90.5 WESA's Essential Pittsburgh

Essential Pittsburgh airs weekdays from noon to 1 p.m. and is repeated at 8 p.m.
  • Hosted by Paul Guggenheimer

Essential Pittsburgh is a locally produced program from 90.5 WESA 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.  

  • Subscribe to the podcast in iTunes.
  • What stories are we missing? Send your thoughts to esspgh@wesa.fm 
F. Carter Smith / AP Images

A contemporary art series called "By Any Means," founded by Kilolo Luckett, is bringing nationally recognized artists and art leaders of color to Pittsburgh for a two-part panel discussion on the influence of black culture in contemporary art. Kilolo Luckett joins us in studio to preview the symposium.  She also shares her memories of seeing Prince in concert and remembers his legacy.

 

Getting Serious About Climate Change On Earth Day 2016

Apr 22, 2016
Wikipedia

Shorts on Christmas?  Flip flops for New Years?  Pittsburghers joke about a love of climate change this past winter, but scientists insist it is not something to take lightly.  According to NASA, 2015 was recorded as the hottest year ever, breaking the record set previously in 2014. 

Permit Updates Bring Continued Success To Pittsburgh Food Trucks

Apr 21, 2016
Franktuary / Twitter

Coast-to-coast, food trucks have increased in popularity. In a month’s time, the Food Truck-a-palooza will be take over the Waterfront. We looked at the current state of Pittsburgh's food truck scene with Tim Tobitsch, co-owner of the Franktuary truck. We’ll also hear from City Councilman Dan Gilman who said he recognizes the value food trucks bring to the city.  

Christophe Ena / AP Images

As U.S. Secretary of Agriculture for all eight years of the Obama administration, Tom Vilsack has closely monitored changes in farming and horticulture. During a stump for presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, Vilsack sits down with Essential Pittsburgh’s Paul Guggenheimer about the biggest challenges facing rural growing communities in the U.S. and here in Pennsylvania.

You, Too, Can Become An Urban Farmer

Apr 21, 2016
Garfield Farms / Twitter

It’s springtime in Pittsburgh! As the weather gets warmer, many are making the decision to start growing food and raising animals like goats and chickens in their own backyards. What does it take to be an urban farmer? We’ll ask Heather Manzo, a Penn State Extension Educator focusing on food systems.  She joins us to talk about the state of urban farming in Pittsburgh and programs developed to prepare potential growers.

Can Anyone 'Bring Back' Steel And Coal To The 'Burgh?

Apr 20, 2016
Mark Goebel / flickr

Could bringing steel and coal back to the Steel City solve economic and industrial woes?  GOP front-runner Donald Trump captured Pittsburgh’s attention when he announced his commitment to bringing back such manufacturing to the region during his recent campaign stop.  But is this legitimately possible?

J Burkhalter / flickr

Since the 2008 economic recession, the national unemployment rate has been closely monitored. In elections year, politicians use the statistics to promote their own economic agendas. Robert Morris University professor of economics Brian O’Roark says to fully understand what the rate means for the U.S. labor force, it’s important to examine all elements involved.

Strong Women Strong Girls / Twitter

Since 2006, Strong Women, Strong Girls has been providing mentors for female students in grades 3-5, teaching them self-confidence and empowering them to succeed. Essential Pittsburgh’s Katie Blackley spoke with Sabrina Saunders, SWSG’s Executive Director, about the group’s impact in the Pittsburgh area over the last decade.

Why Is Socialism A 'Dirty Word?'

Apr 19, 2016
Mary Altaffer / AP Images

The terms socialist and socialism have been mentioned with some regularity during the presidential campaign. But what exactly is socialism, who is a socialist and why does it seem to be spoken of pejoratively? We'll pose those questions to Robert Ross associate professor of global cultural studies  & Jehnie Reis  an assistant professor of history in the  Humanities and Human Sciences Department at Point Park University

U.S. Department of Education / flickr

A current funding lawsuit alleges that Pennsylvania has broken its constitutional obligation to provide a "thorough and efficient" education. We'll talk with Cheryl Kleiman, Staff Attorney for the Education Law Center, one of the attorneys in the case. And Kevin McCorry WHYY Senior Education Writer who is contributing to the NPR reporting project "School Money" exploring how states pay for their public schools and why many are failing to meet the needs of their most vulnerable students.          

Wikipedia

Pennsylvania is now officially the 24th state to legalize medical marijuana.  Following an arduous legislative battle, Governor Tom Wolf signed the Medical Marijuana Act Sunday, which will take effect in 30 days. 

Representative Dan Frankel of Allegheny County has been a longtime supporter of the measure.  He says an engaged governor and emotional advocacy from families of children struggling with chronic illnesses were both imperative in passing this legislation.

Remembering Jackie Robinson's Debut At Forbes Field

Apr 15, 2016
Wikipedia

Philadelphia is officially apologizing today to Jackie Robinson for the abuse he endured in the City of Brotherly Love when he and the Dodgers arrived to play the Phillies during Robinson's rookie year of 1947. In Philadelphia, Robinson was refused service by a local hotel and taunted by Phillies manager Ben Chapman, who, along with his players, hurled racial slurs at Robinson each time he came to bat. We'll talk with baseball author and historian Richard "Pete" Peterson about this and what happened when Robinson made his first big league appearance at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh.

 

Prevention Point Pittsburgh Celebrates 20 Years

Apr 15, 2016
Todd Huffman / flickr

Since they began in the Hill District in 1995, Prevention Point Pittsburgh has been providing needle exchange services to help stop the spread of injection-related diseases. Twenty years later, the organization has spread to three counties and has served more than 5,000 injection drug users. We’ll ask Overdose Prevention Project Coordinator Alice Bell how PPP has evolved over the years and how they measure success. We’ll also hear about the many services they provide to users. 

Future Plans For The Produce Terminal Approved

Apr 15, 2016
Wikipedia

The Pittsburgh Urban Redevelopment Authority board voted Thursday on a proposal to revitalize the Strip District produce terminal. We’ll learn about the results of the meeting and what this will mean for the future of the area from Kevin Acklin, URA board chairman and Mayor Peduto’s chief of staff. 

 

'Terrible Human Beings' Reflect On Donald Trump In Pittsburgh

Apr 14, 2016
Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump made his first campaign stops in Pittsburgh on Wednesday, beginning at Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall in Oakland to tape a one-hour Fox News special and ending with a rally at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. 90.5 WESA reporter Noah Brode and Multimedia Editor Megan Harris join us to talk about what Trump had to say and the reaction to his message.

U.S. State Department Brings Networking Event To Pittsburgh

Apr 14, 2016
Sean Ray / 90.5 WESA

There are many ways to serve your country and since 2010 over 200 employees from the Pittsburgh region have served the U.S. Department of State. Among them, former U. S. Ambassador to Ireland, and Pittsburgh Steelers chairman, Dan Rooney. We’ll discover what the U.S. Department of State is looking for in people to serve America’s interests at home and abroad with Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Human Resources Carol Perez.  

Multidisciplinary Perspectives On Prolonged Solitary Confinement

Apr 14, 2016
J Miller / flickr

  Prisoners who spend prolonged periods in solitary confinement are susceptible to a number of mental health disorders. They can include anxiety, depression and paranoia. Much like post traumatic stress disorder effects of these health concerns can continue for a long time. We’ll address the issue of prolonged solitary confinement with Professor Jules Lobel of the Danish Institute for Human Rights, Professor Michael Zigmond, University of Pitt. Medical School and Shandre Delaney, an activist whose son is in solitary confinement.

How Smiley Became The Face Of Eat'N Park

Apr 13, 2016
Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

When it came time to reshape the image of Eat’n Park the idea was in plain sight. A smiley cookie. Cliff Miller is the man responsible for turning the classic cookie into one of the region’s most iconic brands and joins us for an exit interview.

How Communities Around The World Are Combatting Climate Change

Apr 13, 2016
Wikipedia

The latest news on climate change is how it’s tilting the Earth’s axis. Is it too late for the world to reverse the effects of climate change? In his new documentary, How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can’t Change, director Josh Fox travels the world to discover how communities are combating the impacts of climate change.

U.S. Attorney's Office Western District of PA

Our guest, U.S. Attorney David Hickton, says he may prosecute members of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown under the federal Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), a law typically meant to indict those affiliated with major organized crime.

1916 Easter Rising's Continued Impact On Ireland And Abroad

Apr 12, 2016
Pittsburgh Remembers 1916 / Dublin City Library and Archive

100 years after the Irish rebel forces collided with the British Army in the bloody Easter Rising, the country continues to experience political tension. This weekend as part of the “Easter 1916: Pittsburgh Remembers” organization, author and historian Tim Pat Coogan will discuss his latest book on the Rising and talk about its lasting impact in Ireland and abroad.

Celebrating 60 Years Of The Ant Farm

Apr 12, 2016
UncleMilton.com

Currently on display at the Heinz History Center is an exhibit celebrating toys from the 50’s through the 80’s. One toy marking its 60th anniversary has roots here in Pittsburgh. Maze Toons cartoonist and pop-culture contributor Joe Wos brings us the history of the ant farm.

The Counterculture Approach Of Fred Rogers

Apr 12, 2016
Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood / PBS

Growing up in China, Junlei Li did not spend his childhood watching Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood.

In fact, his first experience with Mr. Rogers was as an adult living in the U.S. when he saw Eddie Murphy’s impression on Saturday Night Live.

Paul Hirschberger

Tonight the JFilm Festival is screening "Touchdown Israel," an exploration of the fast growing sport of American tackle football in Israel. The screening features a post film conversation with former Pittsburgh Steelers defensive lineman Chris Hoke. Hoke joins us to talk about his reaction to seeing American football catching on in Israel and whether it can truly become a global game.. Also, taking part in the conversation is Kathryn Spitz Cohan, Executive Director of JFilm.

Wilfredo Lee / AP Images

The Pennsylvania Primary is just over two weeks away and the Democratic presidential candidates have begun making appearances in Pittsburgh with the Republicans soon to follow. We'll talk with 90.5 WESA reporter Virginia Alvino and Multimedia Editor Megan Harris about the message candidates are trying to get across and how it's resonating with Steel city voters.

Daniel Lobo / flickr

Only 15 percent of Pennsylvania mothers breastfeed their babies up to six month without supplement, according to a recent CDC study. Despite the health benefits of breastfeeding, many mothers receive conflicting messages, especially after they have their first child. In her article “Barriers to Breastfeeding,” PublicSource reporter Andrea Frazier looks at why breastfeeding rates in the Pittsburgh region have been unusually low and what health professionals are doing to increase awareness. We’ll also hear from Ellen Rubin of La Leche League, a local organization helping women successfully breastfeed their children through education and outreach.

Michel Martin On Hosting NPR's 'Most Tinkered With' Program

Apr 8, 2016
NPR

Last month Weekend All Things Considered host Michel Martin was in Pittsburgh. She moderated NPR Presents Going There with Michel Martin: Reinventing the American City; an evening of conversation and performance at the August Wilson Center. She joins us for a conversation about the event, the current political climate and hosting NPR’s “most tinkered with” show.

Justin Tsucalas

They say grass is always greener on the other side, but where is it most creative? That is the question former NPR correspondent Eric Weiner tries to answer with his newest book, The Geography of Genius. Essential Pittsburgh’s Paul Guggenheimer spoke with Weiner about the book and the search for the world’s smartest places.

90.5 WESA

For nearly four decades, NPR host Diane Rehm has graced the airways, interviewing actors, poets and musicians alike.  Later this year, she will step away from the microphone and into the next chapter of her life, a chapter without her husband John “Scoop” Rehm, who passed away last year from Parkinson’s disease.

In her latest book, On My Own, Rehm recounts her husband’s passing, life on her own and the right to dying with dignity. 

Using 'Surgery Robots' To Perform Minimally Invasive Procedures

Apr 7, 2016
Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Since the introduction of robot-assisted surgery in the early 1980s, engineers and medical professionals have been working to perfect the technology and increase public awareness of the machine’s benefits. As part of its mall walkers program, the Westmoreland Mall invited health professionals from Excela Health to explain the purpose and workings of one of their most advanced robots, the DaVinci surgical system. Essential Pittsburgh’s Katie Blackley spoke with physicians James Longhi and Michael Szwerc about their experience with DaVinci and minimally invasive surgery.

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