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.

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

McCord Resigns Amid Extortion Scandal

Feb 3, 2015
Rob McCord website

Now that former Pennsylvania Treasurer Rob McCord has admitted using the influence of his office to get money from prospective donors to his gubernatorial campaign, what happens next? And what does his resignation mean for the future of the state? Capitol correspondent Mary Wilson provides her analysis and her forecast for Harrisburg’s political climate to come.

Cheltenham Democrats / Flickr

These topics air Tuesday February 3, 2015 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

McCord Charged

Now that former Pennsylvania Treasurer Rob McCord has admitted using the influence of his office to get money from prospective donors to his gubernatorial campaign, what happens next? And what does his resignation mean for the future of the state? We'll get the latest from capitol correspondent Mary Wilson.

Closed Captioning

When working out at the gym or sitting at a noisy bar, you’ve probably watched the scrolling text on the nearby TV screen to find out what’s being said. Closed captions have been available for TV since the early days of Julia Child. While the service caters to people with impaired hearing, it can be useful for anyone in any number of situations. Online, captions are mandated for some videos and you can even add captions when posting your own Facebook videos. But how does closed captioning work? Who or what brings the words to our screens? VITAC, a Pittsburgh based company, is responsible for at least half of the captions on the air nationwide, and a growing amount of our on-demand streaming. VITAC Chief Operations Officer Chuck Karlovits gives us a look inside the world of closed captioning.

WESA Celebrates Inventing Pittsburgh

The Fort Pitt Block House, located in Point State Park, is the oldest building in Pittsburgh. In more than 250 years of existence it’s weathered natural disasters, urban expansion and industrial growth. But it owes its survival mostly to a group of women who refused to yield.

Business Segment - Mexican War Streets

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

"Protect Our Parks" Fights Fracking in Allegheny County Parks

Feb 2, 2015
Marcellus Protest / Flickr

This Tuesday, the Allegheny County Council is scheduled to vote on an ordinance to put a 2-year moratorium on further fracking in county parks.

The ordinance was introduced by the volunteer organization Protect Our Parks. Joining us in Studio A are Joni Rabinowitz and John Detwiler, volunteers with the organization.

The office of Allegheny County executive Rich Fitzgerald said that he would veto any legislation related to a moratorium on fracking in county parks.

His office issued the following statement:

"The effort being led by Protect Our Parks is similar to legislation that was voted on previously and was defeated by Council. If such legislation were to pass, the Executive would veto it. He believes that blanket legislation sends a bad message to the industry and is a bad precedent. Each opportunity should be considered on a case by case basis. In the case of the Deer Lakes Park proposal, we were able to enter a lease that extends environmental protections to those communities that would not have been possible otherwise. That being said, the Executive has indicated that he has no intent of considering other drilling opportunities in the county at this time. He wants to see how the two current drilling operations will play out before moving forward with anything else." 

John Detwiler talks about why Protect Our Parks wants to do away with fracking in the county parks: 

How Do We Decide What's Trending?

Feb 2, 2015
Tessa Horehled / Flickr

 

You can’t look at a website or magazine where they don’t address what’s trending. But, who are the trendsetters who determines what’s trending?

And, how does a trend differ from a fad? We posed these questions to Marty McGough, Vice President for market insights at Campos Research Strategy.

A trend is the general direction behavior is moving towards that develops over time and is either increasing or decreasing, says McGough. In comparison with a fad, trends have the ability to make a lasting influence on people's behavior, while fads are short lived.

He says there are people known as trend spotters who specialize in this action by roaming the streets in major cities, listening, watching and observing people's behaviors to find trends.

Monday Rundown: Is Fracking Going to Stop in Our County Parks?

Feb 2, 2015
Marcellus Protest / Flickr

These topics air Monday February 2, 2015 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

Protect Our Parks

Tuesday, the Allegheny County Council is scheduled to vote on an ordinance to put a 2-year moratorium on further fracking in or under county parks. The ordinance was introduced by the volunteer organization Protect Our Parks. Joining us in Studio A are Joni Rabinowitz and John Detwiler, volunteers with the organization.

What’s Trending?

You can’t look at a website or magazine where they don’t address what’s trending. But, who are the trendsetters who determines what’s trending? And, how does a trend differ from a fad? We’ll pose those questions to Marty McGough, Vice President for market insights at Campos Research Strategy

Is This Year's Super Bowl Worth Watching Just for the Ads?

Jan 30, 2015
ThisIsNotApril / Flickr

This year a 30-second Super Bowl spot sells for $4.5 million dollars.

With so much money on the line, which advertising strategies are the most effective? How are advertisers changing tactics to get people's attention? And who are they targeting?

We discuss this with Bob Gilbert, Associate Professor of Marketing at the University of Pittsburgh's Katz School of Business.

Throughout the segment, Professor Gilbert provides insight on the goals of branding and the tactics used in Super Bowl advertising.

“What we are trying to do is find the right combination of generating awareness and attention, but also generating comprehension… that’s hard to do at the same time. I think Super Bowl advertisers have therefore aired on the side of attention. If you look at a lot of Super Bowl events you’ll find that there’s not as much information about the brand as much as it is a statement about the character about the brand .”

Also be sure to listen out for Gilbert's opinion of the latest controversial commercial from the internet domain registrar company, GoDaddy.com. The ad was originally intended for this year's Super Bowl, but pulled in response to the social media backlash.

Deflate-Gate: A Footall Who Done It

Jan 30, 2015
Keith Allison / Flickr

Did the New England Patriots make it to the Super Bowl by taking air out of footballs in the AFC Championship game?

Are NFL executives dragging out the investigation to avoid having anything come out during Super Bowl week? Have the Steelers ever cheated? We'll put these questions and more to Pittsburgh Post-Gazette sportswriter emeritus Bob Dvorchak. 

Dvorchak offers light-hearted commentary about all of the media attention for the deflate-gate scandal.

"When the national discussion for the last two weeks is the air pressure inside a football, I think we’ve turned the corner as far as our priorities of a nation go.” 

Michael B. / Flickr

In case you haven’t heard, the Super Bowl will be played this Sunday. 

While area football fans may have little interest in a game that doesn’t feature the Steelers our guest, Ronald Dick, associate professor of sports marketing at Duquesne University, offers some reasons for tuning in to the big game.

According to Dick, viewers often tune in for reasons other than the actual game.

Friday Rundown: Getting Set for Super Bowl Sunday

Jan 30, 2015
camknows / flickr

These topics air Friday January 30, 2015 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

Super Bowl Sunday

In case you haven’t heard, the Super Bowl will be played this Sunday. While area football fans may have little interest in a game that doesn’t feature the Steelers our guest, Ron Dick, associate professor of sports marketing at Duquesne University, offers some reasons for tuning in to the big game.

Super Bowl Commercials

This year a 30-second Super Bowl spot sells for $4.5 million dollars. With so much money on the line, which advertising strategies are the most effective? How are advertisers changing tactics to get people's attention? And who are they targeting? We'll discuss this with Bob Gilbert, Associate Professor of Marketing at the University of Pittsburgh's Katz School of Business.

Deflategate

Did the New England Patriots make it to the Super Bowl by taking air out of footballs in the AFC Championship game? Are NFL executives dragging out the investigation to avoid having anything come out during Super Bowl week? Have the Steelers ever cheated? We'll put these questions and more to Pittsburgh Post-Gazette sportswriter emeritus Bob Dvorchak. 

Is Medical Marijuana Coming to PA?

Jan 29, 2015
Dank Depot / Flickr

Efforts to pass a medical marijuana bill in Pennsylvania have received a boost with the election of a new governor.

But how can marijuana advocates sway skeptical House members who sat on the legislation last year?

Patrick Nightingale of the Pittsburgh office of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws talks about his work as part of a years-long public education program on marijuana decriminalization.

On the Job: Procrastination as a Positive Habit

Jan 29, 2015
Kristy Arnold / Flickr

"Don’t put off till tomorrow what you can do today" is an apt quote, warning against procrastination. However, in this month’s On the Job segment, independent career consultant Sasha King addresses why procrastination might not be such a bad thing.

King says procrastination has increased since 1978 due to information overload with the examples of technological advancements and distractions. But she also tells us how procrastination can be positive in today's society.

The New Girl's Favorite Places to Visit in Phoenix, Arizona

Jan 29, 2015
Ted Eytan / Flickr

 

This year’s Super Bowl will be played in Phoenix. If you can’t make it to the big game travel contributor Elaine Labalme still recommends a visit to the Valley of the Sun.

She tells us her food and travel recommendations for Arizona’s capital city:

David Trawin / Flickr

These topics air Thursday January 29, 2015 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

Medical Marijuana in PA

Efforts to pass a medical marijuana bill in Pennsylvania have received a boost with the election of a new governor. But how can marijuana advocates sway skeptical House members who sat on the legislation last year? We'll talk with Patrick Nightingale of the Pittsburgh office of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws who says he's been engaged in a years long public education program.

On the Job - Procrastination

"Don’t put off till tomorrow what you can do today" is an apt quote, warning against procrastination. However, in this month’s On the Job segment, independent career consultant Sasha King addresses why procrastination might not be such a bad thing.

Travel Segment - Phoenix

This year’s Super Bowl will be played in Phoenix. If you can’t make it to the big game travel contributor Elaine Labalme still recommends a visit to the Valley of the Sun. She’ll fill us in on her food and travel recommendations for Arizona’s capital city. 

National Digital Library of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service / Wikipedia

In 2012 a symposium was held in Pittsburgh, at Chatham University and the National Aviary, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Rachel Carson’s ground breaking book "Silent Spring."

Out of that symposium came the idea to develop a documentary about the late environmentalist-author’s life and humanitarian efforts, in a film called "The Power of One Voice." 

Producer/director Mark Dixon and Patricia DeMarco, former executive director of the Rachel Carson Institute at Chatham University teamed up with the Steeltown Entertainment Project, Carson's biographer Linda Lear and Carson's adopted son Roger Christie. 

Punchy Judy / Flickr

In 2014, heroin addiction and overdose deaths became an epidemic across the country, across the state of Pennsylvania and especially in Allegheny County.

Dr. Neil Capretto, Medical Director of Gateway Rehabilitation Center says the high rate of overdoses in southwest PA can be tied to use of prescription medicines, along with a blue collar and aging demographic.

"There was a need for pain medicines and doctor's started prescribing it and pharmaceutical companies started marketing to doctors heavily. And they were giving the message, 'This is safe, not addicting. Less than one percent of people who ever use Oxicodon ever have a problem.' That was the message from the companies. So there was a lot of prescription medicines, very heavy in our community. Then thousands of people in every town from Kittanning, to Downtown Pittsburgh, to Clarion, to Washington PA got hooked onto prescription medicines, and that led to the heroine problem."

Capretto explains that as an addiction to legal prescription opiates develops, heroin emerges as a cheaper alternative, once refills run out. But addiction is not simply about the relief of physical pain.

Capretto says he considers addiction to be a biological, psychological, social, and even spiritual disease. 

"Opioids are very good at stopping and blocking pain; physical pain, emotional pain, psychic pain... I've talked with thousands of people with addiction over the years and I never met one who started using any drug because they wanted to intentionally add more problems to their life on purpose. They're trying to solve some problem, block some pain." 

A Coordinated Effort to Cover the Complexities of Heroin Addiction

As news of the increasing number of heroin overdoses has made headlines throughout Pennsylvania, newsrooms are making a coordinated effort to cover the most important angles of this public health crisis.

Sharon Walsh, editor of the investigative journalism organization PublicSource, has been compiling the work of PA media outlets that have been reporting on the heroin problem.

Wednesday Rundown: Statewide Coverage of the Heroin Epidemic

Jan 27, 2015
M / Flickr

These topics air Wednesday January 28, 2015 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

Riding the Rush: Reporting on a Heroin Crisis in Pennsylvania 

The statement, “2014 was the year heroin became an epidemic” is prominent in a journalism project curated by our content partner, PublicSource. As news of an increasing number of heroin overdoses have made headlines across the state, newsrooms are making a coordinated effort to cover important angles of this public health crisis. Sharon Walsh is the editor of PublicSource, she joins us along with Dr. Neil Capretto, Medical Director of Gateway Rehabilitation Center, to talk about the compilation of media coverage and how PA communities are addressing the heroin problem.

WESA Celebrates Inventing Pittsburgh

Foxhunting came west over the Alleghenies with the region's earliest European settlers and took root in the Pittsburgh area. It built community and preserved land. Margaret J. Krauss reports that this piece of history is alive and well--sort of--at the Sewickley Hunt Club.

The Power of One Voice

In 2012 a symposium was held in Pittsburgh, at Chatham University and the National Aviary, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring. The documentary "the Power of One Voice" chronicles the environmentalist author’s life and humanitarian efforts. We’ll speak with producer/director Mark Dixon and Patricia DeMarco, former director of the Rachel Carson Institute at Chatham University--and a Rachel Carson expert.

Repurposing: It's Good for Business

Jan 27, 2015
Rebecca Harris / CWE Chatham

Repurposing refers to finding new uses for items. Some enterprising entrepreneurs have even turned this into a profitable moneymaking venture.

This week business contributor Rebecca Harris looks at the business of repurposing.

Harris emphasizes that repurposing doesn’t just change the use of old goods; it also changes their value.

Minority Report: Racial Disparities Persist in the ‘Burgh

Jan 27, 2015
Jon Dawson / Flickr

A recent report by the University of Pittsburgh suggests that Pittsburgh, often touted as one of America’s most livable cities, might not be so livable for African Americans.

The report highlights the racial disparities affecting the quality of life for Pittsburgh’s black residents.

Larry Davis, Dean of the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Social Work and director of its Center on Race and Social Problems, discusses the report’s findings and their implications for those invested in racial equity in Pittsburgh.

Compared to white Pittsburghers, black and hispanic people have larger employment problems, are more likely to live in poverty and experience higher rates of death resulting from chronic illnesses like cardiovascular disease.

Davis says the study shows how little has changed since 2007, when the initial study upon which this latest report is based, was undertaken. The story that’s told by the report, Davis explains, is that Pittsburgh suffers from many of the same racial disparities as other American cities.

In trying to assess why not much has changed in eight years, Davis suggests that when it comes to employment and so on, people typically have vested interests in the status quo, and sticking to “business as usual” serves to frustrate change.

Andy / Wikipedia Commons

These topics air Tuesday January 27, 2015 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

Minority Report

Once touted as one of America’s most livable cities, a recent report by the University of Pittsburgh suggests otherwise when it comes to African Americans. The report highlights the racial disparities affecting the quality of life for Pittsburgh’s black community. We’ll address the report’s findings with Larry Davis, Dean of the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Social Work and director of its Center on Race and Social Problems.

Business Segment - Repurposing

Repurposing refers to finding new uses for items. Some enterprising entrepreneurs have even turned this into a profitable moneymaking venture. This week contributor Rebecca Harris looks at the business of repurposing. 

A Local Imam Confronts Misinterpretations of Islam

Jan 26, 2015
Islamic Center of Pittsburgh

 

Pittsburgh area Muslims are challenging the message of extremists involved in the Charlie Hebdo killings in Paris. We spoke with Sheikh Atef Mahgoub, from the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh in Oakland.

He says the killers were not defending the honor of Islam, and that they have done nothing but destroy the reputation of the Muslim religion. Mahgoub says he thinks it is fair to criticize any idea, including religion, but to do it in a civilized manner. 

He explains how exhausting it is to try to convince people that these violent actions are not the religion and wants to have Muslims educate the world in what the religion stands for.

Islamic Center of Pittsburgh

These topics air Monday January 26, 2015 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

Pittsburgh Muslims Speak Out

Pittsburgh area Muslims are challenging the message of the extremists involved in the Charlie Hebdo killings in Paris. We'll talk with Sheikh Atef Mahgoub, Islamic Center of Pittsburgh in Oakland. He says the killers in France were not defending the honor of Islam. He joins us in Studio A.

Great Scott! Remembering Robert Burns in Pittsburgh

Jan 23, 2015
SummondByFellas / Flickr

When you hear someone exclaim, “Great Scott,” chances are they could be referring to Scotland’s favorite son, poet Robert Burns.

This weekend marks the 256th anniversary of his birth. We’ll preview dinners set to take place in his honor and discover why his legacy endures with Paul Thompson, president of the St. Andrews Society of Pittsburgh and Tim Wolfson, co-owner of Music Night on Jupiter, a grassroots local music event promotion company.

Paul and Tim tell us about Robert Burns and his importance to not only Scotland, but the world.

Take a look at the poems of Robert Burns below, more can be found at Robertburns.org

Film Censorship in Pittsburgh: A History

Jan 23, 2015
Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research / Wikipedia

Last month the motion picture "The Interview," garnered headlines due to terroristic threats. This led Sony pictures to withhold the movie's release. The saga of "The Interview" is the latest story in the history of film censorship. A legacy with ties to Pittsburgh as pop culture contributor Joe Wos explains.

"The Interview" might be a recent example of self-censorship, but the film industry has a long history of both bowing to government pressures and constructing its own rules and standards. According to Wos, this can be traced back to the premiere of the controversial film "The Birth of a Nation" in 1915. Wos says Pennsylvania was on the forefront of the film censorship movement.

Friday Rundown: The "Great Scott" and Poet, Robert Burns

Jan 22, 2015
SummondByFellas / Flickr

These topics air Friday January 23, 2015 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

Great Scott! 

The New Girl's Fab Five List for Museum Hopping

Jan 22, 2015
Mrs. Gemstone / Flickr

While the overcast days of winter may tempt you to stay inside and binge watch your favorite programs, it’s a good time to get out and see some great museum exhibits. From major metropolitan areas to smaller cities there are some interesting museums to be found.

This week travel contributor Elaine Labalme suggests museums with great exhibits to enjoy on a winter’s day.

When considering a museum visit, Labalme explains, it’s worth considering its size: smaller museums might have a tendency to be less busy than bigger ones, she says.

Plans for the Civic Arena Site Taking Shape

Jan 22, 2015
Mr.T77 / Flickr

Negotiations between the city, the Penguins and the Hill District Community Development Corporation have resulted in plans to move forward with the development of the former Civic Arena Site. We’ll discover what could be next for the site with Hill District CDC President and CEO Marimba Milliones.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/markjsebastian/1264424156/ / Flickr

 

Headaches, carpal tunnel syndrome and joint pain are some work related injuries sending people to the chiropractor. What can be done to create a healthier work environment and reduce sick days?

Chiropractor Dr. Justin Foltz of Pittsburgh Physical Medicine tells us about the newly developed Fit While You Sit program.

Foltz explains that many people are missing work due to a variety of different pains which is affecting their mind set while they work. As humans, we are not meant to sit for long periods of time and need to minimize this down time to prevent stress on the body which, can lead to pain.

Sitting properly and standing more frequently during the workday will make a huge difference on the stress of your body, says Foltz. Some businesses are incorporate standing workstations to minimize the amount of time the body is in one certain position. If you give your muscles a break, they will reward you.

Jarrett Stewart / Flickr

These topics air Thursday January 22, 2015 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

The Future of the Civic Arena Site

Negotiations between the city, the Penguins and the Hill District Community Development Corporation have resulted in plans to move forward with the development of the former Civic Arena Site. We’ll discover what could be next for the site with Hill District CDC President and CEO Marimba Milliones. 

Fit While You Sit

Headaches, carpal tunnel syndrome and joint pain are some work related injuries sending people to the chiropractor. What can be done to create a healthier work environment and reduce sick days? We’ll pose that question to Dr. Justin Foltz who will explain how we can be fit while we sit.

Travel Segment - Museums

From major metropolitan areas to smaller cities there are some interesting museums to be found. This week travel contributor Elaine Labalme suggests museums with great exhibits to enjoy on a winter’s day. 

Ph.D. Graduates Face a Difficult Job Market

Jan 21, 2015
Jens Schott Knudsen / Flickr

The Steel City is justifiably proud of its many universities, but with more education can come more problems.

People graduating with Ph.D.s and other advanced degrees face an employment crisis in today’s university and the larger economy.

Joining us to talk about their efforts in expanding the options for Pittsburghers with advanced degrees are Alexandra Oliver and anupama jain. They're local representatives for Versatile PhD, a business that fosters networking and professional development for people with graduate degrees who may want to explore non-academic work.

Detre Library and Archives Heinz History Center

"90.5 WESA Celebrates Inventing Pittsburgh" is a new historically focused series which airs during "Morning Edition" and on "Essential Pittsburgh." Over the next year, producer Margaret J. Krauss will capture stories from Pittsburgh’s more than 250-year history, connecting the steel city's past to its present.

Krauss previews the new project for us, first by explaining how an expensive rug led to the political downfall of Charles H. Kline, the last elected Republican mayor of Pittsburgh.

By illegally purchasing an item for the city that was over $500 during the Great Depression, he and his rug became a symbol of corrupt city government. 

Krauss says it is small stories like this that illuminate Pittsburgh's roots, and the series is meant to connect the dots:

If you look hard enough, there is a Pittsburgh connection everywhere, but more importantly, Pittsburgh leads everywhere in the sense that it is connected to all these world trends. You can find our [Pittsburgh] DNA across the United States.”

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