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
8:27 pm
Thu March 13, 2014

Friday Rundown: Room to Improve PA's Open Records Law & Celebrating PA History

Pennsbury Manor in Bucks County was the American home of William Penn
Credit Shuvaev / wikipedia

These topics air Friday March 14, 2014 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. To leave a question or comment before or after the show dial 412-256-8783. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002. More Essential Pittsburgh segments can be heard here.

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Essential Pittsburgh
6:14 pm
Thu March 13, 2014

Reasons to Travel for MLB Spring Training Part 2: The Cactus League

Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin West is one of the many attractions Elaine Labalme recommends visiting if you travel to Arizona for spring training
Credit Artotem / flickr

Last week we ventured to Florida to get an early look at Major League Baseball spring training in the Grapefruit League. This week, we venture west to see the players in action in the Cactus League.

Travel contributor Elaine Labalme  says spring training is the time to see a lot of teams in the cactus league that you wouldn’t ordinarily see. Check out a list of her recommendations:

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Essential Pittsburgh
5:19 pm
Thu March 13, 2014

Redefining Manhood and Male Leadership to Prevent Gender Violence

President Barack Obama, with Vice President Joe Biden, announcing a special task force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault. Katz says men in positions of power can influence social views of sexist.
Credit Lawrence Jackson / White House.gov

Dr. Jackson Katz lectures throughout the country on how social views of masculinity contribute to gender violence. He’s in Pittsburgh as part of the Center for Victim’s new Men Ending Violence Challenge known as the MEN Challenge.

He describes portrayals of hyper masculinity in the media as "a prescription for dysfunctional behavior," and connects social perceptions of manhood with violence.

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Essential Pittsbrugh
2:15 pm
Thu March 13, 2014

Proving Personalized Support for Probationers Reduces Prison Reentry

The fact that our prisons are overcrowded is not news. But how do we help formerly incarcerated people re-enter society and prevent them from becoming repeat offenders?

One solution could be taking place at the Allegheny County probation office day reporting centers. They focus on medium, and high risk offenders in order to identify services and supervision that can be most helpful.

Ron Seyko is the probation office director for Allegheny County. He said the job of the probation office is to motivate individuals to get training and life skills that will help them become contributing members of society.

When it comes to the day centers, he says there’s a body of research supporting their efforts. When compared with probation offices that don’t have reporting centers the numbers are compelling.

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Essential Pittsburgh
10:45 pm
Wed March 12, 2014

Thursday Rundown: Redefining Masculinity and Making Probation Successful

Scrutinizing notions of masculinity with Dr. Jackson Katz
Credit Dennis Hill / Flickr

These topics air Thursday March 13, 2014 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. To leave a question or comment before or after the show dial 412-256-8783. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002. More Essential Pittsburgh segments can be heard here.

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Essential Pittsburgh
5:16 pm
Wed March 12, 2014

Pitt Ukrainian Scholar Explains Varied Responses to Russian Conflict

Assistant Professor of Music at the University of Pittsburgh Adriana Helbig is one of many Pittsburgh residents with Ukrainian heritage.
Credit adrianahelbig.com

Ethnomusicologist and anthropologist Adriana Helbig is one of many Pittsburgh residents with Ukrainian heritage. She travels to Kiev each year for family, and for work as an assistant professor of music and a faculty member in Cultural Studies, Women's Studies, Global Studies, and the Center for Russian and East European Studies at the University of Pittsburgh.

Helbig shared insight on Ukraine's standoff with Russia including why nations in the European Union are struggling to help Ukraine with this conflict.

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:12 pm
Wed March 12, 2014

Mayor Bill Peduto Responds to Pittsburghers' Transportation Questions

What would it take to expand routes for the T?
Credit Heather McClain / 90.5WESA

From potholes, to public transit, to bike lanes, the possibilities of transportation reforms in Pittsburgh are endless.

As part of a monthly conversation with Essential Pittsburgh, Mayor Bill Peduto explained his vision for better transportation and who he's working with to make those plans possible.

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Essential Pittsburgh
7:59 pm
Tue March 11, 2014

Wednesday Rundown: Talking Transportation with the Mayor and Local Views on Ukraine

Mayor Bill Peduto discussing transportation and land use as a Pittsburgh city council representative in 2012
Credit Jonny Goldstein / Flickr

These topics air Wednesday March 12, 2014 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. To leave a question or comment before or after the show dial 412-256-8783. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002. More Essential Pittsburgh segments can be heard here.

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Essential Pittsburgh
6:59 pm
Tue March 11, 2014

Making Sense of Pittsburgh's Nonsensical Roads

An aerial view of Pittsburgh
Credit Phil Quinn / wikipedia

Pittsburgh’s topography is pretty unique as far as cities go. It's essentially a peninsula surrounded by mountains. And with the city's numerous bridges and triangular shape, facilitating efficient traffic patterns has long been a challenge for the region.

Pittsburgher Phil Anderson runs the popular blog The Nonsensical Roads of Pittsburgh, where he records his observations about bizarre traffic and road layouts. He's driven in cities throughout the world and seems to find Pittsburgh infrastructure both amusing and frustrating.

“You have stages of driving on Pittsburgh roads," he said. "There’s anger, grief, and eventually you have acceptance.”

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Essential Pittsburgh
3:24 pm
Tue March 11, 2014

The Business of St. Patrick's Day in America & Ireland

Anne Flynn Schlicht modeled a Pittsburgh St. Patrick's Day parade t-shirt and tasted "Irish Potatoes", a coconut creme confection sold in the US. She was not impressed.
Credit Katherine Blackley / 90.5 WESA

From parades to shamrocks and the wearin’ o’ the green you see a lot of people celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in Pittsburgh. But how does the U.S. celebration of this holiday differ from Ireland’s?

Anne Flynn Schlicht, Assistant Director at the Center for Women's Entrepreneurship at Chatham University and a native of Cork, Ireland, discussed the business of St. Patrick’s Day.

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Essential Pittsburgh
8:07 pm
Mon March 10, 2014

Tuesday Rundown: Making Sense of Pittsburgh Roads and The Business of St. Patrick's Day

Credit Ik's World Trip / Flickr

These topics air Tuesday March 11, 2014 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. To leave a question or comment before or after the show dial 412-256-8783. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002. More Essential Pittsburgh segments can be heard here.

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Essential Pittsburgh
5:29 pm
Mon March 10, 2014

Can a Capsule Camera Replace the Colonoscopy?

This colon pill camera is what many believe will encourage more people to get screening done for colon cancer.
Credit Euchiasmus / Wikipedia Commons

Colon cancer is the second most common cancer-related death in the U.S.

The FDA has approved a new colonoscopy capsule which is a camera in pill form. There are many advantages to this capsule, but people are wondering if this new colon cancer detection device will replace the colonoscopy.

Dr. Edward Chu, deputy director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute says that the pill is not a replacement for the colonoscopy.

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Life of Learning
4:57 pm
Mon March 10, 2014

Standardized Testing, Academic Success, and How a Local School Is Getting It Right

Standardized testing and the concept of "teaching to the test" are topics that Dan Hornberger addresses in the documentary "Standardized"
Credit Flickr user dcosand

Standardized: Lies, Money & Civil Rights

Dan Hornberger has been a high school English teacher for more than twenty years. During these years, his concerns regarding schools teaching to standardized tests spurred him to action.

The result is a documentary titled Standardized: Lies, Money & Civil Rights which he produced and co-directed.

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:37 pm
Mon March 10, 2014

March Madness = Academic Slump For Student-Athletes

An image of the NCAA tournament from 2008. The tournament always attracts a lot of revenue and attention during the month of March and early April.
Credit Jeff Turner / Wikipedia Commons

Millions of tournament brackets, underdogs, perennial powerhouses, more than $1 billion and basketball make up the spectacle known as March Madness.  At this time of year, how much is the tournament taking away from student athlete's education?

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Sportswriter Emeritus Bob Dvorchak says classroom time doesn’t seem to have the priority that it used to.

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Essential Pittsburgh
8:17 pm
Sun March 9, 2014

Monday Rundown: Cancer Prevention in a Pill, Standardized Tests & High Performing Schools

Credit albertogp123 / flickr

These topics air Monday March 10, 2014 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. To leave a question or comment before or after the show dial 412-256-8783. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002. More Essential Pittsburgh segments can be heard here.

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Essential Pittsburgh
6:17 pm
Fri March 7, 2014

Exiled Writer Moniru Ravanipur Shares Insight on Free Speech in Iran

Exiled Iranian Writer, Moniru Ravanipur, is in Pittsburgh for a joint residency at City of Asylum and The Ellis School.
Credit Nick Frost / 90.5 WESA

As a young writer, Moniru Ravanipur, hoped that her writing would keep her alive. But more often than not it caused conflict with the Islamic government of Iran, where she grew up.

After waiting nearly seven years to get permission to publish her work, then ten years for her first novel, Ravanipur’s work was quickly banned.

“I didn’t write before the revolution. I wrote a short collection story that immediately they burnt and banned...That was not the only story that they banned.”

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Essential Pittsburgh
5:52 pm
Fri March 7, 2014

What Does Pittsburgh Have In Common with Providence, RI and Copenhagen?

An image of Providence, Rhode Island one of the smaller cities that Andy Cutler believes can help Pittsburgh and can be helped by Pittsburgh in the new Smaller Cities Unite program.
Credit Gary Brownell / Flickr

What can small cities learn from each other?

This was the question Andy Cutler answered when he created the Smaller Cities Unite program. Cutler is the driving force behind a movement to connect smaller cities throughout the world.

Thomas Buell, director of marketing at Global Pittsburgh, believes that Cutler’s program can also improve the sister city program that Pittsburgh has with several cities.

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:15 pm
Fri March 7, 2014

Meatballs a la Carte with Melissa McCart

According to food contributor, Melissa McCart, meatballs are making their way back onto menus in Pittsburgh.
Credit Kiran Foster / Flickr

As the polar vortex and extreme cold begin to wane, what’s new in the world of Pittsburgh dining?

Food contributor and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette food writer Melissa McCart discusses how comfort foods are making a comeback at restaurants in Pittsburgh because of this cold season.

Comfort food, homemade meatballs in particular, have been very popular this winter.

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Essential Pittsburgh
8:17 am
Fri March 7, 2014

Friday Rundown: Writer in Exile, Small Cities United, & Dining News

Credit Matt Niemi / Flickr

These topics air Friday March 7, 2014 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. To leave a question or comment before or after the show dial 412-256-8783. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002. More Essential Pittsburgh segments can be heard here.

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90.5 WESA Celebrates
3:30 am
Fri March 7, 2014

How Dr. Jim Withers Takes Medical Care to Pittsburgh's Homeless

Dr. Jim Withers makes his rounds.
Credit Photo courtesy of Operation Safety Net, Pittsburgh Mercy Health System

Read and listen to a story about Dr. Jim Withers as part of a series honoring the individuals who make a difference in people’s lives: 90.5 WESA Celebrates People Making a Difference.

For more than 20 years, Withers has been making his rounds in a most unusual way as “The Pittsburgh Street Doctor.”

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:09 pm
Thu March 6, 2014

State Chancellor Has A Perfect Storm of Problems in PA Higher Education

Mr. Frank T. Brogan became the fourth chancellor of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education on October 1, 2013.
Credit passhe.edu

Declining Enrollments, stagnant state support, and tuition issues are just some of the problems the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) is facing this year. Frank Brogan is Chancellor of the PASSHE and is trying to lead the organization to solutions for these many problems.

“The prime mission laid out in law for the PASSHE schools, as the system was created about 30 years ago, was to dedicate itself to being the most affordable system of public higher education in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania. We continue to be that but as you might imagine, costs going up, it continues to become more and more difficult to maintain that kind of a status.”

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:29 pm
Thu March 6, 2014

Finding the Value of Agriculture in Communities of Color

LaTasha Mayes is Founder and Executive Director of New Voices Pittsburgh: Women of Color for Reproductive Justice
Credit Heather McClain / 90.5 WESA

Today marks the beginning of the 6th annual Kinks, Locks & Twists: Environmental and Reproductive Justice conference.

New Voices Pittsburgh: Women of Color for Reproductive Justice coordinates the event and facilitates conversations on health, wellness, and the environment as they pertain to communities of color.

LaTasha Mayes, Founder and Executive Director of New Voices Pittsburgh discussed the evolution of the conference and its connection to the community over the years.

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:13 pm
Thu March 6, 2014

5 Reasons Why People Should Go to MLB Spring Training

McKechnie Field is the spring training home of the Pittsburgh Pirates and is named for Bradenton, FL resident and baseball great, Bill McKechnie, who led the Pirates to a World Series title in 1925.
Credit Jamesb01 / Wikipedia Commons

This month the call of “play ball” will be heard in ballparks around the country.

Fans of the game who want an early look at the boys of summer may want to venture to Florida to participate in the annual spring training games for Major League Baseball.

Correspondent Elaine Labalme discussed the five benefits of traveling to these games.

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Essential Pittsburgh
7:02 pm
Wed March 5, 2014

Thursday Rundown: Higher Ed Challenges in PA & Wellness in Communities of Color

Fresh produce at the East Liberty farmer's market
Credit Heather McClain / 90.5WESA

These topics air Thursday March 6, 2014 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. To leave a question or comment before or after the show dial 412-256-8783. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002. More Essential Pittsburgh segments can be heard here.

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Essential Pittsburgh
6:06 pm
Wed March 5, 2014

An American Odyssey: Exploring the American Masters

Thomas Cole (1801–1848), Catskill Mountain House, c. 1845–47. Oil on canvas, 22 ¼x 30 ¾ x 5 ¼ inches. Courtesy of The Warner Foundation and Warner Collection of American Art.
Credit The Warner Foundation and Warner Collection of American Art.

An American Odyssey: the Warner Collection of American Painting is a new exhibit that has opened at the Frick Pittsburgh.

Featuring the paintings of Winslow Homer, Mary Cassatt, Gilbert Stuart and other American masters.  Sarah Hall, director of curatorial affairs for the Frick Pittsburgh gives a preview of the exhibit.

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