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 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.  

  • Subscribe to the podcast in iTunes.
  • What stories are we missing? Send your thoughts to esspgh@wesa.fm 
NPR

All Things Considered host Kelly McEvers joins us to discuss her NPR podcast, Embedded. The program takes a story from the news, and takes a deeper look at the issue involved. These issues include what it feels like for a father in El Salvador to lie to his daughter about the bodies he saw in the street to what it feels like for a nurse from rural Indiana to shoot up a powerful prescription opioid.

Matt Rourke / AP Images

Now that Bill Cosby's sexual assault case is proceeding to trial, what happens next?  Duquesne University Law Professor Wes Oliver, a criminal law expert who has been closely following the Cosby case in Norristown, PA, says it comes down to a question of credibility. He joins us to discuss the case.

Emily Winslow / Harper Collins

In January of 1992, Carnegie Mellon University student Emily Winslow left her Shadyside apartment to get change for a dollar to do her laundry. She was followed home by an unknown man who broke into her apartment and raped her.

Socialize Right Program Teaches Students How To Be Safe Online

23 hours ago
Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

It seems a week doesn’t go by without a celebrity, athlete or politician posting something controversial on Facebook or Twitter. With more young people communicating via social media how do you keep them from making these kinds of blunders? That’s that goal of Socialize Right and we’ll discover how they’re accomplishing this mission with its developer Eric Sloss and Terry O'Hara, a consulting psychologist for Socialize Right.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Alicia Kozakiewicz recently spoke with seventh and eighth graders at Propel Schools about internet safety and being cautious online. The Alicia Project, Kozakiewicz’s platform, is deeply personal to her life.

Sip Tea And Contemplate Mortality At Death Cafe Pittsburgh

May 25, 2016
Marina Shakleina / flickr

“Death Cafés” have popped up in cities across the globe with a mission to engage in open dialogue about death and how death influences life, all while in a casual, comfortable atmosphere.

Co-organizers Rachel Butler, senior research coordinator at the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Research on Health Care, and Carolyn Thompson, death care professional, joined Essential Pittsburgh to talk death, local Death Cafés and finding meaning in life.

Mike Mozart

United States Marine Corps Staff Sergeant Joe Wadlow is the founder of the Fallen Marine Motorcycle Run. He’s also one of the honorees at this year’s Tribute to Veterans sponsored by the Veterans Leadership Program of Western Pennsylvania. He’ll join us to discuss his service to our country and fellow veterans. We'll also hear from U.S. Army Reserve Veteran Shawnell Wade about how the VLPWPA helped her through her transition back to civilian life.

David Wilson / flickr

Labor advocates gathered Monday at the August Wilson Center for a panel discussion on the recently released report, “A Pittsburgh that Works for Working People.” The study, conducted by the Center on Wisconsin Strategy, included a series of recommendations they believe would improve the lives of Pittsburghers. The panel, which included economists, service workers and religious and elected leaders, discussed what steps the city would need to take to implement the proposals.

Jose Luis Magana / AP Images

A Baltimore judge cleared Edward Nero, the second of six police officers to stand trial in the Freddie Gray case, of all charges on Monday.

Gray sustained a fatal spinal cord injury while in police custody last April. The previous trial of Officer William Porter resulted in a mistrial, the state plans to retry Porter later this year.

Entreprenuer Examines Factors Behind Successful Startups

May 24, 2016
Sean Ammirati

It seems we hear about Facebook almost every day but does anyone remember Friendster? Why do some companies seem to strike gold while others simply strike out? Our guest Sean Ammirati went in search of an answer to this question and chronicles his findings in the book The Science of Growth: How Facebook Beat Friendster – and How Nine Other Startups Left the Rest in the Dust.

Ryan Loew / 90.5 WESA

Olga Welch said the biggest challenge she faced when named the dean of Duquesne University’s School of Education in 2005 was adapting to a new environment.

“The real challenge for a new leader is to learn your context and not assume what worked in another context will work in a new one,” Welch said.

Game 6 'Ultimate Test' In Pens' Quest For Stanley Cup

May 23, 2016
Gene J. Puskar / AP Images

For a Pittsburgh sports fan, the Monday afternoon blues are all too familiar following a Steelers loss on a Sunday.  Today’s Monday blues are brought to you by the blue and white, or rather, the Tampa Bay Lightning, whose quick overtime rally them to defeat the Penguins 4-3 to lead the series 3-2 Sunday night. 

Bob Dvorchak, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Sportswriter Emeritus, joined Essential Pittsburgh to discuss this playoff series and the Penguins’ chances of a Cup run. 

Paul Weaver / flickr

Five years ago, the Penn Hills School District was in $11 million in debt. Today, a recent audit revealed the district is $170 million in debt and is also under investigation for alleged mismanagement of money.

Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale is a part of the team tackling 74 pages of an audit detailing the district’s spending from July 2012 through June 2015 and revealed spending habits that led to what DePasquale describes as “almost unsurmountable” debt.

W&J College

Longtime civil rights activist and Georgia Congressman John Lewis received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree and delivered the commencement speech recently at Washington and Jefferson College. He is celebrating his 30th year representing the Georgia fifth district and reflected on his lifetime of activism with Essential Pittsburgh’s Paul Guggenheimer.

Paul Hertneky

Author Paul Hertneky grew up in the Rust Belt town of Ambridge, north of Pittsburgh. He described his childhood as idyllic, filled with close knit communities and constant playmates. He chronicles his experience in his new book, Rust Belt Boy: Stories of an American Childhood.

“We didn’t have a lot of money,” said Hertneky. “We did have a lot of community.”

Wilkinsburg Community Development Corporation / Facebook

Experience all things Wilkinsburg this weekend at “Link on Penn,” a community event celebrating local businesses and organizations in the Pittsburgh suburb

Tim Murdoch, Steering Committee member for Leadership Development Initiative says this partnership with the Wilkinsburg community was inspired by the positivity and good news arising from the neighborhood.

Eli Christman / Flickr

More than 10 years ago, Amtrak decreased the number of trains running daily from Pittsburgh to Harrisburg from two to one. Representatives from the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership traveled to the state capital this week requesting an increase.

Lucinda Beattie, vice president of transportation for the partnership, said the increase makes economic sense. Her group estimated increasing service to Harrisburg would cost $10.5-13 million and allow 400,000 new trips each year. By contrast, a mile of highway costs about $8 million.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Musical artist Benjamin Scheuer is no stranger to heartbreak. He lost his father early into his teenage years, suffered a difficult break up in his adulthood and was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer at the age of 28. For many, such intense trials would be enough to stifle their spark, but Scheuer decided to turn the bad into something good.

Frankie Leon / flickr

District judges in Westmoreland County are trying a new approach to addressing drug abuse in their community. They’ve implemented an Alternative Adjudication Program for defendants charged with minor drug crimes focusing on rehabilitation rather than jail time. We’ll ask Harrison City District Judge Helen Kistler and Westmoreland County Judge Jason Buczak about the new program.

Dimitris Kalogeropoylos / flickr

University of Pittsburgh’s School of Health Science is entering the battle against the nationwide opioid epidemic.

Donald Burke, dean of Pitt’s Graduate School of Public Health, said opioids affect every major demographic group in the country. He is working to compile data on the epidemic from several different sources.

Mike Moore / Pleasant Valley Men's Shelter

Passing a homeless person on the street often times evokes a sense of guilt--- an internal dilemma.  Should I give money? Buy food? Walk away?

For Daniel See, an art student at Carnegie Mellon University, a sense of uneasiness pitted in his stomach upon simply walking away.

Pennsylvania Confronts Rising Incidents Of Elder Abuse

May 18, 2016
Borya / flickr

May is Older Americans Month and elderly abuse has increased by ten percent in Pennsylvania, which claims the fourth highest percentage of citizens, age 60 or older, in the country. PA Director of Protective Services Denise Getgen attributes this increase to the rising acknowledgement of the abuse occurring.

Manchester Bidwell Corporation / Facebook

Some big names will share some big thoughts this weekend at Manchester Bidwell Corporation’s “Big Idea Session.” During 10-15 minute fast-paced, focused presentations, leaders from around the world will deliver their thoughts on how to improve the arts, education and technology.  We’ll ask National Center for Arts and Technology chief operations officer Paulo Nzambi about the conference and who’s slate to present.

Patrick Semansky / AP Images

Reports have surfaced saying that radio transmissions distracted the engineer at the helm of a train that ran off the tracks last year in Philadelphia.

The train was moving at more than twice the recommended speed of 50 mph when entering a curve, leading to a derailment that resulted in the deaths of eight people and injured more than 200.

J. Scott Applewhite / AP Images

Over 1000 activists for women’s reproductive rights gathered at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center for a seminar titled the Power of Pink recently. The crowd of primarily young women and men in attendance gathered to share ideas and strategize how best to organize and rally support for Planned Parenthood facilities and the politicians who protect reproductive rights.

NAIAD / flickr

Allegheny Health Network recently released the results of Dr. Deborah Gentile’s study on the asthma prevalence, risk and severity for schoolchildren in several Pittsburgh-area school districts. We’ll discuss the results with Dr. Gentile and Phil Johnson, director of The Heinz Endowments’ Breathe Project which funded the study.

Greensburg's Palace Theatre Celebrates Its 90th Anniversary

May 16, 2016
Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

In 1926, the Manos family opened the Palace Theatre in Greensburg. The family of candy makers took an interest in theater following the rise of vaudeville in the 1920s. Now, the Palace Theatre is operated by the Westmoreland Cultural Trust, which works to maintain its legacy. Palace Theatre director of operations, programing, and marketing Teresa Baughman says so far, they've invested 10 million dollars in renovations.

Enthusiam Varies On Whether Police Should Stop Deadly Overdoses

May 16, 2016
Natasha Khan / PublicSource

Should police stop deadly overdoses? In his latest article for our content partner Public Source Jeffrey Benzing reports on the varying degrees of interest among police departments in taking on a duty some feel would be better handled by paramedics.

Retiring Washington And Jefferson College President Reflects On The Changing Campus

May 16, 2016
Washington & Jefferson College

Tori Haring-Smith says it took many years get beyond being introduced as Washington and Jefferson College’s first female president.

Haring-Smith assumed the role in 2005 and recently announced she will be retiring effective June 30, 2017. She says the biggest challenge coming in was working with alumni to help them understand how their college had changed since becoming a coed institution in 1970.

The Third Man / Youtube

The Hollywood Theater in Dormont will celebrate its 90th anniversary Saturday with a screening of the 1949 film-noir classic, The Third Man.

Pittsburgh native and actor David Conrad selected The Third Man and will host the anniversary celebration. Conrad recalls attending films at the Hollywood, which opened on Labor Day weekend in 1926, when he was growing up in Pittsburgh in the early 80s.

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