The Veterans Affairs Pittsburgh Healthcare System found three water fixtures to be contaminated with the Legionella bacteria, shortly after a patient was diagnosed with Legionella pneumonia.

A patient’s shower, a staff sink and a public sink tested positive for the bacteria on Sept. 29 and October 1 at the Veterans Affairs (VA) Healthcare System’s University Drive campus following a test by a water safety team.

The three locations tested positive for Blue-white Legionella, a species which typically does not cause infection in humans, according to a VA press release.


Vice President Joe Biden spoke to a group of union workers before the Labor Day Parade in downtown Pittsburgh Monday morning.

His speech was focused on the importance of organized labor to the health of the national economy and quality of life.

The Unforgettable Trial of Harry K. Thaw

Aug 20, 2015
New York American / wikipedia commons

Long before O.J. Simpson, the court case referred to as the trial of the century involved a Pittsburgher. Harry K. Thaw stood trial for the murder of famed architect Stanford White as a result of his jealousy over the relationship between his wife,  model and chorus girl, Evelyn Nesbit, and White. We’ll mark the centennial of this trial with our pop culture contributor Joe Wos.

The Pennsylvania state Legislature has 253 members. Currently, only 46 of them are women.

The League of Women Voters will discuss this problem, among other issues, at its state convention, which they recently announced will take place in Pittsburgh next month.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Once a month, seated at a long table in a conference room, the members of the U.S. Board on Geographic Names (USGN) decide what to call things. The board was created in 1890 during a period of persistent exploration. Maps and reports were coming back from the west and Alaska with different names for the same feature. The USGN formed to standardize names across the federal government. In 1891 the USGN ordered all cities ending in “burgh” to drop the "h."

August Wilson Documentary Debuts

Feb 18, 2015
The Huntington / Flickr


We talked with the producers of a new documentary nearly ten years in the making; "August Wilson: The Ground On Which I Stand" which focuses on the Pittsburgh born playwright and his ten plays over twenty years covering a one-century cycle of American history.

Our guests are Executive Producer Darryl Ford Williams and Deesha Philyaw, manager of the August Wilson Education Project.



Mood rings were a popular fad in the 1970’s. Flash forward and the concept of gaging our mood via a color is being applied to the Gulf Tower downtown.

An upcoming exhibit at the Carnegie Museum of Art will use the Gulf Tower Beacon to reflect the city’s mood.

We talk with Divya Rao Heffley, program manager for the Hillman Photography Initiative and Brad Stephenson, director of marketing for the Carnegie Museum of Art.

Traditionally, the color of a mood ring was said to change determining your mood at a given time.

In the past, the Gulf Tower beacon has displayed weather prediction lighting. Each tier signified with temperature or humidity levels. This week, the beacon will tell the people of Pittsburgh the mood of the city with two colors, red as negative and green as positive.

Stephenson simplifies the new project for the Gulf Tower:

“We're taking all of the Instagram images being posted in Pittsburgh and we are using these sentiment analysis tools to measure the attitude of the commentary on the Instagram photos. Then we are taking those and applying a score that will then say more green is positive and more red is negative. We are taking two sides of the tower and applying the green and two sides and applying the red so essentially its a bar chart that shows Pittsburgh commentary on Instagram more positive or more negative in real time at any given moment.”

The idea of the beacon is a lead up to an art show this Saturday, February 14, at the Carnegie Museum of Art called Antoine Catala: Distant Feel.

Ah, coffee.  The magical beverage that makes us all feel more human by 9 AM. What would we do without it? Grab your mug and settle in for a very buzz-worthy Social Club.  

Matt Gebis of Espresso a Mano in Lawrenceville joins Rachel and Josh to share his journey into owning his own business, explains why he doesn’t sweat Starbucks as competition, and instructs us on how to brew the most delicious hot (and cold!) cup of coffee at home.

Also happening this weekend:
Carnegie Science Center 21+ Night

Pittsburgh's Improving Water Quality

Jan 7, 2015
Joseph / Flickr

Although not as apparent today, Pittsburgh was once one of the top industrial cities in America- and one of the dirtiest.

Often described as “hell with the lid off,” Pittsburgh of old was a city of dark noons where workers had to change their white shirts during the day. Since the Steel City’s mid-century renaissance, the air quality has improved significantly.

Improving the water quality of the famed three rivers- which were often used as garbage disposal by past residents- has been a longer process.

But encouraging news came out of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection recently, when they announced that the Monongahela River had been removed from the department’s list of Rivers with Impaired Drinking Water.

The department’s Deputy Secretary of Water Management Kelly Heffner said that though this was a step in the right direction, there is still plenty of work to be done in Western Pennsylvania.

Pittsburgh Neighborhood Focus: Allentown

Jan 6, 2015
Joseph / Flickr

Pittsburgh is made of dozens of neighborhoods, each with their own unique backgrounds, residents, businesses and other characteristics.

Business contributor Rebecca Harris focuses in on some of the city’s most interesting neighborhoods, and discusses her findings every first Tuesday of the month.

Today, she focused on Allentown, a neighborhood south of downtown and just up the hill from WESA’s South Side studio.

The "town" of Allentown was founded by an Englishman, Joseph Allen, in 1827, but most of its original occupants were German. Pittsburgh annexed the town in 1872.

Much has changed since then, as most of the original businesses have disappeared. But shops such as the Hardware Store have moved into the neighborhood.

Jacket Design by Eric Fuentecilla
Eric Fuentecilla / Penguin Books

As the year comes to a close, we’re looking back on our favorite Essential Pittsburgh stories and guests from 2014. Today we’re highlighting some of our favorite author interviews from the year.

To hear the full-length audio for this story, please refer to the original post.

Tomorrow and Tomorrow” is a science fiction novel set in Pittsburgh, or rather a full-scale computer simulation of Pittsburgh, created in the aftermath of a terrorist attack that has destroyed the city. The book came out this summer and received good early reviews.

By the time this segment aired, the movie rights had been optioned by Sony Pictures -- an auspicious start to the literary career of cyberpunk author Thomas Sweterlitsch, a long-time Pittsburgher.

Among other things, WESA Morning Edition host Josh Raulerson asked Thomas when he started writing stories.

“I started writing when I was seven -- that’s my earliest notebook I still have. I remember very clearly writing stories about G.I. Joe. I think I was obsessed with the movie “Red Dawn.” So, all my stories were G.I. Joe/”Red Dawn” mashups. So, it’s kind of fun for me to go back because my mom had saved all of these notebooks that I’d filled up over the years, and they were just full of little horror stories that I was writing when I was nine and ten years old.”

What Do You Want to Know About Pittsburgh's Past?

Nov 9, 2014
Wikimedia Commons

We are starting a new series called 90.5 WESA Celebrates Inventing Pittsburgh and we need your help!

What about the city and Southwestern PA are you curious about? Do you know someone who has lived through important Pittsburgh events? Are you doing amazing, awesome things with historical data of Pittsburgh or the surrounding area? Do you have a shoebox full of old Pittsburgh photos and don't know what they are?

We want to help answer your questions about Pittsburgh history.

Neighborhood Business: Greenfield

Nov 4, 2014
KitAy / Flickr


Cities are made up of a collection of neighborhoods with unique features and characteristics. Beginning today, on the first Tuesday of each month, business contributor Rebecca Harris will focus on one of the city’s neighborhoods. Today's focus is on Greenfield.

Where Does Halloween Come From?

Oct 31, 2014
Matt Niemi / flickr

Halloween is the second biggest consumer holiday after Christmas. But what are its origins? Pop culture contributor Joe Wos joins us to provide a history of All Hallow’s Eve and how it’s been celebrated in the Steel City.

Happy Halloween, Pittsburgh! Halloween is on a Friday this year, so this week 90.5 WESA’s Josh and Yelp’s Rachel have a fear-filled weekend planned for you. Listen in for why, “I can confirm this: atheists are not Satanists.” 

Social Club For The Weekend Of Oct. 24

Oct 23, 2014

Carved pumpkin? Check. Trick-or-treat candy? Check. Costume … well, if you’re anything like Yelp’s Rachel, you might not be quite ready for Halloween just yet. If you’re looking for a diversion, Rachel and 90.5 WESA’s Josh have this week’s happenings to keep you occupied. Listen in for why, “They don't have the quiet dignity of the feline species."


Halloween is creeping closer (see what we did there?), and 90.5 WESA’s Josh and Yelp’s Rachel have some spooky seasonal activities for the scare-fans and the squeamish alike. On tap this week: some beer with your barge, no touching in the haunted house and Seth Meyers's yinzer accent. Listen in for why, “I give you credit for being up for most things, but everybody has their limit.”

Social Club for the Weekend of Oct. 10

Oct 9, 2014

For the beer lovers out there — you might be able to call us that — 90.5 WESA's Josh and Yelp's Rachel brought in a special guest. Scott Smith, head brewer at East End Brewery, joins the Social Club this week. On tap in this episode: carefully-placed T-shirt racks, twirly hot dog machines, brewing for charity and the controversy of pumpkin beer.

Johnny Appleseed: Beyond the Myth

Sep 25, 2014
Rudolf Vlček / Flickr

You may not recognize the name John Chapman from your history books. The pioneering American nurseryman is better known as Johnny Appleseed, who introduced apple trees to large parts of Pennsylvania, Ohio and the Midwest. We’ll mark the 240th anniversary of Johnny Appleseed’s birth and his connection to Pittsburgh with culture contributor Joe Wos.

Robots Are Big Business in the Burgh

Sep 23, 2014
oomlaut / Flickr

In a November 1999 article the Wall Street Journal dubbed Pittsburgh “Robo-burgh.” The city is one of a handful of locations in the U.S. leading in the development of robotics technology. This week contributor Rebecca Harris looks at the business of robotics.

The weather is beginning to dim—RIP summer—but the Social Club is still burning bright. 90.5 WESA’s Josh and Yelp’s Rachel have a lot on tap this week. In this episode, Rachel and Josh talk the loss of Smoke, the Big Pour and the pitfalls of peppermint stouts. Listen in for why “I was about to say something uncharitable and entirely unfair to New Jersey.”

Social Club for the Weekend of September 5th

Sep 5, 2014

The summer has begun to fade, but the Social Club keeps trucking on. 90.5 WESA’s Josh and Yelp’s Rachel have some great outdoor activities to help you take advantage of the warm weather while you still can. This week’s episode features pie of dubious nationality, foot wine and the revival of Tupperware sales. Listen in for why, “You’ve got to let the summer breathe a little bit."

90.5 WESA’s Josh and Yelp’s Rachel are back to get you into just the right amount of trouble with this week’s Social Club. In this episode, topics include the Mistake on the Lake, the hidden treasures of Bloomfield and the best burger in Chile. Listen in for how you can, “Enjoy being Italian, or fake being Italian.”

90.5 WESA’s Josh and Yelp’s Rachel are back as The Social Club looks into the future. This time around, Rachel has some week-long and month-long events to keep you occupied long-term. Listen in for tips on yinzing ironically, unicycles and the importance of style.

For the podcast this weekend, 90.5 WESA’s Josh and Yelp’s Rachel ask the deep questions: What's your favorite animal, and are meerkats related to cats?

Of course, the Social Club has some suggestions for how to spend your weekend beyond these animal-related inquiries. Listen in for why, “Adults and face painting don’t often go together, but I think whiskey maybe is the missing ingredient there.”

We love our booze — ahem, our craft beers — here at the Social Club podcast, so of course the upcoming Beer Fest is one of Josh and Rachel’s favorite happenings this weekend. For the sober-minded, however, there’s no need to worry: this week’s events include yoga in the square, fashion trucks, and overlooked Pittsburgh barbecue. Listen in for why, “This is like, deliberate yoga, not just a weirdo running around the Square.”

Jacket Design by Eric Fuentecilla
Eric Fuentecilla / Penguin Books

There aren’t too many writers whose first attempt at a novel gets published- and even fewer have the movie right to their debut scooped up immediately by a major film company.

If Thomas Sweterlitsch's experience in literature has been anything but ordinary, that’s because his first novel, Tomorrow And Tomorrow, has been too.

The book tells the story of John Dominic Blaxton, an investigator living in the future who explores a digital recreation of Pittsburgh, in order to explore the city a decade after it was reduced to dust by a nuclear detonation.

The Social Club podcast gets charitable this week, as Yelp’s Rachel throws out some weekend suggestions for those in need of a good cause. Don’t worry, though, lovers of debauchery: 90.5 WESA’s Josh made sure to pull Rachel back to talk about something “entirely frivolous.”

Listen in on their conversation for a Pup (not pub) Crawl, '90s covers, a secret song, and for why, “It’s good luck to get pooped on by an exotic bird in the jungle.”

With the Fourth of July weekend upon us, 90.5 WESA’s Josh Raulerson and Yelp’s Rachel Carlson have a special Staycation episode for your listening pleasure. Since yinz probably finalized your plans for the Fourth long ago, Rachel whipped up a list of the best things you can do in Pittsburgh this summer regardless of the date, including kayaking, a secret Potato Patch, the Sounds of Science, and a chance to Go Ape. Listen in for why “you could get some maybe uncomfortable insights into your relationships.”

In this episode, we have a beer tracking app, a pile of trash in Heinz Field, food trucks and the opportunity to get your wino on. Josh Raulerson is back from vacation in Colorado, and he brought with him some recommendations on the best local brews in Boulder. He trades them with Yelp’s Rachel Carlson, in exchange for some weekend party tips. Listen in for why there’s, “a time and place for every wine.”