryman is better known as Johnny Appleseed who introduced apple trees to large parts of Pennsylvania, Ohio and the Midwest. We’ll mark the 240th anniversary of Johnny Appleseed’s birth and his connection to Pittsburgh with culture contributor Joe Wos.

Read more
Essential Pittsburgh
7:40 pm
Wed September 24, 2014

Etna Models Green Infrastructure Options for Other Municipalities

Decorative grates allow rainwater to flow through the sidewalk into storage tanks. The tanks retain runoff from storms from the surrounding rooftops of businesses. The local businesses have rerouted their downspouts so they flow into the system.
Nikki Abban 90.5WESA

The borough of Etna recently debuted its green infrastructure plan. Like many other communities along the Allegheny river, Etna has had a history of problems with flooding, and the community of some 3,400 people was hit especially hard as a result of Hurricane Ivan in 2004.

Etna’s master plan was designed to handle large amounts of storm water without flooding the sewage systems. What can their experience in Etna tell us about how other communities in our region can institute green projects of this kind? 

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Essential Pittsburgh
6:07 pm
Wed September 24, 2014

How Can We Take the Lead on Climate Change?

President Obama at the 2014 UN Climate Summit on Tuesday
Credit John Gillespie / Flickr

The United Nations Climate Summit took place in New York City this week. While more than 100 world leaders took part, and thousands demonstrated in the streets of NYC for the People's Climate March, it's not certain how much, if any, tangible action will be taken on a global scale, especially on the part of the United States. 

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Essential Pittsburgh
11:59 pm
Tue September 23, 2014

Wednesday Rundown: From Climate Change and the UN to Green Municipalities

More than 300,000 demonstrators marched in the streets of New York last weekend in an effort to spotlight climate change, before this week's UN Summit.
Credit Climate Action Network / Flickr

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

Climate Summit

The United Nations Climate Summit took place in New York City this week. While more than 100 world leaders took part, and thousands demonstrated in the streets of NYC for the People's Climate March, it's not certain how much, if any, tangible action will be taken on a global scale. We'll talk with John Radzilowicz, Director of Professional Development, ASSET STEM Education, about ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. And hear from some PA residents who participated in the NYC march.

Etna's Green Masterplan

The borough of Etna recently debuted its green infrastructure plan. Like many other communities along the Allegheny river, Etna has had a history of problems with flooding, and the community of some 3,400 people was hit especially hard as a result of Hurricane Ivan in 2004. Etna’s recent green master plan was designed to handle large amounts of storm water without flooding the sewage systems. What can their experience in Etna tell us about how other communities in our region can institute green projects of this kind? We'll talk with Etna borough manager Mary Ellen Ramage and Janel Everly, programming director for the Green Building Alliance.

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:28 pm
Tue September 23, 2014

Robots Are Big Business in the Burgh

Credit oomlaut / Flickr

In a November 1999 article the Wall Street Journal dubbed Pittsburgh “Robo-burgh.” The city is one of a handful of locations in the U.S. leading in the development of robotics technology. This week contributor Rebecca Harris looks at the business of robotics.

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:13 pm
Tue September 23, 2014

Round One: Pennsylvania Gubernational Debate

Credit Matt Rourke / The Associated Press

The first of three Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate debates were held last night. Republican Governor Tom Corbett and Democratic challenger Tom Wolf had their face off at a Pennsylvania Chamber of Commerce and Industry dinner in Hershey. We'll talk with journalist John Baer of Philly.com who covered round one.

Essential Pittsburgh
4:08 pm
Tue September 23, 2014

Pitt Professor Helps NASA with Search for Life on Mars

Credit NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Technology using ultraviolet light to analyze and examine pieces of matter invented by University of Pittsburgh chemistry professor Sandy Asher is expected to be part of NASA's Mars 2020 Rover mission. The goal is to determine whether life exists on the Red Planet. Sandy Asher joins us to talk about the UV technology he's developed.

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:08 pm
Tue September 23, 2014

How to Negotiate That Raise

Credit Jen R / Flickr

Conversations about money are never easy. They’re especially difficult in the workplace when it comes to negotiating your salary. This month independent career consultant Sasha King guides us through the dos and don’ts of salary negotiation.

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Essential Pittsburgh
9:56 am
Tue September 23, 2014

Tuesday Rundown: Searching for Life on Mars 2020

Artist's Concept of the SuperCam Instrument for Mars 2020 Rover
Credit NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

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

1st Gubernatorial Debate

The first of three Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate debates were held last night. Republican Governor Tom Corbett and Democratic challenger Tom Wolf had their face off at a Pennsylvania Chamber of Commerce and Industry dinner in Hershey. We'll talk with journalist John Baer of Philly.com who covered round one.

Pitt Professor Helps NASA Probe Mars

Technology using ultraviolet light to analyze and examine pieces of matter invented by University of Pittsburgh chemistry professor Sandy Asher is expected to be part of NASA's Mars 2020 Rover mission. The goal is to determine whether life exists on the Red Planet. Sandy Asher joins us to talk about the UV technology he's developed.

Salary Negotiation

Conversations about money are never easy. They’re especially difficult in the workplace when it comes to negotiating your salary. This month independent career consultant Sasha King guides us through the dos and don’ts of salary negotiation.

WESA Celebrates – Todd DePastino

Todd DePastino and his friend Dan Cavanaugh both had fathers who were veterans. They decided to bring together other former servicemen on a weekly basis. The result was the Veterans Breakfast Club. This week WESA Celebrates profiles Todd DePastino.

The Business of Robotics

In a November 1999 article the Wall Street Journal dubbed Pittsburgh “Robo-burgh.” The city is one of a handful of locations in the U.S. leading in the development of robotics technology. This week contributor Rebecca Harris looks at the business of robotics. 

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Essential Pittsburgh
9:51 am
Tue September 23, 2014

An Update on the Manhunt for Eric Frein

Credit Matt Slocum / The Associated Press

As the search continues for the man accused of ambushing two state troopers more than a week ago, killing one and wounding another, we'll get an update on the manhunt from AP reporter Michael Rubinkam.

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Essential Pittsburgh
9:49 am
Tue September 23, 2014

Eric Frein Described as an "Assassin" Type of Shooter

Former FBI profiler and expert on terrorism Larry Likar teaches criminology at La Roche College. He describes suspected cop killer Eric Frein as an assassin type of shooter. Likar joins us to examine the complexities involved in the search for the man who ambushed two state troopers.

Essential Pittsburgh
12:07 am
Tue September 23, 2014

Does the NFL Have a Culture of Violence?

Credit Keith Allison / Flickr

Former NFL quarterback Don McPherson joins us to discuss domestic violence issues involving NFL players including Baltimore's Ray Rice and Minnesota's Adrian Peterson.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell says the league will get its house in order, the question is how. McPherson regularly speaks on college campuses as a critic of gender roles, saying they contribute to incidents of domestic violence, stalking and rape.   

Essential Pittsburgh
9:15 pm
Sun September 21, 2014

Monday Rundown: The Manhunt for Eric Frein Continues

An honor guard carries the casket of Pennsylvania State Trooper Cpl. Bryon Dickson from his funeral service, Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014, in Scranton, Pa. Dickson was killed in an ambush shooting at the state police barracks in Blooming Grove Township. Authorities are looking for 31-year-old Eric Frein, of Canadensis, who has been charged with killing one trooper and wounding another outside the barracks.
Credit Matt Slocum / The Associated Press

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

The Manhunt Continues

As the search continues for the man accused of ambushing two state troopers more than a week ago, killing one and wounding another, we'll get an update on the manhunt from AP reporter Michael Rubinkam. He is reporting that, according to authorities, the man they're looking for is a heavily armed survivalist. 

An Assassin's Mindset

Former FBI profiler and expert on terrorism Larry Likar teaches criminology at La Roche College. He describes suspected cop killer Eric Frein as an assassin type of shooter. Likar joins us to examine the complexities involved in the search for the man who ambushed two state troopers.

The Troubled National Football League

Former NFL quarterback Don McPherson joins us to discuss domestic violence issues involving NFL players including Baltimore's Ray Rice and Minnesota's Adrian Peterson. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell says the league will get its house in order, the question is how. McPherson regularly speaks on college campuses as a critic of gender roles, saying they contribute to incidents of domestic violence, stalking, and rape. 

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Essential Pittsburgh
3:59 pm
Fri September 19, 2014

Professor and Poet Terrance Hayes Reflects on his MacArthur Genius Grant

Credit The Associated Press

The MacArthur Genius Grants were announced this week. University of Pittsburgh Writing Professor and Poet Terrance Hayes was among the twenty-one recipients. He speaks with WESA Morning Edition host Josh Raulerson.

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