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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Essential Pittsburgh
3:45 pm
Thu March 27, 2014

Community Backed Micro-Lending Helps Homewood Indoor Bike Park

The 80,000 square foot warehouse houses many ramps like this one, where kids and adults can bike.
Credit The Wheel Mill

Since the early 2000’s more than one million small businesses worldwide have been funded through the online micro-lending program known as Kiva.org

The loans help revitalize local economies and make it possible for the average person, rather than banks, to fund innovative ideas and businesses. 

Premal Shah, President and co-founder said Kiva is a non-profit that provides loans to many different people at 0% interest, often people who can't qualify for a bank loan.

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Essential Pittsburgh
3:25 pm
Thu March 27, 2014

4 Spring Festivals Worth Traveling To

During the Cherry Blossom Festival visitors can take paddle boats across the Potomac River to the Jefferson Memorial.
Credit Mark Peters / flickr

It’s officially spring, even if the weather may want to tell us otherwise. We’re going to remain optimistic and look forward to sunny and warm days spent outdoors.

This week travel contributor Elaine Labalme suggested spring festivals you might enjoy.

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Essential Pittsburgh
3:08 pm
Thu March 27, 2014

Busted: The Story Of A Philadelphia Police Department Corruption Case

Wendy Ruderman and Barbara Laker wrote a Pulitzer Prize winning series on Philadelphia police corruption, which led to an FBI investigation.
Credit Jessica Griffin

In 2008 a longtime informant with the Philadelphia Police Department narcotics squad walked into the offices of the Philadelphia Daily News.

He spoke with Wendy Ruderman and Barbara Laker, resulting in a Pulitzer Prize winning investigative series uncovering corruption in the city's police department, and a full-scale FBI probe.

The events are chronicled in the book Busted: A Tale of Corruption and Betrayal in the City of Brotherly Love.

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Essential Pittsburgh
10:02 am
Thu March 27, 2014

How to Find Pittsburgh's 'Warp Pipes' and Beat the City's Traffic Choke Points

How to avoid this: Traffic is stopped at a red light approaching the Squirrel Hill Tunnel.
Credit Flickr user daveynin

Pittsburgh's roads can be challenging at times, often leading traffic to a slow and frustrating crawl.

But there are ways to avoid sitting in endless congestion through the Fort Pitt Tunnel.

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Essential Pittsburgh
7:29 pm
Wed March 26, 2014

Thursday Rundown: Busting Corrupt Police in Philadelphia & Kiva Micro-Lending in Pittsburgh

Wendy Ruderman and Barbara Laker wrote a Pulitzer Prize winning series on Philadelphia police corruption, which led to an FBI investigation.
Credit Jessica Griffin

These topics air Thursday March 27, 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
5:36 pm
Wed March 26, 2014

Pittsburgh Filmmakers Get Caught Up in Ukraine-Russian Conflict

Animal Media Group

What began as a trip to Ukraine to work on a documentary called "Gennadiy," about drug-addicted street children, turned into a near-death experience for Pittsburgh-based filmmakers Filipp Velgach and Steve Hoover.

Velgach and Hoover were targeted by a pro-Russian mob while filming at the end of a demonstration.

“Shortly after we got there, and the rumors started circulating that we were American journalists as opposed to American documentary makers. And therefore suggesting we probably had some sort of political agenda for being there and filming the rally," Velgach said. "The rumors grew more aggressive and people started approaching us, saying we're Americans, and 'All of the issues in Ukraine are because of Americans,' and 'We don't like Americans.' And that escalated pretty quickly into us being attacked."

Hoover wrote about the experience for Vice Media and included video of the attack taken by a bystander in the crowd:

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:43 pm
Wed March 26, 2014

Tips for Individuals and Employers on the Affordable Care Act and Tax Season

Judith Heron, a CPA with Markovitz Dugan & Associates, answered some questions that will help individuals with taxes this year.
Credit 401(K) 2013 / Flickr

With less than a week until the healthcare enrollment deadline, and tax season underway, Judith Herron, a CPA with Markovitz-Dugan and Associates in Green Tree explains how the Affordable Care Act will impact filing.

How will the Affordable care Act impact individuals?

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:16 pm
Wed March 26, 2014

WorKing Well with Others: Office Etiquette from Sasha King

Sasha King gives some helpful tips on office etiquette to help employees get along with their co-workers.
Credit Likeaword / Flickr

There’s a lot to navigate at work. Sometimes one of the biggest challenges is how to get along with co-workers.

Whether it’s the person who talks too loud or dresses inappropriately, independent career consultant Sasha King takes on the role of Emily Post and offers a few tips on office etiquette.

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Essential Pittsburgh
6:55 pm
Tue March 25, 2014

Wednesday Rundown: A Harrowing Experience in Ukraine, and ACA/Tax Season FAQs

Pro-Russian protesters remove a Ukrainian flag and replace it with a Russian flag in front of a State Administration building near Mariupol, Ukraine
Credit Andrew Butko / Wikipedia

These topics air Wednesday March 26, 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
2:33 pm
Tue March 25, 2014

How Pittsburgh Organizations Are Bringing Hollywood To The Steel City

"The Dark Knight Rises" was filmed in downtown Pittsburgh during the summer of 2012.
Credit Kyle Huff / flickr

From film festivals, to movies and TV shows, Pittsburgh has become one of Hollywood's leading locations for motion picture and television production.

This week contributor Rebecca Harris looked at the business of filmmaking in the Steel City.

Pittsburgh has a variety of organizations that help bring Hollywood the the city, which are listed below. These organizations work with different groups and people in the community to make it possible for films and television shows to come to life in Pittsburgh.

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Health
2:21 pm
Tue March 25, 2014

Pittsburgher Takes on Diabetes Education as National Chair

Dr. Linda Siminerio is Professor of Medicine and Executive Director of the University of Pittsburgh Diabetes Institute
Credit UPMC Website

When the National Diabetes Education Program gathers for its annual meeting this summer it will install a Pittsburgher in its top elected position.  University of Pittsburgh Diabetes Institute Executive Director Linda Siminerio was elected as chair earlier this year.

The federally-funded program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Siminerio refers to the nation’s struggle with type II diabetes as an epidemic but warns that it is already a pandemic in other parts of the world.

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Essential Pittsburgh
1:13 am
Tue March 25, 2014

Tuesday Rundown: Targeting Diabetes and the Pittsburgh Film Biz

Exploring prevention and advances in treatment for diabetes.
Credit Victor Casale / flickr

These topics air Tuesday March 25,2014 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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Life of Learning
8:55 pm
Sun March 23, 2014

Life of Learning Forum: Investment in Pre-K Critical to Future Educational Success

Linda Hippert, executive director for the Allegheny Intermediate Unit, speaks during a recent Life of Learning forum on the future of education in Pittsburgh.
Ryan Loew 90.5 WESA

Last week, a panel of experts gathered at the Community Broadcast Center to discuss what the future of the learning/education system should look like to be as effective as possible for the region’s children. The public forum tackled a range of questions from the audience, including the state of early childhood education.

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Essential Pittsburgh
6:08 pm
Sun March 23, 2014

Monday Rundown: What Should Pittsburgh's Future Education System Look Like?

A Life of Learning forum on the evolution of learning in Pittsburgh
Credit Ryan Lowe / 90.5 WESA

A 90.5 WESA Life of Learning community forum on the evolution of learning in Pittsburgh was recently held at the Community Broadcast Center.

Listen to a special one hour broadcast of the forum on Monday March 24, 2014 at noon and 8pm, moderated by Essential Pittsburgh host Paul Guggenheimer and produced by Kevin Gavin, Executive Producer for Special News Projects.

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Essential Pittsburgh
7:06 pm
Fri March 21, 2014

State Corrections Secretary Says When Sentencing, We Need to Consider the Offender

John Wetzel, Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections
Credit Heather McClain / 90.5 WESA

John Wetzel, Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, is responsible for the state prison system, from inmates, to employees, to a budget of nearly $2 billion. And he's trying to take a holistic approach to the corrections system.

With more than 20 years of experience in the corrections industry, he's part of a sentencing commission that's developing tools to help trial judges better assess the risks and needs of offenders.

He says the key to that assessment is looking at the root causes of crime.

"Based on the number of prior arrests, the age of the offender, based on a bunch of other factors, we can predict the likelihood that the individual will commit another crime."

By looking at these "criminogenic needs," or needs that lead to crime, and by using cognitive therapy and other programming, Wetzel says offenders can learn to make better decisions, think differently and reduce their likelihood to commit future crimes.

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:51 pm
Fri March 21, 2014

A History of America in 101 Objects and Pittsburgh's Contributions

Neil Armstrong's Apollo 11 Space Suit
Smithsonian Institution

The Smithsonian Institution has been referred to as "America's attic." It is home to many iconic objects that have shaped the history of our nation, from industry to culture. In his book, History of America in 101 Objects, author and Smithsonian curator Dr. Richard Kurin chronicles and pinpoints these national treasures by focusing on key objects in the vast collection. 

Here are some of Kurin’s favorite objects related to the Pittsburgh region:

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:42 pm
Fri March 21, 2014

Pittsburgh Indy Comics Expo: Where Artists have Full Control

Pix, The Pittsburgh Indy Comics Expo, will be held at 10 S.19th Street in the city's South Side neighborhood this weekend.
Credit The Copacetic Comics Company / Facebook

PIX, the Pittsburgh Indy Comics Expo, takes place this weekend. The event is a way to nurture and encourage the city’s independent comic scene.

Jim Rugg, a local indy cartoonist, and Bill Boichel, owner of The Copacetic Comics Company in Polish Hill, expect this weekend will be a bigger success than ever.

Boichel says Pix is different Comicon for one simple reason.

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Project Millennials
9:30 am
Fri March 21, 2014

Quinn Elliott of the Big Idea Bookstore on Finding Community in Pittsburgh

Quinn volunteers at The Big Idea Bookstore and Cafe in Lawrenceville.
Heather McClain 90.5 WESA

Quinn Elliott from East Liberty holds herself and the city to a high standard.

As a volunteer at The Big Idea Bookstore and Cafe in Bloomfield, she advocates for deep thought and strong, grassroots communities. The Big Idea is a worker-owned, community operated bookstore that advocates for alternative lifestyles and radical cultures.

Just like Quinn, the not-for-profit collaborative hopes to create a space to build open and empowering communities.

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90.5 WESA Celebrates
3:30 am
Fri March 21, 2014

Al Mercer, Helping Vets Bridge The Gap To Civilian Life

Al Mercer
Credit Debbi Casini Klein / 90.5 WESA

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

As a veteran, the transition back to civilian life is wrought with challenges. Al understands that all too well and has made it his mission to help.

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Essential Pittsburgh
7:34 pm
Thu March 20, 2014

Friday Rundown: A More Just Approach to Prison and American History in 101 Objects

The Star-Spangled Banner
Credit Smithsonian Institution

These topics air Friday March 21, 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
2:13 pm
Thu March 20, 2014

Do Peduto's Appointments Reflect Diversity of the City?

Credit Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

Mayor Bill Peduto appointed 45 people to serve on 11 boards, authorities, and commissions in the City of Pittsburgh Monday. The appointments are said to represent the most diverse class in the history of the city.

Pittsburgh City Paper Editor Chris Potter says many of the new appointees are notable for the experience they bring to the city’s leadership.

He’s looked at previous mayors like Bob O’Connor, who also boasted a diverse administration, and says Mayor Peduto is matching up well.

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:07 pm
Thu March 20, 2014

Five Frank Lloyd Wright-Designed Buildings Within Driving Distance of Pittsburgh

Graycliff Estate
Marcus Charleston 90.5 WESA

If asked to identify a giant in American architecture, the name Frank Lloyd Wright may be the first person who comes to mind. This region has the good fortune to be within driving distance to one of his most famous buildings, the iconic Falling Water.

This week, travel contributor Elaine Labalme offered suggestions for Wright designed buildings, not far from Pittsburgh. Wright has more than 500 completed structures across the United States, and these are just a few of his designs.

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Essential Pittsburgh
1:57 pm
Thu March 20, 2014

Bracketology and the Rise of March Madness

Credit Matthew D. Britt / flickr

Workforce production will fall this month as employees around the U.S.become distracted by NCAA basketball. From filling out brackets to entering office pools, March Madness draws an audience more than any other sports tournament.

Pittsburgh Post Gazette Sports Writer Emeritus Bob Dvorchak says the event appeals to people that would not normally pay attention to basketball, or even sports in general.

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Essential Pittsburgh
8:32 pm
Wed March 19, 2014

Thursday Rundown: Breaking Down Mayoral Appointees, and Traveling with Frank Lloyd Wright

Graycliff Estate near Buffalo, NY was designed by iconic architect Frank Lloyd Wright
Credit Marcus Charleston / 90.5 WESA

These topics air Thursday March 20, 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
5:34 pm
Wed March 19, 2014

Police Review Board Still in Need of Members But Hopeful About New Administration

Beth Pittinger is the Executive Director of the Citizen Police Review Board (CPRB).
Credit Heather McClain / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh’s Citizen Police Review Board (CPRB) has recently been criticized for its lack of effectiveness, but despite having three empty board seats and a mayor and city council who are taking a long time to fill the posts, the board feels it is getting a lot of work done.

Many of the current board members were never officially appointed.

“On October 31st the terms expired. Nobody was succeeded by appointment as of December 31st, so 30 days had lapsed and they were automatically retained in their seats and then what happened was individuals moved. They relocated and were then disqualified from continuing with the board which created the two city council vacancies,” said Beth Pittinger, CPRB’s Executive Director.

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