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
4:18 pm
Wed November 6, 2013

A Review of the Pennsylvania Governor Race

Governor Tom Corbett officially announces that he is running for a second term as Pennsylvania's governor.
Credit 90.5 WESA

Governor Tom Corbett officially announced Wednesday that he will be running for a second term.

“Why?" he says "Because we’re not done yet.”

According to John Baer of the Philadelphia Daily News, many Democrats may argue that Corbett is done. Corbett is taking a multi-city tour throughout Pennsylvania, which Baer says will make him more visible to the public.

No matter what happens, Baer says Corbett will make history with his re-election campaign.

“He is either going to be the first ever incumbent governor to lose in Pennsylvania or he is going to be the Lazarus of Pennsylvania politics.”

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:10 pm
Tue November 5, 2013

Stressing the Importance of Transportation Funding

The "City of Bridges" is having some problems finding funding to repair some its famous spans.
Credit Heather McClain / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh is sometimes known as the city of bridges, but without additional funding, bridges in disrepair are likely to be weight-restricted and mass-transit systems will have to scale back projects.

This month, legislative leaders are reportedly continuing discussions about transportation funding in the commonwealth and hope to map out a proposal that could be voted on by mid-November.

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:09 pm
Tue November 5, 2013

A Fresh Viewpoint on Pittsburgh Public Transit

Architect Intern Ben Samson designed a new and improved transit system for Pittsburgh for his graduate thesis.
Credit Ben Samson

Architect intern, Ben Samson, created a proposed transit map for Pittsburgh in his graduate thesis at Virginia Tech. The map has since gone viral and people are talking.

Samson believes his plan speaks to the core of what the city needs. He says he started working on this project because of his combined love for architecture and Pittsburgh. He wanted to take on the biggest architectural problem in town, the transit system.

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:08 pm
Tue November 5, 2013

TV Program Shows How to START UP a Company

Gary Bredow hosts the new PBS show START UP, featuring entrepreneurs from around the country.
Credit START UP USA

Many Americans dream of owning their own business, but too often statistics and a fearful economy stop their progress- not Gary Bredow.

He started his own production company after quitting his desk job and he now hosts the public television program, START UP, where he talks with American entrepreneurs.

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Achievement Gap
3:37 am
Mon November 4, 2013

Parents, Teachers, Administrators Address Achievement Gap in Pittsburgh

Audience member asks question of the panel at the community forum on the achievement gap
Tammy Terwelp 90.5 WESA

“Where’s the moral outrage over the lack of equity in education,” asked Duquesne University Dean of Education Olga Welch who attended a recent community forum on the achievement gap held by 90.5 WESA.

“Where is it,” replied forum panel member Jeremy Resnick, a founder of Propel Charter Schools, “it’s missing.”

Dozens of parents, teachers and administrators crowded the Community Broadcast Center recently for a public forum as part of WESA’s Life of Learning initiative.

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Essential Pittsburgh
3:39 pm
Fri November 1, 2013

PA’s Got a Bad Debt Grade

Credit images of money / flickr

According to a new report by the National Consumer Law Center, Pennsylvania gets a failing grade when it comes to protecting low-income families from debt collectors.

This is due, in part to outdated laws that have not been changed since the 19th century says Robert Hobbs, Deputy Director of the National Consumer Law Center who worked on the report.

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:44 pm
Fri November 1, 2013

Gas Prices At Lowest in Two Years

Credit Flickr

Gas prices in Pittsburgh are lower than they’ve been since 2010. According to Gregg Laskoski, Senior Petroleum Analyst at GasBuddy.com, prices could stay low throughout the holiday season.

Right now gas in Pennsylvania is roughly $3.40, down from $3.70 just a couple years ago, reports Laskoski. He attributes the price drop to the changing of the seasons.

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:36 pm
Fri November 1, 2013

Día de los Muertos: The Pittsburgh Way

Together, families do arts and crafts like decorating sugar skulls, to celebrate the Day of the Dead.
Credit Flickr

According to Tomas Tecuanhuehue, Head Chef at Casa Reyna Mexican Restaurant in the Strip District and native of the Cholula, Puebla, Mexico, El Día de los Muertos celebrations often span over five days.

Celebrations begin on the 28th of October and end on November 1st. Each day celebrates something different.

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:22 pm
Fri November 1, 2013

The Phoenix: A Rising Theatre in Pittsburgh

Blue/Orange will be the first play performed by the Phoenix Theatre Company.
Credit phoenixtheatrepgh.org

“One door closing, is another one opening up” says Andrew Paul, former artistic director and co-founder of Pittsburgh Irish & Classical Theatre.

This appears to be  a relevant motto for him and Pittsburgh theater veteran Mark Clayton Southers, founder of the 10-year-old Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre Company, and former arts director at the August Wilson Center. Southers and Paul had been let go from their former theatres earlier this year.

Now the two journeymen are collaborating to start a new theater company in Pittsburgh called, The Phoenix, designed to produce cutting edge plays and a focus on diverse casts. The company will be christened this evening with an opening night performance of the play Blue/Orange, which deals with issues related to race and the mental health care system.

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Essential Pittsburgh
7:05 pm
Thu October 31, 2013

Tom Savini Master of Special Effects Make-Up

Tom Savini sculpting "Fluffy," one of the grotesque monsters from the 1982 film Creepshow.
Credit Tom Savini / Savini.com

Celebrated as the "King of Splatter" and "Wizard of Gore," Tom Savini is a legendary special effects makeup artist who has worked on dozens of films from Dawn of the Dead to Friday the 13th.

Now he passes along his passion with his Special Effects Make-up Program at Douglas Education Center in Monessen, PA.

The Bloomfield native recounts his early horror movie influences, his relationship and work with George Romero, and how his experiences in Vietnam shaped his work as an artist.

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Essential Pittsburgh
6:46 pm
Thu October 31, 2013

A Sign of the Times: Exploring Indie Horror Films from the 1950's to 1980's

Beware of the Blob! Did you know The Blob has a campy theme song?
Credit Brian Albright / Regional Horror Films

Low-budget horror and sci-fi films terrify and entertain audiences despite their anti-Hollywood feel.

Author Brian Albright documented the best and worst of these flicks as well as their shooting locations in his book Regional Horror Films, 1958- 1990: A State-by-State Guide with Interviews. He says many of the films were crafted by producers without extensive horror movie experience.

“Their take is a lot more interesting with a lot more melodrama,” he explains, specifically in reference to The Blob.

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Essential Pittsburgh
6:34 pm
Thu October 31, 2013

Haunted Travel with the New Girl

One of Pittsburgh's best haunted tourist attractions
Credit Scott / Flickr

For year-round chills and thrills, travel contributor Elaine Labalme offers her top five list for best spooky vacation spots.

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Essential Pittsburgh
3:49 pm
Wed October 30, 2013

The Science of Fear & the 1938 War of the Worlds Broadcast

This sculpture by Michael Condron in Surrey, England was inspired by The War of the Worlds
Credit WarofDreams / Wikipedia

Seventy-five years ago today, a salivating, tentacled Martian slithered out of a deep hole in the ground of a New Jersey farm. 

Today, we know that this alien did not really incinerate the people of Grover’s Mill with its heat-rays. But after the 1938 War of the Worlds radio broadcast on CBS, many believed the country was under attack. The result was said to be mass hysteria.

The following day Orson Welles, the narrator and director of the broadcast, apologized to angry listeners, stating that it was not real, but a hoax. Some 12 million people listened in but to this day we are not sure how many actually believed it was true.

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:38 pm
Wed October 30, 2013

The Filmation Generation: Lou Scheimer's Legacy

The trademark Filmation logo and "ding!" sound effect were familiar openings to Saturday morning cartoons in the 1970s and 80s.
Credit filmation / wikipedia

Earlier this month, Pittsburgh native and renowned animator Lou Scheimer passed away. He was best known for creating Saturday morning cartoons such as Fat Albert, He-Man and The Archies throughout the 1970’s, 80’s and 90’s.

According to Joe Wos, executive director of the Toonseum, Scheimer’s shows were more than fun, animated cartoons.

“He brought a certain morality to cartoons and showed that they could go beyond violent action and silliness. Fat Albert addressed a lot of issues of inner city youth like smoking and stealing,” says Wos.

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:17 pm
Wed October 30, 2013

The Most Haunted Places in Pittsburgh

Scares among the stacks? Apparently the most haunted places in Pittsburgh are the libraries!
Credit Joseph A / Flickr

Each year as Halloween approaches, people flock to corn mazes, pumpkin patches and local ghost tours.

According to Samantha Bennett, storyteller and guide for Haunted Pittsburgh Tours, this city is extraordinarily haunted.

“I didn’t even know how haunted it was until I moved here." she says, "It is packed with ghosts because Pittsburgh’s history is filled with labor strife and industrial accidents which gives it a lot of spiritual activity."

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Essential Pittsburgh
3:36 pm
Tue October 29, 2013

What Would the Pennsylvania Dream Act Mean for PA?

Senator Lloyd Smucker is a leader in trying to pass the Pennsylvania Dream Act Bill.
Credit senatorsmucker.com

At best estimate, tens of thousands of children of undocumented immigrants live in our state today. The Pennsylvania Dream Act  would give children of undocumented immigrants who have attended high school in the state, an opportunity to apply for admission to state owned colleges and universities, or related universities, at in-state rates.

The Dream Act bill is led by Pennsylvania State Senator Lloyd Smucker, a Republican who says, “This is not a partisan issue this is about, what is the right thing to do for this group of kids.”

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Essential Pittsburgh
3:32 pm
Tue October 29, 2013

Gary Pomerantz Novel on Friendship Among the Super Steelers

Gary Pomerantz is the author of Their Life's Work, a book about the bonds of friendship of the Super Steelers.
Credit Gary Pomerantz / Twitter

Mean Joe Greene, Terry Bradshaw and Franco Harris played major roles in the 1970's Steelers dynasty. On assignment for the Washington Post, in 1981, Gary Pomerantz interviewed them to see if the dynasty was in decline.

Years later Pomerantz interviewed these players and others to see how football had formed their bonds of friendship on and off the field. What he discovered is chronicled in his new book, Their Life's Work: The Brotherhood of the 1970s Pittsburgh Steelers, Then and Now.

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Essential Pittsburgh
3:31 pm
Tue October 29, 2013

Pittsburgh International Airport Has Steady Growth Without Being a Hub

Credit flickr user PIT Airport

While we're no longer a US Airways hub, the Allegheny County Airport Authority continues to bring new development and flight routes to the Pittsburgh International Airport.

Through internal modifications and innovative marketing and promotional strategies, the Airport Authority has managed to maintain a positive impression and steady growth.

“Pittsburgh is always on the top of the list when airlines need to land or take off in an emergency…from hurricanes to blizzards,” says Rebecca Harris, Director of the Center for Women’s Entrepreneurship at Chatham University.

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Essential Pittsburgh
3:37 pm
Mon October 28, 2013

How Will History Look at Mayor Luke Ravenstahl?

Credit Deanna Garcia

As Pittsburghers gear up to elect a new mayor, a week from now, Luke Ravenstahl seems to be ramping up his public appearance schedule in an effort to clean up his image.

“It’s like he’s almost trying to spin the last seven years into something that reads better on his epitaph,” says Bob Oltmanns, President of OPR Group, LLC, an independent public relations consultancy.

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:33 pm
Mon October 28, 2013

A Passion For Brains

Credit Flickr

Since the classic George Romero zombie film “Night of the Living Dead” grew in popularity, Pittsburgh has been a zombie town.

The 1968 horror flick was filmed just 30 miles from the city in Butler County, something many Pittsburgh zombie fans take pride in.

For Timothy Verstynen, assistant professor in psychology at CMU and the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition, zombies are both a fascination and more interestingly, a teaching tool.

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:24 pm
Mon October 28, 2013

It's Not Over Until the Living Dead Sing

Michael Dailey and Shannon Kessler Dooley play the characters of Ben and Barbara in Night of the Living Dead the Opera.
Credit Microscopic Opera Company

Zombies are coming to the Kelly Strayhorn stage in an opera! Night of the Living Dead the opera is the brain child of director Stephen Catanzarite.

He began the process of making an opera out of the cult classic when Bill Hinzman, who played cemetery zombie number 1, asked him about putting together a musical version of the movie.

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Transportation
4:12 am
Mon October 28, 2013

In Transportation Funding Debate, Iconic Liberty Bridge a Political Football

The Liberty Bridge carries an estimated 54,000 (corrected from the 1,600 posted earlier) vehicles a day between downtown and the South Hills. And, of some 4,500 Pennsylvania bridges rated structurally deficient, it’s among the most visible.
Credit joseph a / Flickr

    

City of Bridges: The following report is the first is a three-part series examining the status of Pittsburgh bridges as the Pennsylvania Legislature considers funding for transportation infrastructure.

The Pittsburgh area is home to hundreds of bridges — by some counts, more than any city in the world.

It also has a higher percentage of structurally deficient bridges than any other U.S. city. If your goal is to highlight the problem, one in particular makes a pretty good backdrop.

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:39 pm
Fri October 25, 2013

The True Legacy of an Undying Hero

Luis Clemente
Credit Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Devoted father, philanthropist and baseball hero Roberto Clemente holds an impressive number of personal and professional accomplishments. In addition to being the first Latin American baseball player to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, he was the 1971 World Series MVP and a 12-time Gold Glove winner.

His family has written a new book, Clemente: The True Legacy of an Undying Hero, which reveals never-before-seen photographs and commemorates his legendary career through the voices of his children and wife.

His youngest son and co-author Luis Clemente says the book remembers his father for his loyalty, honesty and relentless courage.

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:21 pm
Fri October 25, 2013

Did Daniel Handler Kill Edward Gorey?

Daniel Handler aka Lemony Snicket is the author of the children's and teen's "Series of Unfortunate Events" books.
Credit Wikipedia

Master of wit and noir author Daniel Handler pitched the story idea for his now-classic “Series of Unfortunate Events” series in a bar, for a reason.

According to Handler, he figured that the idea of “terrible things happening to orphans over and over again," would not go over well with the editor, and he might as well be in an establishment that served alcoholic beverages after she said no.

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:11 pm
Fri October 25, 2013

Pittsburgh's Homestyle Cuisine are Coming into Season

Pittsburgh home-style favorites like Pierogis are starting to draw more attention as the weather gets colder.
Credit Liz Gosselin / Flickr

All over the country there has been a resurgence in down-home, comfort foods, especially heading into the winter months. In Pittsburgh home-style meals have never gone out of style and these days regional cuisines are being translated by and for Pittsburgh diners.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette restaurant critic Melissa McCart notes that Pittsburgh takes great pride in their home-style meals and picked up on another restaurant trend, single concept restaurants.

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