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
4:52 pm
Tue January 7, 2014

Pittsburgh's New City Council President Focused on Open Communication

New Pittsburgh City Council President Bruce Kraus
Credit Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Bruce Kraus was sworn in as the new President of the Pittsburgh City Council on Monday. Although Kraus has often been allied with former council member and now Mayor Bill Peduto, he vows to be an independent voice in city government.

Moving forward, he says he's especially interested in bringing more collegiality to a somewhat factioned city council.

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:50 pm
Tue January 7, 2014

Tom Wolf Hopes to Bring Diverse Experiences to Governor's Office

PA Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Tom Wolf speaks with Essential Pittsburgh producer Marcus Charleston
Credit Mark Nootbaar/90.5 WESA

Nicknamed “the compassionate businessman,” Tom Wolf is one of eight people looking to become the Democratic gubernatorial nominee.

He plans to spend $10 million dollars of his own money to achieve that goal. While he has never held elected office, the York County businessman is the former secretary of revenue under Governor Ed Rendell. He talks about why his diversity of experiences make him suited to be the next Governor.

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:47 pm
Tue January 7, 2014

The Business of Outdoor Winter Recreation

Business contributor Rebecca Harris and Host Paul Guggenheimer brave the cold outside our studios.
Credit Marcus Charleston

Now that the holidays are over there are plenty of long gray days ahead.

Rather than give in to cabin fever, strap on some skis or snowshoes, get outdoors and enjoy the white stuff!

Business contributor Rebecca Harris has been looking at the business of winter recreation and shares some interesting info about the profitability of the ski industry, how resorts are focusing on sustainability, and some local ideas for a snow day.

City in Transition
5:12 pm
Mon January 6, 2014

Bill Peduto Sworn in as Pittsburgh’s Newest Mayor

Bill Peduto takes the oath of office at Heinz Hall. Judge Justin Johnson administered the oath, the Bible was held by Max and Sue Sciullo, the parents of a slain Pittsburgh police officer.
Credit Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

It’s official – Pittsburgh has a new mayor.

Bill Peduto took the oath of office during a ceremony at Heinz Hall Monday. The city’s 60th mayor vowed to help build the next Pittsburgh.

“Pittsburgh has grown and changed and grown again from the day a small campfire burned at the confluence of our three rivers and heralded the new boundaries of the American nation,” Peduto said in his inaugural speech. “But we did not only inherit this city from our forbearers, we are also borrowing it from our children.”

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:25 pm
Mon January 6, 2014

Experimenting With New Ways To Do College

Credit The Saxifrage School

    

The Saxifrage School describes itself as a higher education laboratory, experimenting with new ways to do college.

By operating through underutilized spaces in the Pittsburgh community as a sort of "nomadic campus," they hope to model ways to lower tuition costs and increase higher education transparency.

The school recently completed its first year of courses and Founder and Director, Timothy Freeman Cook, shares what they've learned about the challenges and benefits to this approach.

He says they've offered classes in carpentry, organic agriculture, web development and graphic design- and each class holds unique challenges, but parallels the school’s goal. 

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:17 pm
Mon January 6, 2014

Living in the Shadows: Pittsburgh Refugees & Mental Health

Credit Icars / flickr

Refugees to the region face a number of challenges, unfamiliarity with a different language is even more complicated when trying to obtain health care.

90.5 WESA Behavioral Health Reporter Erika Beras is embarking on a month-long series on the challenges refugees face in the Pittsburgh area to obtain health care. She says her interest in the topic was sparked by the high population of refugees in Pittsburgh. 

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:06 pm
Mon January 6, 2014

"Paterno Faction" Frustrates Former Penn State Coach O'Brien

Bill O'Brien has left his coaching position at Penn State and will move to Houston to coach the Texans.
Credit Penn State News / flickr

When Bill O’Brien became head coach of the scandal plagued Nittany Lions football team he knew there would be challenges.

Now, as he leaves Penn State to become head coach of the Houston Texans, those challenges have come to light.

Sports guy Bob Dvorchak says  the “Paterno faction,” that has frustrated O’Brien throughout his time coaching

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City Government
1:59 pm
Mon January 6, 2014

Pittsburgh's 138th City Council Sworn In

Pittsburgh City Council chambers overflowed with elected officials, city employees, community leaders, friends and family as the newly elected and re-elected members of the 138th City Council were sworn in.

Natalia Rudiak, Theresa Kail-Smith and Daniel Lavelle all won re-election in their districts in November, while Bill Peduto’s former chief of staff, Dan Gilman, took over the new Mayor’s seat on Council.

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Environment & Energy
1:56 pm
Mon January 6, 2014

Passion for Pawpaws with Pittsburgh's Pawpaw Ambassador

Pawpaws have the flavor and texture of a tropical fruit, but they're native to northern regions of the US.
Credit The Pawpaw Book/Andy Moore / Flickr

Andy Moore is a writer who lives on the North Side of Pittsburgh. In 2013, The Allegheny Front interviewed him about his proclivity for the pawpaw, a fruit that's native to Pennsylvania and many other regions of the United States. The Allegheny Front recently listed the story as one of their favorites of 2013, and it's one of mine too.

AF Reporter Hal B. Klein says:

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Essential Pittsburgh
1:17 pm
Mon January 6, 2014

Tuesday Rundown: A New Path for City Council & A Potential Path for the State

Pittsburgh's newly elected City Council President ,Bruce Kraus addressing the crowd in council chambers Monday.
Credit Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

These topics air Tuesday January 7, 2014 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. To leave a question or comment before or after the show dial 412-256-8783. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002. More Essential Pittsburgh segments can be heard here.

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Behavioral Health
3:30 am
Mon January 6, 2014

For Refugees From War-Torn Nations, Mental Health Care Is Often Missing

When Claudine Mukankindi arrived in Pittsburgh in 2001, it was after surviving the Rwandan genocide, enduring countless acts of violence and loss of family. In her time in the U.S., she was diagnosed and treated for a slew of mental illnesses, among them post-traumatic stress disorder. Her last years were marked by hospital stays and court visits. She died of a heart attack in 2012.
Credit Courtesy photo

On a Sunday morning last December, nearly a hundred people gathered in a West End church to dedicate their prayers to Claudine Mukankindi, a young woman who came to the United States as a Congolese refugee.

In December 2012, a year earlier, she died of a heart attack at age 36.

In a pew near the front was Adeline Kihonia. Dancing and chanting in worship, she had tears in her eyes.

"She was like a part of my family," Kihonia said. "When she passed away, it was like I lost a sister, a good sister."

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City in Transition
3:30 am
Mon January 6, 2014

Peduto to be Inaugurated as Mayor of Pittsburgh

Bill Peduto is congratulated by supporters during his election night victory. He's holding a broom because he wants to make a "clean sweep" of city government.
Credit Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Bill Peduto takes the oath of office Monday afternoon in Heinz Hall as Pittsburgh's 60th mayor. The ceremony had been planned for outside City Hall but was moved because of concern over frigid temperatures. 

The inauguration is a ticketed event and only a very limited number of seats will be available to the general public. 

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Essential Pittsburgh
1:18 pm
Sun January 5, 2014

Monday Rundown: A Community Approach to Higher Ed & Pittsburgh Refugee Healthcare

The Saxifrage School utilizes the whole city as a campus such as Garfield Community Farms and this living room/classroom at the PULSE house on the East End.
Credit saxifrage / twitter

These topics air Monday January 6, 2014 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. To leave a question or comment before or after the show dial 412-256-8783. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002. More Essential Pittsburgh segments can be heard here.

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Essential Pittsburgh
7:00 am
Fri January 3, 2014

Rebroadcast: Addressing the Achievement Gap in Pittsburgh

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

This program is a previously broadcast show, listen to it here.

“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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City in Transition
3:30 am
Fri January 3, 2014

Once a Promising Political Novice, Mayor Ravenstahl Leaves Office ... And Politics?

Outgoing Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl announced on March 1, 2013 that he would not seek reelection, after a tenure marked with a mix of triumphs and stumbles.
Credit Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

When Mayor Luke Ravenstahl was quietly sworn into office following the 2006 death of Mayor Bob O’Connor, the 26-year-old City Council president became the youngest mayor of a major U.S. city. 

Headlines around the time included the following: “Hope surrounds new Pittsburgh mayor, 26” and he made several national television appearances, including a spot on "The Late Show with David Letterman." But as he heads out of office, the last months of his tenure included headlines such as “Luke Ravenstahl Maintains Low Profile Amid Federal Probe.”

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90.5 WESA Celebrates
11:49 pm
Thu January 2, 2014

How Vanessa German Is Creating a Safe Haven Through Art

Credit Vanessa German / Facebook.com

Read and watch a video story about Vanessa German as part of a new series honoring the individuals who make a difference in people’s lives: 90.5 WESA Celebrates People Making a Difference.

Vanessa is an artist and performer, determined to make her neighborhood of Homewood a safer place, especially for the children.

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Essential Pittsburgh
7:00 am
Thu January 2, 2014

Revealing Interviews With Our Favorite Authors

Author Amy Tan is just one of the award-winning authors we've featured on the show.
Credit Ryan Loew / 90.5WESA

In the nearly two years that we've been on the air, we've interviewed a variety of authors. We revisit conversations with three of those authors. 

The story of Maya Angelou's extraordinary life has been told in her bestselling biographies. Last May she shared with us the story of her relationship with her Mother, which is chronicled in the book Mom and Me and Mom.

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Technology
3:30 am
Wed January 1, 2014

Fill 'Er Up: 100 Years of Pittsburgh Gas Pumps

Imagine a world where there are no drive-in gas stations. To fill up your car, you had to drive to the hardware store or pharmacy to have someone scoop gasoline into your tank. That world existed only 100 years ago, until the Gulf Refining Company built the nation’s first modern gas station in Pittsburgh.

Dec. 1 marked the 100th anniversary of the station’s opening.

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:42 pm
Tue December 31, 2013

Looking for a New Year's Resolution? How About Social Change

Credit creepyed / flickr

Resolution season was never a big deal in my house growing up. When someone in my family attempted a resolution, it was always health related. And the endeavor was usually abandoned by Valentine's Day, only to be rekindled at Lent, then ditched again.

The goals that actually stuck were the ones inspired by lessons learned randomly throughout the year, usually with an emphasis on social good. For example, after returning from environmental summer camp one year, I convinced my family to always snip the plastic rings that hold 6-packs of soda. The uncut rings are extremely harmful to aquatic life.

In the process of exploring 2014 resolution ideas, I came across an inspiring list for teens and parents from The Road Less Traveled - ideas I could have used in the 1990s and great ones for today.

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Essential Pittsburgh
7:00 am
Tue December 31, 2013

Musical Guests and Interviews to Ring in the New Year

Credit Heath Alseike / Flickr

Since the debut of our show in 2012, some of England's best rock singer/songwriters have performed in Pittsburgh. We invited a few of them to join us for conversations on the show.

On today's program you'll hear our interview with two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, Graham Nash, as well as Billy Bragg. 

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First Night Pittsburgh
3:46 pm
Mon December 30, 2013

Ice Sculptors Carve 300-Block Ice Labyrinth for First Night Pittsburgh

Ice Creations' Rich Bubin works on 90,000-pound ice labyrinth.
Credit Jessica Nath / 90.5 WESA

The Cultural Trust is inviting Pittsburghers to spend the last few hours of 2013 getting lost in a 90,000-pound ice labyrinth.

“In honor of the 20th anniversary, we are building this fantastic ice labyrinth,” Darcy Kucenic, Director of First Night Pittsburgh, said.  “It is a 30 by 40 maze made of blocks of ice, it is five feet tall and the walls will eventually be lit up with LED lights.”

Rich Bubin of Ice Creations in Churchill and his 12-person team are carving and assembling the labyrinth’s 300 blocks.

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Environment
11:41 am
Mon December 30, 2013

How to Recycle Your Christmas Tree in the Pittsburgh Region

If the needles are falling and you're getting ready to take down the Christmas tree, city and county officials are hoping you'll recycle it and not just leave it at your curbside.

The city of Pittsburgh's Recycling Division and Allegheny County's Department of Parks are again offering  tree recycling programs this holiday season. The trees will be mulched and the county will use the mulch in its nine regional parks.

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Speaking Volumes
11:03 am
Mon December 30, 2013

Closing the Book on Speaking Volumes (For Now)

Josh Raulerson

For more than a year and a half, the Speaking Volumes project has brought 90.5 WESA listeners weekly conversations about books and reading with Pittsburghers from all walks of life.

As Speaking Volumes moves from a weekly series to a more occasional segment, host and producer Josh Raulerson shares his recent reads with 90.5 WESA's Larkin Page Jacobs.

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Essential Pittsburgh
7:00 am
Mon December 30, 2013

Stories of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Past & Present

Stories that show why the Steelers are worth cheering for.
Credit Drew Allen / flickr

We bring you excerpts of conversations with Pittsburgh Steelers, past and present.

Author Gary Pomerantz's book about the Steelers, Their Life's Work addresses what it means to be teammates in the truest sense.

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Essential Pittsburgh
7:00 am
Fri December 27, 2013

Public Radio Hosts & Contributors in 2013

Public Radio Host, Diane Rehm in studio at the WESA Community Broadcast Center
Credit Ryan Loew / 90.5 WESA

If you listen to 90.5 WESA on a regular basis, you know that we carry a number of your favorite NPR programs.

For today's show we've assembled interviews with a few of the hosts/contributors featured on those programs.

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