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
4:17 pm
Mon February 24, 2014

Why You Should Keep a Career Journal

Sasha King, an independent career consultant, believes that using a career journal will help people become more efficient and organized with their work.
Credit Jacob Bøtter / Flickr

Many people keep personal journals to document important moments or help organize their thoughts. However, many people do not keep a career journal.

Sasha King, an independent career consultant, believes that career journals are useful tools.

“Career journaling is looking at your work life and looking at what you’re doing everyday on the job, what your goals are, or if you need to take some kind of a career transition,” she said.

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:12 pm
Mon February 24, 2014

Jason Collins Gets a Chance and Makes History

NBA center, Jason Collins walked onto the court Sunday after signing a 10-day contract with the Brooklyn Nets. As he checked into the game in the second quarter, Collins became the first openly gay man to play one of the nation's four major professional sports.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette sportswriter emeritus Bob Dvorchak says on the part of the Brooklyn Nets, the signing was not made just to make history.

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Public Safety
3:28 pm
Mon February 24, 2014

Peduto Seeks Quality Over Speed in Filling Public Safety Positions

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto
Credit Ryan Loew / 90.5 WESA

Mayor Bill Peduto said he is not rushing to fill two of the most high profile vacant positions in the city: public safety director and police chief.

In a Monday interview with Essential Pittsburgh’s Paul Guggenheimer, Peduto said it is more important to find the right person for those positions than it is to get them filled right away.

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Essential Pittsburgh
6:24 pm
Sun February 23, 2014

Monday Rundown: Mayor Peduto's Administration & Vision for Pittsburgh

Credit Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

These topics air Monday February 24, 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
4:35 pm
Fri February 21, 2014

Pittsburgh City Paper Writer Al Hoff Weighs in on the Oscar Buzz

The Academy Awards are right around the corner, Sunday March 2nd to be exact. There’s plenty of speculation about who’s likely to win, along with conversation about who's worthy of the awards.

Al Hoff is our movie contributor and a film critic for the Pittsburgh City Paper. She's parsed through the top Oscar contenders and says based on critic responses, the two favorites in many categories are American Hustle and 12 Years A Slave.

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:23 pm
Fri February 21, 2014

Opera Based on Willa Cather Story Highlights Struggle of Early 1900s Pittsburgh 'Dandy'

Teachers assess Paul, portrayed by Daniel Curran, in the Pittsburgh Opera production of Paul's Case.
Credit David Bachman / Pittsburgh Opera

The Pittsburgh Opera this weekend will travel back in time starting this weekend to bring you the story of Paul in the English-language opera “Paul’s Case.”

It’s based on the story of the same name by Willa Cather, who wrote it while living in Pittsburgh. The story starts out in Pittsburgh where young Paul, described as a “dandy,” yearns for a more exciting life away from dark and industrial Pittsburgh.  

“It really gets at how difficult it is to be a teenager whether it’s 1905 or today,” said composer Gregory Spears. “It’s a difficult time for all of us whether we’re teachers or teenagers ourselves or parents.”

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:03 pm
Fri February 21, 2014

Reducing Mandatory Prison Sentences

Credit Martin / flickr

In an effort to mitigate overcrowding in American prisons, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee has proposed the Smarter Sentencing Act, which would reduce sentences for nonviolent drug offenders.

Critics of the bill say these sentences are necessary because they provide prosecutors the leverage to seek cooperation from criminals.

Angus Love of the Pennsylvania Institutional Law Project explains this overpopulation is due in part to the residual effects of the government’s “war on drugs” as well as a shift in case management and the way sentences are given. 

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Millennials in Pittsburgh
8:45 am
Fri February 21, 2014

Councilman Dan Gilman on Being a Millennial in Pittsburgh

Dan Gilman
Credit Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Councilman Dan Gilman is no stranger to Pittsburgh City Council.

From his college days as an intern, to his 10-year stint as chief of staff for now-Mayor Bill Peduto, Gilman is familiar with the city’s political atmosphere.

Now serving the residents of District 8, he is one of the council's youngest members.

Dan Gilman on Pittsburgh's Millennial Generation:

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Essential Pittsburgh
7:36 pm
Thu February 20, 2014

Friday Rundown: Reducing the Prison Population in PA, The Oscars, & The Opera

What's being done to reduce the prison population in PA?
Credit Emily Allen / Flickr

These topics air Friday February 20, 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
5:52 pm
Thu February 20, 2014

Getting Over the Winter Doldrums

Falling Water in winter
Credit katie bodner / flickr

To say it’s been a tough winter would be an understatement.

Despite the cold many people have been able to combat cabin fever, including travel contributor Elaine Labalme. She offers suggestions to help you overcome the winter blahs.

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Essential Pittsburgh
5:00 pm
Thu February 20, 2014

Straight Talk with Gubernatorial Candidate Rob McCord

Credit Marcus Charleston / 90.5 WESA

While there is no clear cut favorite in the Pennsylvania Democratic race for governor, polls indicate that State Treasurer Rob McCord has emerged as the “de facto” front runner.

The Ardmore, PA native says he is fortunate to have a useful blend of knowledge when it comes to running the Commonwealth.

He says his financial cognizance along with his desire and ability to communicate with constituents statewide will set him apart from the other candidates.

“I intend to be the governor that loves Pittsburgh back,” says McCord. Here are some of his views on energy, green jobs, public schools, and working with Pittsburgh's politicians.

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:47 pm
Thu February 20, 2014

Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson

Credit Pittsburgh Playhouse / Point Park University

“Sex, democracy and rock ‘n’ roll” take the stage at the Pittsburgh Playhouse this weekend when the colorful life of our nation’s seventh president is performed in the rock musical Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson.

The show’s director, Michael McKelvey, says the show portrays the leader in a time where the “true” roots of democracy dominated the political sphere.

McKelvey relates that power and democracy became a sort of drug for Jackson and he became obsessed with relating to his constituents and trying to appease every voice.

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Essential Pittsburgh
8:48 pm
Wed February 19, 2014

Thursday Rundown: Gubernatorial Candidate Rob McCord, and Overcoming Winter Doldrums

Rob McCord is PA State Treasurer and running for Governor
Credit Rob McCord website

These topics air Thursday February 20, 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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Government & Politics
3:17 pm
Wed February 19, 2014

City to Implement Nighttime Transportation Solutions Along Carson Street

City Council President Bruce Kraus has been working to find ways to mitigate the negative effects of a bustling nightlife economy on the South Side and other neighborhoods.
Credit Flickr user michaelgoodin

According to City Council President Bruce Kraus, between 15,000 and 20,000 people stream out of South Side bars, venues and pubs around 2 a.m. every Friday and Saturday night.

That creates public safety problems and significant transportation issues, Kraus said, which is why for the last two years he’s been working with the Responsible Hospitality Institute, or RHI, to find ways to manage the nightlife economy in the city.

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:34 pm
Wed February 19, 2014

The Historic Fort Pitt Block House Celebrates its 250th Anniversary

The Fort Pitt Block House is celebrating its 250th Anniversary this year.
Credit Kevin Myers / wikipedia

Throughout 2013, the Fort Pitt Society conducted a 10-month preservation and restoration project at the Fort Pitt Block House. This undertaking came just in time, as 2014 marks the 250th anniversary of the structure.

The Fort Pitt Block House curator Emily Weaver is very involved in discovering the history of the block house and sharing it with the public, as she did in her book, The Fort Pitt Block House.

“The Fort Pitt Block House is the oldest building in the city of Pittsburgh, so that obviously makes it very special to us. It’s been standing in its same location for 250 years, never moved, and its the only original structure that we have left of Fort Pitt, one of the largest British forts in North America during the 18th century....A symbol of our earliest beginnings here in the Pittsburgh region."

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:28 pm
Wed February 19, 2014

Is Oil & Gas Shipment Hurting Pennsylvania?

Officials say about 4,000 gallons of crude oil were spilled following the train derailment in Vandergrift, but most of it was contained in a parking lot.
Credit Reid Frazier / The Allegheny Front

In light of a recent train derailment and fire in Greene County; is gas drilling endangering the people, property and public lands of Western PA?

Cindy Dunn, president and CEO of the Statewide Environmental Advocacy organization PennFuture believes that gas drilling may have come on a little too quickly, contributing to the rate of accidents.

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Essential Pittsburgh
9:16 am
Wed February 19, 2014

Watch As Pittsburghers, Including Our Own Paul Guggenheimer, Get a Handle on Curling

Essential Pittsburgh host, Paul Guggenheimer, gets a handle on how to get these stones to curl across the ice.
Credit Ryan Loew / 90.5WESA

Curling is growing to be one of the most watched sports at the Winter Olympics. Although it may be a little while before Team USA wins a medal, Pittsburgh has a growing curling culture.

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Essential Pittsburgh
8:52 pm
Tue February 18, 2014

Wednesday Rundown: Oil & Gas in Western PA, Fort Pitt Block House, and Classes in Curling

The Fort Pitt Block House turns 250 years old this year
Credit Kevin Myers / wikipedia

These topics air Wednesday February 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
4:03 pm
Tue February 18, 2014

Comcast Merger with Time Warner Concerns FCC

Philadelphia-based Comcast hopes to buy New York-based Time Warner.
Credit Steve Garfield / flickr

Media giants Comcast and Time Warner may change the way consumers receive their cable, television, and internet, pending negotiations with the FCC over a merger of the two companies.

Critics worry that a merger would create a cable monopoly with zero competition in areas where Comcast and Time Warner serve as the sole provider.

Philadelphia Inquirer consumer and technology columnist Jeff Gelles says the Antitrust Division of the Justice Department had to update how they define essential services to include cable TV as the dominant provider of broadband Internet. 

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Essential Pittsburgh
3:58 pm
Tue February 18, 2014

The Chair: One Movie Script, One City, Two Directors

Credit Brook Ward / flickr

One feature film, two directors, a pool of equal resources and the city of Pittsburgh.

This is the premise of a new documentary series titled The Chair starting production this month.

Chris Moore, creator of Project Greenlight and producer of movies such as Good Will Hunting and Promised Land, developed the idea for the series.

Moore has reached out to directors Shane Dawson and Anna Martemucci to see what direction a single production can take under different directors

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Essential Pittsburgh
3:49 pm
Tue February 18, 2014

The Good & The Bad for Businesses in the Winter

Credit Marcus Eubanks / flickr

With the abundance of cold weather, there has been no shortage of news stories about the climate, energy issues and snow-related complications.

But in addition to an increase in coverage by media outlets, many businesses that sell winter items and services are seeing a big boom in revenue. While others may see a decrease in earnings as a result of the unsettling weather.

Business contributor Rebecca Harris divides the good from the bad and shares the implications of a long winter.

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Essential Pittsburgh
8:12 pm
Mon February 17, 2014

Tuesday Rundown: The Big Media Merger, The Chair, and The Business of Winter

The future of media access in an era of media giants
Credit James Stewart / Flickr

These topics air Tuesday February 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
7:39 pm
Mon February 17, 2014

(Rebroadcast) Presidential Walking Tours in Washington, PA

Credit Doug Kerr / Flickr

Washington & Jefferson College has a unique way to celebrate and honor past American Presidents that have spoken, stayed, or visited Washington, PA.

Professors Jennifer Harding and Thomas Mainwaring developed a walking presidential tour which offers a historical look at the connection between fifteen Presidents and the City of Washington.

Essential Pittsburgh
7:24 pm
Mon February 17, 2014

(Rebroadcast) President Taft at Rodef Shalom

President Taft visiting Rodef Shalom Temple in 1909
Credit Wikimedia

In May of 1909, a Shabbat, President William Howard Taft became the first American President to speak  from the Bimah of a Jewish Congregation while in office.

The Rodef Shalom Congregation, in Pittsburgh played host to the touring President. Archivist Martha Berg talked with us last year about Taft's visit to Pittsburgh and the importance of his speech.

Essential Pittsburgh
7:16 pm
Mon February 17, 2014

(Rebroadcast) On the Trail of George Washington in Western PA

Judge O’Brien had a painting commissioned by Deac Mong to commemorate Washington’s journey. It depicts Washington & his companion being shot at by a Native American loyal to the French. The painting is currently on display in the Butler County courthouse.
Credit Heather McClain / 90.5 WESA

260 years ago, a 21-year old George Washington had two brushes with death in the Pittsburgh area that could have dramatically altered the course of American History.

He was on a dangerous diplomatic mission in the Western Pennsylvania wilderness. We explored this little known chapter of Washington's life last December, with retired Butler County Common Pleas Court Judge Martin J. O'Brien.

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