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

Book A Room For Summer's Last Hurrah

Aug 27, 2015
Lotta Danielsson / flickr

They say all good things must come to an end and summer is no exception. However, there’s still time to enjoy a great getaway before you pack away the beach towels. Travel contributor Elaine Labalme suggests her favorite spots for late-summer vacations.

Teenie Harris / National Portrait Gallery


A picture of Roberto Clemente warming up on field back in 1960 is being featured through November 1st at the National Portrait Gallery after being chosen by voters worldwide.

 

The picture taken during that world series season by Teenie Harris was put head to head with shots of two other baseball legends; Babe Ruth and Sandy Koufax, in a project know as “Recognize.”

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

August 28, 1963--Sala Udin stood amongst the crowd in the sweltering August sun, waiting for Martin Luther King Jr. to take the podium at the March on Washington.  Little did he know that he would soon witness one of the most iconic speeches in the history of the United States.  King's 'I Have a Dream' speech instantly resonated with Udin. 

"That speech is what made me say, 'I want to join his army.  I want to be with him.'"  That, Udin says, is when he knew he become a Freedom Fighter at the height of the Civil Rights dispute. 

Should Michael Vick Be a Pittsburgh Steeler?

Aug 26, 2015
Jeff Haynes / AP Images

Free agent quarterback Michael Vick signed a one-year contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers Tuesday night. The move has incited debate over Vick’s history and how that may affect the Steelers season. In 2007, Vick spent 21 months in federal prison for his role in a dog-fighting ring. Over 12,000 people have signed a digital petition protesting his contract. Tribune-Review reporter Ben Schmitt won an Emmy at the Detroit Free Press for his contribution to the series “Pit Bulls: Companions or Killers?” He offers his thoughts on the controversy.

Tyler Nienhouse / flickr

As a new school year gets underway how is the continued lack of a state budget impacting school districts in the region? Mike Crossey, the president of the Pennsylvania State Education Association says political "games" in Harrisburg are beginning to affect local schools in a negative way.  

Nicola / flickr

University of Pittsburgh associate professor of international affairs Michael Kenney says while media attention often focuses on the young teenagers who have answered the Islamic State's call, another essential set of recruits are activists from Britain and other Western countries who are deeply committed to establishing the calliphate, both in their home countries and globally. Kenney has researched the issue and will discuss how we can reach the people the Islamic State is trying to recruit. 

Interpreting Monday's Stock Market Volatility

Aug 25, 2015
Herval / flickr

  Stock prices fluctuated wildly on Monday and the Dow Jones industrial average fell over 1,000 points after the opening bell before recovering much of those losses and then dropping again nearly 700 points in late afternoon trading. What's causing all the volatility? We put that question to University of Pittsburgh business professor Jay Sukits and look at how these developments might impact the region.

Matt Rourke / flickr

Lawyers for Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane are preparing to defend their client as she heads to trial on criminal charges related to her alleged release of confidential grand jury information. WHYY's Dave Davies attended her preliminary hearing and says her attorney Gerald Shargel suggested a connection between the prosecution of Kane and her release of pornographic emails earlier this year. The discovery tied many top state officials to the explicit messages, which Kane has claimed caused retaliation against her. Davies shares what he heard and saw at Monday’s hearing.

Frankie Leon / flickr

In the 95 years since the passage of the 19th Amendment, women have not only earned the right to vote, but have been consistently outvoting men in elections. While the trend is significant, no woman has held the nation's top office and only 19% of the Pennsylvania legislature are women.  Dana Brown is the Executive Director of Chatham University’s Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics. She’s helping to organize Chatham’s celebration of Women’s Equality Day on August 26th and provides a history of women’s suffrage in the United States.

Rebecca Devereaux / 90.5 WESA

World War II ended 70 years ago this month, and we're commemorating the event by producing a show from the Heinz History Center’s exhibit: We Can Do It! WWII. The 10,000 square foot exhibit features 300 artifacts and focuses on Pittsburgh’s role on both the battlefield and the home front. We'll take a tour of the exhibit and talks with veterans from the area who served in both the European and Pacific theaters.  

The Unforgettable Trial of Harry K. Thaw

Aug 20, 2015
New York American / wikipedia commons

Long before O.J. Simpson, the court case referred to as the trial of the century involved a Pittsburgher. Harry K. Thaw stood trial for the murder of famed architect Stanford White as a result of his jealousy over the relationship between his wife,  model and chorus girl, Evelyn Nesbit, and White. We’ll mark the centennial of this trial with our pop culture contributor Joe Wos.

How New Methane Emission Regulations Could Impact Pennsylvania

Aug 20, 2015
Genevieve Prentice / flickr

Environmentalists have spent years looking for ways to reduce emissions of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. Now new rules from the Obama Administration aimed at limiting emissions from the oil and gas industry could have a big impact on Pennsylvania. But are they necessary? We'll talk with Howard Feldman, Senior Director of Regulatory and Scientific Affairs for the American Petroleum Institute and Matt Watson, Associate Vice President of the Environmental Defense Fund's Climate and Energy Program. 

Theme Parks And Rides To Make You Feel Like A Kid Again

Aug 19, 2015
Dave Herholz / flickr

While the amusement park celebrated in the 60’s pop song Palisades Park no longer exists, travel contributor Elaine Labalme says theme parks are alive and well. This week she takes us on a tour of some of the nation’s most exciting.

Why Doesn't Pennsylvania Have A State Fair?

Aug 19, 2015
Eve Hermann / flickr

Across the nation from New York to Alaska it seems like every state is showcasing the best it has to offer at a state fair. Well, that is every state but Pennsylvania. Why doesn’t the Keystone State have a state fair? Post-Gazette associate editor and columnist Jennifer Graham has been looking into the issue and shares her findings.

U.S. Department of Agriculture / flickr

Next month at Heinz Hall, former Steeler and decorated Vietnam veteran Rocky Bleier will perform a one man show about his life. It is described as an intimate portrait featuring highlights of Rocky's multi-faceted life as a four-time Super Bowl Champion, wounded warrior, family man and community activist. Rocky Bleier joins us in studio along with the man who wrote the play Gene Collier.

Bruce Fingerhood / flickr

Governor Tom Wolf released a report Monday by Dr. Allan Zarembski focused on the safety of Pennsylvanians and protecting people from the potential of Bakken crude oil train derailments. In the report, Dr. Zarembski presents 27 recommendations. He joins us by phone to discuss what they are.

 

Brad / flickr

An Instagram post by Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker James Harrison has rekindled a national discussion on whether we’re making our kids 'too soft'. The issue he addresses is the awarding of participation trophies to kids sports. Has this practice gone too far? We’ll discuss the issue with Aimee Kimball, Mental Training Specialist for KPEX Consulting and Ashley Merryman, author of the New York Times essay Losing is Good for You and the book Top Dog: the Science of Winning and Losing.

Note: There were inappropriate comments from a caller in today's live show that have been edited out from our website, podcasts and 8pm rebroadcast tonight. We apologize for the on-air error.

More Essential Pittsburgh segments can be heard here.

22 Pirates Baseball Hats Sent To Cuba From Pittsburgh

Aug 17, 2015
Mayor Bill Peduto

Cubans love baseball. They especially love former Pittsburgh Pirate and Puerto Rican native Roberto Clemente so when Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto led a delegation of business leaders to the island nation in May, it was no surprise that the Pirates and Clemente often came up in conversation. 

What was a surprise was the email Bill Peduto received after returning home.

Commonwealth Foundation's Take on Budget Talks

Aug 13, 2015
Chris Knight / AP Images

The pace of budget negotiations between Governor Wolf and leaders in the GOP dominated legislature seems to be picking up. The two sides have been at odds over their respective versions of the state budget which is now six weeks overdue. Matt Brouillette, President and CEO of the Commonwealth Foundation, a conservative think tank, joins us to talk about what conservatives want in the state budget.  

Carpe Diem Roadtrips To Round Out The Summer

Aug 13, 2015
Daniel Axelson / flickr

Do you often think about throwing some things together and getting out of town on a moment’s notice? If so, the rallying cry of Carpe Diem, is this week’s travel theme.  Travel contributor Elaine Labalme, this week sings the siren’s song of the open road.

Attorney General Kathleen Kane Meets The Press

Aug 13, 2015
Matt Rourke / AP Images

Embattled Attorney General Kathleen Kane faced the media yesterday.She addressed the charges connected to her alleged leak of secret grand jury materials. Claiming she’s innocent of any wrongdoing Kane did not take questions. While Kane refuses to resign her post, a number of politicians are waiting in the wings to take her place. Joining us to discuss the latest travails of AG Kathleen Kane is Philadelphia Daily News Political Columnist John Baer.

squirrelhillhealthcenter.org/

The U. S. Department of Health and Human Services recently announced over three-million dollars in Affordable Care Act funding will be divided among 5 new health center sites in Pennsylvania. This funding will allow these centers to provide health care services to communities needing them most. Joining us to discuss the importance of health centers is Susan Friedberg Kalson, CEO of the Squirrel Hill Health Center, a funding recipient.

Keystone Crossroads Presents Urban Waterfront Series

Aug 12, 2015
Hannaford / flickr

The Keystone Crossroads initiative looks at the challenges facing cities in the commonwealth.  Today, marks the beginning of the initiatives urban waterfront series. Keystone Crossroads reporter Irina Zhorov and editor Naomi Starobin join us to talk about the series and how cities can make better use of their waterfronts for economic and recreational development.

Matt Rourke / AP Images

As the budget impasse grinds into its sixth week Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf says he is willing to compromise but not “compromise away our future.”

“I think that is why I was elected,” Wolf said. “I’m a native Pennsylvanian and I’m not about to compromise the future of my state away.”

Encouraging Pittsburgh Businesses To 'Get To Know' Cuba

Aug 11, 2015
halbag / flickr

 

Last May, Mayor Peduto led a delegation of Pittsburgh businesspersons to Cuba. The goal of the trip was to lay the groundwork to establish business relationships between the Steel City and Cuba. What could this mean for the city’s economic outlook? We’ll ask President of Molimar Export Consultants Inc.  Pamela Martin who organized the Pittsburgh delegation that traveled to Pittsburgh.

Navigating New State Background Check Requirements

Aug 11, 2015
Alan Levine / flickr

Following the Jerry Sandusky child abuse scandal, members of the Pennsylvania legislature introduced a long list of bills intended to keep children safer, forced professionals to better report suspected abuse and make it easier for victims to get help.  While most of those bills never moved out of committee, many of them became laws.  Cathy Utz, deputy secretary for the Office of Children, Youth and Families in the Department of Human Services keeps track of those laws and shares her knowledge on the program.

Ralph Vituccio / Andreas Tapia-Urzua

Once the doors to Cuba opened, a couple of local college professors charged on through.

Ralph Vituccio, an assistant teaching professor at the Entertainment Technology Center (ETC) and an award-winning filmmaker and documentarian, talks about co-hosting and co-presenting an interactive video art installation at the 2015 Havana International Biennale this summer. Joining Vituccio as the only American exhibitor was his colleague Andreas Tapia-Urzua, chair of the Digital Media Department at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. They join us to talk about their trip to Cuba and the reaction their work received.

Applying 'Trust, But Verify' To The Iran Nuclear Deal

Aug 10, 2015
Adam Jones / flickr

  As President Obama works to convince Congress to accept the Iran Nuclear Deal, many agencies and foreign policy experts have weighed in with their thoughts. We'll talk with former Ambassador to Israel Thomas Pickering who says: "We need to have a frank talk, not a rhetorical slamming match, about what's right and what's wrong with this deal and why this is a deal that Israel should accept."  

Negotiating The Iran Nuclear Deal

Aug 10, 2015
Carolyn Kaster / AP Images

  Republicans in Congress have scheduled a vote for mid-September on a resolution to reject the Iran nuclear deal. Conservatives are using the August recess to build up public pressure against the agreement.Former U.S. Ambassador Dan Simpson is now a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette associate editor. He has written an op-ed piece calling on Congress to approve the Iran deal. Ambassador Simpson joins us in studio along with, by phone from Israel, Gregg Roman, Community Relations Council Director of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh who says we have cause to be wary of Iran." Also in the studio, Stuart Pavilack, Executive Director of the Pittsburgh Office Zionist Organization of America who believes Congress should reject the deal.

Jessica Nath / 90.5 WESA

Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman has announced criminal charges against Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane. Ferman has been investigating a grand jury's conclusion that Kane leaked secret investigative information to a Philadelphia newspaper to embarrass a political foe. John Micek, opinions editor for the Patriot News and Penn Live joins us to discuss the latest developments.

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