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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Composer ID: 
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New to the 'Burgh
12:40 pm
Wed March 19, 2014

Why Doesn't Pittsburgh Have an NBA Team?

Pittsburgh has had major league basketball teams before, such as the Pittsburgh Pipers, but they didn't work out in the long run.
Photo courtesy of the Heinz History Center Library and Archives

Sports teams enjoy an intense amount of popularity in Pittsburgh.

The Steelers hold more Super Bowl victories than any other franchise, the Penguins enjoy the highest TV ratings for any NHL team since 2000 and the Pirates are experiencing a surge in popularity following their first winning season in 21 years.

Even college teams like the Pitt Panthers or the Duquesne Dukes hold strong followings.

So why doesn’t Pittsburgh, with its avid sports fans, have a major league basketball team? And will we ever get one?

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Essential Pittsburgh
12:13 pm
Wed March 19, 2014

What Does Dan Rather Think Of Journalism Today? Three Takeaways

Broadcast Journalist, Dan Rather, worked for CBS for 44 years, 24 of those years as the anchor for CBS Evening News.
Credit US Air Force / Wikipedia

Legendary broadcast journalist Dan Rather worked for CBS News for 44 years and anchored the CBS Evening News for 24 of those years.

He is now the managing editor and anchor of the cable television news magazine Dan Rather Reports. In 2012, he released a best-selling book on his life and the state of journalism today, Rather Outspoken.

Rather was particularly outspoken about the 3 ways he's seen standards drop in the craft of journalism:

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Essential Pittsburgh
9:17 pm
Tue March 18, 2014

Wednesday Rundown: Dan Rather on Journalism Today & New Hope for Community-Police Relations

Credit Dan Rather Reports / Facebook

These topics air Wednesday March 19, 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
4:55 pm
Tue March 18, 2014

Dem. Candidate Schwartz: Corbett's Affordable Care Act Response a Failure

Credit 13th Congressional District, Pennsylvania / flickr

Allyson Schwartz, a Democratic candidate for governor, said Pennsylvania is looking for someone with a proven track record to replace Gov. Tom Corbett and his “failed leadership.”

On Tuesday, she said one of his “failures” was his response to the Affordable Care Act, which she wrote provisions to as a U.S. Representative.

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:31 pm
Tue March 18, 2014

The Business of French Products

Macarons come in a rainbow of colors and can be just about any flavor imaginable.
Credit http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Multi-coloured_macarons,_September_2010.jpg

This week, contributor Rebecca Harris looked at the connection French businesses and products have to our commercial sector.

France is the sixth largest foreign investor in the Pittsburgh region, with 27 French-owned companies that operate about 50 establishments in the area.

Here are some Pittsburgh businesses with a French connection:

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:02 pm
Tue March 18, 2014

The Hard Way on Purpose: Akron's Past Glories & Present Reinvention

Credit Marc Moss / flickr

Once home to the nation’s leading tire manufacturers, Akron, Ohio, was hit hard by post-industrial layoffs, factory closings and a steadily declining population.

Like other rust belt cities, the once-rubber giant has had to redefine itself and its industry.

In his book The Hard Way on Purpose: Essays and Dispatches from the Rust Belt, author David Giffels chronicles past glories and the present condition of his home state. 

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Essential Pittsburgh
9:10 pm
Mon March 17, 2014

Tuesday Rundown: Allyson Schwartz and Chronicling the Rust Belt

Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz is a Democratic candidate for Governor in Pennsylvania
Credit Online Guide to House Members and Senators / wikipedia

These topics air Tuesday March 18, 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
5:19 pm
Mon March 17, 2014

Congressman Doyle is Optimistic About Renewal of Unemployment Benefits

How much longer will people who need an unemployment insurance extension have to wait?
Credit Bytemarks / Flickr

Senate negotiators have struck a bipartisan deal that could renew federal unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless. But the question becomes, what will happen when this legislation makes its way to the House?

US Congressman Mike Doyle has been in the House of Representatives since 1995, he's witnessed the emergence of an increasingly partisan congress and explained why he's hopeful for this legislation.

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:43 pm
Mon March 17, 2014

How the Pittsburgh Donnybrook Boxing Match Became a New St. Patrick’s Day Tradition

The best Pittsburgh boxer at the event will be given the Billy Conn Trophy, named after the legendary Pittsburgh boxer whose claim to fame was a match against Joe Louis.
Credit PittsburghDonnybrook.org

The first Europeans to settle in Pittsburgh in large numbers were Scots-Irish. Later, the Irish were a major part of the wave of immigrants who came to the Steel City for the promise of a job. These jobs often turned out be laborious and low-paying.

Jim Lamb, President of the Irish Institute of Pittsburgh, has a vast knowledge of Irish heritage in Pittsburgh. He says a major turning point for the population of Pittsburgh and many other northeastern cities was the Irish immigration. But he says Pittsburgh also had a successful Irish community as the mass immigration occurred.

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Vox Pop
11:39 am
Mon March 17, 2014

Watch: Pittsburghers Sound Off On One Tough Winter

Wave goodbye: Carrie O'Connell, of Scott Township, delivers some parting words for this winter.
Ryan Loew 90.5 WESA

Harsh winters can be a fact of life here in Pittsburgh. This one was different, though — at least it felt that way.

Plunging temps. Frozen pipes. Endless snow. Don't forget the cavernous potholes and worrisome reports of dwindling road salt supplies.

As spring approaches (it's coming, we promise), we recently gave Pittsburghers the chance share their thoughts on these past months of wintry misery:

Essential Pittsburgh
4:20 pm
Sun March 16, 2014

Monday Rundown: Extending Unemployment Benefits and Exploring Pittsburgh's Irish Roots

How much longer will people who need an unemployment insurance extension have to wait?
Credit Bytemarks / Flickr

These topics air Monday March 17, 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
4:25 pm
Fri March 14, 2014

Preserving Pennsylvania’s 333-Year-Old Birth Certificate

"Charter Day" was first celebrated in 1953 when Governor John Fine declared the official date March 14th.
Credit Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission

Over ten thousand people visited historic sites in the Commonwealth this week to celebrate Pennsylvania’s history. This year marks the 333 birthday of the Pennsylvania Charter given by King Charles of Great Britain to William Penn on March 4, 1681.

Howard Pollman, spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, says the Charter is meticulously preserved at the State Museum in Harrisburg and reveals much about the zeitgeist of the era. 

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:24 pm
Fri March 14, 2014

The Impact of the Open Records Law, Five Years Later

Five years ago Pennsylvania's Open Records law was changed to increase transparency of government agencies.
Credit Jenni C / Flickr

Five years ago Pennsylvania's Open Records law was changed, with the promise of ensuring more information would be made more easily available to the public. The new law is generally seen as a positive for the Commonwealth, but open records officials and some people who use the law see room for improvement.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporter, Rich Lord, says, “When the new law took effect in the beginning of 2009, there was an opening up, there was a feeling in agencies that, 'hey now the presumption is that I've got to give it over, so I may as well give it over' that has gradually shifted over the last five years. Agencies have been looking, I think, or at least focusing less on that presumption of openness than on the 30 exemptions in the law. Agencies have appeared to view the law in recent years as a tool for coming up with reasons not to disclose rather than a requirement to disclose or an encouragement to disclose."

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90.5 WESA Celebrates
3:30 am
Fri March 14, 2014

No Stranger to Tragedy, Lueana Coward Helps Others Cope With Grief

Lueana Coward
Credit Debbi Casini Klein

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

Lueana has faced tragedies unfathomable to any parent, but she has channeled her pain into helping others in the same situation.

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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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