Story Corps Mobile Recording Booth Arrives In Pittsburgh

12 minutes ago
Marcus Charleston / WESA

An aluminum Airstream trailer parked in front of the Senator John Heinz History Center on Thursday, where it will stay for the next month.

The trailer is the mobile recording booth used by the Story Corps radio project, which archives the conversations of everyday Americans. The conversations in which two people interview one another take place over the course of an hour.

Sam Howzit / Flickr

 A Pittsburgh suburb wracked by a shooting at its major indoor shopping mall and other violent incidents now has new surveillance cameras in place.

Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala Jr. and the Monroeville Area Chamber of Commerce announced the move Wednesday.

Chamber of Commerce President Sean Logan said the new cameras are aimed at catching criminals and deterring others. 

Former Exec Gets Probation, $5K Fine Over Imitation Cheese

Oct 11, 2016
Maggie Hoffman / Flickr

A former executive will spend three years on probation and pay a $5,000 fine because two Pennsylvania cheese businesses her family controlled sold grated Swiss and mozzarella cheeses that were mislabeled and represented as parmesan and romano.

A federal judge in Pittsburgh sentenced 44-year-old Michelle Myrter on Tuesday.

Although U.S. Food and Drug Administration inspection reports and consumer lawsuits have raised questions about whether the cheeses also had too much cellulose — a filler made from wood pulp — that wasn't an issue in the criminal case.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Residents, developers and businesses curious about building permits they’ve submitted or the status of construction in their neighborhood can now access information directly from their phones or computers.

Chuck Szmurko / Wikipedia

Though Pittsburgh lost out on the $50 million Smart Cities grant, city officials are still participating in a project called MetroLab, under the same federal initiative.

The MetroLab network is a city-university partnership that’s part of the White House’s Smart Cities project, where schools serve as research and development arms.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Eight people waited expectantly in the basement of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh in Lawrenceville. They sat in pairs around a long table littered with construction paper and markers, Post-It notes and iPhones, waiting for Connor Sites-Bowen to start the speed dating clock.

“So go. Talk. You guys ask questions, you guys answer questions," Sites-Bowen said. 

Sue Ogrocki / AP


Chesapeake Energy, which is facing a royalty owners revolt here in Pennsylvania, will have to share more details of their accounting practices with the U.S. Department of Justice. The company revealed in a recent filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that the Justice Department has subpoenaed records on the gas driller’s accounting methods for “the acquisition and classification of oil and gas properties and related matters.”

Katie Meyer / WITF


Faculty members from Pennsylvania's state university system are rallying over the continuing lack of a contract agreement.

The professors at the 14 state-owned schools have been without one for more than a year, and negotiations between the system and the union aren't going well.

A walkout is scheduled for Oct. 19, and many think it's looking like a very real possibility.

As hundreds of faculty members carried signs in front of state higher education headquarters in Harrisburg, several students also milled around.



A state agency says it mistakenly cleared 28 people to work with children without noting their past.

The state Department of Human Services says it should have included incidents of abuse or neglect to the reports for the 28 people who pursued clearances through the state's Childline.

DHS blames its IT system for mistakes in eight of the cases, but says employees failed to note incidents in the other 20 cases.

The agency says it's made changes, is providing re-training for employees, and has hired a consultant to provide an independent review.

Matt Rourke / AP


Bill Cosby's lawyers say his Pennsylvania sexual assault case followed "a perfect storm" of mistakes and misconduct by a federal judge, an ambitious prosecutor and a celebrity lawyer.

They argue in a filing Thursday that the 79-year-old Cosby can't properly defend the decade-old accusation when key witnesses have died and evidence has been lost.

Cosby is set for trial in June on charges he drugged and molested a Temple University employee in 2004. He calls their encounter consensual.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Diabetes cases are continuing to rise in the U.S. and according to the World Health Organization, the disease is projected to be the seventh leading cause of death by 2030.

Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP


Former President George W. Bush is in Philadelphia Friday to raise campaign money for Pennsylvania Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey.

The event at the Union League in Center City includes a "VIP photo session" and a luncheon. It's closed to the media, as are many political fundraisers.

"He's going to raise a lot of money," said insurance executive and GOP fundraiser Manuel Stamatakis, a member of the host committee for the event. "I ask people for money all the time, but I've had people calling me, unsolicited, saying they want to contribute to Pat Toomey."

Phelan M. Ebenhack / AP

When Steelers punter Jordan Berry was growing up in Melbourne, Australia, he didn’t follow American professional football and didn’t know there was such a thing as college football. But with his strong leg, developed playing Australian Rules football, he was offered an athletic scholarship by Eastern Kentucky University. He excelled there and was signed by the Steelers in 2015. 

Now, in his second season in Pittsburgh, Berry said the biggest adjustment to playing American football was learning how to be ready to come into the game cold.


The Confluence – where the news comes together is 90.5 WESA’s weekly news program.

Each week reporters, editors and bloggers join veteran journalist, and host, Kevin Gavin. They’ll go behind the headlines taking an in-depth look at the stories important to the Pittsburgh region.

This week’s topics include:

We'll look at the latest presidential race polls as well as Pennsylvania and Ohio's status as swing states in the election. We'll also have the latest on the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra musicians strike. Later in the program we'll discuss some of the city's top news stories of the past week. 

Rick Smith / AP


Dozens of workers at the Pennsylvania plant that makes marshmallow Peeps are back on the picket line after learning they permanently lost their jobs during the three-week strike.

The Morning Call of Allentown reports most of the 400 employees at Just Born Quality Confections went back to their jobs Monday, ending the walkout.

Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union Local 6 offered to continue working under an expired contract and the company agreed.

Elaine Thomson / AP

Three transgender seniors at Pine-Richland high school have sued the district for changing its rules about which restrooms they must use. They are being represented by Lambda Legal, a civil rights organization that focuses on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

A farewell to the King turned somber when Jack Nicklaus, his voice cracking as a large tear formed in his left eye, urged the elite and the everyman to remember how Arnold Palmer touched their lives and "please don't forget why."

"I hurt like you hurt," Nicklaus said. "You don't lose a friend of 60 years and don't feel an enormous loss."

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

A total of 3,383 drug-related overdose deaths were reported in Pennsylvania in 2015. That’s nearly 25 per cent more than the number of deaths in 2014. Governor Tom Wolf has called it a crisis and made dealing with it a priority. The governor spoke with 90.5 WESA’s Paul Guggenheimer about initiatives he and the legislature are working on in the handful of voting days that remain.

Their conversation has been edited for length and clarity.


Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Jasmine Cook stood in front of her house in the North Side neighborhood of California-Kirkbride. She held her 7-month-old daughter, flanked by her other two children. Her 7-year-old daughter was a self-proclaimed singer-gymnast and her 4-year-old son was a superhero with laser eyes, graciously contained by a pair of plastic red sunglasses. Running around the side yard was a miniature Batman, the boy who lives next door.

“All kids around here, nothing else, just all kids,” she said. “Everybody knows each other around here. It’s a good street to live on.”

Simon Brass / flickr

In Allegheny County, eight people have been exonerated since 1990, sharing more than 125 years wrongfully imprisoned.  

Liz DeLosa, managing attorney of the new Pittsburgh chapter of the Pennsylvania Innocence Project, said most people aren’t aware of how the exonerated are treated in this state.

Ad War Emerges In Race For Pennsylvania Attorney General

Oct 4, 2016
NewsWorks and AP file photos


In the race to replace disgraced former Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane, voters will choose between a self-styled government reformer and a state senator -- both from Montgomery County. With just over a month until Election Day, the TV ad war has begun.

Musicians of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra

Members of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra remain on strike and on the picket line. 

The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra has canceled symphony concerts through the end of October.

The PSO’s contract with its musicians expired earlier this month, following months of negotiations. 

Pittsburgh's Startup Activity Isn't As Strong As It Claims

Oct 3, 2016
Mike Petrucci / Upsplash

You’ve heard it in the news or maybe even from your neighbor: These days, Pittsburgh is hailed as the center for innovation. The Steel City is thriving and building the new economy and even “birthing the age of self-driving cars,” as Wired Magazine recently put it. The idea that Pittsburgh is the bleeding edge of the startup frontier seems to be as much a part of its present narrative as steel was in its past.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA


Sitting in their living room in McCandless, Bob and Dena Masterino struggled to answer what is usually a fairly easy question: who are you voting for?

Bryan Y.W. Shin / Wikipedia

The University of Pennsylvania has become the latest college sued by a student fearing expulsion over what he calls an unfounded sexual-assault complaint. 

The lawsuit says the Ivy League school in Philadelphia could expel him if it concludes he had sex with a fellow senior without her permission.

The accused student calls the sex consensual. 

Federal guidelines instruct schools to hold students responsible if there's more evidence than not that an assault occurred. 

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh will be home to the largest open-door animal shelter in western Pennsylvania once the boards of two major nonprofits merge by Jan. 1, 2017.

Marcus Charleston / WESA

The Confluence – where the news comes together is 90.5 WESA’s weekly news program.

Each week reporters, editors and bloggers join veteran journalists, and host, Kevin Gavin. They’ll go behind the headlines, taking an in-depth look at the stories important to the Pittsburgh region.

This week it was announced that beginning in December Pittsburgh will become a one newspaper town. We'll look at the impact the Tribune Review dropping its print edition has on the city's journalism landscape. Health issues are also in the news. We'll  discuss Governor Tom Wolf's urging of state lawmakers to combat PA's opioid epidemic and Mylan CEO Heather Bresch's  Epipen profits testimony on Capitol Hill. Our look ahead, looks back at golf legend Arnold Palmer.  

Rick Smith / AP

The Bethlehem company that makes marshmallow Peeps as well as Mike and Ike candies has filed a federal lawsuit claiming a workers' strike is illegal. 

Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union Local 6 workers walked off the job September 7. 

The lawsuit filed by Just Born Quality Confections says that violates a no-strike provision of a contract that expired June 18.

The company says the no-strike clause was still in effect until Sept. 18 under a contract extension. 

Jordan Brown / WITF

Penn State is dedicating an entire course this fall to one person: Donald Trump. 

The one-credit course called "Trump" allows students to meet for two hours a week to analyze the Republican presidential nominee's campaign, the democratic process and previous presidential candidates. 

The director of the university's McCourtney Institute for Democracy says the Republican is generating a great deal of support through unorthodox means and is discussing issues that raise questions about democratic politics. 

Evan Vucci / AP

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump plans to hold a rally in central Pennsylvania on Saturday.

His campaign website says it will be held at 7:00 p.m. at the Spooky Nook Sports Complex near Manheim, in Lancaster County.

Doors open at 3:00 p.m.  

His running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, is holding a rally in York, this afternoon. 

Vice President Joe Biden and first lady Michelle Obama campaigned in Pennsylvania this week for Hillary Clinton.