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 

City Affordable Housing Task Force Presents Draft Proposal

9 hours ago
Davey Nin / flickr

Last week, the city’s Affordable Housing Task Force presented their suggestions to City Council on how to implement affordable residential units in at least 20 percent of development throughout Pittsburgh. The proposal was created with help from four committees and with input from five community meetings. We’ll hear about the group’s progress and suggestions from City Planning Director Ray Gastil and City Councilman Daniel Lavelle. We’ll also ask Helen Gerhardt, member of the group Homes for All Pittsburgh, what she’d like to see in the next draft of proposals.

What's It Like Being An Abortion Clinic Escort In Pittsburgh?

21 hours ago
Connor Mulvaney / PublicSource

Pittsburgh has two abortion clinics. They attract women seeking care as well as abortion protesters and volunteers who guide patients inside. Laura Horowitz began volunteering when violence at abortion clinics in the late 1980s and early 1990s became more pronounced. She joins us to talk about how it works along with Sabrina Bodon who wrote a recent piece about this topic for our content partner PublicSource.    

Davey Nin / flickr

This year marks the centennial of the National Park Service. Five of the nation’s national parks are located in Western PA. We’ll discover the plans they have in store for the celebration with Centennial Coordinator for the National Parks of Western PA, Brendan Wilson.

Toy Exhibit Reflects Decades Of Change In American Society

May 4, 2016
Heinz History Center / Facebook

Toys are designed to be fun, but they also stimulate creativity and imagination. Children and grown-ups learn from play. The Heinz History Center's current exhibition, "Toys of the '50s, '60s and '70s," which is on exhibit now through May 31, demonstrates how these toys reflect three decades of dynamic changes in American life. We'll talk about it with Heinz History Center President and CEO, Andy Masich.

Pittsburgh Zoo Developing Tuberculosis Treatment For Elephants

May 4, 2016
Bill Damon / flickr

Researchers at Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium are developing treatments for elephants with tuberculosis. The strain, which is the same for both humans and elephants, can attack kidneys, spine, bones and the brain. We’ll talk with Willie Theison, elephant curator at the Zoo, about what they’re looking into and how it could impact the worldwide elephant population.

Nationwide, Universities Transitioning To Per-Credit Fees

May 3, 2016
Shippensburg University / Facebook

Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) recently announced plans to charge per-credit fees. IUP is the latest school within the state university system to make this change. When it comes to college tuition what is the difference between a flat tuition as opposed to per-credit fees? We'll address the issue with Ken Mash,president, Association Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF).

Joe Shlabotnik / flickr

It’s no secret that Ivy League colleges are some of the most selective higher education establishments in the U.S. Although a small selection of the population will receive degrees from an Ivy, author Sean-Michael Green had the rare opportunity to spend a whole year exploring each and every one to research his book, The Things I Learned in College: My Year in the Ivy League. Green spent 30 days at all eight Ivies in an attempt to uncover the truth behind myths and misconceptions regarding these establishments.

Is There A Link Between Fracking And Earthquakes?

May 3, 2016
Protect Our Water PA / Facebook

Last week's multiple minor earthquakes in an area just west of New Castle were below a magnitude that humans can feel but does that mean we shouldn't be concerned about them? The other big question for seismologists to answer whether the quakes were triggered by fracking. We'll put that question to Michael Brudzinski, a geology professor at Miami University in Ohio, and Andrew Nyblade, a geosciences professor at Penn State University.

After 36 Years, KDKA Newsman Harold Hayes Signs Off

May 2, 2016
Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Following a 36 year long career serving the Pittsburgh community as a reporter for KDKA-TV, Harold Hayes signed off for the last time this past Friday.  During his career, Hayes covered a wide-range of stories including Pope John Paul II’s funeral, Operation Desert Shield in Saudi Arabia and a visit from the Grand Dragon of the KKK to Pittsburgh. 

Dick's Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon / Facebook

Running shorts will replace lab coats this weekend as 10 UPMC doctors take to the course at the 2016 Pittsburgh Marathon this Sunday as part of an initiative to ensure runner safety.  Dr. Ron Roth, the Pittsburgh Marathon’s medical director and Dr. Aaron Mares, assistant medical director for the marathon, joined Essential Pittsburgh to discuss this innovative approach.

Daniel X. O'Neil / Flickr

Building owners in downtown Pittsburgh and Oakland are ahead of sustainability goals set as part of the Pittsburgh 2030 District initiative.

Keith Srakocic / AP Images

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

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

Kristi Jan Hoover / City Theatre

We'll go between the lines of City Theatre's four person on court drama that unfolds during the course of a tennis match between an aging American champion who is a cross between Pete Sampras and Tim Mayotte and a fiery young Russian. We'll talk with actors Danny Binstock and JD Taylor who portray the two players at the center of the story.

Mayor Peduto Discusses ICA, PWSA And Twitter BFF 'Guster'

Apr 28, 2016
Keith Srakocic / AP Images

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto makes his monthly visit to the program. We'll ask him about the state Department of Environmental Protection's decision to cite the PWSA for making an unapproved modification to its drinking water treatment process. We'll also discuss the recent comings and goings at the ICA, and his possible duet with Guster.

PBS NewsHour / flickr

Only 17 of the 71 delegates headed to this summer's Republican National Convention are bound to support the presidential candidate who wins the primary. Pittsburgh Post Gazette reporter Chris Potter joins us to discuss the gap between what voters know about these delegates and how they are going to act.

Calico Records / Blogspot

Among the bands being honored Thursday night at the 2016 Pittsburgh Rock 'N Roll Legends Awards Celebration at Stage AE on the North Shore is legendary 50s doo-wop group The Skyliners

Best known for “Since I Don’t Have You” and “This I Swear,” The Skyliners’ lead singer/songwriter Jimmy Beaumont joined Essential Pittsburgh to discuss his career and Pittsburgh roots.

Jacqueline Larma / AP Images

Pennsylvania garnered national attention in yesterday's presidential primary with candidates making a last-minute push in an effort to secure their parties nomination.  In addition, there were some high profile races for a senatorial candidate and attorney general. John Baer, political columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News joins us for a look at the election day results. We'll also talk with Katie McGinty, the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate and Josh Shapiro, the Democratic Attorney General nominee for the state.

Ted Eytan / flickr

Several western Pennsylvania schools are considering or actively creating bathroom policies for transgender students.  While many districts have been receptive to the policies, some parents have expressed concerns. We’ll examine the issue and what a policy could look like in schools.

Hidden Pittsburgh: Behind The Scenes Of Local Landmarks

Apr 25, 2016
Emily Stock / 90.5 WESA

On this special edition of Essential Pittsburgh we'll take listeners on a unique tour of the city. Even if you’ve been to Kennywood, The Frick Pittsburgh or the National Aviary you’ll discover what goes on behind the scenes at a number of  local landmarks.

Is Technology Ruining Millennials' Study Abroad Experience?

Apr 22, 2016
Marco Verch / flickr

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

F. Carter Smith / AP Images

A contemporary art series called "By Any Means," founded by Kilolo Luckett, is bringing nationally recognized artists and art leaders of color to Pittsburgh for a two-part panel discussion on the influence of black culture in contemporary art. Kilolo Luckett joins us in studio to preview the symposium.  She also shares her memories of seeing Prince in concert and remembers his legacy.

 

Getting Serious About Climate Change On Earth Day 2016

Apr 22, 2016
Wikipedia

Shorts on Christmas?  Flip flops for New Years?  Pittsburghers joke about a love of climate change this past winter, but scientists insist it is not something to take lightly.  According to NASA, 2015 was recorded as the hottest year ever, breaking the record set previously in 2014. 

Permit Updates Bring Continued Success To Pittsburgh Food Trucks

Apr 21, 2016
Franktuary / Twitter

Coast-to-coast, food trucks have increased in popularity. In a month’s time, the Food Truck-a-palooza will be take over the Waterfront. We looked at the current state of Pittsburgh's food truck scene with Tim Tobitsch, co-owner of the Franktuary truck. We’ll also hear from City Councilman Dan Gilman who said he recognizes the value food trucks bring to the city.  

Christophe Ena / AP Images

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

You, Too, Can Become An Urban Farmer

Apr 21, 2016
Garfield Farms / Twitter

It’s springtime in Pittsburgh! As the weather gets warmer, many are making the decision to start growing food and raising animals like goats and chickens in their own backyards. What does it take to be an urban farmer? We’ll ask Heather Manzo, a Penn State Extension Educator focusing on food systems.  She joins us to talk about the state of urban farming in Pittsburgh and programs developed to prepare potential growers.

Can Anyone 'Bring Back' Steel And Coal To The 'Burgh?

Apr 20, 2016
Mark Goebel / flickr

Could bringing steel and coal back to the Steel City solve economic and industrial woes?  GOP front-runner Donald Trump captured Pittsburgh’s attention when he announced his commitment to bringing back such manufacturing to the region during his recent campaign stop.  But is this legitimately possible?

J Burkhalter / flickr

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

Strong Women Strong Girls / Twitter

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

Why Is Socialism A 'Dirty Word?'

Apr 19, 2016
Mary Altaffer / AP Images

The terms socialist and socialism have been mentioned with some regularity during the presidential campaign. But what exactly is socialism, who is a socialist and why does it seem to be spoken of pejoratively? We'll pose those questions to Robert Ross associate professor of global cultural studies  & Jehnie Reis  an assistant professor of history in the  Humanities and Human Sciences Department at Point Park University

U.S. Department of Education / flickr

A current funding lawsuit alleges that Pennsylvania has broken its constitutional obligation to provide a "thorough and efficient" education. We'll talk with Cheryl Kleiman, Staff Attorney for the Education Law Center, one of the attorneys in the case. And Kevin McCorry WHYY Senior Education Writer who is contributing to the NPR reporting project "School Money" exploring how states pay for their public schools and why many are failing to meet the needs of their most vulnerable students.          

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