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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New to the Burgh
3:59 pm
Wed November 26, 2014

Local Holiday Markets for Black Friday and Beyond

Santa's House in Market Square Downtown, part of the People's Gas Holiday Market
Brook Ward flickr

The holidays are rapidly approaching, so of course you’ve definitely started your gift shopping, right?

Never you fear, as the shopping season kicks off on Black Friday we’ve put together a list of the best local pop-up markets as part of our New to the ‘Burgh series. From the artisanal to the seasonal, to the brand-spanking-new, here’s a rundown of the most interesting markets gracing the Steel City with their presence over the next few months.

I Made It! Market

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Essential Pittsburgh
1:50 pm
Wed November 26, 2014

What is the Future of the Shopping Mall?

Beyond internet shopping, there are many reasons why American shopping malls have a growing number of empty storefronts. Our economics contributor talks about the future of the mall.
Credit John Good / Flickr

We’re entering the holiday shopping season which is make or break time for many retailers. 

It wasn’t too long ago shopping malls were the center of shopping activity.

However, in recent years malls have been in decline. Here to look at the change in our shopping habits and address the future of malls is Brian O’Roark, a professor of economics at Robert Morris University.

Essential Pittsburgh
1:31 pm
Wed November 26, 2014

Career Advice for Older Workers

Credit Dennis Matheson / Flickr

According to Gallup, workers aged 65 and older have seen a 3 point increase in their participation in the job market.

Fueled by a desire to keep working and the necessity to buttress their nest eggs, Boomers and Silent Generation workers are reframing our thoughts about work in retirement. Here to discuss how older workers can thrive on the job is independent career consultant, Sasha King.

Essential Pittsburgh
1:16 pm
Wed November 26, 2014

What to do About the Winter Workout Rut

Fitness contributor, Joe Vennare identifies some interesting ways to stay fit in the winter. For Joe, the key is "moving more and eating well."
Credit yuki55 / flickr

We all know exercise is good for us.

Trouble is, most of the time, fitness isn’t fun.

Some actually call it work; and boring work at that. Same gym. Same exercise machines. Same workout routine.

There has to be a better way and we’ve asked contributor Joe Vennare, co-founder of the fitness site Fittsburgh to help us out of the exercise rut.

Essential Pittsburgh
9:58 am
Wed November 26, 2014

Wednesday Rundown: The Downfall and the Future of the Mall

Century III Mall on a Saturday. Malls all over the country are seeing a big decline in visitors. So what's the future of the American mall?
Credit Heather McClain / 90.5WESA

These topics air Wednesday November 26, 2014 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

Shopping Malls in Decline

We’re entering the holiday shopping season which is make or break time for many retailers. It wasn’t too long ago shopping malls were the center of shopping activity. However, in recent years malls have been in decline. Here to look at the change in our shopping habits and address the future of malls is Brian O’Roark, a professor of economics at Robert Morris University.

Career Advice for Older Workers

According to Gallup, workers aged 65 and older have seen a 3 point increase in their participation in the job market. Fueled by a desire to keep working and the necessity to buttress their nest eggs, Boomers and Silent Generation workers are reframing our thoughts about work in retirement. Here to discuss how older workers can thrive on the job is independent career consultant, Sasha King.

Winter Workouts

We all know exercise is good for us. Trouble is, most of the time, fitness isn’t fun. Some actually call it work; and boring work at that. Same gym. Same exercise machines. Same workout routine. There has to be a better way and we’ve asked contributor Joe Vennare, co-founder of the fitness site Fittsburgh to help us out of the exercise rut. 

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:45 pm
Tue November 25, 2014

The Media’s Role in Ferguson

Credit Peter Kirkeskov Rasmussen / Flickr

We close our discussion of the Ferguson decision with Jeff Ritter, Department Chair of Communications at La Roche College. He explains how social media has been an amplifier of positive and negative information throughout the proceedings.

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:29 pm
Tue November 25, 2014

The Ferguson Decision: An Update and Legal Analysis

Credit Light Brigading / Flickr

Demonstrations have been happening all over the country following a Missouri grand jury's announcement that it will not seek an indictment of police officer Darren Wilson in the August shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown.

Rachel Lippmann covered last night's announcement for St. Louis Public Radio and joins us for an update. David Harris, University of Pittsburgh School of Law Professor, explains why a grand jury was used and offers his thoughts on the prosecutor's approach.

Lippman says that Ferguson has been comparatively calm today after hours of demonstrations. She says that St. Louis police reported that demonstrations last night were the worst seen since the shooting occurred in August, with many shots fired and more than a dozen buildings burned to the ground.

Meanwhile, Harris explains that there were several different options for moving forward in the Ferguson case, but the prosecutor used the grand jury option in order to involve members of the community while simultaneously absolving himself of responsibility for making the decision.

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Essential Pittsburgh
6:47 pm
Mon November 24, 2014

Tuesday Rundown: Sharing Reactions to the Jury's Decision in the Michael Brown Case

Smoke fills the streets as some buildings are on fire after the announcement of the grand jury decision Monday, Nov. 24, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo. A grand jury has decided not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the death of Michael Brown, the unarmed, black 18-year-old whose fatal shooting sparked sometimes violent protests.
Credit AP Photo/Jeff Roberson

These topics air Tuesday November 25, 2014 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

Demonstrations have been happening all over the country following the a Missouri grand jury's announcement that they will not seek an indictment of police officer Darren Wilson in the August shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown.

We're devoting today's show to this topic and your reactions to the decision, with guest host Kevin Gavin. 

Rachel Lippmann covered last night's announcement for St. Louis Public Radio and joins us for an update.

Then we'll talk with David Harris, University of Pittsburgh School of Law Professor about why a grand jury was used, and his thoughts on the prosecutor's approach.

Tim Stevens, President of the Black Political Empowerment Project gives us his reaction as a community organizer, and some historical perspective on community and police demonstrations in Pittsburgh.

Julia Johnson, lead organizer and local social justice activist says last night's announcement "reflects a larger problem with systemic racism and sets an ugly precedent." She'll talk about the peaceful demonstration being planned for 2pm today at the federal building on Liberty Ave. and the local issues that connect to this case. 

We'll close with Jeff Ritter, Department Chair of Communications at La Roche College about how social media has been an amplifier of positive and negative information throughout the proceedings. 

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Essential Pittsburgh
3:19 pm
Mon November 24, 2014

Gun Shot Survivors Find Their Lives Forever Changed

Credit Ken / Flickr

More than one-hundred thousand people in America are shot each year. Seventy-five thousand survive.

Many of them still carry the bullet. How has it impacted their lives? We pose that question to reporter Chris Togneri who spent six months interviewing survivors, including Jeff Smith, a Pittsburgh Police detective who was shot in the line of duty.  They join guest host, Tribune Review reporter Andy Conte, in Studio A.

Essential Pittsburgh
3:05 pm
Mon November 24, 2014

The Hero's Journey Foundation Pushes Us to Live As Heroes

A mapped out timeline of the hero's journey, a concept from the teachings of professor Joseph Campbell. Inspired by his work, the Hero's Journey Foundation strives to help each individual live his or her life as a hero.
Credit Lost in Scotland / Flickr

Where do you go to become the hero of your life?

We pose that question to Pitt educated psychologist Michael Mervosh, co-founder of the Hero’s Journey Foundation. He joins us in Studio A to explain what it takes to awaken our unrealized potential.

Essential Pittsburgh
2:57 pm
Mon November 24, 2014

The Annual People's Gas Holiday Market Returns to Market Square

Credit John Altdorfer

Vendors from around the world have returned for the 3rd People's Gas Holiday Market in Market Square. 

What draws them to the Steel City? We'll pose that question to Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership Vice President of Marketing and Communications Leigh White and holiday market vendor, Louise Larkin Manager of the Kathe Wohlfahrt Shop.

Essential Pittsburgh
7:06 pm
Fri November 21, 2014

Monday Rundown: Living with a Bullet and Becoming Your Own Hero

Credit Richard Roberson / Flickr

These topics air Monday, November 24th, at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

Living with A Bullet

More than one-hundred thousand people in America are shot each year. Seventy-five thousand survive. Many of them still carry the bullet. How has it impacted their lives? We’ll pose that question to reporter Chris Togneri who spent six months interviewing survivors. He'll joins guest host, Tribune Review reporter Andy Conte in Studio A.

A Hero’s Journey

Where do you go to become the hero of your life? We’ll pose that question to Pitt educated psychologist Michael Mervosh, co-founder of the Hero’s Journey Foundation. He joins us in Studio A to explain what it takes to awaken our unrealized potential.

Bavaria Returns to the 'Burgh

Vendors from around the world have returned for the third Christmas Market in Market Square. What draws them to the Steel City? We'll pose that question to Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership Vice President of Marketing and Communications Leigh White.

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:30 pm
Fri November 21, 2014

Kicking off WESA's New Schedule with Hosts Chris Kimball and Ophira Eisenberg

Ophira Eisenberg, host of NPR's game show "Ask Me Another"
Credit Dan Dion

At 2 p.m. on Sunday, 90.5 WESA is trying out a new cooking show, "America's Test Kitchen" from PBS. However it isn't a radio version of the TV show. Host Chris Kimball joins us to explain what's different.

And we'll talk with Ophira Eisenberg, host of the game show "Ask Me Another" which debuts Sunday morning at 10 a.m. Ms. Eisenberg was selected as one of New York Magazine's "Top ten comics that funny people find funny."

Essential Pittsburgh
4:22 pm
Fri November 21, 2014

'Snap Judgment' Host & Rising Star Glynn Washington Creates "Storytelling with a Beat"

Credit Ben McLeod / Flickr

This Sunday night at 7 p.m., 90.5 WESA welcomes a new show to the weekend lineup, an hour of storytelling called "Snap Judgment."

The program is hosted by Glynn Washington, whom the Atlantic referred to in a 2013 article as the fastest rising public radio star in memory.

Essential Pittsburgh
4:16 pm
Fri November 21, 2014

The Adonai Center Educates Young Black Men on Community Issues

Kevin Carter, CEO of the Adonai Center for Black Males
Credit Marcus Charleston / 90.5 WESA

There’s always a great need for mentors. This is especially true of young African American men, and one of the reasons behind the founding of the Young Men’s Conference.

The event taking place at Point Park University, was founded by our guest Kevin Carter, chief executive officer of the Adonai Center for Black Males.

Essential Pittsburgh
6:43 pm
Thu November 20, 2014

Friday Rundown: The New Sounds of WESA

Credit Ben McLeod / Flickr

These topics air Friday November 21, 2014 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

4th Annual Young Men’s Conference

There’s always a great need for mentors. This is especially true of young African American men. This is one of the reasons behind the founding of the Young Men’s Conference. The event, taking place at Point Park University, was founded by our guest Kevin Carter, chief executive officer of the Adonai Center for Black Males.

Snap Judgment

This Sunday night at 7 p.m., 90.5 WESA welcomes a new show to the weekend lineup, an hour of storytelling called "Snap Judgment." The program is hosted by Glynn Washington whom the Atlantic referred to in a 2013 article as the fastest rising public radio star in memory.

America's Test Kitchen and Ask Me Another

At 2 p.m. on Sundays, 90.5 WESA is trying out a new cooking show, "America's Test Kitchen" from PBS. However it isn't a radio version of the TV show. Host Chris Kimball joins us to explain what's different. And we'll talk with Ophira Eisenberg, host of the game show "Ask Me Another" which debuts Sunday morning at 10 a.m. Ms. Eisenberg was selected as one of New York Magazine's "Top ten comics that funny people find funny." 

Read more
Essential Pittsburgh
2:27 pm
Thu November 20, 2014

Isabella Rossellini Performs "Green Porno" in Pittsburgh

Credit Warhol Museum

Iconic actress, performer and model Isabella Rossellini comes to Pittsburgh Friday for a special presentation of her one-woman show, "Green Porno."

Adapted from the Sundance Channel series of the same name, Rossellini has created a unique performance-lecture focusing on the mating rituals of a variety of species.

She joins us to discuss her interest in animals and biodiversity and how it led to this show at Carnegie Music Hall, presented in conjunction with The Warhol Museum and the Carnegie Museum of Art & Natural History.

Rossellini says that her interest in animals began when she was just a girl, and later in life -- after many years as a model and actress -- she went back to school to study animal behavior.

When she started writing “Green Porno,” Rossellini explains that she worked hard to take dry scientific information and inject humor, create bold costumes and stage visually compelling scenarios to get accurate scientific information across in an entertaining way.

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:15 pm
Thu November 20, 2014

Meet the Real Mark Schultz and Hear the Story Behind "Foxcatcher"

Credit Mark Schultz / http://www.markschultz.com/

Olympic gold medal wrestler Mark Schultz joins us to discuss his book "Foxcatcher: The True Story of my Brother's Murder, John du Pont's Madness, and the Quest for Olympic Gold."

In it, he tells the story of the 1996 murder of his brother, fellow Olympic gold medalist Dave Schultz, at the hands of John E. du Pont at the Foxcatcher Farms estate in Pennsylvania.

A movie based on the events, also titled "Foxcatcher" has been released this month. He joins us today to talk about his career in wrestling, his thoughts about the film and his reaction to his brother's murder.

Essential Pittsburgh
2:04 pm
Thu November 20, 2014

City Sidewalks Dressed in Holiday Style

The Philadelphia skyline
Credit Vlasta Juricek / Flickr

The holiday season is here. To help you get in the spirit, travel contributor Elaine Labalme suggests some destinations, within driving distance, where you can see city sidewalks dressed in holiday style.

Traveling in winter time requires some extra preparation when it comes to packing and planning for the weather, Labalme explains, but it’s well worth the effort.

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Essential Pittsburgh
12:18 am
Thu November 20, 2014

Thursday Rundown: Isabella Rossellini in Pittsburgh to Talk About the Birds and Bees

Credit Green Porno / Sundance TV

These topics air Thursday November 20, 2014 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

Foxcatcher

Olympic gold medal wrestler Mark Schultz joins us to discuss his book "Foxcatcher: The True Story of my Brother's Murder, John du Pont's Madness, and the Quest for Olympic Gold" which tells the story of the 1996 murder of his brother, fellow Olympic gold medalist Dave Schultz, at the hands of John E. du Pont at the Foxcatcher Farms estate in Pennsylvania. A movie based on the events, also titled "Foxcatcher" has been released this month.

Green Porno

Iconic actress, performer and model Isabella Rossellini is coming to Pittsburgh tomorrow for a special presentation of her one-woman show, "Green Porno." Adapted from the Sundance Channel series of the same name, Rossellini has created a unique performance-lecture focusing on the mating rituals of a variety of species. She joins us to discuss her interest in animals and biodiversity and how it led to this show at Carnegie Music Hall presented in conjunction with The Warhol and the Carnegie Museum of Art & Natural History.

City Sidewalks Dressed in Holiday Style

The holiday season is here. To help you get in the spirit, travel contributor Elaine Labalme suggests some destinations, within driving distance, where you can see city sidewalks dressed in holiday style.

Read more
Essential Pittsburgh
2:52 pm
Wed November 19, 2014

The Challenges of Aging for LGBTQIA Individuals

The complications of aging can be so costly and daunting that some LGBTQIA people go back in the closet.
Credit Patrick / Flickr

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 45.3 million Americans live in poverty. While poverty affects people from all walks of life, last week WESA’s Deanna Garcia reported on the prevalence of poverty among those who identify as LGBTQIA, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, or asexual. Poverty becomes an even greater problem as they grow older.

Kathi Boyle, coordinator of older adult services for the Persad Center, is part of a national group called SAGE, Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders. August “Buzz” Pusateri, a retired pharmacist who was diagnosed as HIV positive in the early 1980s. Buzz is chair of the Pitt Men’s Study community advisory board and lives in a retirement community in Oakland. They join us to talk about the challenges of aging and being out.

Essential Pittsburgh
2:42 pm
Wed November 19, 2014

New Musical 'Smart Blonde' Follows the Life of Judy Holliday

William Holden and Judy Holliday in the film "Born Yesterday," for which Holliday won an Academy Award. Although the film portrays her as a ditzy blonde, in real life she had a genius IQ.
Credit John Irving / Flickr

Actress Judy Holliday played the dumb blonde in many films but in real life she had a genius IQ and outsmarted Senators engaged in a communist witch hunt. We'll talk with playwright Willy Holtzman and artistic director Tracy Brigden about creating the musical "Smart Blonde" based on the life of Judy Holliday and the world premiere production at the City Theatre.

Essential Pittsburgh
10:13 pm
Tue November 18, 2014

Wednesday Rundown: The Costs of Aging While Being Out

The complications of aging can be so costly and daunting that some LGBTQIA people go back in the closet.
Credit Patrick / Flickr

These topics air Wednesday November 19, 2014 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

The Challenges of Being Out and Growing Older 

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 45.3 million Americans live in poverty. While poverty affects people from all walks of life, last week WESA’s Deanna Garcia reported on the prevalence of poverty among those who identify as LGBTQIA, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, or asexual. Poverty becomes an even greater problem as they grow older.

Kathi Boyle, coordinator of older adult services for the Persad Center, is part of a national group called SAGE, Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders. August “Buzz” Pusateri, a retired pharmacist who was diagnosed as HIV positive in the early 1980s. Buzz is chair of the Pitt Men’s Study community advisory board and lives in a retirement community in Oakland. They join us to talk about the challenges of aging and being out.

Smart Blonde

Actress Judy Holliday played the dumb blonde in many films but in real life she had a genius IQ and outsmarted Senators engaged in a communist witch hunt. We'll talk with playwright Willy Holtzman and artistic director Tracy Brigden about creating the musical "Smart Blonde" based on the life of Judy Holliday and the world premiere production at the City Theatre. 

Read more
Essential Pittsburgh
3:42 pm
Tue November 18, 2014

Global Entrepreneurship Week

Credit Rebecca Harris / Chatham Center for Women's Entrepreneurship

 

Entrepreneurship has become the new American dream. However, this business concept isn’t strictly American, as evidenced by this week being designated Global Entrepreneurship Week. Contributor Rebecca Harris joins us for a look at the worldwide growth in entrepreneurship.

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:29 pm
Tue November 18, 2014

American Attitudes on Juries and Jury Duty

Credit zzpza / Flickr

    

Jury duty is a civic duty many people hope they’ll never have to endure. While many are summoned, few serve.

Pitt law professor David Harris joins us for a look at juries -- from their history to how they’re selected. Some people cringe at the idea of jury duty while others feel honored to by the summon.

He talks about the attitudes associated with jury duty and what role they play in our justice system.

Essential Pittsburgh
5:27 pm
Mon November 17, 2014

Tuesday Rundown: The Significance of Jury Duty

Credit TfUnQ / Flickr

These topics air Tuesday November 18, 2014 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

Jury Duty

Jury duty is a civic duty many people hope they’ll never have to endure. While many are summoned, few serve. Pitt law professor David Harris joins us for a look at juries from their history to how they’re selected.

WESA Celebrates Dr. Jim Withers

For more than 20 years Dr. Jim Withers has been making his rounds in a most unusual way….he makes house calls to the city’s homeless population. He’s profiled in this week’s edition of WESA Celebrates.

Global Entrepreneurship Week

Entrepreneurship has become the new American dream. However, this business concept isn’t strictly American as evidenced by this week being designated Global Entrepreneurship Week. Contributor Rebecca Harris joins us for a look at the overall growth in entrepreneurship. 

Read more
Essential Pittsburgh
2:34 pm
Mon November 17, 2014

Artist Mozelle Thompson Honored with a Retrospective at Most Wanted Art

Resident artist J. Malls hangs the last album cover for the Mozelle Thompson show.
Credit Most Wanted Fine Art

Mozelle Thompson just might be the greatest Pittsburgh artist you’ve never heard of. 

The Garfield raised native designed album covers, clothing, window displays and more. A retrospective of his album covers is currently on display, through the end of the month, at Most Wanted Art.

Joining us to discuss the life and work of Mozelle Thompson is Most Wanted Art Resident Artist J. Malls, who curated the exhibit.

Essential Pittsburgh
2:27 pm
Mon November 17, 2014

Author Jonathan Auxier Offers His Reading Recommendations for Youngsters

Children's book author Jonathan Auxier with his fall reading picks.
Credit Marcus Charleston / 90.5 WESA

The last time author Jonathan Auxier stopped by the program, he had summer reading recommendations for children. He recently stopped by our studio and spoke with WESA’s man of letters, Morning Edition host, Josh Raulerson to offer up some book suggestions for young readers.

Jonathan Auxier Suggests 

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:15 pm
Mon November 17, 2014

Morning Edition Host and Pittsburgh Native David Greene Talks About His Time in Moscow

NPR Morning Edition host and Pittsburgh native David Greene.
Credit David Gilkey / NPR

Public radio listeners are familiar with David Greene as the host of Morning Edition. Prior to his role on the popular morning program, Greene covered politics and events for NPR. He spent two years as a foreign correspondent based in Moscow. The Pittsburgh native joins us for a conversation about his new book "Midnight in Siberia: A Train Journey into the Heart of Russia."

Essential Pittsburgh
2:05 am
Mon November 17, 2014

Monday Rundown: NPR Morning Edition's David Greene on Reporting From Russia

NPR Morning Edition host and Pittsburgh native David Greene
Credit David Gilkey / NPR

These topics air Monday November 17, 2014 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

David Greene

Public radio listeners are familiar with David Greene as the host of Morning Edition. Prior to his role on the popular morning program, Greene covered politics and events for NPR. He spent two years as a foreign correspondent based in Moscow. The Pittsburgh native joins us for a conversation about his new book "Midnight in Siberia: A Train Journey into the Heart of Russia."

Suggestions for Young Readers

The last time author Jonathan Auxier stopped by the program, he had summer reading recommendations for children. He recently stopped by our studio and spoke with WESA’s man of letters, Morning Edition host Josh Raulerson to offer up some book suggestions for young readers.

The Album Art of Mozelle Thompson

Mozelle Thompson just might be the greatest Pittsburgh artist you’ve never heard of. The Garfield raised native designed album covers, clothing , window displays and more. A retrospective of his album covers is currently on display, through the end of the month, at Most Wanted Art. Joining us to discuss the life and work of Mozelle Thompson is Most Wanted Art Resident Artist Jay Malls who curated the exhibit. 

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