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.

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  • What stories are we missing? Send your thoughts to esspgh@wesa.fm 
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Essential Pittsburgh
3:19 pm
Tue June 4, 2013

Exiled Voices of China and Tibet Come To Pittsburgh

Dr. Martin-Liao is President of Independent Chinese PEN (Poets, Essayists and Novelists) and Poet and musician Liao Yiwu will read from his prison memoir
Credit City of Asylum

The Pittsburgh based online magazine, Sampsonia Way, seeks to protect and advocate for writers in asylum, educate the public about threats to literary expression, and to create a community where endangered writers can thrive. This is made possible by the Northside's City of Asylum Pittsburgh.

Exiled Voices of China and Tibet is an event taking place this weekend at the City of Asylum.  Notable international writers will for the first time, be able to talk about the exercise of fundamental human rights in China. For many of these writers, they've never been in the same room at the same time or been able to speak freely about human rights.

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:26 pm
Mon June 3, 2013

Federal Investigation of State Prison's Treatment of Inmates with Mental Illness

How many PA prisons have been holding mentally prisoners in solitary confinement?
Credit Jenn Vargas / Flickr

 

  

The US Department of Justice released a report last Friday stating that a Pennsylvania State prison violated the civil rights of inmates with serious mental illness and/or intellectual disabilities.

The investigators found that the Cambria County prison they investigated placed mentally ill inmates in solitary confinement for prolonged periods of time as a way of "warehousing" them.

The percentage of prisoners on the state's mental health roster has increased by more than 50 percent, since 1999, accounting for more than 20 percent of all inmates in the PA prison system.

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:10 pm
Mon June 3, 2013

Jazz Live International Preview and Anniversary

This year marks the 10th anniversary of live summertime Jazz in Katz Plaza
Credit OZinOH / Flickr

This year marks the tenth anniversary of Pittsburgh Cultural Trust's summer long Jazz concert series in Katz Plaza. This year also marks the third annual Jazz Live International Festival.

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:00 pm
Mon June 3, 2013

Speaking Volumes on Essential Pittsburgh: Gary Terner

Gary Terner likes edgy contemporary fiction and Gonzo-style sports writing.
Credit Josh Raulerson/90.5 WESA

Mt. Lebanon resident Gery Terner was blown away by the new short story collection from George Saunders.

New York Times Magazine calls Tenth of December the best book you'll read this year. Is it really worth the hype?

"Yeah, I think so," says Terner

He tells WESA Morning Edition Host Josh Raulerson what he found so impressive about the stories.

Essential Pittsburgh
1:30 pm
Mon June 3, 2013

The Business of Outdoor Recreation

There are so many outdoor activities to do in Pittsburgh. Find out about the business industry that keeps it all afloat.
Credit Schultzlabs / Flickr

    

Whether it’s hiking, biking or some other activity, outdoor recreation is big business. A coalition of non-profits in the region is proclaiming this the Summer of Outdoor Recreation. for those looking to get into the business of recreation, The Progress Fund supports local entrepreneurs in the tourism industry. Trail Towns is also a resource for businesses along the Great Allegheny Passage.

Local environmental resources like Family Tyes and Friends of the Riverfront teach kids about our waterways. And the PA Environmental Council and Sustainable Pittsburgh offer a wide range of eco-friendly outdoor ideas.

And for active explorers there's the Three Rivers Rowing Association,Venture Outdoors, and Bike Pittsburgh.

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Essential Pittsburgh
7:35 pm
Fri May 31, 2013

Standing Your Ground in Pennsylvania

Legal contributor David Harris has joined the American Bar Association's National Task Force on "Stand Your Ground" Laws.
Credit University of Pittsburgh Law School

The killing of Florida teen Trayvon Martin brought attention to stand your ground laws last year. A number of states have laws which dramatically expand the definition of self defense, often including personal property. So what do the self defense laws look like here in Pennsylvania? University of Pittsburgh Law Professor David Harris is currently part of an American Bar Association National Task Force on stand your ground laws, looking into their overall impact on society.

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Essential Pittsburgh
7:34 pm
Fri May 31, 2013

Political Commentary on Essential Pittsburgh

Law professor and political analyst Joe Sabino Mistick and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette columnist Tony Norman discuss presumptive mayor elect Bill Peduto and his plans for Pittsburgh. Also, with summer recess coming up, it's crunch time for the state legislature. What's the outlook on medicaid expansion?

Essential Pittsburgh
7:02 pm
Fri May 31, 2013

What About Bob? Sports Talk with Bob Dvorchak

Sports Contributor Bob Dvorchak
Credit Bob Dvorchak / Sports n'at

With the Penguins extended playoff run, Pittsburgh businesses are getting an extra influx of cash. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette sportswriter emeritus Bob Dvorchak talks about the business perks of chasing the cup and some interesting rule changes in store for golfers who use the long putter aka belly putter.

Essential Pittsburgh
9:21 pm
Thu May 30, 2013

Reasking the Question: Should Wearing A Motorcycle Helmet Be A Matter of Choice in PA?

What are some of the reasons bikers have for not wearing a helmet? We want to know.
Credit Albert Lynn / WESA

Since the repeal of Pennsylvania's helmet law there has been an increase in motorcycle deaths. There has also been a doubling of motorcycle registrations. Rep. Dan Frankel has introduced legislation that would again require motorcyclists to wear helmets. Charles Umbenhauer, lobbyist for the group Alliance of Bikers Aimed Toward Education of Pennsylvania feels helmets should be a choice.

Essential Pittsburgh
9:08 pm
Thu May 30, 2013

Restore or Demolish? What To Do About Pittsburgh's Vacant Properties?

Should vacant buildings in Homewood be renovated or demolished? How about other Pittsburgh neighborhoods with blight? Tim Stevens, CEO and chairman of the Black Political Empowerment Project, has called for many of the buildings to be refurbished by workers enrolled in training programs rather than continuing with demolition.  They're now gathering community input on what to do with vacant buildings. C. Matthew Hawkins, adjunct faculty member in the School of Social Work at the University of Pittsburgh, recently wrote about the idea of a moratorium in Homewood and the Hill District.

What do you think of the potential moratorium on demolition in poor communities requested of Pittsburgh city council?

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Essential Pittsburgh
8:35 pm
Thu May 30, 2013

Touring Historic Homes in Observatory Hill

Paul and Joyce Aloyi's home is surprisingly spacious and was built in 1925
observatoryhill.net

Observatory Hill is a neighborhood just past Pittsburgh’s North Shore, on the eastern rim of Riverview Park. It’s named for its most prominent landmark, the Allegheny Observatory, part of the University of Pittsburgh. Like many Pittsburgh neighborhoods, the area boasts a range of architectural home styles from the first half of the 20th century. Many have been beautifully restored. Each year, members of the Observatory Hill community open their homes for a historic house tour. It's one of several in the city of Pittsburgh and serves as part community fundraiser, part history lesson and part renovation inspiration.

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Essential Pittsburgh
8:16 pm
Thu May 30, 2013

A Thousand Mile River Voyage in a 51 Year Old Canoe

In the coming weeks, the Ohio River will serve as bath tub and laundry machine as R. Ian Davis and his Brittany Spaniel, Gracie, paddle the 1,000 mile length of the Ohio River, from Pittsburgh, PA to Cairo, IL
Credit Point to Cairo / Facebook

Ian Davis of Green Tree is embarking Saturday on a 1,000 mile journey from Point State Park to Cairo, Illinois in an old wooden and canvas-covered canoe. He hopes to complete the trip by August as he raises awareness and funds for his nonprofit company that teaches children to become "world class communicators." He recently spoke with WESA reporter Jessica Nath about his plans and the back story of how he acquired the canoe.

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Essential Pittsburgh
8:33 pm
Wed May 29, 2013

How Do You Gather Community Consensus on Fracking?

To frack or not to frack on Allegheny College land
Credit Doug Butchy / Flickr

Allegheny College, located 90 minutes north of Pittsburgh, has been nationally recognized for its sustainable initiatives. But could the green campus get a black eye if it leases land for hydraulic fracking? Right now it's the campus is considering whether or not to open portions of the college's land to the option of shale gas drilling.

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Essential Pittsburgh
8:03 pm
Wed May 29, 2013

Taking Advantage of the Homestead Tax Exemption

Why are so many Pittsburgh homeowners not taking advantage of the Homestead tax exemption?
Credit Mark Knobil / Flickr

In Allegheny County Homestead tax exemption is a tax break that deducts $85 from every homeowner's property tax bill. It's a useful bit of financial relief for many area homeowners. But residents in Pittsburgh's poorer neighborhoods, where the deduction could be most useful, are not taking advantage of the exemption. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Andrew McGill has reviewed the situation and says, "Amid all the hubbub over re-assessments, I was surprised more people weren't aware of it, and how this lack of awareness is split along income lines."

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Essential Pittsburgh
6:53 pm
Wed May 29, 2013

The New Girl Visits America's National Parks Part One: Eastern Parks

The New Girl gives you a taste of the National Parks, including the scenic Everglades.
Credit Matthew Paulson / Flickr

Now that summer’s here, one of the best places to go and explore the great outdoors is a national park. With so many parks in the U.S. we begin a two part look, focusing on the eastern half of the country including The Everglades, The Great Smoky Mountains, Acadia, Shenandoah, and 
 Cuyahoga Valley

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Essential Pittsburgh
7:24 pm
Tue May 28, 2013

University of Pittsburgh Alzheimer's Research

A recent study with lab mice could reverse some of the effects of Alzheimer's Disease
Credit Rick / Flickr

Millions of Americans suffer from Alzheimer's Disease and the number is expected to increase. Researchers at Pitt have recently confirmed a cancer drug that improves brain function in mice. Could this be a breakthrough in helping humans?

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Essential Pittsburgh
7:09 pm
Tue May 28, 2013

Exploring Pittsburgh's Innovation Trends

In places like China where people experience major respiratory problems, the Hemolung can be invaluable. But who has the rights to the technology when it's in a country with different laws?
Credit ALung

What happens when Pittsburgh's biggest innovators branch out to new territory?

ALung has been making waves with the Hemolung Respiratory Assist System. They've gathered major funding to sell in Europe and now China. But big questions must be raised about intellectual property rights. How can companies protect themselves and flourish at the same time?

And right now one of the hottest trends in the startup world is hardware. Instead of building apps and Web products, companies are building physical hardware that you can buy and use, like the folks at 4Moms.

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Essential Pittsburgh
9:49 pm
Sat May 25, 2013

Occupy Monsanto: Protesting Genetically Engineered Food

Donna Terlecki and her daughter Carla Martinez.
Heather McClain 90.5 WESA

An activist movement known as Occupy Monsanto staged a global protest Saturday afternoon to raise awareness of genetically modified organisms, also known as GMOs.

A Pittsburgh contingent marched from the Strip District to City Hall chanting about GMOs and the biotechnology company, Monsanto.

Donna Terlecki, who calls herself a “mom against Monsanto,” marched with her daughter Carla Martinez and said she's concerned about the health effects of genetically engineered food.

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Essential Pittsburgh
6:07 pm
Fri May 24, 2013

The Right To Know and Pennsylvania's Open Records Law

Where do we stand with PA's Right to Know law?
Credit 90.5 WESA

Pennsylvania's open records law went into effect in 2009, ideally making it possible for citizens to easily search government records. But some say it hasn't made good on its promise of accessibility. WESA Capitol Correspondent Mary Wilson has written about tweaks to the law being proposed in the legislature, and those who have violated it.

Leah Samuel recently took an in depth look at the status of PA's open records law for PublicSource, including anecdotes from citizens who have been thwarted in their search for information.

Pennsylvania Office of Open Records Executive Director, Terry Mutchler says citizen requests should not be denied.

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Speaking Volumes
6:07 pm
Fri May 24, 2013

Speaking Volumes on Essential Pittsburgh: Lori Jakiela

Lori Jakiela has written two memoirs The Bridge to Take When Things Get Serious and Miss New York Has Everything
Credit Lori Jakiela / ljwritesbooks.com

WESA Morning Edition Host Josh Raulerson interviews poet, memoirist and devotee of sparse, unsentimental prose, Lori Jakiela about her reading selections.

Essential Pittsburgh
6:07 pm
Fri May 24, 2013

The Business of Interviewing with Rebecca Harris

Rebecca Harris is the Director of the Center for Women's Entrepreneurship at Chatham University
Credit Rebecca Harris / Chatham Center for Women's Entrepreneurship

Can you really answer the question “tell me about yourself” in an interview, while being sure to talk about  skills relevant to the job?  How about describing  a difficult work situation and making it sound like you're a great problem solver? Effective interviewing is a skill and our business contributor Rebecca Harris offers some advice to help you ace the interview.

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Essential Pittsburgh
6:00 pm
Thu May 23, 2013

World Affairs: Peter Bergen From 9/11 to Abbottabad

Peter Bergen talks about national security and terrorism
Credit Peter Bergen / PeterBergen.com

Peter Bergen is a National Security Analyst for CNN, and a journalist who has reported for publications such as Foreign Affairs, The Atlantic, and The Washington Post. He's authored three New York Times best-sellers, won multiple awards for his non-fiction writing, produced the first ever television interview with Osama Bin Laden, and much more.

Bergen's most recent book is Manhunt: The Ten Year Search for bin Laden, from 9/11 to Abbottabad. He comes to Pittsburgh to be the keynote speaker for the World Affairs Council's 82nd annual meeting and leads a discussion titled Learning from Abbottabad: Combating Global Terrorism in a Post-9/11 World.

Essential Pittsburgh
5:50 pm
Thu May 23, 2013

Mike Sears and the Warrior Foundation

Technical Sergeant Mike Sears in Afghanistan in 2012
Credit Mike Sears

  

Mike Sears put his life on the line to save a wounded soldier in the heat of battle in Afghanistan. For his bravery, he received the Purple Heart and Bronze Star. We'll begin the Memorial Day weekend with a conversation with Mike Sears covering his war experiences and his involvement with the Warrior Foundation.

Essential Pittsburgh
5:45 pm
Thu May 23, 2013

Local Goodness: Farmers Market Season

Rhonda Schuldt writes for LocalGoodness.com
Credit Heather McClain / 90.5 WESA

Does this week's summer-like weather put you in the mood for some fresh corn or warm, sun rippened tomatoes? How about a tote bag full of cukes and zukes? While these foods aren't quite ready at the local farm, we are definitely headed into outdoor farmers market season.

Food contributor Rhonda Schuldt stops in to talk about what to expect from Pittsburgh's many farmers markets.

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Essential Pittsburgh
7:09 pm
Wed May 22, 2013

Bill Peduto Post Primary: Where Do We Go From Here?

Former city councilman Bill Peduto is now the Democratic candidate for Mayor
Credit Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh City Councilman Bill Peduto has won Pittsburgh's Democratic Mayoral Primary.

Eight years after first running for mayor, he talks about what it means to be so close to realizing his dream and the "new Pittsburgh" he envisions.

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