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 
Genre: 
Composer ID: 
5187f157e1c837e16b69e499|5187f152e1c837e16b69e482

Pages

Essential Pittsburgh
6:09 pm
Fri July 19, 2013

City Paper Critic Says "Pacific Rim is So Much Better Than the Trailer"

Did Pacific Rim live up to your expectations?
Credit Pacific Rim / Facebook

A diverse array of films are hitting screens around town. One film of note for the average Pittsburgher is A New York Heartbeat. Pittsburgh City Paper film critic, Al Hoff says movie makers attempted to make Pittsburgh look like Brooklyn in the 1950s. When Hoff asked the film creator why the film was shot in Pittsburgh, she was told it's because of the city’s “gritty alleys, rusty bridges and lack of contemporary graffiti.” Hoff describes the film as a small-scale movie, with a low budget feel, but not bad if you’re looking for an off-beat love story and views of Pittsburgh.

Read more
Essential Pittsburgh
3:30 pm
Fri July 19, 2013

Rare Cars & High Speeds at the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix

Vintage cars are back to race in Schenley Park this weekend
Credit PghVintageGP / Flickr

In the last week you may have noticed classic cars rolling through the East End or parked with their hoods propped up and on display. This Saturday some of those vintage cars will race a 2.3 mile street course through Schenley Park’s many twists and turns, at speeds of more than 100mph in the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix. Board member and racer Mike Zappa says he’s prepped his 1962 MGB roadster by checking safety wires, bolts, tires and anyplace fluids could leak. Overall, for the vintage race car owner, Zappa says it takes two things to really prepare a 50 year old roadster to race, a lot of patience and a lot of time.

Zappa says while he’s able to dedicate the time, “the patience runs short because you want things to get done sooner instead of later.”

Read more
Essential Pittsburgh
6:38 pm
Thu July 18, 2013

Voter ID On Trial: An Update From the Capitol

The ongoing voter ID law case is moving away from claims that the law will prevent voter fraud.
Credit Joe Shlabotnik/Flickr


Pennsylvania’s controversial voter ID law has come back to trial in the Commonwealth court, and both sides are making serious plays.  WITF’s  capital reporter Mary Wilson says the first few days of testimony were brimming with testimony from those challenging the laws, but talk of voter fraud -- one of the issues legislators emphasized most when passing the law -- was surprisingly limited.

Read more
Essential Pittsburgh
6:25 pm
Thu July 18, 2013

Internships: Drawing the Line Between Experience & Exploitation

Hundreds of students flock to this internship & job fair at Penn State University
Credit Penn State News / Flickr

Is scoring the ideal unpaid internship a boon or a financial burden for college students looking to break into the job market? A recent ruling by a New York court against Fox Searchlight Pictures over their misuse of interns has many questioning the value of doing unpaid work for credit or experience. And leaving employers wondering what sort of labor they can ask an intern to do.

According to Ben Bratman, an associate professor who specializes in employment law at the University of Pittsburgh Law School, what separates an unpaid internship from exploitation is the learning element. While making copies from time to time isn’t illegal, what some firms are guilty of is using interns “to replace what an employee would normally do.”

Read more
Essential Pittsburgh
4:41 pm
Wed July 17, 2013

Former Whistleblower Says Exposing Truth Can Be Lonely & Daunting

Former whistleblower James Holzrichter gives advice to Edward Snowden and any other person labeled as a whistleblower.
Credit Screenshot of the film Prism / Wikipedia

While working as internal auditor for Northrop Grumman, James Holzrichter noticed that his company was falsely inflating defense costs in order to receive more money from the government.  He describes the experience of being faced with a daunting decision to either turn in his findings to higher authorities or keep quiet with the knowledge that he was working for a dishonest company.

Read more
Essential Pittsburgh
4:23 pm
Wed July 17, 2013

What Lies Beneath: The Internet's Dark Side

The Undernet is an anonymous network used for everything from arms dealers and narcotics traders to journalists in censored countries.
Credit Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Beneath a sea of hashtags, behind the walls of Facebook users and beyond the top ten hits of a Google search is a set of websites and resources on the Internet called the “Undernet.” Also known as the “Dark Web,” these sites are not indexed by search engines and can provide complete anonymity to users.

Carnegie Mellon University Professor and Network Security Expert David Brumley explains this hidden Internet and the many legal, illegal and beneficial actions that occur within this web.

Read more
Essential Pittsburgh
4:14 pm
Wed July 17, 2013

Duquesne Professor Develops Technology That Uncovers Rowling's Pseudonym

Joula has developed a technology that uses an author's vocabulary and style to determine possible pseudonyms.
Credit Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Duquesne University Professor Patrick Joula received an email from the London Sunday Times last week.  The Times was asking him to utilize an authorial identification technology he had been developing for years in order to determine if the new crime novel, The Cuckoo’s Calling was written by the famous J.K. Rowling. The paper had received an anonymous tweet indicating the author, Robert Galbraith, was actually Rowling. 

Read more
Essential Pittsburgh
6:29 pm
Tue July 16, 2013

Expanding Domestic Partner Benefits in Pittsburgh

Bruce Kraus is Pittsburgh City Council member for District 3
Credit City Council District 3 Office

For Pittsburgh city councilman Bruce Kraus, the reason he introduced the Equal Benefits Ordinance to council can be summed up in one word: equality.

“It’s the right thing to do,” says Kraus of the ordinance, which will require private companies contracted with the city for jobs of more than $250,000 to extend benefits to domestic partners, including those of the same sex. “It sends a message of inclusiveness,” he adds.

Read more
Essential Pittsburgh
6:28 pm
Tue July 16, 2013

LGBT Health Concerns

Dr. Ron Stall
Credit UPMC

According to Dr. Ron Stall, director of the Center for LGBT Health Research at the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public Health, the dearth of investment in sexual health research, especially for the LGBT community, is something of an American tradition. Primarily due to the hot-button nature of conversations about sexuality and sexual practices, “the US has been slow to invest in sexual health in general.”

This additional roadblock makes the advances that have been made in the treatment of sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV all the more impressive. According to Stall, thanks to breakthrough drug research, HIV “has now become a chronic manageable disease much like diabetes,” for those who are aware of their illness and have access to drugs.

Read more
Essential Pittsburgh
6:19 pm
Tue July 16, 2013

The Business of Manufacturing With Rebecca Harris

Could additive manufacturing, be the future of manufacturing?
Credit Amy Buser / Flickr

The resurgent manufacturing sector has been a boon in America’s struggling economy, but women are being left out of the action. In her second segment on the upswing in manufacturing jobs in the US, business contributor Rebecca Harris talks about the way that the new world of manufacturing is keying off of cutting edge innovation to create jobs.

Read more
Essential Pittsburgh
3:33 pm
Mon July 15, 2013

Traditional Gender Roles Playing Smaller Role in Modern Matrimony

The distribution of chores in the home are shifting away from traditional gender role expectations to ability and interest in tasks.
Credit Shelley Panzarella / flickr

Watch out June and Ward, traditional marriage is rapidly evolving and research indicates that typical gender-based expectations in the household are becoming obsolete for couples as they make the decision to marry or cohabitate.

Dr. Connie Lappa, psychotherapist and adjunct professor at Robert Morris University and The University of Pittsburgh and Dr. Christine Whelan, visiting Assistant Professor in the University of Pittsburgh Department of Sociology share their findings on modern matrimony and the most successful relationships.

Read more
Essential Pittsburgh
3:23 pm
Mon July 15, 2013

Sports Talk with Bob: Baseball's All Star Game Turns 80

The Pittsburgh Pirates are a member of the National League and have hosted the All Star Game five times since its inception in 1933.
Credit Alan English / flickr

Tomorrow night at Citi Field in New York, the American League will play the National League in the 80th annual All Star Game. Pittsburgh Post Gazette Sports Writer Emeritus Bob Dvorchak explains the origins of the game in Chicago, Pittsburgh’s experience hosting the All Stars and the modern character of the game.

Read more
Essential Pittsburgh
5:55 pm
Fri July 12, 2013

Are Gratuities Becoming Gratuitous?

Are you noticing more tip jars on the counters of businesses you frequent?
Credit David Dugdale / Flickr

A recent article in the online magazine Slate called Tipping is an Abomination calls for the end of this practice. It’s a custom that originated in Europe. It transferred across the ocean when wealthy Americans returned from the continent. At first is it was slow to catch on but now it seems tip jars are as ubiquitous as cell phones.

Read more
Essential Pittsburgh
4:13 pm
Fri July 12, 2013

Local Goodness: Roadtrip for Ripe Cherries and Erie Beaches

U-Pick Cherries at West Gate Farms in Erie, PA
Rhonda Schuldt Local Goodness

Nestled in the northern edge of Erie County is a region of rich and fertile farmland slowly becoming recognized for grape growing, vineyards and a seasonal favorite: cherries. Rhonda Schuldt of Local Goodness suggests some favorite destinations in Erie, PA including local diners, beaches and fruit farms.

Read more
Essential Pittsburgh
8:18 pm
Thu July 11, 2013

Steelers Former Offensive Linemen Speaks Out About Stigma of Epilepsy

Alan Faneca was an All-Pro Guard for the Steelers
Credit Steel City Hobbies / Wikipedia


Former Steelers offensive lineman and all-pro guard, Alan Faneca returns to Pittsburgh this week, as honorary chairman of the Epilepsy Foundation of Central and Western Pennsylvania’s 25th Family Fun Run and Walk, taking place Saturday.

Faneca was diagnosed with epilepsy as a teenager in Texas. And despite the condition, he played 13 seasons in the NFL, 10 of which with the Steelers, including a victory over Seattle in Super Bowl XL.

Read more
Essential Pittsburgh
8:17 pm
Thu July 11, 2013

Reporting Wage Violations at Pennsylvania Hotels

The Fairmont Hotel Pittsburgh
Credit Martha Rial / PublicSource


Pennsylvania ranks fourth in the country -- behind Texas, Alabama and Florida -- for the number of hotels with labor law violations, according to the Department of Labor and a recent PublicSource story. This includes wage and child labor violations.

PublicSource Reporter Leah Samuel says because many hotel workers are low skilled and in the hospitality industry, where tips may be given, they’re especially vulnerable to wage violations.

“In Pennsylvania, you can actually pay someone as low as $2.83 an hour if they receive tips,”  Samuel explains. So even if a hotel worker normally gets paid at or above the minimum wage, when it comes to overtime, the rate might be 1.5 times that $2.83, which is illegal.

“It’s supposed to be 1.5 times the regular wage they would receive, minus something called the ‘tip credit’.”

Read more
Essential Pittsburgh
8:17 pm
Thu July 11, 2013

Central New York State of Mind

Keuka Lake is one of the many bodies of water that makes up the Finger Lakes region of New York State
Credit Darren McGee / Finger Lakes Region

Upstate New York covers a lot of territory. From the Adirondacks to the Thousand Islands there's a lot to see in the Empire State. Travel contributor Elaine Labalme scopes out the central New York region, from Cooperstown to the Finger Lakes.

“The Finger Lakes region is fairly close to western Pennsylvania and there’s lots of arts and recreation you’ll want to access there and it’s an easy trip from Pittsburgh,” says Labalme.

Read more
Essential Pittsburgh
4:31 pm
Wed July 10, 2013

ACLU of Pennsylvania Sues Commonwealth on Behalf of Same-Sex Couples & Families

ACLU Pennsylvania has filed a federal lawsuit against the state's ban on same-sex marriage.
Credit Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Two weeks after the Supreme Court of the United States overturned key provisions in the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania has filed a federal lawsuit to overturn the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.

The 23 plaintiffs, including 10 same-sex couples, one widow, and two teenage children of one of the couples, say they've seen firsthand the inequality of PA law in its discrimination against same-sex couples. 

ACLU Staff Attorney Molly Tack-Hooper and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh, Anthony Infanti, weigh in on the legality of the lawsuit and the path for equality in Pennsylvania paved by the repeal of DOMA.

Read more
Essential Pittsburgh
4:00 pm
Wed July 10, 2013

Micek On ACLU Lawsuit, "Payday Loans" & PennDOT's Lost Construction Season

Many issues still remain unaddressed in the PA legislature.
Credit Tim Lambert / WITF

In the wake of Governor Corbett’s budget signing and the Supreme Court’s overturn of the Defense of Marriage Act, John Micek Opinions Editor of the Harrisburg Patriot-News explains the many pressing issues at the state level. 

Read more
Essential Pittsburgh
2:17 pm
Wed July 10, 2013

White Nose Syndrome Threatens Bat Populations in Pennsylvania

Little brown bat with white-nose syndrome.
Credit Marvin Moriarty / United States Fish and Wildlife Service/Wikipedia

Not even Batman can save his fellow bat friends from a deadly disease that has been threatening the bat population across Pennsylvania.  White-Nose Syndrome (WNS) is a disease caused by a fungus that, when introduced into underground workings such as caves and mines, begins to eat away at live skins cells of hibernating bats. 

This originally European fungus is cold loving, meaning it prefers very cold, damp underground environments, precisely where non-migratory bats tend to flock for hibernation. When bats hibernate, however, their immune systems completely shut down creating what Endangered Mammal Specialist Greg Turner calls “the perfect storm.”

Read more
Essential Pittsburgh
4:55 pm
Tue July 9, 2013

Sustainable Jobs For Pennsylvania in the 21st Century

From Blue Collar to Green Collar Jobs: What's Pennsylvania's industry future?
David Bennett Flickr

Before exploring the issue of creating green jobs in the 21st century economy, Essential Pittsburgh took the time to air some answers to environmental questions from listeners.

In response to a question on why the energy conversation won't embrace the possibility of more drastic advances in alternative energy such as nuclear fusion, James Clad, a consultant and distinguished research fellow at the National Defense University acknowledged that the energy conversation had been turned into a one note discussion on fossil fuels. 

"The energy world is defined by oil and gas and everything else is just an add on." said Clad

Read more
Essential Pittsburgh
3:58 pm
Tue July 9, 2013

Speaking Volumes on Essential Pittsburgh - Fawzi Haimor

Credit fawzihaimor.com

What does a good novel have in common with an orchestral score? Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra assistant conductor Fawzi Haimor, talking with 90.5 WESA Morning Edition Host Josh Raulerson, says, "more than you might think." In this week's edition of Speaking Volumes Fawzi Haimor discusses books that are music to his eyes.

Essential Pittsburgh
3:54 pm
Tue July 9, 2013

The Business of Manufacturing with Rebecca Harris

Business Contributor Rebecca Harris is the Director of the Chatham Center for Women's Entrepreneurship
Credit Rebecca Harris / Chatham Center for Women's Entrepreneurship

According to business contributor Rebecca Harris, rumors of American manufacturing's demise have been greatly exaggerated.

The manufacturing industry in the United States is growing in a very real way, contributing roughly $1.74 trillion to the US GDP on an annual basis for the past several years and continuing to grow. According to Harris, many large name American companies, including GE and Whirlpool, are actually bringing parts of their manufacturing operations back to the US, thereby adding even more manufacturing jobs and openings. Over the past 3 years, manufacturers have added roughly 500,000 new jobs to their operations.

Harris adds that the manufacturing sector isn't close to slowing down.  There are still vacant jobs to fill. The only problem is finding well-trained laborers to fill it.

Read more
Essential Pittsburgh
6:24 pm
Mon July 8, 2013

United Nations Report Examines "Climate Extremes" Over Past Decade

Sea ice, shown here in Nunavut, in northern Canada, reflects more sunshine than in the past, while and open ocean absorbs more, accelerating melting.
Credit Wikipedia Commons

Extreme weather, greenhouse gases, carbon monoxide and glacial melting; all these buzzwords have increasingly entered the public vernacular in the past 20 years. 

Following a UN report by the World Meteorological Organization, scientists expect that the topic of global warming and climate change will continue to be a hot issue.  The report, “The Global Climate 2001-2010: A Decade of Extremes,” cites that the past decade has seen an abundance of greenhouse gas emissions that has caused increased temperatures on both hemispheres, all oceans and an accompanying rapid decline in arctic sea ice and glaciers. 

Director of Science at the Carnegie Science Center, John Radzilowicz, has been following the topic of global climate change and was not necessarily surprised by the UN report.  He was optimistic, however, that the report was gaining attention and combined a multitude of data pointing to the extremes in weather conditions throughout the world.

Read more
Essential Pittsburgh
5:40 pm
Mon July 8, 2013

R.A. Dickey Pitches Memoirs and the Knuckleball

Starting pitcher R.A. Dickey of the Toronto Blue Jays in a game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on April 23, 2013 in Baltimore, Maryland.
Credit Keith Allison / Wikipedia Commons

Toronto Blue Jays pitcher,R.A. Dickey is a religious man, a family man and the only pitcher in the major leagues that still throws a unique pitch known as the knuckleball.  He addresses all of this in his book, Wherever I Wind Up: My Quest for Truth, Authenticity and the Perfect Knuckleball

Last year, after pitching for the New York Mets, Dickey became the first knuckleballer to win the prestigious National League Cy Young Award

Read more

Pages