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.
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Essential Pittsburgh
4:43 pm
Tue May 13, 2014

A Week-Long Celebration of Small Businesses

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

This week is National Small Business Week. Rebecca Harris, Director of the Center for Women’s Entrepreneurship at Chatham University, discussed the week-long celebration. 

She explained that more than half of all Americans either own or work for a small business, and each year these businesses create two out of every three new jobs in the United States.

“[This week] is really designed to recognize the nation’s top businesses, the entrepreneurs,and really the business advocates. There are a number of activities; there are panel discussions, there are forums, there are workshops, there are webinars,” Harris said.

“It’s a big, big venture and it culminates with the naming of the Small Businessperson of the Year in Washington D.C. at the end of the week.” 

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Essential Pittsburgh
9:40 pm
Mon May 12, 2014

Tuesday Rundown: Breaking Down the Gubernatorial Debate

The PA capitol building in Harrisburg
Credit 90.5 WESA

These topics air Tuesday May 13, 2014 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

Highway Construction

Negotiating the roads around Pittsburgh isn’t easy but, PennDot is asking for citizen input regarding the Parkway East (I-376). Joining us to address the results of an online survey and traffic evaluations, about the future of this stretch of the parkway is PennDOT Dist. 11 Executive, Dan Cessna. He’ll also fill us in on upcoming road construction projects that could cause delays.

Gubernatorial Debate

The remaining Democratic candidates for governor; state treasurer Rob McCord, Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz, Katie McGinty and front-runner Tom Wolf are taking part in their final debate. The primary election is a week from Tuesday. We'll talk with capitol correspondent Mary Wilson who covered the debate.

WESA Celebrates - University of Pittsburgh's Keep It Real Program 

Many of the students at the University of Pittsburgh’s “Keep It Real” program manage to make time volunteering to help Somali Bantu refugees. This week WESA Celebrates profiles the program in which students tutor and mentor Somali Bantu refugees throughout the Pittsburgh area.

National Small Business Week

According to the Small Business Association more than half of Americans either own or work for a small business, which creates two out of every three new jobs in the United States each year. This week contributor Rebecca Harris looks at the impact of small businesses. 

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Essential Pittsburgh
6:01 pm
Mon May 12, 2014

What Arts Organizations Across the Country Can Learn From the August Wilson Center

The August Wilson Center for African American Culture in Downtown Pittsburgh
Credit Heather McClain / 90.5WESA

Throughout the last year we’ve heard, and discussed at length, the problems faced by those who wish to save the financially troubled August Wilson Center.

Right now the fate of that facility is in the hands of a judge who may sell the building to pay off the center’s debts.

Janera Solomon, Executive Director of the Kelly Strayhorn Theater acknowledged there were missteps that led to the current state of affairs at the August Wilson Center. She is leading a group committed to achieving a vision for the center that will celebrate August Wilson, African American culture, and the city.

She said while the troubles faced by the August Wilson Center are unique for Pittsburgh, when it comes to cultural organizations throughout the country, many struggle in their first 5 to 10 years. 

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:36 pm
Mon May 12, 2014

Remembering Bill Nunn Jr., A Legend in Pro Sports and Racial Integration

Steelers talent scout Bill Nunn Jr.
Credit SteelersGab

Last week saw the passing of a Pittsburgh sports legend. When Bill Nunn, Jr. first started writing for the Pittsburgh Courier in the 1960's, he was not allowed in the press box at Forbes Field. His annual selections for the black All-American football teams were ignored by the struggling Steelers.

Nunn overcame numerous racial barriers during his lifetime. He opened sports reporting for African-Americans and helped turn the perennially awful Steelers into a dynasty during the 1970’s.

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reporter Andrew Conte, is writing a book about Nunn and wrote his obituary for the Trib.

Conte said Nunn was a talented athlete who received an offer to try out for the New York Knicks and the Harlem Globetrotters. He decided to follow his father into newspaper reporting, with the hopes of more financial stability, but many barriers.

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:18 pm
Sun May 11, 2014

Monday Rundown: A Vision for the August Wilson Center and Remembering Bill Nunn Jr.

Credit Heather McClain / 90.5 WESA

These topics air Monday May 12, 2014 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA.

Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

August Wilson Center Recovery Committee

Our guest, Executive Director of the Kelly Strayhorn Theater, Janera Solomon, acknowledges there were missteps that led to the current state of affairs at the August Wilson Center. However, she is leading a group committed to achieving a vision for the center that will celebrate August Wilson, African American culture and the city. She joins us in studio to share her vision for the center’s future.

Remembering Bill Nunn, Jr.

Last week saw the passing of a Pittsburgh legend. Bill Nunn, Jr. was more than a sports reporter for The New Pittsburgh Courier. He was a pioneering journalist who, according to our guest, Pittsburgh Tribune reporter Andrew Conte, was instrumental in "breaking down racial barriers across sports and in American Life." 

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:11 pm
Fri May 9, 2014

Climate Change Could Make Pennsylvania's Ecosystems Resemble Alabama

By 2050, Pennsylvania's ecosystems could be vastly different if we don't pass an appreciation for nature along to the next generation.
Credit Tim McCabe/USDA

A national climate change study released earlier this week warns of drastically different climates in the future for the state of Pennsylvania.

The commonwealth is among a number of Northeast states expected to experience heat waves and extreme precipitation.

Cities such as New York have already begun to prepare for climate change effects by installing flood pumps in their subway systems.

John Radzilowicz, Director of Professional Development ASSET STEM education at CMU said, if we don’t start making big changes in industrial pollution policies and even simple conservation changes on a personal level, the Pennsylvania landscape will be completely different by 2050. 

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Essential Pittsburgh
3:22 pm
Fri May 9, 2014

The Devil's Arithmetic, a Tale of Time Travel and the Holocaust Brought to Life on Stage

Young cast members in the Prime Stage play, The Devil's Arithmetic. From left to right: Victoria Perl as Esther, Lily Lauver as Shifre, Julia Zoratto as Hannah and Megan Krull as Rachel
Credit Rebecca S. Antal / Prime Stage

The Devil’s Arithmetic is an award-winning historical novel about time travel and the Holocaust by author Jane Yolen.

The book has been adapted for the theater by Lancaster, PA resident Barry Kornhauser. This weekend Prime Stage Theater gives the first performance of the adapted play, at the New Hazlett Theater on the North Side.

The story centers on Hannah, a modern day teenager who is mysteriously transported back to the time of the Holocaust. 

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Essential Pittsburgh
11:04 pm
Thu May 8, 2014

Friday Rundown: The Next Generation of Wildlife, in the Face of Climate Change

A NASA satellite image of Hurricane Sandy as it rolled up the Eastern seaboard in 2012 and wreaked havoc on the Mid-Atlantic states.
Credit NASA / Fotopedia

These topics air Friday May 9, 2014 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between noon & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

Climate Change and the Commonwealth

A national climate change study warns of drastic climates in the future for the state of Pennsylvania. The commonwealth is among states in the Northeast expected to experience heat waves and extreme precipitation. We'll talk with John Radzilowicz, Director of Professional Development ASSET STEM education at CMU.

Climate Change's Impact on Wildlife

From tornadoes to floods, weather events are intensifying and wreaking havoc on the country. What toll have these events taken on wildlife? We’ll pose that question to Ed Perry, Pennsylvania outreach coordinator for the National Wildlife Federation. We’ll get his reaction to the National Wildlife Federation's new report entitled, Wildlife Legacy: Climate Change and the Next Generation of Wildlife.

The Devil's Arithmetic

Jane Yolen's best-selling young adult novel, The Devil's Arithmetic is a work of historic fiction about time travel and the Holocaust. It's been adapted for the stage by Lancaster resident Barry Kornhauser. The play premieres this weekend with Prime Stage Theater at the New Hazlett Theater on the North Side. Kornhauser and Director Lisa Ann Goldsmith talk about how this show is meant to help young people better understand what happened during the Holocaust. 

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Essential Pittsburgh
6:37 pm
Thu May 8, 2014

Going Co-Ed: Seton Hill's Past Plays a Role in Chatham University's Future

Buhl Hall Science Complex is just one of the buildings on Chatham University's campus that will have an increase of male students in its halls in the upcoming years.
Credit Daderot / Wikipedia

    

In the United States, single-sex colleges and universities have seen a steady decline in enrollment over the past few decades.

With fewer students, these institutions are struggling to finance their schools and many have had to change the makeup of the student population.

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Essential Pittsburgh
8:28 pm
Wed May 7, 2014

Thursday Rundown: Admitting Undergraduate Men at Chatham and the Coed Transition

Chatham University has a very long history in Pittsburgh, the school was women only for much of that history. But Chatham's board of trustees has voted to admit undergraduate men starting in 2015. We'll talk about the transition plans.
Credit Daderot / wikipedia

These topics air Thursday May 8, 2014 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA.

Going Coed, Seton Hill Shares Their Story

In the United States, single-sex colleges and universities have seen a steady decline in enrollment over the past few decades. With fewer students, these institutions are struggling to finance their schools and many have had to change the makeup of the student population.  Due to enrollment difficulties, Seton Hill University officially became coeducational in 2002, opening all academic programs to male students. We’ll talk with Mary Ann Gawelek, Provost and dean of the faculty at Seton Hill University, about what it was like becoming coeducational and the takeaways they have from the experience. 

Transitioning to Coed at Chatham

Last Thursday the Chatham University Board of Trustees approved a three-part resolution which would include the admission of men to the undergraduate community in the Fall of 2015. This would make Chatham completely co-ed for the first time in nearly 145 years. The controversial decision comes as a result of a steady decline in the university’s enrollment and subsequent financial woes. We’ll talk with Bill Campbell, Vice President of Marketing and Communications for Chatham University, about how the resolution will affect the school, and the campus community.

Out of State Amusement Parks

People chase their endless summer in different ways. Some visit ballparks, others beaches. A dedicated group of fun seekers visit amusement parks in search of the perfect roller coaster thrill ride. This week, travel contributor Elaine Labalme, suggests some out of state coasters to visit.

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Essential Pittsburgh
3:27 pm
Wed May 7, 2014

How Cell Phone Search And Seizure Could Radically Affect Privacy

The United States Supreme Court heard two cases last week involving search and seizure of cell phone information. If determined constitutional, police could use evidence found in the phone during a trial without a warrant.
Credit Jonas Seaman / flickr

Last week the U.S. Supreme Court heard two cases with outcomes that could have a big impact on the future of information privacy.

These cases question the Fourth Amendment exception, which lets police to search any items on a person at the time of arrest, including cell phones.

Yet many argue that cell phones should be treated differently. University of Pittsburgh Law Professor David Harris explained why many say cell phones are more akin to a diary than a wallet and should require a warrant for search and seizure.

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Essential Pittsburgh
3:12 pm
Wed May 7, 2014

Why Pittsburgh's Theater Scene Is Ideal For A Fringe Festival

A French circus performer advertises an upcoming fringe show in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Credit Kim Traynor / wikipedia

In 1947, eight theater companies in Scotland were not invited to the inaugural Edinburgh International Festival.

Instead of going home, the companies set up on the outer edges of the festival, where they could take advantage of the large crowds and showcase their alternate brand of performance. Since then, these “fringe festivals” have expanded across the globe.

Dan Stiker had long dreamed of bringing a fringe festival to the Steel City, and this year that dream has become a reality as Pittsburgh stages its inaugural Fringe Festival.

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Essential Pittsburgh
6:36 pm
Tue May 6, 2014

Wednesday Rundown: The Future of Cell Phone Privacy

What are your rights when it comes to the police searching your phone data?
Credit Highways Agency / Flickr

These topics air Wednesday May 6, 2014 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. 

Join the conversation between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002. 

Cell Phone Searches

How private is the data on your cell phone? Most smartphones hold a large amount of personal data, and last week the US Supreme Court heard two cases with outcomes which could have a big impact on the future of information privacy. University of Pittsburgh Law Professor David Harris explains the issues these cases raise with regards to privacy.

Fringe Festival Comes to Pittsburgh

Across America cities and towns are recognizing the value of the arts in boosting the economy. Fringe Festivals, which began in Edinburgh, Scotland are showing up in more in U.S. cities. This year marks the first Pittsburgh Fringe Festival. Joining us with details about this cultural event is Dan Stiker, founder & executive artistic director of the Pittsburgh Fringe Festival.

To leave a voicemail before or after the show dial 412-256-8783. More Essential Pittsburgh segments can be heard here

Essential Pittsburgh
6:18 pm
Tue May 6, 2014

With a Raise in the Minimum Wage, Where Would Businesses Find the Money?

What approaches can be taken to improve wages for restaurant employees and keep customers?
Credit LetsGoDine.com

Last Wednesday, the US Senate voted down a proposal by President Obama to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour.

Many contend that such a steep raise would cripple job growth and small businesses. Others say more money and spending power for workers would be a boost for the economy overall. 

Art Helms, a Wendy’s employee and member of One Pittsburgh has been organizing for fair pay and a union for fast food workers in Pittsburgh.

He said he makes less than $10 per hour and has worked for Wendy’s for 27 years. 

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:08 pm
Tue May 6, 2014

From Politics to Consumerism, The Business of Mother's Day

Credit Etsy ketsy / flickr

Celebrations of mothers and motherhood can be traced back to the ancient Greeks and Romans, who held festivals in honor of the mother goddesses Rhea and Cybele.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of Woodrow Wilson’s presidential decree that made Mother’s Day a national holiday, and in that time it has become one of the biggest holidays for consumer spending in the United States and around the globe.

Business contributor Rebecca Harris points out that Mother’s Day was not always about gift-giving. 

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Essential Pittsburgh
10:00 pm
Mon May 5, 2014

Tuesday Rundown: Small Business and the Minimum Wage

How would a raise in the minimum wage affect workers and small business owners, particularly in Pittsburgh's restaurant industries?
Credit MattFour / Flickr

These topics air Tuesday May 6, 2014 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA.  

The Small Business Impact of a Higher Minimum Wage

Last Wednesday the US Senate voted down a proposal by President Obama to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour. Many contend that such a steep raise would cripple job growth and small businesses. Others say more money and spending power for workers would be a boost for the economy overall.

We’ll talk about how a higher wage might take a toll on small business or offer a boost, with Alex Halper, Director of Government Relations for the PA Chamber of Business & Industry, and Art Helms, a Wendy’s employee and member of One Pittsburgh who is organizing for fair pay and a union for fast food workers. We’ll also get small business owner perspectives from Sonja Finn, Chef and Owner of Dinette restaurant and bar in East Liberty and Chris Dilla, owner of Bocktown Beer & Grill.

WESA Celebrates – Mary Savage

The former community relations director at the Carnegie Library in Homewood is profiled in this week’s WESA Celebrates. We’ll discover how she’s worked to make Homewood a better, and more colorful, place resulting in being identified as “the Flower Lady.”

The Business of Mother’s Day

Mom’s special day is this Sunday. From cards to candy to flowers, this week, contributor Rebecca Harris looks at the business of Mother’s Day.

Essential Pittsburgh
5:32 pm
Mon May 5, 2014

Net Neutrality 101 and What's at Stake With the FCC Ruling

Earlier this year a federal appeals court struck down key provisions of the FCC’s net neutrality rule causing concern over internet users' accessibility.
Credit Lindsey Turner / Flickr

Net neutrality, the concept used when we talk about the importance of a free and open internet has an uncertain future. Recent rule changes from the Federal Communications Commission may alter the way internet service providers offer access to consumers. 

Orion Czarnecki is an internet security consultant who breaks down the concept of net neutrality.

"When a consumer would increaser or request any type of traffic over the internet, whether its video, a website, email, that traffic is treated by their internet provider as equal. No traffic is favored over another type of traffic. So a video from Netflix is not favored over a video from YouTube. A webpage request at CNN is not favored over a webpage request from MSNBC." 

But this concept has changed with a new ruling from January of this year.

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Essential Pittsburgh
3:50 pm
Mon May 5, 2014

Responding to Bad Behavior in Professional Sports

The Los Angeles Clippers protest the racist comments made by their owner by wearing their shooting shirts inside out.
Credit Marcio Jose Sanchez / AP

After racist remarks from L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling were published online, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver banned Sterling for life from the NBA and fined him $2.5 million.

Veteran AP sports editor and journalist John Affleck, a Knight Chair in Sports Journalism and Society at Penn State talked about how far sports leagues should go to clean up bad behavior, not only by owners, but coaches and players.

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Essential Pittsburgh
1:57 pm
Sun May 4, 2014

Monday Rundown: Preserving a Free and Open Internet

Credit Seeweb / Flickr

These topics air Monday May 5, 2014 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA.

New Rules for Net Neutrality

Net Neutrality is the concept used when we talk about the importance of a free and open internet. But recent changes from the Federal Communications Commission may change the way service providers provide access to consumers. Orion Czarnecki is an internet security consultant who can break down the concept of net neutrality, the new rules, and what's at stake.

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Essential Pittsburgh
7:43 pm
Fri May 2, 2014

Life of Learning: A Deeper Look In Innovative Education

Pittsburgh Science and Technology Academy teacher Matt Ferrante works with sixth grader Hunter Bash during a recent school day. Ferrante, who teaches music technology, said unlike some other schools where he’s taught, he never feels peripheral at SciTech.
Credit Ryan Loew / 90.5 WESA

From flipped classrooms to blending the arts and sciences, what does it take to bring innovative approaches to the classroom?

Technology and innovation are being utilized as teaching methods by several school districts in the greater Pittsburgh area. This innovation has been recognized as the Pittsburgh area recently received the Tribeca Disruptive Innovation Awards in New York and was the only city to get the award.

The Flipped Classroom Approach

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:18 am
Fri May 2, 2014

Friday Rundown: A Deeper Look at Local Innovation in Education

Innovations in education can be as simple as a return to elective courses such as this construction technology class at Sto-Rox High School.
Credit Ryan Loew / 90.5 WESA

These topics air Friday May 2, 2014 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA.

Life of Learning Innovation Special

From flipped classrooms to blending the arts and sciences, what does it take to bring innovative approaches to the classroom? As part of 90.5 WESA’s Life of Learning Initiative we’ll explore how technology and innovation are being utilized as teaching methods. Our guests include Dr. Bart Rocco, superintendent of the Elizabeth Forward School District, Dr. Bille Rondinelli, superintendent of South Fayette School District and Dr. Lynne Schrum, Dean, College of Education and Human Services at West Virginia University.

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

Essential Pittsburgh
5:36 pm
Thu May 1, 2014

Pittsburgh Marathon Runners Can Expect a 26.2 Mile-Long Festival

Credit yuki55 / flickr

With 30,000 runners and more charities than ever before the Dick’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon and its organizers are fully prepared for the race this Sunday.

Race Director Patrice Matamoros said this year there are a few additions to this year’s marathon, including the starting line. 

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Essential Pittsburgh
5:22 pm
Thu May 1, 2014

Governor Corbett Gives New Support for Medical Marijuana

Credit Mark / Flickr

Supporters of legalizing medical marijuana in Pennsylvania hoped a meeting with Governor Corbett might change his stance on the issue. These advocates threatened a sit-in if the governor refused to see them. 

It looks like their threats paid off. 

Despite a recent Quinnipiac University poll which showed 85% of Pennsylvania voters support the legalization of medical marijuana, 90.5 WESA Capitol Correspondent Mary Wilson said Corbett remained steadfastly opposed, until this afternoon.  

"Corbett is quoted in a press release this afternoon saying that he will support a bill to allow research based hospitals to prescribe this oil extract which is from the marijuana plant." said Wilson

"Of course it's going to need the approval of the legislature but the leader of the senate Republicans has said that he will support this. And that he looks forward to sending the bill to the governor's desk."

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:34 pm
Thu May 1, 2014

Mapping Pennsylvania's Historic Roller Coasters

Leap The Dips is the oldest wooden coaster in the country.
Credit Wikimedia

Dorney Park, Hershey Park, Dutch Wonderland, Lakemont Park, Idlewild, Kennywood... Pennsylvania has some of the most historic amusement parks, and roller coasters in the country.

As amusement parks start coming to life for the season, David Witoslawski, a McKeesport substitute school teacher and author of the book, Great Pennsylvania Amusement Parks Road Trip, gave us a guide to the state’s classic coasters and parks. The book is available in black and white as a paperback and in full color as an e-book.

"I love the matter of community spirit when it comes to going to amusement parks," Witoslawski said, "You go there and people just forget about all their problems in the world."

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Essential Pittsburgh
9:23 pm
Wed April 30, 2014

Thursday Rundown: A Good Ol' Fashioned Sit-in for Medical Marijuana

Credit Tim Lambert / WITF

  These topics air Thursday May 1, 2014 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA.

A Medical Marijuana Sit-in

Supporters of legalizing medical marijuana in Pennsylvania are hoping a meeting with Governor Corbett might change his stance on the issue. They're threatening a sit-in if they don't get a response to their meeting request this week. 90.5 WESA's capitol correspondent Mary Wilson joins us to discuss developments.

Pittsburgh Marathon

The Pittsburgh Marathon is three days away and 30,000 runners will participate. The run-up to this year's race is a stark contrast to a year ago when it was in line to be the first major marathon in the U.S. to be staged after the Boston Marathon attacks. Pittsburgh Marathon race director Patrice Matamoros joins us for an overview.

Historic Coasters Across the State

Dorney Park, Hershey Park, Dutch Wonderland, Lakemont Park, Idlewild, Kennywood... Pennsylvania has some of the most historic amusement parks, and roller coasters, in the country. As amusement parks start coming to life for the season, David Witoslawski a McKeesport substitute school teacher and author of the book, Great Pennsylvania Amusement Parks Road Trip, gives us a guide to the state’s classic coasters and parks.

Out of State Amusement Parks

People chase their endless summer in different ways. Some visit ballparks, others beaches. A dedicated group of fun seekers visit amusement parks in search of the perfect roller coaster thrill ride. This week, travel contributor Elaine Labalme, suggests some out of state coasters to visit.

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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