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 
Genre: 
Composer ID: 
5187f157e1c837e16b69e499|5187f152e1c837e16b69e482

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Environment
11:41 am
Mon December 30, 2013

How to Recycle Your Christmas Tree in the Pittsburgh Region

If the needles are falling and you're getting ready to take down the Christmas tree, city and county officials are hoping you'll recycle it and not just leave it at your curbside.

The city of Pittsburgh's Recycling Division and Allegheny County's Department of Parks are again offering  tree recycling programs this holiday season. The trees will be mulched and the county will use the mulch in its nine regional parks.

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Speaking Volumes
11:03 am
Mon December 30, 2013

Closing the Book on Speaking Volumes (For Now)

Josh Raulerson

For more than a year and a half, the Speaking Volumes project has brought 90.5 WESA listeners weekly conversations about books and reading with Pittsburghers from all walks of life.

As Speaking Volumes moves from a weekly series to a more occasional segment, host and producer Josh Raulerson shares his recent reads with 90.5 WESA's Larkin Page Jacobs.

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Essential Pittsburgh
7:00 am
Mon December 30, 2013

Stories of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Past & Present

Stories that show why the Steelers are worth cheering for.
Credit Drew Allen / flickr

We bring you excerpts of conversations with Pittsburgh Steelers, past and present.

Author Gary Pomerantz's book about the Steelers, Their Life's Work addresses what it means to be teammates in the truest sense.

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Essential Pittsburgh
7:00 am
Fri December 27, 2013

Public Radio Hosts & Contributors in 2013

Public Radio Host, Diane Rehm in studio at the WESA Community Broadcast Center
Credit Ryan Loew / 90.5 WESA

If you listen to 90.5 WESA on a regular basis, you know that we carry a number of your favorite NPR programs.

For today's show we've assembled interviews with a few of the hosts/contributors featured on those programs.

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90.5 WESA Celebrates
3:30 am
Fri December 27, 2013

At the Allegheny County Jail, Caitlin Werth Provides HOPE

Caitlin Werth

Read and listen to a story about Caitlin Werth 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.

Caitlin is the chaplain and program director of the rehabilitative program HOPE at the Allegheny County Jail. The program helps inmates stay out of jail once they’ve done their time.

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Essential Pittsburgh
7:00 am
Thu December 26, 2013

Health & Innovation Highlights in 2013

Jan Scheuermann, who has quadriplegia, brings a chocolate bar to her mouth using a robot arm she is guiding with her thoughts.
Credit UPMC

From robotic arms to treating high blood pressure, in 2013 we delved into many stories dealing with health innovation.

We'll revisit our conversation with Dr. Michael Boninger and a quadriplegic woman named Jan Scheuermann. A robotic arm surgically attached to her brain allows her to perform basic tasks with focused thought.

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Arts & Culture
3:30 pm
Wed December 25, 2013

Pittsburgh Hosts First Fringe Festival for Far-Out Theater

The deadline to apply to be part of the first annual Pittsburgh Fringe Festival is rapidly approaching.

Founder and Executive Director Dan Stiker said Fringe celebrates theatre that is bizarre, challenging, and obscure.

“It started in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1947 and has since become an international movement of theatre that’s … not seen on the main stages that you’d typically see theatre on,” said Stiker.

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Essential Pittsburgh
5:23 pm
Mon December 23, 2013

Essential Pittsburgh & 90.5 WESA Holiday Programming

Credit Death By Bokeh / Flickr

For the rest of the holiday season, 90.5 WESA and Essential Pittsburgh bring you year-end special programming.

Tune in for the best of 2013 sports, music, public radio personalities and more from Essential Pittsburgh.

And 90.5 WESA is happy to offer you the best in public radio programming on Dec. 24th, 25th, 31st and New Year's Day.

Essential Pittsburgh
1:37 pm
Sun December 22, 2013

Essential Pittsburgh Staff Choice: Compelling Conversations of 2013

The folks behind Essential Pittsburgh share their choice conversations of 2013.
Credit Heather McClain / 90.5 WESA

Here at 90.5 WESA there are three people who work specifically on Essential Pittsburgh. In addition to host Paul Guggenheimer, there's producer Marcus Charleston and assistant producer Heather McClain.

For this special edition of the program, we offer excerpts from just a few of our choice interviews out of the hundreds we aired in 2013. 

There's a compelling conversation on the death penalty with Sister Helen Prejean, author of "Dead Man Walking," a discussion of what it's like aging out of the foster care system and a tale of two classic movie theaters.

Listen to some of our favorites, and let us know about some of your favorites from 2013 at esspgh@wesa.fm.

Essential Pittsburgh
2:01 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

Highlighting the Year's Top WESA Feature Reports

Credit Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA News

Looking back at some of Pittsburgh’s top news stories of 2013, 90.5 WESA Senior News Editor Mark Nootbaar focuses on features produced in the WESA newsroom.

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:01 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

WESA News Editors Look at Top News Stories of 2013

From the indictment of a police chief to a bridge covered in yarn. Looking back at the top local news stories of 2013.
Credit Heather McClain / 90.5 WESA

The Pittsburgh region was impacted by many major news stories during 2013. From a breakthrough in the stalemate over funding for transportation infrastructure, to a police scandal and the election of a new mayor.

WESA’s Senior News Editor Mark Nootbaar gives some perspective on the year’s top stories.

At the state level, privatization of government functions were a theme for the Corbett Administration.

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:00 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

10 Things Pittsburgh Can be Thankful For

Credit Kelsey Diercks / Flickr

The holiday season is often a time to reflect on why and for what we should be grateful. Pittsburgh Today has published its list of 10 Pittsburgh Reasons to be Thankful.

Doug Heuck is the editor of Pittsburgh Today and talks about some of the positive things Pittsburghers can be thankful for.

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Business
5:23 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

Pittsburgh Company Grabs Free App of the Year Title from Apple

A screenshot from the app of the year, Duolingo. One of the app's many French lessons.
Credit Nick Frost / 90.5 WESA

Apple has chosen a Pittsburgh-born app as its free app of the year.

Duolingo teaches people how to speak a new language, and it's been downloaded more than 10 million times since being released a year ago. 

Duolingo CEO Louis Von Ahn said more than a billion people are trying to learn a new language. He believes two-thirds of them are from the lower rungs of the socio-economic ladder, and the reason they are learning a new language is because they are trying to get ahead in life.

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Arts & Culture
3:14 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

Is Pittsburgh an Icon of Healthy Living?

Affordable living linked to health benefits, including decreased risk of stress-related diseases and better mental health.
Credit Flickr user Jason Pratt

Apparently living a Pittsburgh lifestyle is good for your health.

Well, not if you think that simply means eating pierogies and Primanti's everyday. 

The Huffington Post focused on nine lessons Pittsburgh offers on living well, as part of their Living Well, On Location series.

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:30 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

When it Comes to Food Banks, Pittsburgh is a Tale of Two Cities

In response to greater demand on local food banks, Pittsburgh Foundation launched a community-wide appeal for food pantries in Allegheny and Westmoreland Counties.
Credit DrivingtheNortheast / Flickr

The holiday season is always a busy time for food banks and food pantries as they try to provide the basics-and a few extras-for those in need.

With the recent reduction in the allocation of federal food stamps, many low-income people have fewer resources to put food on the table this holiday season.

As a consequence, there has been a surge in demand at local food banks and food pantries.

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:19 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

Breaking Down Global and Local Barriers Through City of Asylum

The colorful buildings of the City of Asylum on the North Side, a sanctuary for writers in exile.
Credit Joseph A / Flickr

City of Asylum Pittsburgh was launched in 2004 and has since been a hub of activity on Pittsburgh’s North Side.

Created as a sanctuary for writers in exile, City of Asylum is expanding into a vehicle for community development on the city’s North Side.

Henry Reese, founder of City of Asylum, says the organization's role in the community is constantly evolving.

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:13 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

Vermont B & B's Offer Charming Stays

Credit Paul Kentish / flickr

From historic Bennington, to Burlington on the shores of Lake Champlain there’s a lot to see and do in Vermont.

One of the best ways to enjoy the Green Mountain State is a cozy stay at a bed and breakfast. Travel contributor Elaine Labalme suggests some of her favorites.

“If anyone has mastered the art of B & B, it’s Vermonters,” says Labalme.

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Essential Pittsburgh
1:19 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

Friday Rundown: Looking Back at Pittsburgh News of 2013 & Being Thankful in 2014

From the Bucs to a big 'ol duck, looking back at what made news in 2013.
Credit Kelsey Diercks / Flickr

These topics air Friday December 20, 2013 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA, with special guest host Kevin Gavin.

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
5:48 pm
Wed December 18, 2013

Behind the Stage Door with Rich Engler

Rich Engler and the band Kiss
Credit Rich Engler / RichEngler.com

Rich Engler is a nationally recognized concert promoter from Pittsburgh. The former co-owner of  DiCesare-Engler Productions has written a new book called Behind the Stage Door, a retrospective of his 40 years as one of the top concert promoters in the region.

Engler shares some entertaining, personal stories of what went on backstage at many of the largest concerts to come through Pittsburgh, and how he went from rock musician to rock promoter.

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Essential Pittsburgh
5:18 pm
Wed December 18, 2013

Lincoln Highway: The Nation's First Coast to Coast Highway Turns 100

One of the original concrete bridges on the "Lincoln Highway" in Tama, IA
Credit Carl Wycoff / Flickr

Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States is recognized in currency with statues, a monument in DC and many other areas along the way.

One commemoration includes the Lincoln Highway. Brian Butko is director of publications for the Heinz History Center and an expert on the highway's history, which celebrates its centennial this year.

Butko's knowledge of the Lincoln Highway begins even before the highway was started.

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Government & Politics
4:10 pm
Wed December 18, 2013

One Year After Sandyhook, Mental Health Overhaul Offered

US Congressman Tim Murphy
Credit Tim Murphy / murphy.house.gov

The shootings and Sandyhook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. focused the nation’s attention on mental health care but now that the tragedy is a year behind us, debate on the subject has waned.

However, U.S. Congressman Tim Murphy (PA-18) is hoping to throw it back into the spotlight with a bill he is calling the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act.

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Essential Pittsburgh
1:49 pm
Wed December 18, 2013

George Washington's Near Death Experiences in Western PA

Historic markers along Washington's route through the Western Pennsylvania countryside. They mark a driving route that follows young George Washington's first military and diplomatic venture in the Fall and Winter 1753 - 1754.
Heather McClain 90.5 WESA

260 years ago this month, a 21-year old major in the Virginia militia named George Washington had two brushes with death in the Pittsburgh area, which could have dramatically altered the course of American history. Decades before he became the father of our county, Washington was on a dangerous diplomatic mission in the Western Pennsylvania wilderness.

We explored this little known chapter of Washington's life with historical re-enactor Daniel Nehrer, and retired Butler County Common Pleas Court Judge Martin J. O'Brien at the Harmony Museum, not far from where Washington was on December 27, 1753, at the boundary of French and English territory.

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Essential Pittsburgh
1:20 pm
Wed December 18, 2013

Thursday Rundown: The App of the Year and Growth in the City of Asylum

The colorful buildings of the City of Asylum on the North Side.
Credit Joseph A / Flickr

These topics air Thursday December 19, 2013 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
5:35 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

“Made in PA” Label Would Show That Local Manufacturing Isn't Dead

Crayola Crayons, made in Easton, PA are just one of the products that would receive a "Made in PA" label.
Credit Dyanna Hyde / Flickr

A bipartisan group of state lawmakers has introduced a bill to create a "Made in PA" program, complete with a logo and website to encourage consumers to purchase products made close to home.

State Rep. Eli Evankovich and David Taylor, executive director of the Pennsylvania Manufacturers' Association, say consumers already look for labels such as "Made in the USA," while shopping.

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:51 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

Kevin Sousa’s New Restaurant Could be a Community-Driver for Braddock

Kevin Sousa, award-winning chef and owner of Salt of the Earth restaurant in East Liberty, has an ambitious plan to bring a community-driven restaurant to Braddock, PA.

And he’s appealing to the Pittsburgh community for help.

Sousa is working with community groups such as the Braddock Youth Project and Grow Pittsburgh to create a community-based, world class restaurant, which would include housing.

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