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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Millennials in Pittsburgh
8:45 am
Fri February 21, 2014

Councilman Dan Gilman on Being a Millennial in Pittsburgh

Dan Gilman
Credit Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Councilman Dan Gilman is no stranger to Pittsburgh City Council.

From his college days as an intern, to his 10-year stint as chief of staff for now-Mayor Bill Peduto, Gilman is familiar with the city’s political atmosphere.

Now serving the residents of District 8, he is one of the council's youngest members.

Dan Gilman on Pittsburgh's Millennial Generation:

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Essential Pittsburgh
7:36 pm
Thu February 20, 2014

Friday Rundown: Reducing the Prison Population in PA, The Oscars, & The Opera

What's being done to reduce the prison population in PA?
Credit Emily Allen / Flickr

These topics air Friday February 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
5:52 pm
Thu February 20, 2014

Getting Over the Winter Doldrums

Falling Water in winter
Credit katie bodner / flickr

To say it’s been a tough winter would be an understatement.

Despite the cold many people have been able to combat cabin fever, including travel contributor Elaine Labalme. She offers suggestions to help you overcome the winter blahs.

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Essential Pittsburgh
5:00 pm
Thu February 20, 2014

Straight Talk with Gubernatorial Candidate Rob McCord

Credit Marcus Charleston / 90.5 WESA

While there is no clear cut favorite in the Pennsylvania Democratic race for governor, polls indicate that State Treasurer Rob McCord has emerged as the “de facto” front runner.

The Ardmore, PA native says he is fortunate to have a useful blend of knowledge when it comes to running the Commonwealth.

He says his financial cognizance along with his desire and ability to communicate with constituents statewide will set him apart from the other candidates.

“I intend to be the governor that loves Pittsburgh back,” says McCord. Here are some of his views on energy, green jobs, public schools, and working with Pittsburgh's politicians.

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:47 pm
Thu February 20, 2014

Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson

Credit Pittsburgh Playhouse / Point Park University

“Sex, democracy and rock ‘n’ roll” take the stage at the Pittsburgh Playhouse this weekend when the colorful life of our nation’s seventh president is performed in the rock musical Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson.

The show’s director, Michael McKelvey, says the show portrays the leader in a time where the “true” roots of democracy dominated the political sphere.

McKelvey relates that power and democracy became a sort of drug for Jackson and he became obsessed with relating to his constituents and trying to appease every voice.

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Essential Pittsburgh
8:48 pm
Wed February 19, 2014

Thursday Rundown: Gubernatorial Candidate Rob McCord, and Overcoming Winter Doldrums

Rob McCord is PA State Treasurer and running for Governor
Credit Rob McCord website

These topics air Thursday February 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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Government & Politics
3:17 pm
Wed February 19, 2014

City to Implement Nighttime Transportation Solutions Along Carson Street

City Council President Bruce Kraus has been working to find ways to mitigate the negative effects of a bustling nightlife economy on the South Side and other neighborhoods.
Credit Flickr user michaelgoodin

According to City Council President Bruce Kraus, between 15,000 and 20,000 people stream out of South Side bars, venues and pubs around 2 a.m. every Friday and Saturday night.

That creates public safety problems and significant transportation issues, Kraus said, which is why for the last two years he’s been working with the Responsible Hospitality Institute, or RHI, to find ways to manage the nightlife economy in the city.

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:34 pm
Wed February 19, 2014

The Historic Fort Pitt Block House Celebrates its 250th Anniversary

The Fort Pitt Block House is celebrating its 250th Anniversary this year.
Credit Kevin Myers / wikipedia

Throughout 2013, the Fort Pitt Society conducted a 10-month preservation and restoration project at the Fort Pitt Block House. This undertaking came just in time, as 2014 marks the 250th anniversary of the structure.

The Fort Pitt Block House curator Emily Weaver is very involved in discovering the history of the block house and sharing it with the public, as she did in her book, The Fort Pitt Block House.

“The Fort Pitt Block House is the oldest building in the city of Pittsburgh, so that obviously makes it very special to us. It’s been standing in its same location for 250 years, never moved, and its the only original structure that we have left of Fort Pitt, one of the largest British forts in North America during the 18th century....A symbol of our earliest beginnings here in the Pittsburgh region."

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:28 pm
Wed February 19, 2014

Is Oil & Gas Shipment Hurting Pennsylvania?

Officials say about 4,000 gallons of crude oil were spilled following the train derailment in Vandergrift, but most of it was contained in a parking lot.
Credit Reid Frazier / The Allegheny Front

In light of a recent train derailment and fire in Greene County; is gas drilling endangering the people, property and public lands of Western PA?

Cindy Dunn, president and CEO of the Statewide Environmental Advocacy organization PennFuture believes that gas drilling may have come on a little too quickly, contributing to the rate of accidents.

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Essential Pittsburgh
9:16 am
Wed February 19, 2014

Watch As Pittsburghers, Including Our Own Paul Guggenheimer, Get a Handle on Curling

Essential Pittsburgh host, Paul Guggenheimer, gets a handle on how to get these stones to curl across the ice.
Credit Ryan Loew / 90.5WESA

Curling is growing to be one of the most watched sports at the Winter Olympics. Although it may be a little while before Team USA wins a medal, Pittsburgh has a growing curling culture.

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Essential Pittsburgh
8:52 pm
Tue February 18, 2014

Wednesday Rundown: Oil & Gas in Western PA, Fort Pitt Block House, and Classes in Curling

The Fort Pitt Block House turns 250 years old this year
Credit Kevin Myers / wikipedia

These topics air Wednesday February 19, 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
4:03 pm
Tue February 18, 2014

Comcast Merger with Time Warner Concerns FCC

Philadelphia-based Comcast hopes to buy New York-based Time Warner.
Credit Steve Garfield / flickr

Media giants Comcast and Time Warner may change the way consumers receive their cable, television, and internet, pending negotiations with the FCC over a merger of the two companies.

Critics worry that a merger would create a cable monopoly with zero competition in areas where Comcast and Time Warner serve as the sole provider.

Philadelphia Inquirer consumer and technology columnist Jeff Gelles says the Antitrust Division of the Justice Department had to update how they define essential services to include cable TV as the dominant provider of broadband Internet. 

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Essential Pittsburgh
3:58 pm
Tue February 18, 2014

The Chair: One Movie Script, One City, Two Directors

Credit Brook Ward / flickr

One feature film, two directors, a pool of equal resources and the city of Pittsburgh.

This is the premise of a new documentary series titled The Chair starting production this month.

Chris Moore, creator of Project Greenlight and producer of movies such as Good Will Hunting and Promised Land, developed the idea for the series.

Moore has reached out to directors Shane Dawson and Anna Martemucci to see what direction a single production can take under different directors

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Essential Pittsburgh
3:49 pm
Tue February 18, 2014

The Good & The Bad for Businesses in the Winter

Credit Marcus Eubanks / flickr

With the abundance of cold weather, there has been no shortage of news stories about the climate, energy issues and snow-related complications.

But in addition to an increase in coverage by media outlets, many businesses that sell winter items and services are seeing a big boom in revenue. While others may see a decrease in earnings as a result of the unsettling weather.

Business contributor Rebecca Harris divides the good from the bad and shares the implications of a long winter.

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Essential Pittsburgh
8:12 pm
Mon February 17, 2014

Tuesday Rundown: The Big Media Merger, The Chair, and The Business of Winter

The future of media access in an era of media giants
Credit James Stewart / Flickr

These topics air Tuesday February 18, 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
7:39 pm
Mon February 17, 2014

(Rebroadcast) Presidential Walking Tours in Washington, PA

Credit Doug Kerr / Flickr

Washington & Jefferson College has a unique way to celebrate and honor past American Presidents that have spoken, stayed, or visited Washington, PA.

Professors Jennifer Harding and Thomas Mainwaring developed a walking presidential tour which offers a historical look at the connection between fifteen Presidents and the City of Washington.

Essential Pittsburgh
7:24 pm
Mon February 17, 2014

(Rebroadcast) President Taft at Rodef Shalom

President Taft visiting Rodef Shalom Temple in 1909
Credit Wikimedia

In May of 1909, a Shabbat, President William Howard Taft became the first American President to speak  from the Bimah of a Jewish Congregation while in office.

The Rodef Shalom Congregation, in Pittsburgh played host to the touring President. Archivist Martha Berg talked with us last year about Taft's visit to Pittsburgh and the importance of his speech.

Essential Pittsburgh
7:16 pm
Mon February 17, 2014

(Rebroadcast) On the Trail of George Washington in Western PA

Judge O’Brien had a painting commissioned by Deac Mong to commemorate Washington’s journey. It depicts Washington & his companion being shot at by a Native American loyal to the French. The painting is currently on display in the Butler County courthouse.
Credit Heather McClain / 90.5 WESA

260 years ago, a 21-year old George Washington had two brushes with death in the Pittsburgh area that could have dramatically altered the course of American History.

He was on a dangerous diplomatic mission in the Western Pennsylvania wilderness. We explored this little known chapter of Washington's life last December, with retired Butler County Common Pleas Court Judge Martin J. O'Brien.

Essential Pittsburgh
7:04 pm
Mon February 17, 2014

Pennsylvania's Only U.S. President and His Neutral Stance on Slavery

James Buchanan's home, Wheatland, in Lancaster was purchased by Buchanan in 1848.
Credit Jim Bowen / Flickr

While the White House is located on Pennsylvania Avenue, only one Pennsylvanian has ever occupied the executive office; Lancaster area native James Buchanan, the fifteenth President of the United States.

Patrick Clarke, Director of President James Buchanan’s home Wheatland, believes that Buchanan’s childhood in the Keystone State helped him develop into the leader he would become.

“There are some historians that believe growing up so close to the border of Virginia, today of course the border belongs to West Virginia, but some believe it kind of shaped him and his thinking.”

Buchanan's presidency was at a time when the nation was in growing turmoil.

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Essential Pittsburgh
8:02 pm
Sun February 16, 2014

Monday Rundown: Following the Footsteps of U.S. Presidents in Pennsylvania

Credit Heather McClain / 90.5 WESA

These topics air Monday February 17, 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
5:40 pm
Fri February 14, 2014

Update on Crude Oil Derailment in Vandergrift

Officials say about 4,000 gallons of crude oil were spilled following the train derailment in Vandergrift, but all of it was contained in a parking lot.
Credit Reid Frazier / The Allegheny Front

Authorities say about 4,000 gallons of crude oil spilled into a parking lot Thursday, when more than 21 cars on a Norfolk Southern rail line between Vandergrift and East Vandergrift derailed around 8:30 a.m.

No injuries were reported. Allegheny Front reporter Reid Frazier, covered the story for WESA, and NPR news.

Frazier says the area is reported to be safe, because the parking lot managed to contain the spill. But how can area residents be sure it's safe?

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Essential Pittsburgh
5:01 pm
Fri February 14, 2014

Does Legislation Combating Revenge Porn Go Far Enough?

The organization, End Revenge Porn, has talked to thousands of victims of Revenge Porn and that is just scratching the surface according to founder Holly Jacobs.
Credit lizzardo / Flickr

A bill to punish revenge porn has been passed by the Pennsylvania Senate. How big a problem is this issue and could the Commonwealth’s bill be a model for other states to follow?

City Paper reporter Charlie Deitch, investigated the topic for this week's cover story. He spoke with Holly Jacobs for the article. She's a revenge porn victim and founder of the organization End Revenge Porn.

The new legislation gives victims retribution for the initial posting of graphic imagery, but Deitch says this legislation is not enough.

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:37 pm
Fri February 14, 2014

Crafting a Great Love Story with StoryCorps' David Isay

All There Is: Love Stories from StoryCorps, is a book by David Isay, host of StoryCorps.
Credit Barbara Steinacker / flickr

Everyone enjoys a good love story and Dave Isay knows that.

That’s why the founder of StoryCorps wrote the book, All There Is: Love Stories from StoryCorps.

The oral history project documents everyday people sharing stories about their lives.

Isay believes that there is not much difference between what makes a good story and what makes a good love story.

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90.5 WESA Celebrates
3:30 am
Fri February 14, 2014

Josh and Gab, Confronting Bullying Through Song

Josh Verbanets and Gab Bonesso
Credit Debbi Casini Klein

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

Sometimes there’s no better way to get kids excited about something than through music. Add some laughter, and you’ve got the perfect combination.

That’s the Josh and Gab show.

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Essential Pittsburgh
10:21 pm
Thu February 13, 2014

Friday Rundown: The Many Complexities of Love

Credit katerha / flickr

These topics air Friday February 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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