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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Essential Pittsburgh
2:19 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

Breaking Down Global and Local Barriers Through City of Asylum

The colorful buildings of the City of Asylum on the North Side, a sanctuary for writers in exile.
Credit Joseph A / Flickr

City of Asylum Pittsburgh was launched in 2004 and has since been a hub of activity on Pittsburgh’s North Side.

Created as a sanctuary for writers in exile, City of Asylum is expanding into a vehicle for community development on the city’s North Side.

Henry Reese, founder of City of Asylum, says the organization's role in the community is constantly evolving.

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:13 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

Vermont B & B's Offer Charming Stays

Credit Paul Kentish / flickr

From historic Bennington, to Burlington on the shores of Lake Champlain there’s a lot to see and do in Vermont.

One of the best ways to enjoy the Green Mountain State is a cozy stay at a bed and breakfast. Travel contributor Elaine Labalme suggests some of her favorites.

“If anyone has mastered the art of B & B, it’s Vermonters,” says Labalme.

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Essential Pittsburgh
1:19 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

Friday Rundown: Looking Back at Pittsburgh News of 2013 & Being Thankful in 2014

From the Bucs to a big 'ol duck, looking back at what made news in 2013.
Credit Kelsey Diercks / Flickr

These topics air Friday December 20, 2013 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA, with special guest host Kevin Gavin.

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
5:48 pm
Wed December 18, 2013

Behind the Stage Door with Rich Engler

Rich Engler and the band Kiss
Credit Rich Engler / RichEngler.com

Rich Engler is a nationally recognized concert promoter from Pittsburgh. The former co-owner of  DiCesare-Engler Productions has written a new book called Behind the Stage Door, a retrospective of his 40 years as one of the top concert promoters in the region.

Engler shares some entertaining, personal stories of what went on backstage at many of the largest concerts to come through Pittsburgh, and how he went from rock musician to rock promoter.

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Essential Pittsburgh
5:18 pm
Wed December 18, 2013

Lincoln Highway: The Nation's First Coast to Coast Highway Turns 100

One of the original concrete bridges on the "Lincoln Highway" in Tama, IA
Credit Carl Wycoff / Flickr

Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States is recognized in currency with statues, a monument in DC and many other areas along the way.

One commemoration includes the Lincoln Highway. Brian Butko is director of publications for the Heinz History Center and an expert on the highway's history, which celebrates its centennial this year.

Butko's knowledge of the Lincoln Highway begins even before the highway was started.

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Government & Politics
4:10 pm
Wed December 18, 2013

One Year After Sandyhook, Mental Health Overhaul Offered

US Congressman Tim Murphy
Credit Tim Murphy / murphy.house.gov

The shootings and Sandyhook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. focused the nation’s attention on mental health care but now that the tragedy is a year behind us, debate on the subject has waned.

However, U.S. Congressman Tim Murphy (PA-18) is hoping to throw it back into the spotlight with a bill he is calling the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act.

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Essential Pittsburgh
1:49 pm
Wed December 18, 2013

George Washington's Near Death Experiences in Western PA

Historic markers along Washington's route through the Western Pennsylvania countryside. They mark a driving route that follows young George Washington's first military and diplomatic venture in the Fall and Winter 1753 - 1754.
Heather McClain 90.5 WESA

260 years ago this month, a 21-year old major in the Virginia militia named George Washington had two brushes with death in the Pittsburgh area, which could have dramatically altered the course of American history. Decades before he became the father of our county, Washington was on a dangerous diplomatic mission in the Western Pennsylvania wilderness.

We explored this little known chapter of Washington's life with historical re-enactor Daniel Nehrer, and retired Butler County Common Pleas Court Judge Martin J. O'Brien at the Harmony Museum, not far from where Washington was on December 27, 1753, at the boundary of French and English territory.

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Essential Pittsburgh
1:20 pm
Wed December 18, 2013

Thursday Rundown: The App of the Year and Growth in the City of Asylum

The colorful buildings of the City of Asylum on the North Side.
Credit Joseph A / Flickr

These topics air Thursday December 19, 2013 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
5:35 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

“Made in PA” Label Would Show That Local Manufacturing Isn't Dead

Crayola Crayons, made in Easton, PA are just one of the products that would receive a "Made in PA" label.
Credit Dyanna Hyde / Flickr

A bipartisan group of state lawmakers has introduced a bill to create a "Made in PA" program, complete with a logo and website to encourage consumers to purchase products made close to home.

State Rep. Eli Evankovich and David Taylor, executive director of the Pennsylvania Manufacturers' Association, say consumers already look for labels such as "Made in the USA," while shopping.

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:51 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

Kevin Sousa’s New Restaurant Could be a Community-Driver for Braddock

Kevin Sousa, award-winning chef and owner of Salt of the Earth restaurant in East Liberty, has an ambitious plan to bring a community-driven restaurant to Braddock, PA.

And he’s appealing to the Pittsburgh community for help.

Sousa is working with community groups such as the Braddock Youth Project and Grow Pittsburgh to create a community-based, world class restaurant, which would include housing.

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Economy & Business
4:09 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

Namaste and the Business of Yoga in Pittsburgh

An outdoor yoga class in Grandview Park
Credit BYS yoga studio / Facebook

From the downward sun salutation, to the archer, yoga enthusiasts are striking poses across the country. And yoga studios are springing up everywhere.

According to business contributor Rebecca Harris, the classic techniques of yoga date back more than 5 thousand years, and come from a desire to develop greater personal freedom, health, and self understanding.

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Essential Pittsburgh
1:20 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

Wednesday Rundown: Helping Families in Crisis, Presidents in PA, and Rich Engler

US Congressman Tim Murphy talks about legislation designed to overhaul the nation's mental-health system.
Credit Tim Murphy / murphy.house.gov

These topics air Wednesday December 18, 2013 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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Arts & Culture
10:01 am
Tue December 17, 2013

That Weird Fridge in Your Garage May Be Destined for Carnegie Museum of Art

1960 Westinghouse Center Drawer Refrigerator Print Ad
Credit Amazon

Last week the Carnegie Museum of Art posted a tweet with an old advertisement for a 1960 Westinghouse Center Drawer Refrigerator asking,

“Have you seen one of these in your garage or in your neighbor’s basement?”

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:51 pm
Mon December 16, 2013

What's Good About Going Gluten Free?

Gluten-free diets are an increasing food trend. But is the fad healthy for everyone?
Credit cookiespi / flickr

Grocer’s shelves are filling up with a number of gluten free products.

This is great news for people switching to gluten-free diets based on their gluten intolerance or celiac disease. But as the trend gains popularity, some worry that a gluten-free diet may be a fad and not healthy for everyone.

Dr. Kofi Clarke, director of the Celiac Center at Allegheny General Hospital and Amy Macklin, registered dietitian and owner of Gluten Free Roots say the popularity of gluten-free products is positive in that it increases awareness of celiac disease, gluten intolerance and gluten allergies. 

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:40 pm
Mon December 16, 2013

Best Pittsburgh Sports Moments of 2013

Credit Flickr user jwalter522

From the Pirates' first winning season in two decades to the decline of the Steelers, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette sportswriter emeritus Bob Dvorchak looks at the top sports stories in the region for 2013.

Included on the list, the possibility of three state high school football championships for area teams and the first ever Frozen Four College Hockey Tournament in Pittsburgh.

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:37 pm
Mon December 16, 2013

Study: Pittsburgh Steelers Fans Take a Loss the Hardest

Steelers fans rank ninth in an Emory University study on the Best Fans in the NFL.
Credit Drew Allen / flickr

According to a recent study done by Emory University, Steelers fans take losses harder than any other fan base in the NFL.

Manish Tripathi, assistant professor of Marketing at Emory University focused the research on fans' emotional responses and found out why it's more than just a game to Steelers faithful.

He says he used instantaneous social networking strategies to gauge the mood of fans after winning or losing.

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Essential Pittsburgh
1:20 pm
Mon December 16, 2013

Tuesday Rundown: Supporting Goods & Services With a Sense of Place

Award-winning chef, Kevin Sousa hopes to incorporate a new farm to table approach for a restaurant in Braddock, PA.
Credit Braddock Youth Project / Superior Motors Kickstarter

These topics air Tuesday December 17, 2013 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
1:21 pm
Sun December 15, 2013

Monday Rundown: Gluten-Free Diets & Top Sports Stories of 2013

'Tis the season for gluten-filled desserts. Exploring the merits of a gluten-free diet.
Credit Amy / Flickr

These topics air Monday December 16, 2013 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
4:08 pm
Fri December 13, 2013

Local Impact of Budget Cuts to Supplemental Food Programs

Holidays are a dire time for local food banks.
Credit Ian Britton / flickr

SNAP Loses Funding for the Poor

Last month, for the first time in its history, cuts were made across America to the food-stamp program known as SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program).

Pennsylvania's program has lost $183 million; for families and food banks, the impact can be felt most around the holidays.

Catherine Buhrig, Division Director in the Bureau of Policy for the PA Department of Public Welfare and Ken Regal, executive director of Just Harvest, educate people and help them apply for SNAP benefits. 

Buhrig sees firsthand the significance of these cuts to those families that live under the poverty line. 

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Essential Pittsburgh
3:40 pm
Fri December 13, 2013

2-1-1 Hotline Helps People Navigate the Maze of Human Services

Credit Hade2k / flickr

For anyone who has ever had to utilize social services: from help with unemployment, to getting utilities turned on or accessing SNAP benefits - being pointed in the right direction by a live person can be immensely helpful.

PA 2-1-1 Southwest is a resource and information hub that connects people with community, health and disaster services through a 24 hour hotline and website.

Julie DeSeyn is the Community Impact Director of the United Way and Director of 211 Southwest.

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90.5 WESA Celebrates
11:58 am
Fri December 13, 2013

Meet Randy Gilson, The Neighborhood Renovator

Randy Gilson
Credit Louis D’Aria

If you’re strolling down Arch Avenue on the North Side, you’d be hard-pressed to miss it: a whimsical building with a 40-ft high mural of brilliant butterflies, ladybugs, dinosaurs and more.

It’s Randyland, and it all started a little more than 30 years ago when Randy Gilson moved into the neighborhood.

Read more and watch a video about Randy 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.

Community
11:25 am
Fri December 13, 2013

Pittsburgh Church To Pay Tribute To Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela’s burial in Qunu, South Africa, is more than 8,500 miles from Pittsburgh, but that's not stopping the Mt. Ararat Baptist Church from hosting a tribute Sunday for the former South African President and anti-apartheid revolutionary.

Mandela died on Dec. 5 at the age of 95.

The tribute will include actor and Trans Africa chairman Danny Glover and guest speaker Leo Gerard of the United Steelworkers.

Sala Udin, one of the organizers, said people are celebrating Mandela’s life as much as they are grieving his death.

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Essential Pittsburgh
6:05 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

Sarah's Anti-Stalking Law Is Just The Beginning

Sarah Pesi was about 13 years old when she was stalked by a stranger. Because of state laws, she couldn't obtain a restraining order.
Credit Women and Girls Foundation

A personal experience with a stalker, as a pre-teen, changed Sarah Pesi’s life. Because the person involved wasn’t a relative or a former boyfriend, she couldn’t obtain a restraining order. In Pennsylvania, 60% of stalking victims do not fill the relationship requirement for restraining orders.

With the support of Heather Arnet, CEO of the Women and Girl’s Foundation, Sarah has sought to change PA law.

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Essential Pittsburgh
5:40 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

Exploring the Wider Impact of LGBT Homelessness in Pittsburgh

Of homeless youth in Pittsburgh, 40 percent identify as LGBT.
Credit scribbletaylor / flickr

Homelessness among Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) people is more prevalent than any other statistical group in America.

Forty percent of homeless youth in America identify as LGBT. The same statistic applies to the city of Pittsburgh.

Lyndsey Sickler, chair of the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Pittsburgh, and Nayck B. Feliz, associate director of Project SILK, work firsthand with young LGBT Pittsburghers who experience homelessness.

Feliz said this high homeless population has negative societal ramifications for the Pittsburgh region. 

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Essential Pittsburgh
5:35 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

Cross Country Skiing in the Region

Cross country skiing destinations can be found from Virginia to Quebec.
Credit E01 / flickr

While the song "Moonlight in Vermont" mentions ski trails down a mountainside, cross country skiing is an enjoyable and healthy way to enjoy the winter landscape.

Travel contributor Elaine Labalme suggests the best spots for cross country skiing around the region.

“If you can walk, if you can run, you can cross country ski,” she said. 

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