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 

TEDx Youth Founder Previews This Weekend's Event

Dec 3, 2015
TEDxYouth Shadyside / Facebook

Some high school seniors take relax a bit in their final year of school. Not Shaan Fye, a senior at Shadyside Academy. Not only is he the founder of the Atlas Business Journal and the manager of the Shadyside Finance and Entrepreneurship Club, but he is also the organizer of the Shadyside TEDx Youth event this weekend at the August Wilson Center.

New Pittsburgh School Board Prepares For Upcoming Challenges

Dec 3, 2015
Nick Amoscato / flickr

The Pittsburgh School Board is facing a number of challenges. Among them budgeting and staffing issues as well as a search for a new superintendent. Joining us to address the work ahead is school board president Thomas Sumpter.

PWSA Meter Reading Challenges Continue To Impact Customer Bills

Dec 2, 2015
Emilian Robert Vicol / flickr

Throughout the last year, the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority has been implementing a new system for transmitting meter reading data.  Many customers immediately saw changes to their bills, with some complaining of excessive charges, and even one filing a class-action lawsuit over the problems.  Recently Pittsburgh City Council has pressured the organization to change the appeal process for the new bills and the overall culture of customer service at PWSA. Pittsburgh City Councilwoman Deb Gross who serves on the PWSA board as well as PWSA Executive Director Jim Good answer questions about the new meters and clarify what the authority is doing to improve their service.

Paris Climate Talks From A Pennsylvania Perspective

Dec 2, 2015

A number of world leaders are in Paris this week to address the issue of climate change. Some are calling this the planet’s last best hope to reduce the impact climate change is having on the environment. We’ll get reaction to the climate talks from a commonwealth perspective with Larry Schweiger, president and CEO of Penn Future.  We’ll also hear from Mark Dixon, filmmaker and environmental activist currently in Paris at COP21.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Civil rights activist and self-taught lawyer Chen Guangcheng made headlines in 2012 when he escaped house arrest in China and fled to the United States Embassy in Beijing.  He is in Pittsburgh for the second time to read from his memoir, “The Barefoot Lawyer.” Guancheng and his translator, Danica Mills, joined Essential Pittsburgh to reflect on his life and his thoughts on human rights throughout the world.  

Technology And The Millennial Brain

Nov 30, 2015
Allan Ajifo / flickr

Recent studies show the average millennial (those born between 1980 and 2000) spends 18 hours a day consuming media, with the majority online or on their mobile device.  According to the PEW Research Center, 90% of millennials use social media.  As technology continues to become more prevalent in the lives of young people, just how much is brain development influenced?

Elaina Zachos, Public Source reporter and author of “Technology is Changing the Millennial Brain,” says that the areas of the brain most affected by technology are the prefrontal cortex and cerebellum.  These areas control personality, cognitive function and communication skills. 

Budget Negotations Drag On Through Thanksgiving

Nov 25, 2015
Marc Levy / AP Images

It’s been almost 150 days since the July 1st budget deadline and after the protracted budget stalemate between Governor Wolf and the legislature began dragging on for months, we heard it would all be worked out by Thanksgiving.  With Thanksgiving tomorrow and little prospect for a compromise, we turn to 90.5 WESA Capitol reporter Mary Wilson to see what’s happening in Harrisburg and what issues are tying up budget negotiations.

Frankie Leon / flickr

Last year the popular retailer Target fell victim to a high profile hacking. As we head into the holiday shopping season could this happen again and what is its impact on the economy? We’ll pose these questions to  Robert Morris University Economics Professor Brian O’Roark.

Edgewood Resident Wins Rhodes Scholarship

Nov 25, 2015
Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

With past recipients including former President Bill Clinton and MSNBC host Rachel Maddow, the Rhodes Scholarship is one of the most prestigious awards in the academic world. Out of the over 32 winning students this year, two of them are from Pennsylvania and one is from right here in Pittsburgh. Essential Pittsburgh’s Paul Guggenheimer sat down with the winner, University of Pennsylvania senior Jenna Hebert, to talk about what winning the award means to her.

Matt Bauman / Youtube

Pitt graduate student Matt Bauman is studying bio-engineering. However an informal look at the speed of traffic in Oakland is garnering a lot of attention. Matt Bauman joins us to discuss his findings and the Pittsburgh agencies that are taking notice.

New Health Care Company Helps You Choose The Right Plan

Nov 24, 2015
Fotos GOVBA / flickr

Open enrollment regarding the selection of a health care plan offers a lot of options. How you do sort through what’s  available and choose the best option for you or your family? We’ll pose that question to Dan Harding, co-founder of Health Sage a Pittsburgh company helping to empower consumers when it comes to health insurance options.

Pittsburgh Health Innovators Finalists In Global Innovation Competition

Nov 24, 2015
Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

With an initial pool of 192 applicants, the HITLAB World Cup Innovators Summit brings high stakes competition to healthcare innovators internationally. Two Pittsburgh companies, Rubitection and Ristcall, are among the five finalists who will be traveling to New York City in search of the coveted $10,000 grand prize. Rubitection CEO Dr. Sanna Gasperd and Ristcall CEO Srinath Vaddepally sat down with Essential Pittsburgh’s Paul Guggenheimer to discuss their products and their prospects in winning the competition.

Remembering The Legacy Of Alternative Rock Station WXXP

Nov 23, 2015
WXXP / Facebook

A reunion is set to take place later this week for one of Pittsburgh’s most influential radio stations. WXXP was only on the air for two years but it left a lasting impact on many. WESA Jazz Host Bob Studebaker takes us back to the halcyon days of this alternative rock station.

 

Can A Combined Global Effort Stop ISIS?

Nov 23, 2015
Flickr

In the wake of the attack on Paris that left 130 dead, many are concerned that ISIS has shifted its focus toward global aggression rather than the insurgency in Iraq and Syria.  University of Pittsburgh associate professor and terrorism expert Michael Kenney has analyzed the situation in the Middle East and addressed the potential effectiveness of a global coalition fighting ISIS.

Aboard The USS Requin

Nov 20, 2015
Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

The USS Requin will be open for tours again on Saturday after being closed for over two months for repairs. The submarine was commissioned in April of 1945 in the closing days of World War II. This year marks the 70th anniversary since it began its service and the 25th year since it arrived at the Carnegie Science Center in 1990. We'll take a tour with submarine coordinator Maria Renzelli.

The Story Behind The Creation Of The Unisphere

Nov 20, 2015
Flapane / Wikipedia

It was the architectural centerpiece of the 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair. It’s been seen in movies and television shows. It’s the iconic New York City landmark the Unisphere. Joining us with a detailed look at the creation of this structure is Robert Morris University professor Daniel Short author of the book Unisphere: Symbol of the 1964-1965 New York’s World Fair.

Reflecting On The Design Of Peter Muller-Munk

Nov 20, 2015
Peter Muller-Munk / Carnegie Museum of Art

Peter Muller-Munk, a German immigrant to Pittsburgh, rose from being a relatively obscure silver smith to one of the top designers of consumer products in the 20th century. The Carnegie Museum of Art will be telling his story in a new exhibit titled “Silver to Steel.” Rachel Delphia, co-curator of Silver to Steel,  joins us to talk about the exhibit and the works of Muller-Munk.

Penn State Students To Make Historic Trip To Cuba

Nov 19, 2015
Penn State

The Penn State men’s baseball team will make history the week of Thanksgiving when it travels to Cuba to play against teams from the Cuban National Series.  It will be the first time a U.S.-based team at any level has played against teams from the country’s premiere baseball series. 

The group making the trip includes fewer than fifty players, coaches, and staff, along with eight sports journalism students from the John Curley Center for Sports Journalism.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

After a life threatening car crash last May award-winning theater director Mark Clayton Southers has returned to work. His production of August Wilson’s  play “The Piano Lesson” runs through Saturday at the downtown center bearing the late Pittsburgh playwright’s name. Mark, along with his wife Neicy, joined Essential Pittsburgh’s Paul Guggenheimer to talk about how the accident and road to recovery have changed him.

Marketing To A Multicultural Populace

Nov 19, 2015
Börkur Sigurbjörnsson / flickr

According to the last United States census the number of people who identify as a mix of races grew by a larger percentage than people who reported a single race. This impacts our society on a number of levels. These changing demographics have not been lost on businesses recognizing the need for their products to appeal to multicultural consumers. Joining us for a look at what a multicultural approach means for the future of business is Vanitha Swaminathan, Professor of Business Administration at University of Pittsburgh’s Katz Graduate School of Business.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

As Syria continues to be shattered by its civil war, the U.S. and Russia are at odds about the best strategy to stabilize the nation and neutralize ISIS. While The Islamic State and other extremist organizations add to the complexity of the conflict, there are many questions to be answered. What are Moscow's goals in Syria? Should the U.S. play a more active role? We'll put those question to Dr. Colin P. Clarke, Associate Political Scientist for the RAND Corporation.

Simon Brass / flickr

Children of incarcerated parents face social, emotional and academic difficulties at a far higher rate than their peers.  These kids are at increased risk for negative behavior and potential future criminal activity.  One group, Amachi Pittsburgh, is working to stop the cycle of incarceration and provide opportunity for children. 

'Peanuts' Legacy Continues 65 Years After Debut

Nov 17, 2015
comicbook.com

This is a big year for Peanuts. Charles M. Schulz’ classic strip debuted in newspapers 65 years ago. Charlie Brown and company are in their first theatrical movie in 35 years. Also, the annual Christmas special turns 50 this year. Joining us for a look at the Peanuts gang is cartoonist and pop culture contributor Joe Wos who was the first resident cartoonist for the Charles M. Schulz Museum.

Professor Stresses 'Vigilance' Following Paris Attacks

Nov 17, 2015
Alastair Grant / AP Images

Since the tragic events that rocked Paris last Friday the world has been on high alert. How should the nation be reacting to the terrorist event that shook Paris?  We’re posing this question to Michael Botta, associate professor and chair of the Department of Criminal Justice and Intelligence Studies at Point Park University and a former counter terrorism special agent.

Reducing Implicit Bias In The Judicial Process

Nov 17, 2015
Ronnie Macdonald / flickr

The Supreme Court considers what it takes to show prosecutors are discriminating against minorities when selecting juries.  This practice is known as implicit bias, and continues to become more prevalent. 

David Harris, a University of Pittsburgh Law professor, will soon head to the White House to address this practice.  He explains that implicit bias causes us to make quick judgments about people or groups of people, resulting in unintended discrimination.

Integrating The Arts Into STEM Curriculum

Nov 16, 2015
Eddie Welker / flickr

Creating the formula for the perfect curriculum can be a complex issue, requiring balance between subjects, instructors and policy advocates.

For several years, there’s been an emphasis on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), but many education experts are now pushing for an equal emphasis on the creative arts.

Uncovering Details About 'The Day Hitler Died'

Nov 16, 2015
The Day Hitler Died / Smithsonian Channel

Following the reported death of Adolf Hitler at the end of World War II, speculations arose about his potential escape, with some claiming that the dictator was still alive somewhere.  Judge Michael Musmanno, a Pittsburgh native, naval officer, and controversial judge in the Nuremburg Trials, made it his mission to prove that Hitler was, indeed, dead and gone.  

Chris Pizzello / AP Images

While many may know him as the cool, tough Arthur “The Fonz” Fonzarelli on TV’s “Happy Days,” actor, author and director Henry Winkler has earned fame through a lifetime of achievements both on the screen and through his philanthropic work. Most recently, he served as the keynote speaker at the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh’s Second Annual Men’s Night Out last week.  Essential Pittsburgh’s Paul Guggenheimer sat down with Winkler to reflect on his many acting roles, his Jewish identity and the challenges of growing up with a disability.

90.5 WESA

  

Gov. Tom Wolf and legislative leaders this week agreed on a “framework” for a state budget with hopes for a full spending plan by Thanksgiving. The announcement comes nearly five months after the 2015-16 year began.

According to Senate minority leader Jay Costa (D-Allegheny), the budget is expected to include about $5.9 billion for basic education funding for public school districts, a $200 million increase from this past year.

How Neighborhood Groups Are Transforming Forgotten Properties

Nov 12, 2015
Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Several Pittsburgh organizations have taken abandoned lots and properties and transformed them into community-oriented spaces. GTECH Strategies Director of Operations and Programming Evaine K. Sing walks us through the Northside's newest project, one of their "Green Playces," and we visit Homewood, where Operation Better Block Community Development Coordinator Demi Kolke tells us what's in the works for the neighborhood.

Pages