90.5 WESA's Essential Pittsburgh

Essential Pittsburgh airs weekdays from noon to 1 p.m. and is repeated at 8 p.m.
Paul Guggenheimer

Essential Pittsburgh is a locally produced program from 90.5 WESA dedicated to developing a deep, ongoing exploration of critical issues affecting Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania, as well as 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.
  • Dial (412) 256-8783 to leave a question or comment before or after the show.
  • Follow #EPLive on Twitter or tweet your question to @esspgh.
  • Continue the conversation on our station Facebook page.
  • Subscribe to the podcast in iTunes.
  • What stories are we missing? Send your thoughts to esspgh@wesa.fm 
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Composer ID: 
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Community
3:30 am
Mon January 13, 2014

Pittsburgh Declares Stephen Foster Day

Music aficionados and historical scholars will gather Monday to commemorate the life of songwriter Stephen Foster, 150 years after the local songwriter’s death.

The city of Pittsburgh will officially proclaim it to be Stephen Foster Day.

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Essential Pittsburgh
12:32 am
Sun January 12, 2014

Monday Rundown: Future Implications of the Target Breach & An Interview With Jayne Adair

Credit j.reed / flickr

These topics air Monday January 13, 2014 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. To leave a question or comment before or after the show dial 412-256-8783. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002. More Essential Pittsburgh segments can be heard here.

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Essential Pittsburgh
6:42 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

Why Mayor Peduto Wants Act 47 to Stay, for Now

Bill Peduto is asking Governor Tom Corbett to keep Pittsburgh under Act 47 oversight until at least 2018.
Credit Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

In 2003, the city of Pittsburgh was operating under a debt burden of more than 20% of its operating budget. Pools and recreation centers had to close and hundreds of city employees, including police officers were laid off.

Pittsburgh was declared financially distressed and placed under Act 47 oversight.

As the local economy has stabilized, former Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, along with Act 47 coordinators have said the city is ready to be released. But Pittsburgh's new Mayor Bill Peduto is asking Governor Corbett to keep the city under Act 47 oversight to allow his administration to work on a final recovery plan.

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Essential Pittsburgh
6:25 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

29 Tablets Bringing Electronic Manufacturing to Homewood

Could the tablet computer market boost the Homewood economy and create jobs?
Credit Intel Free Press / Flickr

In Homewood Friday, a symposium called 29 Tablets was dedicated to the possibility of manufacturing tablet computers in Homewood. It's the first in a series of community-oriented symposiums.

The leaders of this project, Andrew Thornhill, founder of Thornhill & Studio and Elwin Green, of the hyperlocal news site Homewood Nation, say the concept would benefit of entrepreneurs and bring diverse job creation to the struggling neighborhood.

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Essential Pittsburgh
6:10 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

Project Journey: Supporting the Needs of Women Veterans

Credit Jill_Bejger-Frederick / Project Journey-Veterans Leadership Program

Pennsylvania has the 8th largest population of women veterans in the country.

The Veteran’s Leadership program, which provides housing, employment and support services for eligible local veterans, was recently selected by the Newman’s Own Foundation to receive a $45,000 grant to help female Veteran’s with career development.

Project Journey Coordinator Trudy Friend and Development Director and Community Relations Michelle Margittai work with these Veterans by providing resources that aid in their transition back to civilian life. 

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90.5 WESA Celebrates
3:30 am
Fri January 10, 2014

How Al Condeluci Became an Advocate for the Disabled

Al Condeluci
Credit Debbi Casini Klein

Read and listen to a story about Al Condeluci as part of a new series honoring the individuals who make a difference in people’s lives: 90.5 WESA Celebrates People Making a Difference.

Al has been instrumental in changing the lives of thousands of disabled people in the Pittsburgh area. His awareness and dedication started first hand, with his cousin Carrie, who had Down syndrome.

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Essential Pittsburgh
8:28 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

Friday Rundown: Continuing Act 47 and Tablet Computers Made in Homewood?

The market for tablet computers is quickly outpacing that of desktop computers. Homewood may be able to join that market.
Credit Intel Free Press / Flickr

These topics air Friday January 10, 2014 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. To leave a question or comment before or after the show dial 412-256-8783. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002. More Essential Pittsburgh segments can be heard here.

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Essential Pittsburgh
3:22 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

Interpreting the Fourth Amendment in the 21st Century

Credit David Glover / flickr

Last month judges in New York and Washington DC issued two different opinions on the controversial bulk metadata collection program being done by the NSA.

In light of these conflicting decisions, many wonder if the Supreme Court will take up the issue.

David Harris, Distinguished Faculty Scholar and Professor of Law University of Pittsburgh School of Law says the opposite rulings were products of the environments where the judges preside, as well as the radically different views of the Fourth Amendment.

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Essential Pittsburgh
3:08 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

Toprani Report Explores Police "Side Jobs"

Credit Kaffeeeinstein / Flickr

From the resignation of Former Police Chief Nate Harper to the debate over officers living within city limits, the Pittsburgh city police department has been a topic of criticism over the past year.

The latest issue is a recent report criticizing city police working side jobs. Post-Gazette reporters Jonathan Silver and Liz Navratil have covered the story in which they describe the situation surrounding the Toprani Report.

This report, authored by former Washington County District Attorney Steve Toprani, investigates the state of the policies and procedures set up to regulate police officers taking “side jobs,” or, employment outside of the bureau.

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Environment & Energy
3:05 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

Pitt Lab to Help Build Power System of the Future

What is the best way to build an AC/DC hybrid power system? What does the power grid control system of the future look like?

Those are the types of questions researchers and students at the University of Pittsburgh are hoping to answer with Thursday’s opening of a new electric power systems lab.

The lab was created with the support of the Dublin, Ireland-based power management company EATON, which has offices in the Pittsburgh area. 

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:59 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

Terrifically Cosmopolitan Montreal

Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal was established in 1860, making it Canada's oldest art institution.
Credit Daryl Mitchell / flickr

Combining the best of old-world charm and modern sophistication, travel contributor Elaine Labalme finds Canada’s second largest city, Montreal to be “terrifically cosmopolitan.”

She suggests her favorite spots for food, arts and rest in this northern city.

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Public Safety
12:58 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

Mayor Peduto Adding Ranks to City’s Public Safety Agencies

Pretty soon there will be more police officers, firefighters, paramedics and building inspectors on the ground in Pittsburgh.

Mayor Bill Peduto announced this week he has authorized one class of police officers to begin training in March followed by another class in the fall, with the possibility of a third, one class of firefighters to begin as soon as possible and the hiring of more paramedics.

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Arts & Culture
10:07 am
Thu January 9, 2014

'I Got Dibs!' Pittsburgh Isn't the Only Home of the Parking Chair

Credit Lauren Zawilenski / Chicago Dibs Tumblr

It's that time of year again, snow inevitably falls, you spend time shoveling out a parking spot on the street, spread salt, then have to worry about someone pulling into that space while you're away. 

So what do you do? Mark it with a chair? Maybe another piece of patio furniture? How about a tiki torch or your discarded Christmas tree?

The Tumblr blog, Chicago Dibs has been collecting photos of parking spot markers with photos that range from straight forward...

To straight up odd.

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Essential Pittsburgh
10:23 pm
Wed January 8, 2014

Thursday Rundown: NSA Rulings, Pittsburgh Police Side Jobs & Make Room for Montreal

Exploring recent concerns with the Pittsburgh police
Credit Kaffeeeinstein / Flickr

These topics air Thursday January 9, 2014 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. To leave a question or comment before or after the show dial 412-256-8783. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002. More Essential Pittsburgh segments can be heard here.

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Health
5:41 pm
Wed January 8, 2014

New Grading System for Restaurant Safety in the Works in Allegheny County

If you want to know how your neighborhood sandwich shop or your favorite sushi restaurant fared on its last health department inspection, you can find that information online, but those reports can often be full of jargon and difficult to interpret.

Now, the Allegheny County Health Department is working to make that information easier to digest by implementing a four-tiered grading system for restaurant inspections.

Dr. Karen Hacker, director of the county health department, said they’re still figuring out how that grading process would work.

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:48 pm
Wed January 8, 2014

Why the Wacky Weather? The Polar Vortex Explained

Tuesday caused Pittsburgh to hit a record low of -9 degrees, but science expert, John Radzilowicz, may have the answer to why it happened.
Credit artnoose / Flickr

From mild, rainy, and in the 40's Sunday, to an all-time record low of -9 Tuesday to 50 degree temperatures by end of the week. Pittsburgh is experiencing unprecedented temperature fluctuations and weather patterns. The question is what’s going on with this wacky weather. John Radzilowicz, science expert and director of professional development at ASSET-STEM, believes he has the answer.

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:47 pm
Wed January 8, 2014

Social Entrepreneurs: Merging Profit Endeavors with a Non-Profit Mission

Tim Zak (left), Director of the Institute of Social Innovations at CMU, studies social changes which includes Ian Rosenberger (right), founder of Thread International, is just one example of a new type of entrepreneur called social entrepreneurs.
Credit Nick Frost / 90.5 WESA

There are many emerging companies that blur the lines of for profit endeavor with a non-profit mission, these social entrepreneurs, as they are called, are concerned with both financial sustainability and social impact.

Ian Rosenberger, founder of Thread International, an East Liberty based company recycling plastic bottles in Haiti for use in the manufacturing of apparel is one of these social entrepreneurs. Tim Zak, Director of the Institute for Social Innovation at Carnegie Mellon University studies innovators such as Ian.

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:46 pm
Wed January 8, 2014

The Top Stories of 2013 for Pittsburgh Magazine

The city of Braddock was just one of the most popular stories of 2013.
Credit Joseph A. / Flickr

Billed as everything that makes Pittsburgh awesome, Pittsburgh Magazine’s 412 Blog is a combined effort by the publication’s staffers covering up to the minute trends and stories. While it’s a new year, we’ve invited Sean Conboy, online editor to tell us about three of the most popular stories on that appeared on the 412 blog in 2013.

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:52 pm
Tue January 7, 2014

Pittsburgh's New City Council President Focused on Open Communication

New Pittsburgh City Council President Bruce Kraus
Credit Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Bruce Kraus was sworn in as the new President of the Pittsburgh City Council on Monday. Although Kraus has often been allied with former council member and now Mayor Bill Peduto, he vows to be an independent voice in city government.

Moving forward, he says he's especially interested in bringing more collegiality to a somewhat factioned city council.

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:50 pm
Tue January 7, 2014

Tom Wolf Hopes to Bring Diverse Experiences to Governor's Office

PA Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Tom Wolf speaks with Essential Pittsburgh producer Marcus Charleston
Credit Mark Nootbaar/90.5 WESA

Nicknamed “the compassionate businessman,” Tom Wolf is one of eight people looking to become the Democratic gubernatorial nominee.

He plans to spend $10 million dollars of his own money to achieve that goal. While he has never held elected office, the York County businessman is the former secretary of revenue under Governor Ed Rendell. He talks about why his diversity of experiences make him suited to be the next Governor.

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:47 pm
Tue January 7, 2014

The Business of Outdoor Winter Recreation

Business contributor Rebecca Harris and Host Paul Guggenheimer brave the cold outside our studios.
Credit Marcus Charleston

Now that the holidays are over there are plenty of long gray days ahead.

Rather than give in to cabin fever, strap on some skis or snowshoes, get outdoors and enjoy the white stuff!

Business contributor Rebecca Harris has been looking at the business of winter recreation and shares some interesting info about the profitability of the ski industry, how resorts are focusing on sustainability, and some local ideas for a snow day.

City in Transition
5:12 pm
Mon January 6, 2014

Bill Peduto Sworn in as Pittsburgh’s Newest Mayor

Bill Peduto takes the oath of office at Heinz Hall. Judge Justin Johnson administered the oath, the Bible was held by Max and Sue Sciullo, the parents of a slain Pittsburgh police officer.
Credit Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

It’s official – Pittsburgh has a new mayor.

Bill Peduto took the oath of office during a ceremony at Heinz Hall Monday. The city’s 60th mayor vowed to help build the next Pittsburgh.

“Pittsburgh has grown and changed and grown again from the day a small campfire burned at the confluence of our three rivers and heralded the new boundaries of the American nation,” Peduto said in his inaugural speech. “But we did not only inherit this city from our forbearers, we are also borrowing it from our children.”

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:25 pm
Mon January 6, 2014

Experimenting With New Ways To Do College

Credit The Saxifrage School

    

The Saxifrage School describes itself as a higher education laboratory, experimenting with new ways to do college.

By operating through underutilized spaces in the Pittsburgh community as a sort of "nomadic campus," they hope to model ways to lower tuition costs and increase higher education transparency.

The school recently completed its first year of courses and Founder and Director, Timothy Freeman Cook, shares what they've learned about the challenges and benefits to this approach.

He says they've offered classes in carpentry, organic agriculture, web development and graphic design- and each class holds unique challenges, but parallels the school’s goal. 

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:17 pm
Mon January 6, 2014

Living in the Shadows: Pittsburgh Refugees & Mental Health

Credit Icars / flickr

Refugees to the region face a number of challenges, unfamiliarity with a different language is even more complicated when trying to obtain health care.

90.5 WESA Behavioral Health Reporter Erika Beras is embarking on a month-long series on the challenges refugees face in the Pittsburgh area to obtain health care. She says her interest in the topic was sparked by the high population of refugees in Pittsburgh. 

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:06 pm
Mon January 6, 2014

"Paterno Faction" Frustrates Former Penn State Coach O'Brien

Bill O'Brien has left his coaching position at Penn State and will move to Houston to coach the Texans.
Credit Penn State News / flickr

When Bill O’Brien became head coach of the scandal plagued Nittany Lions football team he knew there would be challenges.

Now, as he leaves Penn State to become head coach of the Houston Texans, those challenges have come to light.

Sports guy Bob Dvorchak says  the “Paterno faction,” that has frustrated O’Brien throughout his time coaching

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