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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Essential Pittsburgh
3:45 pm
Fri September 20, 2013

Financial Aid Takes a Surprising Shift

What does "merit aid" really mean today?
Credit Sal Falko / Flickr

Over the past several years, there’s been a shift in the financial aid industry. According to ProPublica reporter Marian Wang, a growing share of financial aid has been given to the highest income quartile, with less offered to those in the lowest income quartile.

Wang says financial aid has “shifted to being more about the schools needs and their enrollment goals than necessarily meeting the needs of the students.”

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Essential Pittsburgh
3:28 pm
Fri September 20, 2013

Don’t Dump That There! What To Do With Household Chemicals

The drain is not the answer.
Credit PA Resources Council / Flickr

How do you get rid of those dusty rusty paint cans, expired medications, old thermometers, batteries, cleaners, and other household chemicals? The PA Resources Council has accumulated 3.5 million pounds of waste and over the last 10 years. They're ready to hold their 69th collection of household chemicals.

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Essential Pittsburgh
6:40 pm
Thu September 19, 2013

Bricolage Encourages Immersive Theater

Credit American Theater Magazine / Bricolage Theater

Engaging adventurous theater and artistic urban immersion. These are some of the key characteristics of the Bricolage Theater that landed them a cover feature in American Theater Magazine.

Bricolage co-founder and artistic director Jeffrey Carpenter is encouraged by the success of the theater and looks to expand its programs to more demographics.

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Essential Pittsburgh
6:37 pm
Thu September 19, 2013

Global Links Finds Success in Giving Medical Surplus to the Needy

Global Links works with local hospitals to transfer supplies to hospitals in need.
Credit Dwight Knox / Symbius Medical / flickr

Dedicated to supporting underprivileged medical facilities both in the region and overseas, Global Links works with hospitals in the greater Pittsburgh area to collect, refurbish and distribute medical supplies.

CEO and co-founder Kathleen Hower says while the company remains firmly rooted in Pittsburgh, they’ll continue to help those in need worldwide.

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Essential Pittsburgh
6:34 pm
Thu September 19, 2013

The "Keys to the City" in Alexandria, Virginia

For a weekend trip to Alexandria, Virginia, take some advice from the New Girl!
Credit Jeanette Runyon / flickr

Visitors to vibrant Alexandria, Virginia will find a city painted with history and proud to show it off.

Travel contributor Elaine Labalme finds the waterfront town both scenic and accessible, especially to visitors with dogs.

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Essential Pittsburgh
6:40 pm
Wed September 18, 2013

A Wide World of Art Coming to Pittsburgh This Fall

Detroit artist Frank Pahl at the Mattress Factory through May 2014
Credit Jennifer Szweda Jordan / 90.5WESA

There are many exciting arts events coming to Pittsburgh this fall. From the 35th anniversary of the Mattress Factory to feminist punk rock and of course, a big ‘ol rubber ducky.

Bill O'Driscoll, Arts & Entertainment Editor for the Pittsburgh City Paper says installations from the Mattress Factory's Detroit in Residence exhibit use found objects to their advantage.

"It was opportunity rather than devastation."

He found the basement exhibit from Scott Hocking especially notable. It utilizes the imagery of the Carrie Furnace in Rankin and salvaged figures from a bible theme park for "a mediation on post-industrial society."

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Essential Pittsburgh
5:53 pm
Wed September 18, 2013

What's on the Menu for Fall Dining in Pittsburgh?

Expect to see more small plates and veggies at some of Pittsburgh's most popular restaurants this fall.
Credit Muy Yum / flickr

If this week’s weather has put you in the mood for Autumnal spices and rich-flavorful comfort foods, you’re in luck. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette restaurant critic Melissa McCart says in the coming weeks, roughly  20 new restaurants will be opening in the Pittsburgh area.

"We're seeing a lot of casual fare. But then again we're also seeing casual small plates with more refined details," says McCart.

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:17 pm
Wed September 18, 2013

Pennsylvania's E-Waste Recycling: A Program in Transition

TVs are one of the most difficult devices to recycle because of the hazardous substances and non-reusable components.
Credit Donna Mazza-PA Resource Council / Flickr

This January saw the implementation of a ban on curbside pickups of electronic waste such as television sets, computer monitors and laptops.

The statewide ban, passed in 2010 as part of the Covered Device Recycling Act, called for all E-Waste to be taken to approved recycling drop-off sites.The process was meant to be simple, but recent difficulties have proven that not to be the case.

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:05 pm
Tue September 17, 2013

Concerns in Governor Corbett’s Medicaid Expansion

Is Gov. Corbett's plan for medicaid expansion in PA a step in the right direction?
Credit 90.5 WESA

Governor Tom Corbett’s medicaid expansion plan sounds like “a step in the right direction” according to Erin Ninehouser, the Education and Outreach Director for Pennsylvania Health Access Network, but she does have some reservations.

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Essential Pittsburgh
3:56 pm
Tue September 17, 2013

Asking for Advice May Be All the Advice You Need

Credit Raul Valdes-Perez / Ganador Press

Raul-Valdes Perez was co-founder, chairman, and nine-year CEO of Vivisimo. He's also the author of Advice is for Winners: How to Get Advice for Better Decisions in Life and Work. He claims the secret to his success is simple: ask for advice when making decisions and you will be more successful.

According to Perez people who need help should ask: What is the task at hand? Do we have enough knowledge and experience to do this confidently? What area of the task do I need help with? Who can help me? How can I reach out to them?

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Essential Pittsburgh
3:52 pm
Tue September 17, 2013

Hispanic Business Contribution in Pittsburgh

The IGA Market on Broadway in Beechview, is one of many businesses catering to the neighborhood's growing Hispanic population.
Credit Market on Broadway IGA / Facebook

As the Hispanic population in the Pittsburgh region grows, businesses touting authentic Latin food are flourishing.

These stores bring culture and exposure to the region, says business contributor Rebecca Harris, Director of the Center for Women’s Entrepreneurship at Chatham University.

They’re also providing area grocery stores with Latin American and Mexican items to fill the ever-increasing demand. 

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Essential Pittsburgh
5:41 pm
Mon September 16, 2013

The "Grandson of Pop Art” Returns Home

Burton Morris designed the logo for Pittsburgh's One World Summit
Credit Burton Morris

Burton Morris has seen his art displayed in the United Nations, Time Magazine, USA Today, the hit TV show Friends, the Paris World Cup, and the 2006 Major League Baseball All Star Game.

He says of all the ways his graphic and colorful art has been presented, he's most impressed with the Heinz History Center's current exhibit. The Pittsburgh native is given a full retrospective, from his earliest art at age 3 to his evolution into the international spotlight.

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Essential Pittsburgh
5:12 pm
Mon September 16, 2013

The U.S. Constitution 224 Years Later: Why it Endures

The Preamble is one of the most well known phrases in the English language.
Credit National Archives / wikipedia

Some people underestimate just how influential the Constitution of the United States has been to the world.

Constitution Day is September 17 and the US Constitution remains the key document used in deciding important Supreme Court cases. But University of Pittsburgh law professor, David Harris notes that the Justices have very different views on how the Constitution should be read.

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Behavioral Health
4:30 pm
Mon September 16, 2013

How to Deal with New School Anxiety

Credit Ken Colwell / Flickr

New school anxiety hits students transitioning between school levels each year. As this academic year gets underway Cathy Petchel, a clinical psychologist at Washington & Jefferson College, is ready to help.

Petchel says the major issues which contribute to new school anxiety stem from a fear of the unknown. That includes new social situations and how to build relationships in this new setting. Heightened academic expectations can also be a source of anxiety.

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Essential Pittsburgh
6:04 pm
Fri September 13, 2013

Tuskegee Airmen Honored with a New Pittsburgh Monument

One of the famous "Red Tail" planes, flown by the Tuskegee Airmen in WWII
Credit Heather McClain / 90.5 WESA

This week marks the opening of the Tuskegee Airmen Exhibit at the Pittsburgh airport as well as the installment of a memorial at Sewickley Cemetary, commemorating those who served during World War II in the all black branches of the Army Air Corps. More than 100 members of the 332nd fighter group and 477th bombardment group came from the Western Pennsylvania region.

Wendell Freeland, one of the four surviving local Airmen, considered his fellow soldiers “the best and brightest.” And despite their completion of intensive military training, along with racial discrimination, the 477th bombardiers never saw combat.

“We were very disappointed. In fact, the whole group was almost completely demoralized because we were looking forward to helping our country overseas. When that bomb dropped, it killed our chances,” says former bomber pilot Edward Harris, referring to the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan.

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Essential Pittsburgh
5:16 pm
Fri September 13, 2013

Preserving the Harvest, Beyond Canning

Pickling is a fairly simple preservation method. Find out how to create bread & butter pickles
Credit Rhonda Schuldt / Local Goodness

Food contributor, Rhonda Schuldt of LocalGoodness.com knows a number of ways for you to preserve your harvest this time of year. She shares some simple methods which go beyond the process of canning.

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Essential Pittsburgh
5:02 pm
Fri September 13, 2013

Night Football Returns To Its Place of Origin

The 1892 Mansfield football team hosted the first night game.
Credit Mansfield University Blog

One hundred and twenty-one years ago the first night football game was played in Mansfield, Pennsylvania. The game was between Mansfield University formerly known as Mansfield State and Wyoming Seminary.

The teams played with the help of a new promotional lighting device from General Electric, the light bulb. The setup involved a string of lights wrapped around a wooden pole placed in the middle of the field.

Steve McCloskey, Director of Athletic Operations and Sports Information, says the lighting post “proved to be a detriment” to the game, as multiple “players ran face first into the pole because they had trouble seeing it, or it just kind of snuck up on them.”

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:12 pm
Thu September 12, 2013

Mayor's Right-Hand Man Testifies Before Grand Jury

Credit Noah Brode/90.5 WESA

Last week Mayor Luke Ravenstahl’s Chief of Staff, Yarone Zober spent more than an hour and half behind closed doors testifying before a grand jury. 

The news follows reports that former Pittsburgh Chief of Police, Nate Harper will plead guilty to conspiracy and tax evasion for diverting funds from unauthorized accounts.  Many believe the federal investigation aims to look into all elements of Mayor Ravenstahl’s personal life.

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:38 pm
Thu September 12, 2013

Reza Aslan on The Life & Times of Jesus of Nazareth

Credit RezaAslan.com

Religious scholar and best-selling author, Reza Aslan challenges many long-held assumptions about the leader of the Christian religion in his book Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth.

He has received criticism for his frank examination of the 1st century Jewish leader because he does not paint Jesus as a celestial “deity on earth.”

Instead, Aslan has illustrated the political and social importance of his life. “When you’re ushering in the rule of God, you’re ushering out the rule of Caesar,” he explains.

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:24 pm
Thu September 12, 2013

Traveling to Oktoberfest Celebrations With the New Girl

Contrary to popular belief, Oktoberfest starts in the month of September, not October.
Credit Paul Vincent / Flickr

From the wurst to the brats, Oktoberfest celebrations are just around the corner. Travel contributor Elaine Labalme tours festivals from Ohio to Texas, recommending the best and most entertaining German heritage festivities.

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Essential Pittburgh
5:09 pm
Wed September 11, 2013

PTSD Treatment for Flight 93 Responders

Plane debris at the flight 93 crash site in Shanksville, PA. There's new support for first responders who worked among the wreckage.
Credit Flight 93 Memorial/National Park Service / Department of Justice

It's been twelve years since the terrorist attacks of 9/11. The events of that day still haunt many of the responders who worked at the World Trade Centers, the Pentagon and Shanksville, PA.

In July of 2011 the World Trade Center Health Program, run by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health under the CDC, began offering counseling for responders who are suffering from symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. On May 1 of this year Flight 93 and Pentagon responders were offered this counseling.

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:09 pm
Wed September 11, 2013

Intergenerational Tutoring: The Benefits of Learning From Seniors

Oasis Tutor Coordinator John Spehar and Tutor Charlene Briggs
Credit Marcus Charleston / 90.5 WESA

With emphasis on maintaining positive intergenerational relationships and boosting the self-esteem of struggling students, the OASIS Tutoring Program recruits and trains older adults to tutor kids in the Pittsburgh Public and Woodland Hills school districts.

Tutor Coordinator John Spehar and tutor Charlene Briggs say the program is beneficial for students’ academic and emotional health.

“If their self-esteem is higher, they’re more interested to learn and work on activities,” says Spehar.

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:16 pm
Wed September 11, 2013

America's Role in Global Conflicts

President Obama made his case, Tuesday night for a punitive strike against the Syrian government, if diplomatic efforts fail.
Credit Lawrence Jackson / Whitehouse.gov

Last night the President made his case for retaliation in Syria, in response to the chemical attack on August 21st, in the suburbs of Damascus.

Although he stated that he was willing to try diplomacy one last time, President Obama said Bashar Assad’s act of terrorism should not go unanswered.

“The President made a strong case and he laid out his reasons, but I don’t think that it swayed many people despite the fact that he made the best case that he possibly could,” says Dr. Taylor Seybolt, Assistant Professor at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public and International Affairs.

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:52 pm
Tue September 10, 2013

The Crisis in Syria, from a Pittsburgh Perspective

A hospital in Syria after being targeted by a government air strike.
Credit Syrian American Medical Society / Facebook

Dr. Basel Termanini, Syrian American Medical Society Pittsburgh Chapter President, was born and grew up in Aleppo, Syria. Dr. Termanini has lived in Pittsburgh for 16 years and has visited his home country almost every summer with his family.

During his most recent visits, he says security and government corruption have been worse than ever before. Dr. Termanini feels much more comfortable in areas that are not controlled by the Syrian government. One of the biggest problems Syrian citizens face is government issued air strikes at medical facilities.

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:43 pm
Tue September 10, 2013

The Business of Major League Baseball

Credit Jwalter522 / Flickr

Pittsburgh Pirates fans are rejoicing after last night’s win against the Texas Rangers. The rare inter-league game insured the Bucco’s first winning season in 20 years.

This resurgence of Pittsburgh baseball has not only bolstered the morale of the Steel City, but proved to be monetarily successful. The Pirates have produced larger revenue this year than any other since tracking began in 1998. Business contributor Rebecca Harris speaks with MLB.com reporter Jonathan Mayo and Boston Red Sox President and CEO Larry Lucchino about the business of baseball.

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