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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Life of Learning
3:30 am
Fri November 14, 2014

Panel: Progressive Discipline Key to Ending School-to-Prison Pipeline

Students, educators, community members and activists recently participated in a 90.5 WESA community forum on the "school-to-prison pipeline."
Chris Squier 90.5 WESA

The adoption of zero tolerance policies in schools has risen sharply since the 1999 Columbine shootings.  But are those policies making schools safer? Many education stakeholders in Pittsburgh say the widespread use of zero tolerance policies has increased the likelihood of students entering the criminal justice system based on school incidents. 

“If we can move from a zero tolerance policy, which excludes children who are having trouble, to progressive discipline, which includes those with a rehabilitative effort to get them back on their feet and back into school, we can do a better job with community safety,” U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania, David Hickton, said at WESA’s community forum entitled "Ending the School-to-Prison Pipeline" on Monday.  

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Essential Pittsburgh
5:59 pm
Thu November 13, 2014

Remembering The Amistad Rebellion with Marcus Rediker and Tony Buba

"Ghosts of Amistad: In the Footsteps of the Rebels" is a documentary by Tony Buba, based on Marcus Rediker's book "The Amistad Rebellion: An Atlantic Odyssey of Slavery and Freedom." It chronicles a trip to Sierra Leone in 2013 to visit the home villages of the people who seized the slave schooner Amistad in 1839. The film premieres Saturday at The Three Rivers Film Festival. We'll talk with both Tony Buba and Marcus Rediker.

Essential Pittsburgh
4:29 pm
Thu November 13, 2014

Take a Hike

Credit Nicholas A. Tonelli / Flickr

If you’ve ever been told to “take a hike,” that might not be a bad idea. This week travel contributor Elaine Labalme, who tweets about food and travel under the twitter handle New Girl in Town, suggests some great places for hiking -- some close, some farther away.

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:24 pm
Thu November 13, 2014

George Takei Talks Sci-Fi, Social Change and Democracy

Credit Ryan Loew / WESA

George Takei, who originated the character of Hikaru Sulu on “Star Trek,” joins us in studio. This weekend, Takei will host the PNC Pops "Sci-Fi Spectacular” at Heinz Hall. Takei talks about that event, his acting career, his history of activism and the upcoming Broadway musical "Allegiance," in which he has a starring role.

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Essential Pittsburgh
10:25 pm
Wed November 12, 2014

Thursday Rundown: George Takei's Symphony Sci-Fi Spectacular

George Takei as the Grand Marshall of the 2014 Seattle Pride Parade.
Credit Scott Smithson / Flickr

These topics air Thursday November 13, 2014 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

Ghosts of Amistad

"Ghosts of Amistad: In the Footsteps of the Rebels" is a documentary by Tony Buba, based on Marcus Rediker's book "The Amistad Rebellion: An Atlantic Odyssey of Slavery and Freedom." It chronicles a trip to Sierra Leone in 2013 to visit the home villages of the people who seized the slave schooner Amistad in 1839. The film premieres Saturday at The Three Rivers Film Festival. We'll talk with both Tony Buba and Marcus Rediker.

George Takei

The man who originated the character of Hikaru Sulu, helmsman of the Starship Enterprise, George Takei joins us in studio. He's in Pittsburgh to host this weekend's PNC Pops "Sci-Fi Spectacular." We'll talk about that event and the upcoming Broadway musical "Allegiance" in which he has a starring role.

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:46 pm
Wed November 12, 2014

Blue Mind: How Water Improves Our Quality of Life

How does living on the three rivers improve our quality of life?
Credit joseph a / Flickr

 Why is the sound and image of water so soothing to us? Why does being near water improve our wellbeing? And how can this understanding help us make better decisions about water conservation and urban design?

Author,

and neuroscientist, Wallace J. Nichols explores these questions and many more in his book “Blue Mind: The Surprising Science that Shows How Being Near, In, On, or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected, and Better at What You Do.”

He’s coming to Pittsburgh to take part in the Inspire Speakers Series, in conjunction with Riverlife, a local organization that works on the development of Pittsburgh's riverfront park systems. Wallace J. Nichols joins us along with Stephan Bontrager, Director of Communications for Riverlife.

Essential Pittsburgh
4:36 pm
Wed November 12, 2014

Mayor Bill Peduto's Take on the August Wilson Center, Tom Wolf, Jagoffs and More

Credit Ryan Loew / 90.5 WESA

It’s been about 2 months since Mayor Bill Peduto has sat down in studio A for his monthly live interview.

We catch up with him and his take on the recent purchase of the August Wilson Center, what the election of Tom Wolf for governor means for Pittsburgh, his recent budget address and we’ll follow up on last month’s live community and police forum.

Oh, and what's up with this "Jagoff" in the dictionary thing???

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Essential Pittsburgh
10:00 pm
Tue November 11, 2014

Wednesday Rundown: Catching Up with Mayor Peduto and The Blue Mind

What do Pittsburgh's three rivers do for our sense of wellbeing?
Credit Matthew Paulson / flickr

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

Catching Up with Mayor Peduto

It’s been about 2 months since Mayor Bill Peduto has sat down in studio A for his monthly live interview. We’ll catch up with him and his take on the recent purchase of the August Wilson Center, what the election of Tom Wolf for governor means for Pittsburgh, his recent budget address and we’ll follow up on last month’s live community and police forum. Oh, and what's up with this "Jagoff" in the dictionary thing???

WESA Celebrates - Josh Verbanets and Gab Bonessa

This week WESA Celebrates profiles Josh Verbanets and Gab Bonesso who have combined rock and roll and comedy to create and anti-bullying program for kids.

Blue Mind: This is Your Brain on Water

Why is the sound and image of water so soothing to us? Why does being near water improve our wellbeing? And how can this understanding help us make better decisions about water conservation and urban design? Author, lecturer and neuroscientist, Wallace J. Nichols explores these questions and many more in his book “Blue Mind: The Surprising Science that Shows How Being Near, In, On, or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected, and Better at What You Do.” He’s coming to Pittsburgh to take part in the Inspire Speakers Series, in conjunction with Riverlife, a local organization that works on the development of Pittsburgh's riverfront park systems. Wallace J. Nichols joins us along with Stephan Bontrager, Director of Communications for Riverlife. 

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Essential Pittsburgh
3:36 pm
Tue November 11, 2014

Checkpoint Helps Veterans Reacclimate to Civilian Life

Credit TeamSaintLouis / Flickr

 

This segment originally aired in longer form in June 2014.

Southwest Pennsylvania is home to 220,000 veterans, with 97,000 living in Allegheny County. After returning from active duty, all veterans, whether injured or uninjured, are in need of resources such as employment, physical and mental healthcare, job training and housing.

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Essential Pittsburgh
3:33 pm
Tue November 11, 2014

Purple Hearts: the Legacy of an Historic Medal

Credit patries71 / Flickr

Purple Heart recipient Captain Zachariah Fike has been helping to return lost medals to the families of their rightful owners. Since 2012 this founder of Purple Hearts Reunited has devoted his spare time to researching and repairing the medals. He joins us to discuss his work and the history of the Purple Heart.

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Essential Pittsburgh
3:20 pm
Tue November 11, 2014

David Conrad Returns to Pittsburgh to Direct "Goldstar, OH"

Actor David Conrad has appeared in theater, film and television. You may know him from his roles in the films, “Ghost Whisperer” or “ Men of Honor.” But this time he is behind the scenes, in a different medium. The Pittsburgh native’s latest project has returned him to his alma mater, the Kiski School as a director for the school’s production of the play "Goldstar, OH."

The play involves themes of loss, war, and military tragedy. In this segment, David Conrad joins us in Studio A with a preview of the play, his experience directing , and his thoughts on the high schoolers he works with and how it relates to his high school experience.

Essential Pittsburgh
11:26 pm
Mon November 10, 2014

Tuesday Rundown: Honoring Local Veterans

A Veteran salutes during the 2011 Veterans' Day Parade in Pittsburgh
Credit U.S. Army / Flickr

These topics air Tuesday November 11, 2014 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

Checkpoint

Southwest Pennsylvania is home to 220,000 veterans, with 97,000 living in Allegheny County. After returning from active duty, all veterans, whether injured or uninjured, are in need of resources such as employment, physical and mental healthcare, job training and housing. Until recently, Pittsburgh-area veterans did not have a centralized, dedicated place to find these kinds of resources. We’ll meet Pittsburgher and Iraq War veteran Jared Souder, founder of Checkpoint a company dedicated to helping Veterans find the resources they need to help resume their lives as civilians.

Purple Hearts Reunited

Purple Heart recipient Captain Zachariah Fike has been helping to return lost medals to their the families of their rightful owners. Since 2012 the founder of Purple Hearts Reunited has devoted his spare time to researching and repairing medals. He joins us to discuss his work and the history of the Purple Heart.

Goldstar, OH

Actor David Conrad has appeared in theater, film and television. However, the Pittsburgh native’s latest project has returned him to his alma mater, the Kiski School. As an artist in residence he’s directing the school’s production of the play "Goldstar, OH." David Conrad joins us in Studio A with a preview of the play. 

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Essential Pittsburgh
3:14 pm
Mon November 10, 2014

The Polar Vortex Returns Later This Week

The frozen Ohio River from this past winter's extreme cold conditions.
Credit Matt Niemi / Flickr

The Polar Vortex is back and it's ready to blast 200 million people with arctic air, lunging into the North Central U.S. this week and expanding southward and eastward.

The outbreak of unusually cold air is expected to linger well past the middle of the month.

We'll talk with John Radzilowicz, Director of Professional Development at ASSET STEM Education.

Essential Pittsburgh
3:09 pm
Mon November 10, 2014

Covering the Strange Case of Robert Ferrante and Autumn Klein

The Allegheny County Courthouse in Downtown Pittsburgh.
Credit OZinOH / Flickr

Did neuroscientist Robert Ferrante poison his wife, Dr. Autumn Klein with cyanide? 

It's a question many Pittsburghers were asking when a jury began deliberating the homicide case against him.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporter Paula Reed Ward discusses the strange twists and turns this case has taken and why it has received international attention.

Essential Pittsburgh
2:59 pm
Mon November 10, 2014

The Blurred Line Between Cyber Crime and Cyber Terrorism

Credit Gflores / wikipedia

Tribune-Review reporter Andrew Conte joins us to discuss how the lines between online thefts and all-out warfare continue to blur as hackers become more effective at attacks that threaten to cause serious economic damage.

Last week the Department of Homeland Security issued a bulletin to cyber security insiders reporting that a destructive malware program known as "BlackEnergy" has been placed in key U.S. infrastructure systems.

We discuss this and other cyber crime issues Conte has investigated for his special series, Cyber Rattling: The Next Threat

Essential Pittsburgh
6:15 pm
Sun November 9, 2014

Monday Rundown: The Return of the Polar Vortex

Pittsburgh and the partially frozen Monongahela River, the day after a Polar Vortex in January 2014.
Credit Daveynin / Flickr

These topics air Monday November 10, 2014 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

Ferrante Homicide Case

Did neuroscientist Robert Ferrante poison his wife with cyanide? It's a question many Pittsburghers were asking when the jury began deliberating the homicide case against him. Post-Gazette reporter Paula Reed Ward discusses the strange twists and turns this case has taken and why it has received international attention.

Separating Cyber Crime and Terror

Tribune-Review reporter Andrew Conte joins us to discuss how the lines between online thefts and all-out warfare continue to blur as hackers become more effective at attacks that threaten to cause serious economic damage. The Department of Homeland Security last week issued a bulletin to cyber security insiders reporting that a destructive malware program known as "BlackEnergy" has been placed in key U.S. infrastructure systems.

The Polar Vortex

The Polar Vortex is back and it's ready to blast 200 million people with arctic air, lunging into the North Central U.S. this week and expanding southward and eastward. The outbreak of unusually cold air is expected to linger well past the middle of the month.We'll talk with John Radzilowicz, Director of Professional Development at ASSET STEM Education. 

Read more
Essential Pittsburgh
6:12 pm
Fri November 7, 2014

Diabetes Research Reaches a Breakthrough

Credit Umberto Salvagnin / Flickr

After fifteen years, Harvard researchers are reporting a diabetes breakthrough. Joining us in Studio A to tell us more about this discovery and what it means for diabetes treatment is Linda Siminerio, executive director of the University of Pittsburgh Diabetes Institute.

We’ll also preview the 2014 Expo, aimed at helping people manage their diabetes with Terri Seidman, associate director of the American Diabetes Association of Western PA.

Essential Pittsburgh
6:10 pm
Fri November 7, 2014

Mobile BBC Experiment Stops by the Steel City

Credit Marcus Charleston / WESA

The BBC's first mobile bureau is currently in the middle of its six-month experimental project and they’re stopping here in Pittsburgh.

Joining us in Studio A to tell us more about this latest British invasion are BBC journalists Benjamin Zand and Matthew Danzico.

Essential Pittsburgh
4:45 pm
Fri November 7, 2014

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Columnist Tony Norman's Take on the August Wilson Center

The August Wilson Center
Credit thomas alan / Flickr

Now that a group of local foundations has purchased the August Wilson Center for African American Culture, and it's back in community hands, what is the best way for the Center to move forward?

We'll talk with Pittsburgh Post-Gazette columnist Tony Norman who has plenty of ideas about what the AWC needs.

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Essential Pittsburgh
10:11 pm
Thu November 6, 2014

Friday Rundown: A Diabetes Breakthrough and Expo

Credit Umberto Salvagnin / Flickr

These topics air Friday November 7, 2014 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

What's Next for the August Wilson Center

Now that a group of local foundations has purchased the August Wilson Center for African American Culture, and it's back in community hands, what is the best way for the Center to move forward? We'll talk with Pittsburgh Post-Gazette columnist Tony Norman who has plenty of ideas about what the AWC needs.

Diabetes Breakthrough and Expo

After fifteen years, Harvard researchers are reporting a diabetes breakthrough. Joining us in Studio A to tell us more about this discovery and what it means for diabetes treatment is Linda Siminerio, executive director of the University of Pittsburgh Diabetes Institute. We’ll also preview the 2014 Expo, aimed at helping people manage their diabetes with Terri Seidman, associate director of the American Diabetes Association of Western PA.

BBC Pop-Up Project

The BBC's first mobile bureau is currently in the middle of its six-month experimental project and they’re stopping here in Pittsburgh. Joining us in Studio A to tell us more about this latest British invasion are BBC journalists Benjamin Zand and Matthew Danzico. 

Read more
Essential Pittsburgh
2:29 pm
Thu November 6, 2014

How Better Communication Can Help Patients Die with Dignity

Credit Alex Proimos / Flickr

With the recent assisted suicide of a woman in Oregon named Brittany Maynard, we want to talk about how conversations on death and dying are changing, or need to change between medical professionals and terminally ill patients and their families. 

Dr. Robert M. Arnold, professor of medicine and Medical Director at UPMC Palliative and Supportive Institute says before the need for assisted suicide comes up, we need to look at how quality of life can be better for people who are terminally ill.

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:07 pm
Thu November 6, 2014

Changing Attitudes of Aging: 50 is the New 50

Credit Ronn aka "Blue" Aldaman / Flickr

 

According to our guest Dr. Bill Thomas, an internationally recognized expert on elderhood and geriatric medicine, Americans need to rethink their attitudes on aging. Dr. Thomas joins us for a conversation about aging. He is also the founder of the Eden Alternative and Green House Project.

In the face of clichés like “65 is the new 50,” Thomas stresses that 50 is the new 50, encouraging people to embrace the age that they are and not aspire to something else.

Essential Pittsburgh
8:41 pm
Wed November 5, 2014

Thursday Rundown: Aging and Dying with Dignity

Credit orangefan 2011 / flickr

These topics air Thursday November 6, 2014 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between noon & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

Dying with Dignity

With the recent suicide of a woman in Oregon named Brittany Maynard, we want to talk about how conversations on death and dying are changing or need to change between medical professionals and terminally ill patients and their families. Dr. Robert M. Arnold, professor of medicine and Medical Director at UPMC Palliative and Supportive Institute says before the need for assisted suicide comes up, we need to look at how quality of life can be better for people who are terminally ill.  

New Views on Aging

According to our guest Dr. Bill Thomas, an internationally recognized expert on elderhood and geriatric medicine, Americans need to rethink their attitudes on aging. Dr. Thomas joins us for a conversation about aging. He is also the founder of the Eden Alternative and Green House Project.

Hiking

If you’ve ever been told to take a hike that might not be a bad idea. This week travel contributor Elaine Labalme suggests some great places for hiking in the region. 

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:14 pm
Wed November 5, 2014

How Globalization Links National Elections to Global Economic and Political Problems

Dr. Michael Mandelbaum, author of "That Used to Be Us: How America Fell Behind in the World It Invented and How We Can Come Back"
Credit American Council on Education / Flickr

Is there a connection between yesterday's national elections and globalization?

We'll pose that question to Dr. Michael Mandelbaum, professor of American Foreign Policy at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies.

He comes to Pittsburgh on Monday November 10 to hold a public policy discussion on the future of the global economy, for the World Affairs Council.

Essential Pittsburgh
2:08 pm
Wed November 5, 2014

Post-Election, Governor-Elect Tom Wolf Heads Into a Difficult Future

Tom Wolf speaking with Essential Pittsburgh producer Marcus Charleston at the Community Broadcast Center on the South Side.
Credit Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

The political ads are gone, the polls have closed and the votes have been tabulated. We'll get analysis of yesterday's gubernatorial race from John Baer, political columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News. And WESA Senior News Editor Mark Nootbaar joins us with a wrap-up of local races.

Live Tweets from this segment

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Essential Pittsburgh
10:34 pm
Tue November 4, 2014

Wednesday Rundown: Post-Election Wrap Up

Credit AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar

These topics air Wednesday November 5, 2014 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between noon & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

Election Results

The political ads are gone, the polls have closed and the votes have been tabulated. We'll get analysis of yesterday's gubernatorial race from John Baer, political columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News. And WESA Senior News Editor Mark Nootbaar joins us with a wrap-up of local races.

WESA Celebrates - Annie Yonas and Griffin Kerstetter

An inability to spell homeless resulted in the naming of the Home Lost project. An initiative begun by Annie Yonas and Griffin Kerstetter as a means of helping the homeless stay warm in the winter. Their efforts are profiled in this week’s WESA Celebrates.

Future of the Global Economy

Is there a connection between yesterday's national elections and globalization? We'll pose that question to Dr. Michael Mandelbaum, professor of American Foreign Policy at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. 

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:59 pm
Tue November 4, 2014

Live Midterm Election Coverage and Essential Pittsburgh Special

Credit Vox Efx / Flickr

It is election day! Tonight at 8pm 90.5 WESA will air live coverage of the 2014 Midterm Elections. 

Paul Guggenheimer and Mark Nootbaar offer live in-studio analysis, guest interviews and updates on local and state-wide races.

Guest commentators include outgoing State Rep. Erin Molchany of the South Hills, Republican At-Large County Council Member Heather Heidelbaugh, former County Commissioner, PA State Sen., and State Rep. Mike Dawida will join Paul in breaking down the numbers.

At 10 p.m. we will team up with NPR for its national election coverage while offering updates from the 90.5 WESA newsroom on local and state-wide races from our reporters in the field.

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:49 pm
Tue November 4, 2014

David Harris Explains Grand Juries

Credit David Harris

A grand jury is a legal body that is empowered to conduct official proceedings to investigate potential criminal conduct and to determine whether criminal charges should be brought.

One of the most famous grand juries was used in the investigation of President Clinton by Ken Starr.

More recently a grand jury is now investigating the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. University of Pittsburgh Law professor David Harris joins us to discuss the role of grand juries and their role in our justice system.

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:46 pm
Tue November 4, 2014

Dollar Bank Buys August Wilson Center: What's Next?

Credit Chris Squier / 90.5 WESA

Now that Dollar Bank has purchased the August Wilson Center for African American Culture at a sheriff's sale, can a foundation group's plan to take over the building and re-open it under new leadership still go ahead?

We'll talk with Tribune-Review reporter Natasha Lindstrom about the latest developments.

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:43 pm
Tue November 4, 2014

Neighborhood Business: Greenfield

Credit KitAy / Flickr

  

Cities are made up of a collection of neighborhoods with unique features and characteristics. Beginning today, on the first Tuesday of each month, business contributor Rebecca Harris will focus on one of the city’s neighborhoods. Today's focus is on Greenfield.

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