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
4:10 pm
Thu October 24, 2013

Preventing Homicides Through Early Intervention

Credit Matt Niemi / Flickr

Each year, the city of Pittsburgh sees more than 100 homicides.

A new study by the University of Pittsburgh suggests that 30% of last year’s homicides could have been prevented by early intervention.

Richard Garland, M.S.W., visiting instructor in the Department of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences and Steven Albert, Ph.D., chairman of the department, co-authored the study and say most of the criminal activity was a result of peer violence, not gang-related violence.

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Essential Pittsburgh
3:54 pm
Thu October 24, 2013

Newcomers Invited to City-Wide Dine Around

Vibrant Pittsburgh, Pop City Media and the World Affairs Council welcome all newcomers to the second annual Dine Around event.
Credit Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA News

New to the ‘Burgh? Enjoy great food, socialize with other newcomers and form networks throughout Pittsburgh at one of the city-wide Dine Around events. Vibrant Pittsburgh, established to grow the diversity of the region, has been instrumental in organizing these dinners.

Vibrant Pittsburgh CEO Melanie Harrington and Community outreach and inclusion manager Adriana Dobrzycka use a three-pronged approach to bring in and keep diverse families, and say these dinners are an excellent step in helping these newcomers feel welcome.

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Essential Pittsburgh
3:41 pm
Thu October 24, 2013

New Girl Talks Resort Visits for the Holidays

Xel Ha Lagoon in Riviera Maya
Credit Grand Velas Riviera Maya / flickr

Get out of the cold weather, curl up by your computer, and book your holiday destination tickets today!

That’s the advice from travel contributor Elaine Labalme. She suggests booking early for warm-weather travels and offers five hot spots for the upcoming season.

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:25 pm
Wed October 23, 2013

Make Watt Choices for the Winter Months

As the days get shorter, and the sun sets earlier, we find ourselves using more electricity to light our houses. When lights are on 3 to 4 hours straight each day, electric bills can skyrocket.

A program called Watt Choices sponsored by Duquesne Light is designed to help customers reduce their energy consumption.

“We encourage our customers to take advantage of these energy efficiency programs and conservation strategies, thus reducing their electric bills,” says Dave Defide, manager of customer programs for Duquesne Light. 

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:20 pm
Wed October 23, 2013

Celebrating Hilarious Forgotten VHS Moments

Credit yeswekern / flickr

With the rise of DVDs and BluRay, the American population disposed of their useless VHS tapes en masse, and dropped them off at Salvation Army and Goodwill thrift stores everywhere.

To Found Footage Festival curators Nick Prueher and Joe Pickett, the tapes are a comedic gold mine. They are providing people everywhere with videos and laughs that can’t be found anywhere else.

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Health
1:58 pm
Wed October 23, 2013

National Prescription Drug Take Back Day

2.8 million pounds of materials have been collected at the past six Take Back Days
Credit Flickr

Be it antibiotics or pain medication, in the past, most people have disposed of their leftover pills in toilet, which can cause drinking water contamination and other environmental concerns.

Run by the Drug Enforcement Administration, National Prescription Take Back Day provides people with a safe, responsible and convenient way to turn in their drugs.

According to Michael Stepaniak, an environmental program coordinator for the PA Resources Council, they accept everything from prescription drugs to controlled substances. It is completely anonymous and no questions are asked.

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Essential Pittsburgh
3:46 pm
Tue October 22, 2013

Google Yourself: the Best Way to Manage Your Online Reputation

The website, Brandyourself.com, helps people reclaim their online image on search engines like Google.
Credit MoneyBlogNewz / Flickr

Imagine applying for internships only to hear nothing back, and the reason is based on your name’s Google search result.

This is what happened to the co-founder of Brandyourself.com, Pete Kistler who shares the same name as a bunch of criminals. When Pete researched ways to fix the problem he found companies that would help, but for a steep price.

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Essential Pittsburgh
3:41 pm
Tue October 22, 2013

A Community Forum on the Education Achievement Gap

On October 29 as part of our Life of Learning Initiative, 90.5 WESA will host a community forum featuring a panel of experts to address the problem of Pittsburgh’s educational achievement gap.

Kevin Gavin is the Executive Producer for Special News Projects and says much of the forum will be devoted to exploring contributing factors to the gap.

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:40 pm
Tue October 22, 2013

Temporary Art Installations Boost Economy

Rebecca Harris and her mother from St. Louis, Dr. Susan Uchitelle
Credit Rebecca Harris

Temporary art installations are all the rage—while they’re around. This past summer Pittsburgh has seen a host of exhibits including the “yarn-bombing” of the Andy Warhol Bridge and, of course, the Rubber Duck Project.

Business contributor Rebecca Harris looks at the economic impact of these visiting art projects.

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:16 pm
Mon October 21, 2013

County Officials Looking for Input on Downtown Transportation

A proposed plan to re-configure downtown bus routes has been placed on hold.
Credit Flickr user wildcellist

A proposed plan to re-configure downtown bus routes has been placed on hold. However, not without raising concerns among riders.

The plan, according to Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, is to reduce the overcrowding and gridlock that occurs on downtown Pittsburgh streets.

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:10 pm
Mon October 21, 2013

Internet Essentials Hopes to Help Close 'Digital Divide'

Students rely on internet access inside and outside of school for homework, research, and communication
Credit Flickr

Lack of Internet access can puts some kids at an academic disadvantage, says Pittsburgh Public Schools Superintendent Linda Lane.

Comcast and Pittsburgh Public Schools are teaming together to offer another year of “Internet Essentials,” an initiative that provides low-cost Internet service to low-income families.

“Parents may have iPads, they may have smartphones that have connectivity, they may have desktop computers that are hooked to the Internet, or laptops,” Lane said. “But then we also have children who may have little of that or none at all, so that their access to the Internet is only at school.”

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:30 pm
Fri October 18, 2013

Madame Presidenta: Why Not Us?

Dilma Rousseff, the first female president of Brazil.
Credit wikipedia

As the granddaughter of a woman who fought for women’s rights in the suffragist movement during the early 20th century, the work that Heather Arnet, CEO of the Women and Girls Foundation, has done is enough to make any grandmother proud.

Her newest project, a documentary titled Madame Presidentá: Why Not Us?, examines the global power of women and specifically, the work of the first female president of Brazil Dilma Rousseff.

The goal for the film, she says, was not to point out how America has not succeeded in putting a woman in the White House. Her aim, as her grandmother so pointedly says in the film, was to figure out “How the hell did they do that?” and look at the eighteen countries worldwide who do have women in power. 

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:20 pm
Fri October 18, 2013

Filming and Reporting in a War Zone

What does it take to film and report in a war zone?
Credit Justin Merriman / justinmerriman.blogspot.com/

Kalpana Biswas, filmmaker and Board Chairperson of Women in Film and Media Pittsburgh, decided to make a film about women and children in Afghanistan, but she had no experience when it came to filming in an area of conflict.

This led her to ask journalists in the Pittsburgh area for advice on how to prepare. One of the major questions that she asked was, “How do I go through filming without endangering myself?”

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Essential Pittsburgh
3:40 pm
Thu October 17, 2013

Possible Petrochemical Plant in Beaver County

Credit Reid Frazier / Allegheny Front

Deliberations are underway in Beaver County as officials discuss opening a petrochemical plant in the region. After a visit to the gulf coast and other shale-rich regions in the south, Allegheny Front reporter Reid Frazier returns to Pittsburgh to disclose his findings about ethane, crude oil and natural gas. In Beaver County, the debate hovers between job creation and environmental concerns.

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Essential Pittsburgh
3:37 pm
Thu October 17, 2013

Remaking Cities & the Future of Post-Industrial Pittsburgh

Carnegie Mellon and the University of Pittsburgh helped to diversify Pittsburgh's economy
Credit Alberto D'Ottavi / flickr

Density, diversity, and networking. Author and Brookings Institute Vice President Bruce Katz says thoughtful utilization of these terms have helped Pittsburgh thrive after the shock of an economic recession. He credits the city’s comeback to civic-minded citizens and policy makers who understood the power of a diverse economy, a dense business district and an effective team of networking leaders. 

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:36 pm
Thu October 17, 2013

Coast-to-Coast Wineries From the New Girl

Vineyards offer a variety of ways to enjoy their wines be it through private tastings, spectacular views or a tour through the wine-making process
Credit Udo Schröter / flickr

Autumnal colors and chilly weather prompt the perfect palate for wine tastings around the region. Travel contributor Elaine Lablame suggests some of her favorite wineries from the Lehigh to Napa Valleys. 

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Essential Pittsburgh
7:12 pm
Wed October 16, 2013

American Economic Growth and Unions

Looking at America’s economy today, Former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich has pointed to the decline of unions as a contributor to the stagnation of American wages.

When unions are strong, is the economy strong?

Stephen Herzenberg, Executive Director of the Keystone Research Center says job growth and America’s recovery from the great recession have been too slow. With the decline in unions over the past few decades, he says wages have been flattened and even declined since the recovery began.

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Essential Pittsburgh
5:15 pm
Wed October 16, 2013

Early Unions Collectively Bargained For Their Safety

This famous archive photo from 1942 depicts a huge vat of molten steel being poured into a mold at the Jones and Laughlin Steel Company, with a worker standing nearby.
Credit U.S. Office of War Information / wikipedia

America’s earliest unions of the 19th century were connected to craft and trade guilds. But with factory workers facing terrible working conditions such as 12+ hour work days, and 7 day work weeks in cramped, dangerous spaces, their only choice was to come together to collectively bargain for their safety.

When Crystal Eastman, Co-founder of the American Civil Liberties Union visited Pittsburgh in the 1920’s, she reported 526 industrial related deaths in Allegheny County within one year.

According to Dr. Charles McCollester, a former professor of Industrial and Labor Relations at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and author of The Point of Pittsburgh, about 3,000 mining industry workers died each year, between 1890 and 1920.

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:56 pm
Wed October 16, 2013

The Future State of the Unions

President Reagan with William French Smith making a statement to the press regarding the air traffic controllers strike (PATCO) from the Rose Garden.
Credit White House Photo, PD / wikipedia

In recent decades, America has seen a sharp decline in union membership. In the 1950’s, 35 percent of American workers were members of a union, today that number is down to 11 percent.

According to labor author, commentator and speaker Philip Dine, President Reagan’s crackdown on unions in the 1980’s demonstrated that the old rules of collective bargaining no longer applied.

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:35 pm
Tue October 15, 2013

Al Condeluci: A CLASS Act

Al Condeluci is being honored this year by the UCP for his work in CLASS.
Credit Community Living and Support Services

For many people, college is their first taste of independent living.

For more than 40 years, Al Condeluci, CEO and executive director of CLASS, the organization once known as United Cerebral Palsy (UCP), has made it his mission, to see that people with disabilities enjoy the freedom of living on their own.

This year he's being honored by the UCP as a community hero for all of his work.

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:31 pm
Tue October 15, 2013

Improvement Plan for Pittsburgh's Hilltop Neighborhoods

One of the major goals of the new plan is to increase awareness of the Hilltop neighborhoods amenities.
Credit wyliepoon / flickr

Cities are comprised of neighborhoods varying in their socio-economic status, especially Pittsburgh. Each year a city magazine is sure to devote an issue to ranking neighborhoods. However, neighborhoods, like cities, can see their fortunes rise and fall. Case in point, the South Hills neighborhoods of Allentown and Beltzhoover.

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:21 pm
Tue October 15, 2013

Hauntrepreneurs Thrive in Halloween Season

Rebecca Harris and the crew of Essential Pittsburgh in Studio A
Credit Heather McClain / 90.5 WESA

Fear and fright have become big business.  Young “hauntreprenuers” thrive during the Halloween season by enticing thrill-seekers to commercial Haunted Houses and families to Halloween attractions

Business contributor Rebecca Harris says the Halloween attraction industry appeals to 18-34 year olds looking for a fright and the big corporation looking to grab the young market.

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Essential Pittsburgh
3:45 pm
Mon October 14, 2013

Transitioning to a New Generation of Playgrounds

Playgrounds made or reformed after March 15 of this past year are required to make changes to be more accessible for children with disabilities.
Credit Alexandra Kanik / PublicSource

Narrow slides and flimsy swings are what most people think of when they hear the word playground. But based on a 2010 court ruling, those trademarks of the past are changing. The US Department of Justice made access to play areas a civil right under the Americans with Disabilities Act and new standards took effect last year.

Public Source Reporter Halle Stockton reports that the playgrounds that are required to make these changes are new or majorly reformed playgrounds that began modifications after March 15.

But many playgrounds have already altered their equipment to fit the needs of all children. Some of these changes include a smooth ground surface that's usually rubberized to prevent injuries. You'll also find play structures with ramps along with wide pathways so that children on wheelchairs or a cane can maneuver throughout. The swings also have “rollercoaster seats” to provide back support for children with low muscle tone.

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Essential Pittsburgh
3:23 pm
Mon October 14, 2013

The U.S. Supreme Court's New Term

University of Pittsburgh Law Professor David Harris believes that the limit for campaign financing will eventually be eliminated.
Credit University of Pittsburgh Law School

Although this new Supreme Court session may not feature blockbuster cases such as DOMA, Proposition 8 and "Obama Care," the court will be revisiting important cases dealing with campaign finance, abortion and affirmative action.

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Essential Pittsburgh
10:16 pm
Thu October 10, 2013

The Voices of Public Radio: Conversations With Your Favorite Hosts & Contributors

Credit OCV / Flickr

Ask any public radio listener and chances are they have a favorite program they listen to on a daily or weekly basis.

Essential Pittsburgh has been fortunate to talk with hosts of, and contributors to, some of your favorite public radio programs.

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