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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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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90.5 WESA Celebrates
3:30 am
Fri December 27, 2013

At the Allegheny County Jail, Caitlin Werth Provides HOPE

Caitlin Werth

Read and listen to a story about Caitlin Werth 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.

Caitlin is the chaplain and program director of the rehabilitative program HOPE at the Allegheny County Jail. The program helps inmates stay out of jail once they’ve done their time.

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Essential Pittsburgh
7:00 am
Thu December 26, 2013

Health & Innovation Highlights in 2013

Jan Scheuermann, who has quadriplegia, brings a chocolate bar to her mouth using a robot arm she is guiding with her thoughts.
Credit UPMC

From robotic arms to treating high blood pressure, in 2013 we delved into many stories dealing with health innovation.

We'll revisit our conversation with Dr. Michael Boninger and a quadriplegic woman named Jan Scheuermann. A robotic arm surgically attached to her brain allows her to perform basic tasks with focused thought.

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Arts & Culture
3:30 pm
Wed December 25, 2013

Pittsburgh Hosts First Fringe Festival for Far-Out Theater

The deadline to apply to be part of the first annual Pittsburgh Fringe Festival is rapidly approaching.

Founder and Executive Director Dan Stiker said Fringe celebrates theatre that is bizarre, challenging, and obscure.

“It started in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1947 and has since become an international movement of theatre that’s … not seen on the main stages that you’d typically see theatre on,” said Stiker.

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Essential Pittsburgh
5:23 pm
Mon December 23, 2013

Essential Pittsburgh & 90.5 WESA Holiday Programming

Credit Death By Bokeh / Flickr

For the rest of the holiday season, 90.5 WESA and Essential Pittsburgh bring you year-end special programming.

Tune in for the best of 2013 sports, music, public radio personalities and more from Essential Pittsburgh.

And 90.5 WESA is happy to offer you the best in public radio programming on Dec. 24th, 25th, 31st and New Year's Day.

Essential Pittsburgh
1:37 pm
Sun December 22, 2013

Essential Pittsburgh Staff Choice: Compelling Conversations of 2013

The folks behind Essential Pittsburgh share their choice conversations of 2013.
Credit Heather McClain / 90.5 WESA

Here at 90.5 WESA there are three people who work specifically on Essential Pittsburgh. In addition to host Paul Guggenheimer, there's producer Marcus Charleston and assistant producer Heather McClain.

For this special edition of the program, we offer excerpts from just a few of our choice interviews out of the hundreds we aired in 2013. 

There's a compelling conversation on the death penalty with Sister Helen Prejean, author of "Dead Man Walking," a discussion of what it's like aging out of the foster care system and a tale of two classic movie theaters.

Listen to some of our favorites, and let us know about some of your favorites from 2013 at esspgh@wesa.fm.

Essential Pittsburgh
2:01 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

Highlighting the Year's Top WESA Feature Reports

Credit Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA News

Looking back at some of Pittsburgh’s top news stories of 2013, 90.5 WESA Senior News Editor Mark Nootbaar focuses on features produced in the WESA newsroom.

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:01 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

WESA News Editors Look at Top News Stories of 2013

From the indictment of a police chief to a bridge covered in yarn. Looking back at the top local news stories of 2013.
Credit Heather McClain / 90.5 WESA

The Pittsburgh region was impacted by many major news stories during 2013. From a breakthrough in the stalemate over funding for transportation infrastructure, to a police scandal and the election of a new mayor.

WESA’s Senior News Editor Mark Nootbaar gives some perspective on the year’s top stories.

At the state level, privatization of government functions were a theme for the Corbett Administration.

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:00 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

10 Things Pittsburgh Can be Thankful For

Credit Kelsey Diercks / Flickr

The holiday season is often a time to reflect on why and for what we should be grateful. Pittsburgh Today has published its list of 10 Pittsburgh Reasons to be Thankful.

Doug Heuck is the editor of Pittsburgh Today and talks about some of the positive things Pittsburghers can be thankful for.

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