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 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.
  • Tweet your question to @esspgh.
  • Subscribe to the podcast in iTunes.
  • What stories are we missing? Send your thoughts to esspgh@wesa.fm 

WHAT'S UP?! Pittsburgh Resolves to End White Silence

Jan 16, 2015
WHAT'S UP?! Pittsburgh

Throughout the last 6 months of demonstrations and protests of police violence, activists all over the world have adopted the phrase, “Black Lives Matter.” In addition to that message, you may have seen the phrases, “I resolve to challenge racism” and “End White Silence.” 

In many cases, the people holding up signs with those phrases have been white.

Recognizing that discussions of race and racism can be different when people of color are not present, WHAT’S UP?! Pittsburgh is a local group focused on promoting anti-racist action, and knowledge.

Members such as etta cetera and Rose Lynd who identify as white, look at ways to challenge racism in their communities, among family and friends, even within themselves. They discuss the ongoing work of WHAT’S UP?! Pittsburgh and the many ways they confront racial injustice.

Recently, Police Chief Cameron McLay came under fire for appearing in a photograph with the hashtag "End White Silence," a social media campaign initiated by WHAT'S UP?! Pittsburgh. Critics of McLay's photo say he was inferring that the police were racist. etta and Rose, however, say their message is more about helping white people to become active when considering racial issues.

Friday Rundown: Equality, Access and Solidarity

Jan 16, 2015
Mark Grapengater / flickr

These topics air Friday January 16, 2015 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

Wheelchair Standards

There are 70 million wheelchair users worldwide. Our guests Dr. Rory Cooper and Dr. Jon Pearlman are helping to create new standards for the wheelchair bound. The doctors are co-directors of Pitt’s Department of Rehabilitation Science and Technology, and this month they’re launching the International Society of Wheelchair Professionals. They’ll join us to discuss how their work will impact wheelchair users around the world.

Increasing Accessibility

For the second year in a row the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council has received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts called the Art Works grant. The support provided by the NEA is helping to fund an Increasing Accessibility initiative for the arts. This initiative is designed to serve specific portions of the city‘s population. Here to tell us more about this initiative is Anne Mulgrave, manager of grants and accessibility for the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council.

Ending White Silence

Throughout the last 6 months of demonstrations and protests of police violence, activists all over the world have adopted the phrase, “Black Lives Matter.” In addition to that message, you may have seen the phrases, “I resolve to challenge racism” and “End White Silence.” In many cases, the people holding up signs with those phrases have been white. Recognizing that discussions of race and racism can be different when people of color are not present, WHAT’S UP?! Pittsburgh is a local group focused on promoting anti-racist action, and knowledge. Members such as etta cetera and Rose Lynd who identify as white, look at ways to challenge racism in their communities, among family and friends, even within themselves. They join us to discuss the ongoing work of WHAT’S UP?! Pittsburgh and the many ways they confront racial injustice. 

PA Rep. Dave Reed Seeks to Transcend Party Politics

Jan 15, 2015
PA State Rep. Dave Reed / Facebook

State Representative David Reed first entered politics as a registered Democrat. Last week he was sworn as the leader of the Pennsylvania House GOP. The Indiana County native shares his vision for the future of the commonwealth and talks about how he plans to work with a new, Democratic governor.

Looking back on his background, Reed explains that he came from a rural portion of Indiana County where political differences aren’t just black and white.

In this area, he explains, the dominant culture is social conservatism -- regardless of party affiliation -- and so the distinctions between Republicans and Democrats can be blurry.

Ken / Flickr

Harrisburg was the first city to face a challenge to its gun laws under a new Pennsylvania law targeting gun measures.

It comes from a gun rights group representing a state police corporal. City officials have been bracing for lawsuits in the wake of Governor Corbett's signing of legislation that allows gun owner groups to challenge local ordinances. 

And now, Pittsburgh faces a lawsuit on its own that has emerged from the National Rifle Association. Patriot News editorial page editor John Micek offers his analysis of the issue.

According to Micek, the community "lost and stolen" ordinances have been challenged by gun-rights advocates in part because they feel the Commonwealth should avoid a “patchwork” approach to gun legislation, wherein gun ordinances vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction -- even neighboring ones.

But at the same time, Micek says that the state supreme court has, in some cases, argued that municipalities should have the right to specify their own gun ordinances.

Managing Wildlife at the Pittsburgh International Airport

Jan 15, 2015
Pit Airport / Flickr

 

Earlier this week, the WESA newsroom reported on the capture of a short-eared owl near the runway of the Pittsburgh International Airport. The medium sized owl is considered threatened in the state of Pennsylvania.

So special care needed to be taken to retrieve, tag, and relocate the bird. We talked with Bob Mulvihill, an ornithologist with the National Aviary and Bobby Hromack, a wildlife specialist for the airport and biologist with the USDA, on the issue.

Mulvihill discusses why the owl is considered threatened by Pennsylvania but not federally:

State Rep. Dave Reed / Facebook

These topics air Thursday January 15, 2015 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

Follow the Leader

State Representative David Reed first entered politics as a registered Democrat. Last week he was sworn as the leader of the Pennsylvania House GOP. The Indiana County native joins us to discuss his vision for the future of the commonwealth and how he plans to work with a Democratic governor.

Harrisburg Sued Under New State Gun Law

Harrisburg was the first city to face a challenge to its gun laws under a new Pennsylvania law targeting gun measures. It comes from a gun rights group representing a state police corporal. City officials have been bracing for lawsuits in the wake of Governor Corbett's signing of legislation that allows gun owner groups to challenge local ordinances. Patriot News editorial page editor John Micek joins us to discuss the issue.

Airport Wildlife

Earlier this week, the WESA newsroom reported on the capture of a short-eared owl near the runway of the Pittsburgh International Airport. The medium sized owl is considered threatened in the state of Pennsylvania. So special care needed to be taken to retrieve, tag, and relocate the bird. Bob Mulvihill, an ornithologist with the National Aviary joins us to talk about this process. And we’ll talk with Bobby Hromack, a wildlife specialist for the airport and biologist with the USDA, about what goes into the management of wildlife around an airport runway. 

Mayor Peduto Pledges to Stand Against NRA Lawsuit

Jan 14, 2015
Heather McClain / 90.5WESA

The new year brings new headlines, including a lawsuit filed today by the National Rifle Association against the City of Pittsburgh. 

Sparked by the passing of Act 192, which allows for suits to be brought against municipalities for passing gun ordinances that are more restrictive than state law, the NRA has brought suits against Pittsburgh and other municipalities, including Philadelphia and Lancaster.

Mayor Bill Peduto joined us in Studio A to discuss the suit. He then went on to discuss other issues including recent events surrounding Public Safety Director Stephen Bucar and new Police Chief Cameron McLay.

For more on the announcement of the NRA lawsuit, follow 90.5 WESA's coverage.

Jessica Nath / 90.5 WESA

These topics air Wednesday January 14, 2015 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

Peduto in the Public Eye

It’s a new year, with a few new headlines for Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto. He returns to studio A for his monthly live conversation. We’ll talk public safety, being in the public eye on Undercover Boss and the O’Reilly Factor, and his take on the public school task force.

Pittsburgh’s Resilience Recognized

Jan 13, 2015
Shane Henderson / Flickr

Pittsburgh, Chicago, Dallas and Boston are a few of the 35 cities selected to be part of the Rockefeller Award’s resilient cities challenge.

Business contributor Rebecca Harris joins us this week to tell us about this honor and what it means for the Steel City.

Ukraine at a Crossroads

Jan 13, 2015
Trey Ratcliff / Flickr

University of Pittsburgh professor and Ukraine native Tim Mylovanov has recently returned from an eventful holiday trip to his home country. He offers his take on the situation there and talks about his efforts to help create positive change in Ukraine amid economic challenges and conflicts with Russia.

Becky Stern / Flickr

The International Consumer Electronics Show, held in Las Vegas, is history for another year. Our pop culture contributor Joe Wos was one of the many people in attendance and had a front-row seat to see the next big gadgets that could be changing our lives.

Tuesday Rundown: Joe Wos on the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show

Jan 12, 2015
NVIDIA Corporation / Flickr

These topics air Tuesday January 13, 2015 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

From Ukraine with Love

University of Pittsburgh professor and Ukraine native Tim Mylovanov has recently returned from an eventful holiday trip to his home country. He joins us to discuss the situation there and his efforts to help create positive change in Ukraine amid economic challenges and conflicts with Russia.

Tomorrow Today

The International Consumer Electronics Show, held in Las Vegas, is history for another year. Our pop culture contributor Joe Wos was one of the many people in attendance and joins us in Studio A to fill us in on the next big gadgets that could be changing our lives.

Business Segment - Resilient Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh, Chicago, Dallas and Boston are just a few of the 35 cities selected to be part of the Rockefeller Award’s resilient cities challenge. Business contributor Rebecca Harris joins us this week to tell us about this honor and what it means for the Steel City. 

A Year of Turmoil for Attorney General Kathleen Kane

Jan 12, 2015
The Office of the Attorney General

The political future of PA State Attorney General Kathleen Kane looks to be falling as fast as it rose. Evidence of wrongdoing has been found by the special prosecutor and grand jury who are recommending she be criminally charged. 

We’ll get an update on the current troubles of the beleaguered attorney general with John Baer, political columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News and Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Angela Couloumbis.

Couloumbis gets us up to speed on what exactly the attorney general is being accused of doing:

She is accused of having [her office] give two documents to the Philadelphia Daily News about a 2009 investigation into a Philadelphia civil rights leader. That investigation was before a grand jury back in 2009 and never resulted in any criminal charges against the civil rights leader Jerry Mondesire.

Tony Webster / Flickr

The deaths of African American men, during encounters with white police officers, has sparked protests and demonstrations nationwide. However, where is the outrage regarding black on black crime?

For ten years the New Pittsburgh Courier has been publishing a monthly report of these crimes. How is the community reacting?

We pose that question to New Pittsburgh Courier editor and staff writer Ashley Johnson, as well as editor and publisher Rod Doss. Doss explained why "Under Attack by Us" was created, 

Office of the Attorney General / Office of the Attorney General

These topics air January 12, 2015 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002. 

The Rise and Fall of Attorney General Kathleen Kane

The political future of PA State Attorney General Kathleen Kane looks to be falling as fast as it rose. Evidence of wrongdoing has been found by the special prosecutor and grand jury who are recommending she be criminally charged. We’ll get an update on the current troubles of the beleaguered attorney general with John Baer, political columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News and Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Angela Couloumbis.

The Courier’s Crusade

The deaths of African American men, during encounters with white police officers, across the U.S., has sparked protests and demonstrations nationwide. However, where is the outrage regarding black on black crime? For ten years the New Pittsburgh Courier has been publishing a monthly report of these crimes. How is the community reacting? We’ll pose that question to Editor and Publisher Rod Doss, editor and Staff Writer Ashley Johnson.

Ginny / Flickr

The new food documentary The Search for General Tso takes viewers on a gastronomic journey. The film’s producer is New York Times writer and Splendid Table guest host Jennifer 8. Lee. She’ll clue us in on the origins of General Tso’s chicken and other Chinese dishes that enjoy worldwide popularity.

 

Lee talks about the origin of General Tso’s Chicken :

“ All evidence points to the fact that the general never actually ate the chicken dish. There was a chef in Taiwan in the 1950’s that created it at a banquet for the nationalist government. The chef himself was from the Hunan province, which is where the general [General Tso] is from… so he named the dish in the general’s honor. That dish came to the United States, but the dish we eat today no way resembles the dish that he cooked.”

NASA / Flickr

Earlier this week, SpaceX had to delay the launch of an unmanned cargo ship headed for the International Space Station. Some of that cargo includes spare parts needed by the Space Station scientists. But very soon, because of 3D printing technology, people in remote locations such as the Space Station will be able to create their own spare parts and tools on the go.

Last fall, the first zero gravity 3D printer was sent to the Space Station and test parts have been created based on digitally downloaded designs.

This news, along with the announcement of a large General Electric additive manufacturing facility coming to the Pittsburgh area, highlights the major advancements in 3D printing technology and its role in the future growth of our technology base.

University of Pittsburgh professor Howard Kuhn is a well known researcher and consultant in the world of additive manufacturing/3D printing. He joins us to talk about the advancements and evolution of the industry.

The 3D printer on the Space Station utilizes the most basic process available. The machine is fairly simple, which Kuhn says will allow the industry to move forward and make more advancements through experimentation.

This weekend will mark the launch of a new program celebrating Pittsburgh’s jazz history. Steel City Grooves: Celebrating Western Pennsylvania Jazz will chronicle the past, present and future of jazz in Pittsburgh. Joining us for a preview of this Senator John Heinz History Center Volunteer Ambassador Program is WESA jazz host Bob Studebaker.

Bob Studebaker gives us a taste of what to expect:

Friday Rundown: 3D Printing and Searching for General Tso

Jan 8, 2015
John / Flickr

These topics air January 9, 2014 at noon and 8 pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12 pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

The Evolution of 3D Printing

Earlier this week, SpaceX had to delay the launch of an unmanned cargo ship headed for the International Space Station. Some of that cargo includes spare parts needed by the Space Station scientists. But very soon, because of 3D printing technology, people in remote locations, such as the Space Station will be able to create their own spare parts and tools, on the go. Last fall, the first zero gravity 3D printer was sent to the Space Station and test parts have been created based on digitally downloaded designs. This news, along with the announcement of a large General Electric additive manufacturing facility coming to the Pittsburgh area, highlights the major advancements in 3D printing technology and its role in the future growth of our technology base. University of Pittsburgh professor, Howard Kuhn is a well known researcher and consultant in the world of additive manufacturing/3D printing. He joins us to talk about the advancements and evolution of the industry.

Searching for General Tso 

The new food documentary The Search for General Tso takes viewers on a gastronomic journey. The film’s producer is New York Times writer and Splendid Table guest host Jennifer 8. Lee. She’ll clue us in on the origins of General Tso’s chicken and other Chinese dishes that enjoy worldwide popularity.

Celebrating Pittsburgh’s Jazz Legacy

This weekend will mark the launch of a new program celebrating Pittsburgh’s jazz history. Steel City Grooves: Celebrating Western Pennsylvania Jazz will chronicle the past, present and future of jazz in Pittsburgh. Joining us for a preview of this Senator John Heinz History Center Volunteer Ambassador Program is WESA jazz host Bob Studebaker.

Young Men of Color Learn How to Interview Their Role Models

Jan 8, 2015
Crossing Fences

Since 2012, the Crossing Fences project has been using audio and radio to connect generations and continue the oral tradition in Pittsburgh.

The project, run by local radio program Saturday Light Brigade, gathers African-American students in neighborhoods such as Homewood, the Hill District, and Sto-Rox, and teaches them about audio engineering.

During this time, members of Crossing Fences and the students discussed role models within the community. The students then had to reach out to these role models and plan, record and edit an interview with them.

Joining us to discuss the project are Larry Berger, executive director and Chanessa Schuler, multi-media specialist of Saturday Light Brigade Radio.

Rob Rogers / Post-Gazette

In the aftermath of the shooting deaths of 12 people at a satirical weekly in Paris, what concerns does this tragic event raise for political cartoonists here at home? Award-winning political cartoonist Rob Rogers of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Randy Bish, editorial cartoonist for the Tribune Review, discuss the Charlie Hebdo attack as an attack on free expression.

Winter Travel Destinations

Jan 8, 2015
Elaine Labalme / WESA

As the temperatures plummet, how many of us don’t pass some of our time dreaming of relaxing on a warm, sandy beach?

Elaine Labalme, who tweets about food and travel under the Twitter handle New Girl in Town, joins us to suggest beach destinations you can escape to this winter.

SLB Radio Productions / SLB

These topics air Thursday, January 8, 2015 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

Terrorist Attack on Free Speech

In the aftermath of the shooting deaths of 12 people at a satirical weekly in Paris, what concerns does this tragic event raise for political cartoonists here at home? We’ll discuss terroristic threats to freedom of speech with award winning political cartoonist Rob Rogers of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Randy Bish,editorial cartoonist for the Tribune Review.

Crossing Fences

Since 2012 the Crossing Fences project has been using audio and radio to connect generations. Their latest project helped African American males connect with leaders in their community. Joining us to discuss the project are Larry Berger, executive director and Chanessa Schuler, multi-media specialist of Saturday Light Brigade Radio. 

Winter Beaches

As the temperatures plummet, how many of us don’t pass some of our time dreaming of relaxing on a warm, sandy beach? Elaine Labalme, who tweets about food and travel under the Twitter handle New Girl in Town, joins us to suggest beach destinations you can escape to this winter.

Pittsburgh's Improving Water Quality

Jan 7, 2015
Joseph / Flickr

Although not as apparent today, Pittsburgh was once one of the top industrial cities in America- and one of the dirtiest.

Often described as “hell with the lid off,” Pittsburgh of old was a city of dark noons where workers had to change their white shirts during the day. Since the Steel City’s mid-century renaissance, the air quality has improved significantly.

Improving the water quality of the famed three rivers- which were often used as garbage disposal by past residents- has been a longer process.

But encouraging news came out of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection recently, when they announced that the Monongahela River had been removed from the department’s list of Rivers with Impaired Drinking Water.

The department’s Deputy Secretary of Water Management Kelly Heffner said that though this was a step in the right direction, there is still plenty of work to be done in Western Pennsylvania.

PA Gun Legislation in Limbo

Jan 7, 2015
Keary O. / Flickr

Last November, Governor Corbett signed into law Act 192, which allows Pennsylvania gun enthusiasts and groups to sue communities that have "lost and stolen" ordinances -- local laws requiring gun owners to notify police when a firearm goes missing. The law has supporters and critics. Post-Gazette reporter Chris Potter joins us to look at both sides of the issue.

A Story of McCarthyism in Pittsburgh

Jan 7, 2015
United Press / Library of Congress


"I have here in my hand a list of 205,” said Senator Joe McCarthy during a speech given in 1950.

“A list of names that were made known to the Secretary of State as being members of the Communist Party and who nevertheless are still working and shaping policy in the State Department."

What the senator said was completely untrue, but it didn’t stop his tactics- which came to be known as McCarthyism- from spreading across the country.

The nation was gripped by a communist panic, and baseless accusations were soon flying in both the public and private sphere.

Sixty years ago, five employees at the Westinghouse Electric Corporation’s East Pittsburgh plant were fired for being named in McCarthy’s Washington hearings as “undesirable”. Historian and author Charles McCollester stopped by Studio A to recall what happened.

Joseph / Flickr

These topics air Wedesday January 7, 2015 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

Southwestern PA Water Quality

The good news is a new study by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection reports improved water quality in the rivers of Southwestern PA. The bad news is more needs to be done. We’ll talk with Deputy Secretary of Water Management Kelly Heffner about the condition of the region’s waterways.

A Re-Examination of Local Gun-Control Ordinances

Last November, Governor Corbett signed into law Act 192, which allows Pennsylvania gun enthusiasts and groups to sue communities that have "lost and stolen" ordinances, local laws requiring gun owners to notify police when a firearm goes missing. The law has supporters and critics. Post-Gazette reporter Chris Potter joins us to look at both sides of the issue.

McCarthyism in Pittsburgh

During the first week of January 1955, five employees at the Westinghouse Electric Corporation's East Pittsburgh plant were fired as "undesirable" following hearings in Washington held by Senator Joseph McCarthy's investigations and subcommittee. Historian and author Charles McCollester recalls the event. 

Ohio Earthquakes Linked to Hydraulic Fracturing

Jan 6, 2015
Nicholas Tonelli / Flickr

Researchers at Miami University in Ohio have concluded fracking was most likely the cause of earthquakes that have taken place in the state.

Last March, 77 earthquakes occurred in Poland, Ohio, a town near the PA-OH state line. Reporter Julie Grant of the Allegheny Front joins us to discuss this recent report.

Would You Like to Buy an Ambassadorship?

Jan 6, 2015
Ryan McFarland / Flickr

In 2014, a number of President Obama’s US ambassador appointees were confirmed by the Senate, despite their lack of diplomacy experience. Appointees such as Noah Bryson Mamet, the new ambassador of Argentina, have never visited the country where they will be stationed.

While a president naming political appointees as ambassadors is not new, international policy experts such as Penn State International Affairs professor and retired U.S. Ambassador Dennis Jett are concerned.

In his new book “American Ambassadors: The Past, Present, and Future of America’s Diplomats,” he looks at the various paths to becoming a diplomat.

Jett joins Dan Simpson, another former ambassador and a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette columnist, to discuss the role of ambassadors in this ever more globalized world.

Pittsburgh Neighborhood Focus: Allentown

Jan 6, 2015
Joseph / Flickr

Pittsburgh is made of dozens of neighborhoods, each with their own unique backgrounds, residents, businesses and other characteristics.

Business contributor Rebecca Harris focuses in on some of the city’s most interesting neighborhoods, and discusses her findings every first Tuesday of the month.

Today, she focused on Allentown, a neighborhood south of downtown and just up the hill from WESA’s South Side studio.

The "town" of Allentown was founded by an Englishman, Joseph Allen, in 1827, but most of its original occupants were German. Pittsburgh annexed the town in 1872.

Much has changed since then, as most of the original businesses have disappeared. But shops such as the Hardware Store have moved into the neighborhood.

Pages