Essential Pittsburgh

The Business of Amateurs

The class schedule of a full-time student, hours of homework and 40 to 80 hours a week of practice, all while balancing extracurricular and social activities. This is the life of a student athlete, or really, an “athlete student” according to Bob DeMars, former University of Southern California defensive end and creator of the documentary “The Business of Amateurs.”

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Learning a foreign language is about more than the language itself. At Duquesne University’s Department of Modern Languages, students are encouraged to immerse themselves in cultural communities outside their own to enhance their experience. For many Spanish language students recently, this community manifests in the form of 4-and-5-year-olds at Beechwood Elementary School in Beechview.

Loss Of Revenue Taxing PA's Rural Communities

Jun 19, 2016
Wikipedia

The commonwealth is making more land tax-exempt. However, this action is having a significant impact on the state’s rural communities which could cause a ripple effect. What can be done to help these areas? We’ll pose that question to Potter County commissioner Paul Heimel

Portraits Of An Artist: John Riegert On Display

Jun 17, 2016
Brett Yasko

A painting done by a grandmother for her grandchild, at a birthday party planted an idea in curator Brett Yasko’s mind. The  artwork reminded him of paintings by Joseph Yoakum he had just seen at the Carnegie Museum of Art.

“Why is one artist in this gallery and his work will be seen by thousands of people, and this other artist, her painting might be seen by a handful of people. It will sit on a night stand,” Yasko wondered.

1904 Olympic Medals Displayed At Oakmont

Jun 17, 2016
Emily Stock / 90.5 WESA

Later this Summer golf tournaments are taking place at the Rio Olympics. It will be the first time for golf to be played at the Olympics since the 1904 games held in St. Louis. The long lost silver medal of former U.S. Amateur Champion H. Chandler Egan, along with his team gold medal from those long ago games, are on display this week during the U.S. Open at Oakmont. We'll get the fascinating story behind these medals from USGA Historian Mike Trostel

IMDB

"Body and Soul," the seminal work of the first major African-American filmmaker Oscar Micheaux is being given new life in a showcase tonight at the Hollywood Theater in Dormont. The screening of this feature length melodrama starring Paul Robeson comes with an original hip-hop score performed live by Pittsburgh artist Jasiri X. We'll talk with Jasiri X about how this project came together. Joining the conversation is black film scholar Joseph Kennedy.    

Delirium Prevention Program Helps Patients At West Penn Hospital

Jun 16, 2016
Allegheny Health Network

Often overlooked or misdiagnosed, delirium is a condition where patients experience an abrupt change in mental status. While it’s typically a short-term problem, medical officials are finding the condition can cause serious brain damage, especially to older individuals. At West Penn Hospital, a new program has been developed aimed at finding treatment and reverse delirium’s impact. Dr. Christine Herb, director of geriatric education for Allegheny Health Network and Dr. Allan Philp, Trauma Program Medical Director for Allegheny Health Network join us to talk about the new program.

Bill Peduto / Twitter


Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

In an open layout room filled with natural light, Carnegie Mellon University Human-Computer Interaction Institute PhD students Yang Zhang and Gierad Laput fiddle with wires and switch on levers. The tables in front of them are covered in interfaces, sensors and tools, and several nearby glass walls display multi-colored formulas and troubleshooting lists. This, Laput says, is the Future Interfaces Group research lab.

Akira Ohgaki / flickr

When it comes to treating a stroke, experts say time loss equals brain loss. Matthew Kesinger, founder and CEO of Forest Devices Inc., developed a device entering clinical trials that aims to decrease time loss by diagnosing strokes faster and more accurately.

Emily Stock / 90.5 WESA

During Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals, Pine-Richland graduate Mike Van Sickle received a call telling him he had qualified for his first U.S. Open. The Kennedy resident described the feeling as relief.

'Pirates By The Numbers' Looks At History Through Uniform Number

Jun 14, 2016
David Brossard / flickr

Monroeville author David Finoli has been writing about Pittsburgh sports for about 15 years, but he says that his latest book, “Pirates By the Numbers: A Complete Team History of the Bucs by Uniform Number,” is one of the most interesting he’s worked on. The book chronicles Pirates players and the numbers they wore throughout the franchise history.

PghJared / flickr

Through the years, Pittsburgh-area sports have seen their fair share of team mascots. Some have been embraced by the city and others haven’t quite cut it. We’re joined now in studio by stand-up comedian and City Paper columnist Mike Wysocki. He’s written a column for the City Paper on the “best, worst and handsiest sports mascots” in Pittsburgh sports history.

Peter Rieke / flickr

If you’re a big league baseball fan, you have surely heard of the Pittsburgh Pirates, but what about the Chicago pirates or the Pittsburgh Burgers or the Cleveland Infants? They were members of the Players National League of Professional Baseball Clubs, popularly known as the Players League. The League emerged in 1890 from the Brotherhood of Professional Baseball Players and while it lasted only one season, it made a significant impact on the game. We’ll hear from associate professor of Global Cultural Studies at Point Park University Robert Ross, who’s written about the event in his book, “The Great Baseball Revolt: The Rise and Fall of the 1890 Players League.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Noah Bendix-Balgley was the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s Concertmaster from 2011 through 2015. Now the Concertmaster for the Berlin Philharmonic, Bendix-Balgley continues to showcase his artistic talent through the PSO. This weekend he will perform his own Klezmer arrangement with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.

90.5 WESA

Linda Lane has been a force in Pittsburgh Public Schools since she became superintendent in 2010. At the end of June, she’ll be stepping down and stopped by Essential Pittsburgh to talk about her experience in the role and what she's learned.

Muhammad Ali Remembered As Gracious, Intelligent And Humble

Jun 10, 2016
Bob Dvorchak / Facebook

The funeral for boxing legend Muhammed Ali is being held today in his hometown of Louisville, KY. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Sportswriter Emeritus Bob Dvorchak joins us to talk about his memories of  Ali whom he met and interviewed in 1970. He'll also address what the Penguins need to do to clinch the cup this weekend.

Shell / flickr

After waiting five years, Beaver County has received the news from Shell Chemical Appalachia that a multi-billion dollar ethane cracker will be built on the site of the former Horsehead zinc smelter. The plant is expected to provide 600 permanent jobs when it opens. But what concerns has this development raised for environmentalists? We'll ask Allegheny Front reporter Reid Frazier.    

Mark / flickr

Since Pennsylvania legalized medical marijuana in April, many have wanted to tap into the industry. United States Cannabis Pharmaceutical Research and Development CEO Michael Patterson says while officials develop policies over the next couple years, interested businesses and individuals should begin to familiarize themselves with the Commonwealth’s cannabis laws so they can cash in when the time comes.

Felipe Dana / AP Images

With concerns over the Zika epidemic in Brazil, 150 health experts have signed on to an open letter urging the World Health Organization to pressure Olympic officials to move or postpone the summer games in Rio de Janeiro.

Ronald Krall from the Center for Bioethics and Health Law at the University of Pittsburgh signed the open letter. He wants to see the WHO conduct a thorough analysis of the potential risks associated with holding the games in Rio.

Torkbak Hopper / flickr

In April, Governor Tom Wolf signed two executive orders that expanded non-discrimination protections to all state workers and state contractors based on their sexual identity, gender identity and gender expression. While this marks a progressive step forward for employees of the state, transgender Pennsylvanians still face challenges when it comes to health care access, legal assistance and workplace discrimination. Representative Dan Frankel (D-23) has introduced legislation to combat these problems, and Dr. Rachel Levine, Pennsylvania Physician General is a major advocate.

Department of Veterans Affairs

There are more than 71,000 female military veterans living in Pennsylvania, according to recent numbers from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Pittsburgh resident Kayla Williams was recently appointed to become the director of the VA Center for Women Veterans by Secretary Robert McDonald. Williams, who is a former intelligence specialist in the United States Army and served as a Arabic linguist, is also the author of two books chronicling her deployment to Iraq and return home. “Love my Rifle More Than You: Young and Female in the U.S. Army”, a memoir about her deployment to Iraq. And “Plenty of Time When We Get Home: Love and Recovery in the Aftermath of War.” She joined us to talk about her new role and the challenges facing female veterans in the United States.

Outgoing Chatham President Emphasizes Need For Global Education

Jun 8, 2016
Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

After 24 years as president Dr. Esther Barazzone is retiring this summer. During the two decades of her tenure the university has undergone a number of changes. One of the most notable was the admission of male undergraduates at the long time all-women’s school. We’ll discuss Dr. Barazzone’s career at Chatham when she  joins us, as the latest guest in our exit interview series.

David Holt / flickr

Speaking yesterday in London, British Prime Minister and EU-backer David Cameron compared leaving the European Union to detonating "a bomb under our economy." Nevertheless, Mr. Cameron is facing a growing tide of support for Britain leaving the EU. What is the likelihood a Brexit will occur? And what would the economic and political future of the EU look like without the UK? We'll put these questions to our guest William Adams, Vice President and Senior International Economist for the PNC Financial Services Group. He's speaking at a World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh Luncheon Panel Discussion next Monday entitled "The Brexit and the Future of Europe."    

Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board

Why do certain bottles of liquor end up in just one of Pennsylvania’s more than 600 wine and spirit stores? Attempting to find an answer to the question led Jacob Quinn Sanders to develop Boozicorns — a map listing those difficult-to-find bottles of alcohol that exist in only one location within the state.

Penguins' First Goalie Remembers Early Days Of The Franchise

Jun 7, 2016
Pittsburgh Penguins / NHL

What was it like to be a professional hockey goalie in the 1960s and 70s, facing 100 mile an hour slap shots without a mask, losing most of your teeth and enduring hundreds of stitches? We’ll ask former Penguins goalie Les Binkley, who debuted with Pittsburgh's NHL franchise in 1967.

What Will Happen To Wilkinsburg's 'Tiger Pride?'

Jun 7, 2016
Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Graduation at Wilkinsburg High School this year was a little more sentimental and bittersweet than in the past. The 2016 seniors were the final group to graduate from the school, as the district prepares to merge its students with Pittsburgh Westinghouse in Homewood.

Jonathan Lin / flickr

Among the recent environmental news coming out of Harrisburg, former Pennsylvania DEP secretary David Hess says the Commonwealth isn’t focused on the real issue: how to restore PA as a leader in environmental preservation. He’s laid out ten opportunities for leadership in a post on his blog and joins us from Harrisburg with his perspective.

Mark Goebel / flickr

Following the resignation of former DEP secretary John Quigley, many are trying to evaluate the environmental climate of Pennsylvania. While some claim Quigley was ousted for political reasons, others believe his actions were disrespectful and ill-mannered. We’ll hear thoughts from PennFuture President and CEO Larry Schweiger as well as Kevin Moody, General Counsel & Vice President Government Affairs of the Pennsylvania Independent Oil & Gas Association. We’ll also look at the motivation behind the emails that reportedly prompted Quigley’s resignation, including regulations on oil and gas industry drilling.

Maranie Rae / maranierae.com

For three weeks this past April, Pittsburgh-based photographer Maranie Rae Staab traveled to Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan with Global Outreach Doctors. She documented their work and the people they helped during her time there, calling them some of the most warm and generous individuals she'd ever encountered.

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