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 

'The Look Up Line' Aims To Improve Hockey Safety

Aug 4, 2015
justcureparalysis.org

“It’s not about a line, it’s about a life,” says our guest Tom Smith. The inventor of the Look Up Line and creator of the Thomas E. Smith Foundation, has fulfilled his life mission of making the game of hockey safer. We’ll discuss Smith’s hockey experiences as well as the long lasting impact he hopes to have on the hockey community.

Spend A Weekend In Highland Park

Aug 4, 2015
Lee Paxton / wikipedia

Cities are made up of a collection of neighborhoods with unique features and characteristics. On the first Tuesday of the month, business contributor Rebecca Harris will focus on one of the city’s neighborhoods. Today's focus is Highland Park.

Dale Nevin / flickr

Before student athletes return to school in the fall they’re required to get physical exams. In recent years, an important part of the athlete’s preparation has become baseline testing for concussions. Joining us to address the importance of this testing are Dr. Jonathan French, a neuropsychologist and clinical instructor at the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program in the Department of Orthopedic Surgery and Patrick Huber director of the Heads UP program at UPMC.

City Affordable Housing Task Force Convenes For First Time

Aug 3, 2015
Dave Nin / flickr

Nearly six months after its creation, the city’s Affordable Housing Task Force met for the first time last week.  The group’s mission is to help maintain healthy neighborhoods by finding solutions to housing issues and developing strategies to keep communities affordable.  Task force co-chair and city Planning Director Ray Gastil shares what was said at the first meeting and where the group plans to go from here.

 

Talk Radio News Service / flickr

Allegheny County health officials say they are already in line with new White House standards to fight HIV and AIDS.

The plan unveiled Thursday updates one issued by the Obama administration five years ago. Developments since then include new diagnostic tests, a daily pill for infection prevention and the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, which allows for more American’s to receive treatment and testing.

Robin Robokow / flickr/robokow.net

Many may not know that one of the world’s most recognizable songs is actually one of the most profitable.  The “Happy Birthday to You” tune has been around since the late 1800’s and due to copyright protections, anyone who wants to include the ditty in their movie, ringtone or stage production has to pay for permission. Now there’s a new case against the owners of the copyright and an old songbook in Pitt’s Hillman Library may be used as evidence. Here to tell us about that songbook and the future of “Happy Birthday” is Barco Law Library interim director Marc Silverman.

How Low Gas Prices Affect Consumers And The Natural Gas Industry

Jul 31, 2015
Gerry Dincher / flickr

With the local economy relying more and more on the gas and coal industry, the news that Consol Energy posted a loss for the past quarter and outlined spending cuts for the next year-and-a-half can't be good. As the price for natural gas continues to slide, what does it mean for us? We talked with Pittsburgh Tribune-Review staff writer David Conti.

Dining Destinations Part Two: San Francisco to Cleveland

Jul 30, 2015
Melt / meltbarandgrilled.com/

It’s been said an army travels on its stomach. Well if it’s good enough for the army why not a savvy traveler? This week contributor Elaine Labalme continues our tour of the U.S. via dining destinations.

Riverhounds Goalie Ryan Thompson Leads Jamaican Team To Victory

Jul 30, 2015
David Goldman / AP Images

The name Ryan Thompson may not have been well known around the international soccer world before last week. But after the Riverhounds goalie led Jamaica to a stunning 2-1 upset victory over the U.S. in the CONCACAF Gold Cup Semi-Finals, Thompson has raised the profile of Pittsburgh soccer and the USL. He joins us live in studio.

As Medicaid Turns 50, Reflecting On Its Impact

Jul 30, 2015
Mike Richards / 90.5 WESA

Fifty years ago, on this date, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Medicaid program  into law. Designed as a program involving federal and state cooperation to cover medical expenses for specific segments of the nation’s population, the program has had its share of accomplishments and challenges.

We’ll mark the anniversary of Medicaid with Julie Donohue associate professor and vice chair for research in the Department of Health Policy and Management at Pitt’s Graduate School of Public Health and Vice President for Health Policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities Edwin Park.

EPA Finalizing Federal Standard On Carbon Pollution

Jul 29, 2015
Ian Barbour / flickr

Allegheny County Courthouse will be the site of a rally in support of the Clean Power Plan. The EPA is in the process of finalizing this, first of its kind, federal standard on carbon pollution from power plants. Joining us to address what this means for the environment is Katie Bartolotta, Outreach Coordinator for Penn Future.

Life Without Bars: Reintegrating Ex-Offenders Into The Workforce

Jul 29, 2015
Joshua Davis / flickr

  The 2015 “Life Without Bars” conference works to address the challenges of individuals with criminal backgrounds as they reintegrate into the workforce throughout Southwestern Pennsylvania.  The two-day program offers solutions for professionals and individuals in their journey to re-entry. We heard from Southwestern Pennsylvania Re-Entry Coalition (SPARC)  Senior Workforce Development Specialist Samson Murage and Workforce Development Job Developer Alethia Bush.

Iceoplex At South Pointe Aims To Decrease Athlete Injuries

Jul 28, 2015
southpointehockey.com

The Iceoplex at South Pointe melts it's ice, not only for summer maintenance, but for safety.  A new safety feature being installed will allow athletes to look toward a bright orange future and hopefully reduce hockey injuries. Director of Marketing and Sponsorships for Iceoplex, Mandi Pryor, joins us with a look at this innovation in safety that could change the game of hockey.

Ruling Allows for More Choice of Candidates in PA

Jul 28, 2015

Pennsylvania’s Election Code sets an unconstitutionally high bar on third party candidates. That’s according to a ruling last Friday a federal court judge. We’ll discover what this ruling means for the future of third party candidates in the commonwealth with Oliver Hall, Director and co-founder of the Center for Competitive Democracy and Steve Scheetz – Immediate-past Libertarian Party of Pennsylvania (LPPA) chairman.

For the first time in 21 years a team of top American high school students has won the recent International Math Olympiad held in Thailand. We’ll discuss the significance of this accomplishment with Carnegie Mellon University professor and U.S. head coach Po-Shen Loh.

Ed Thompson / Pittsburgh Passion Facebook Page

The Pittsburgh Passion mounted a come-from-behind victory Saturday to beat the Utah Falconz to grab the Independent Women's Football League championship 41-37. It took a 21-0 third quarter for the Passion to grab their second consecutive national title and wrap up a second undefeated season. 

Connor Mulvaney / PublicSource

 

  WESA’s content partner Public Source has been running a series of articles on the number of drug uses and overdoses in Pennsylvania.  The latest story explores the stigma professionals in the workplace face when confronting addiction.  Joining us to discuss the issue are Public Source reporter Jeffrey Benzing and Jason Snyder, executive director of the Consumer Health Coalition.

CMOA Collects Works By Edward Hopper

Jul 24, 2015
Patrons Art Fund / Carnegie Museum of Art

Opening this weekend at the CMOA is a new exhibit of works by famed American artist Edward Hopper. The exhibit will feature all 17 works by Hopper in the museum’s collection. Event curator Akemi May joined us for a preview.

Songwriter Randy Newman Embraces The Orchestral Sound

Jul 24, 2015
Danny Moloshok/Invision / AP Images

When you think of the greatest American songwriters, who comes to mind? George Gershwin? Cole Porter? Bob Dylan? Many would put Randy Newman with that group. Newman is one of the most prolific songwriters the U.S. has ever produced. His many honors include six Grammy Awards, three Emmy Awards and two Academy Awards for his work as a film composer. And he's a member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Newman is appearing at Heinz Hall on July 30 as part of the Pittsburgh Symphony's Thursday Night Icons Series and he joined us to talk about his career and latest projects.

CCAC North Library / flickr

 

  In 2013, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported on the expected influx of members of the military in classrooms under the GI Bill. Our guests experienced that transition first hand. Dwight Boddorf, Marine veteran and director of veterans services at the Community College of Allegheny County, joined fellow former Marine Theo Collins, executive producer of the documentary Project 22, in the studio to address how colleges and universities are accommodating veterans.

Destination Dining From Maine To Austin

Jul 23, 2015
vxla / flickr

One of the travel highlights for many is the chance to indulge in local cuisine. From Maine lobster to Tex-Mex in Austin there’s no reason why your diet shouldn’t take a vacation. This week, travel contributor Elaine Labalme, begins a two-week focus on destination dining.

Erie Legislator Offers Budget Compromise Proposal

Jul 23, 2015
Sean Wiley / Facebook Page

While it appears that Governor Wolf and Republican legislators in Harrisburg are entrenched in their positions on the budget with no end to the impasse in sight, there are some legislators offering up compromise proposals. We talk with one of them; State Senator Sean Wiley of Erie.

How The Budget Impasse Is Impacting Local Service Agencies

Jul 23, 2015
David Flores / Flickr

With the state budget stalemate no closer to being resolved, the Conference of Allegheny Providers (CAP) and several Westmoreland County agency representatives are highlighting the local impacts, and in some cases the dire consequences, of a lengthy impasse on social service agencies and the people they serve. Former state legislator Allen Kukovich and Stephen Christian-Michaels, President and CEO of Family Services of Western Pennsylvania  join us in studio.

Reporting On 'American Coyotes' Along The U.S.-Mexican Border

Jul 22, 2015
Justin Merriman / Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

  People who enter the country illegally have a great impact on the American labor force. But that same American labor is helping to smuggle migrants cross the U.S.–Mexico border. These smugglers, known as “coyotes,” are the focus of a week-long series in the Pittsburgh Tribune Review. Investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman joined Essential Pittsburgh to discuss their work. 

The Challenges Of Being A Startup In Pittsburgh

Jul 22, 2015
Apps for Europe / flickr

Despite a report released last week by the Kauffman Foundation ranking Pittsburgh low for startup ecosystems, Thrill Mill President, CEO and Co-Founder Bobby Zappala said “not all is lost” for entrepreneurs. Zappala joined Essential Pittsburgh as a Tech Startup Contributor. He also runs Thrill Mill, an independent organization that serves as an incubator/accelerator for startup companies in Pittsburgh.  For this segment, he looked at challenges of being a new business and discussed some startups coming out of their infancy and the challenges they're facing now.

Pittsburgh's Continual Apartment Growth

Jul 21, 2015
Perry Quan / flickr

    

From Bakery Square to downtown, Pittsburgh is experiencing a surge in apartment development and rental. This week business contributor Rebecca Harris looks at at the contributing factors behind the growth in apartment construction in the Pittsburgh.

Using Title IX To Engage Students In Deeper Discussions

Jul 21, 2015
teenlife / flickr

Higher education institutions are using Title IX as a jumping off point to have discussions with students about issues of harassment, stalking, dating violence and domestic abuse. Libby Rosemeyer, assistant director of Tittle IX compliance at Point Park University helps listeners understand the relevancy of the law and its impact on the Pittsburgh community as a whole.

Pennsylvania Could Explore Citizen Redistricting

Jul 21, 2015
Gettysburg National Military Park

 Federal law mandates that legislative districts be revised every ten years to reflect new census data. In the past, legislators in Pennsylvania, as with other states, have been known to redraw the lines of a congressional district in a way that benefits the majority party. Our guest, state Rep. Ted Harhai (D-Monessen) introduced a bill that would create a citizens commission to handle redistricting and ensure that they don't unnecessarily divide municipalities. 

Street Stages Bring Outdoor Performances To Squirrel Hill

Jul 20, 2015
NextGen:Pgh, Shift Collaborative

 

Street Stages, a new project from City Council Members Dan Gilman and Corey O’Connor along with representatives from NextGen: Pgh and Shift Collaborative’s Busker Street Union, is a designated space for street performers in Squirrel Hill. The collaborative space is being billed as a “third place” between work and home where friends and neighbors can gather. Gilman, NextGen:Pgh Founder and Executive Director Alec Rieger and Shift Collaborative Creative Strategist Eric Sloss share their thoughts on the project.

Another Hottest Year On Record

Jul 20, 2015
Jessica Mullen / flickr

 

On average, 2014 was Earth's hottest year ever -- in the ocean and on land. That's according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which has been gathering data from more than 400 scientists around the world on climate trends. We were joined in studio by John Radzilowicz, adviser to the Science Communication Group at CMU, for a look at what's causing this trend and what can be done to slow it down or reverse it.

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