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
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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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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