Essential Pittsburgh
7:56 pm
Sun December 21, 2014

Monday Rundown: Essential Pittsburgh Top Views of 2014

Credit Phil Quinn / wikipedia

These topics air Monday December 22, 2014 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA.

Today we’re looking back on 2014 and airing some of the Essential Pittsburgh interviews that were most popular on the 90.5WESA website.

You’ll hear a fun and illuminating discussion of the region’s “nonsensical roads" and driving behaviors.

We'll take you to the frigid North Shore back in February, where bird watchers took in a rare sight, thanks to the polar vortex.  

And we'll weight the pros and cons of declaring "Pittsburghese" to be America's ugliest accent.

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Essential Pittsburgh
12:48 am
Fri December 19, 2014

Friday Rundown: Some Sweet Ways to Get into the Holidays

The Nestle Toll House morsel turns 75!
Credit Ana Liza / Flickr

These topics air Friday December 19, 2014 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

Gingerbread Pittsburgh

The executive chefs at the Grand Concourse have taken the art of gingerbread houses to a new level. They’ve crafted a gingerbread village of iconic Pittsburgh landmarks. We’ll find out how they did this with Grand Concourse General Manager Milo Boering and Executive Chef Loren Halperin.

75 Years of the Nestle Chocolate Morsel

1939 was an important year in American pop culture. Some of the greatest Hollywood movies, including "Gone With the Wind" and the "Wizard of Oz" were released. Lou Gehrig retired and the "World of Tomorrow" World’s Fair opened in New York. In the annals of baking, the chocolate chip cookie was created at the Toll House Inn in Whitman, Massachusetts. A key ingredient in this iconic cookie is the Nestle Morsel which turns 75 this year. Here to tell us more about its past, present and future is Roz O’Hearn, Communications & Brand Affairs Director.

By Request

For over thirty years WESA director of internships Kevin Gavin has hosted his All-Request Holiday Music Special. Kevin joins us for a preview of this year's special as well as a look back at Christmases past.

Travel Segment

With the year coming to a close and holiday celebrations abounding, Travel contributor Elaine Labalme stops by with suggestions to help you answer the musical question, "What are you doing New Year's Eve." 

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:02 am
Thu December 18, 2014

Thursday Rundown: Making Sure Police Use of Force is Proportional to the Crime

Credit Elvert Barnes / Flickr

These topics air Thursday December 18, 2014 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

Cuba Policy Changes

As the United States takes steps to change our relationship with Cuba and ease restrictions on travel and commerce, with a place President Kennedy described as an "imprisoned island," we'll talk with Cuban born Carnegie Mellon University Associate Professor of Hispanic Studies Kenya Dworkin y Mendez and University of Pittsburgh associate professor of political science Scott Morgenstern. What opportunities does this create for Pittsburgh?

When Police Use Deadly Force

As public outcry continues in the wake of the police killings of Michael Brown in Ferguson and Eric Garner in New York, former Pittsburgh Police Officer Sheldon Williams answers lingering questions about the use of deadly force by police. What obligation do police officers have to make sure the use of force is proportional?

Travel Segment

With the year coming to a close and holiday celebrations abounding, Travel contributor Elaine Labalme stops by with suggestions to help you answer the musical question, "What are you doing New Year's Eve." 

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Essential Pittsburgh
12:09 am
Wed December 17, 2014

Wednesday Rundown: Weighing the Power of Local Prosecutors

Credit Emmanuel / Flickr

These topics air Wednesday December 17, 2014 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

Local Prosecutors

The public outcry over the killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, two unarmed black men, at the hands of white police officers continues to spark protests around the country. One of the many legal aspects being called into question in these instances is the role of local prosecutors taking the cases to grand juries. We’ll examine the part local prosecutors have played in these cases with Pitt Law Professor David Harris.

US Representative Mike Doyle Explains His Vote on the Spending Bill

Four days ago, Congress put final approval on a long term one-trillion dollar funding bill, the main item on the year's agenda. The measure provides money for nearly the entire government through September 30, 2015. But the spending bill has plenty of critics including Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren, who called it "the worst of government for the rich and powerful.” Pittsburgh Congressman Mike Doyle voted against the bill and he joins us to explain his decision. 

Holiday Songs

From Jingle Bells to White Christmas, pop culture contributor Joe Wos gives us the stories behind some of our favorite holiday songs.

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Essential Pittsburgh
1:47 am
Tue December 16, 2014

Tuesday Rundown: From Help Wanted to Warhol's Most Wanted

One of the enlarged images displayed by Andy Warhol at the 1964 World's Fair. Most Wanted No. 2, John Victor G.
Credit Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts Inc.

These topics air Tuesday December 16, 2014 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

Pittsburgh's Low Unemployment

The Steel City continues to have lower levels of unemployment than most similarly sized cities such as Indianapolis, Kansas City and Cleveland. But will this trend continue? We'll talk with Mark Price, a labor economist with the Keystone Research Center in Harrisburg.

Warhol's 13 Most Wanted

Fifty years ago, the 1964 World’s Fair opened in Queens, New York. Iconic pop culture artist, Andy Warhol was asked to take part in a set of public commissions for the exterior of the New York State Pavilion, one of the main venues of the fair. The images Warhol chose to display caused a scandal at first. Now they are part of a major exhibition currently on view at the Andy Warhol Museum. Jessica Beck is the assistant curator of the exhibition, she’s here to talk about the story of Warhol’s 13 Most Wanted.

WESA Celebrates - Miss Audie Hart

“Miss Audie” Hart plays many different roles at the Neighborhood Academy in Garfield. To a number of students she’s a grandmother. Some staff members see her as a mother figure. The love and support she provides to those at the Neighborhood Academy are the reason she is the subject of this week’s WESA Celebrates profile.

The Business of PANKS

It seems every demographic gets a name from young upward professionals (yuppies) to couples known as DINKS (double income no kids). This week business contributor Rebecca Harris looks at the newest demographic making headlines – PANKs (professional aunts, no kids). 

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Essential Pittsburgh
7:39 pm
Sun December 14, 2014

Monday Rundown: Seeing the Importance of Coding For the Next Generation

A kindergartener coding in October 2014
Credit Kevin Jarrett / Flickr

These topics air Monday December 15, 2014 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

US-Israel Relationship

What impact could last month’s US elections, as well as the upcoming elections in Israel have on that region? We’ll pose that question to our guest J Street Chief-of-Staff Steve Krubiner, as he prepares for a discussion on the US-Israel relationship and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Cracking the Code

Last week students around the world took part in the Hour of Code event in which they spent an hour learning computer code. Locally, an event was held at Oakland Catholic High School. As part of WESA’s Life of Learning Initiative we’ll discover how the event went and what it could mean for the student’s future with School President Mary Claire Kasunic.

Pittsburgh Story Syndicate

Chicago has its Second Story, Baltimore has the Stoop and public radio has The Moth. They’re storytelling series where everyday citizens relate a true-life story. Beginning this month the Pittsburgh Story Syndicate becomes the latest venue for people to connect and share their stories. Bringing her storytelling skills back to Pittsburgh is author Lisa Kirchner who joins us in Studio A. 

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Essential Pittsburgh
1:08 am
Fri December 12, 2014

Friday Rundown: Will Personal Items Sent to the Moon Be Viewed as Trash or Treasure?

What do you think about the future of commercial spaceflight resembling FedEx or UPS?
Credit Stephen Rahn / Flickr

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

NFL Owners OK Tougher Penalties for Domestic Violence

NFL owners have voted unanimously to adopt six game minimum suspensions for domestic or sexual violence and other crimes. The changes come after the NFL was criticized for its handling of alleged off-field violence by high profile players. But will the players go along? We'll talk with John Affleck, Knight Chair in Sports Journalism and Society at Penn State.

High Policy Weeds of Health Care

We’ll talk with Carnegie Mellon University Health Law professor Gary Kaplan about how Pennsylvania’s implementation of the Affordable Care Act could change under the Wolf administration. Professor Kaplan represents private employers in advising them on health care plan options. So what do employers need to know about the UPMC and Highmark contract in 2015?

Send Your Stuff to the Moon

So, your life's dream has always been to send something to the moon? You may soon have your chance. A Pittsburgh company called Astrobotic is introducing a new service called "MoonMail" that will allow individuals to send their keepsakes to the surface of the moon. But with who's permission, and for what purpose? We'll talk with Astrobotic CEO John Thornton about the future of space freight.

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Essential Pittsburgh
12:49 am
Thu December 11, 2014

Thursday Rundown: What Can We Do to Deal With Sexual Violence on a College Campus?

What does it take to make it clear that "no means no"?
Credit roga muffin / flickr

These topics air Thursday December 11, 2014 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

Sexual Assault on College Campuses

According to our guest Vice President of Government Relations for the American Association of University Women, Lisa Maatz, we’re seeing more outrage from student advocates, survivors and politicians regarding sexual assault on college campuses. She and Julie Evans, Director of Prevention and Crisis Services at Pittsburgh Action Against Rape talk about how universities can better deal with this issue.  

Rolling Stone's Rape Story

In November, Rolling Stone published a story about an alleged gang rape at the University of Virginia, relying on the account of the victim. The magazine later apologized to readers, revealing it believed her story contained inaccuracies. We'll discuss these developments with Pittsburgh Post-Gazette columnist Tony Norman and Jeff Ritter, Communications Department Chair at La Roche College.

Bed and Breakfast

Looking for a way to de-stress from the holidays? Travel contributor Elaine Labalme suggests some bed and breakfast getaways in the commonwealth.

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Essential Pittsburgh
7:37 pm
Tue December 9, 2014

Wednesday Rundown: Riverfront Resurgence with Lisa Schroeder

Discussing changes in the Pittsburgh's riverscape with outgoing Riverlife president and CEO Lisa Schroeder.
Credit Joseph / Flickr

These topics air Wednesday December 10, 2014 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

Innovative Learning in Pittsburgh

Last week educational visionaries from the area who are rethinking education gathered for their annual summit. As part of the WESA’s Life of Learning Initiative we’ll explore what’s on the educational horizon with Cathy Lewis Long, Executive Director & President for The Sprout Fund.

WESA Celebrates - Deidre Kane and Dora Walmsley

A shared frustration of living in a food desert resulted in Deirdre Kane and Dora Walmsley opening up a neighborhood market in Lawrenceville that provides fresh, healthy food. The ladies and their effort are profiled in this week’s WESA Celebrates.

Winter Running Events

Like the postman, rain, snow or dark of night can't keep some runners indoors. If you’re a dedicated runner and can’t wait until the nice weather returns we’ve got good news for you. Fitness contributor Joe Vennare joins us with information about seven cold weather races taking place in Pittsburgh this winter.

Exit Interview

Riverlife recently announced the departure of President and CEO Lisa Schroeder. Before she leaves the Steel City we’ve invited her to Studio A for an exit interview about the recreation, economic and ecological aspects of Pittsburgh’s river fronts. 

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Essential Pittsburgh
10:20 pm
Mon December 8, 2014

Tuesday Rundown: What Does it Really Take to Indict a Police Officer?

The protests happening all over Allegheny County, like this die-in at the August Wilson Center Downtown, and throughout the rest of the country, reflect people's fear, anger and frustration at the recent grand jury decisions not to try white police officers for killing unarmed black citizens.
Credit Jessica Nath / 90.5 WESA

These topics air Tuesday December 9, 2014 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

Charging Police Officers with Crimes

The recent decisions by grand juries not to press charges against white police officers involved in fatalities involving black men in Ferguson, MO and Staten Island, NY has led the headlines in recent weeks. These incidents have called into question the difficulty of charging police officers with crimes, even with video evidence, and what alternatives there could be to address police misconduct. Pitt Law Professor David Harris joins us for a discussion on the difficulty involved in charging officers and changing police departments.

Social Media and Big Data

All those clicks, likes, and retweets you do on social media add up to a huge amount of data that can be worth millions to some companies. But according to new research, actually using that data is easier said than done. We’ll address the use of social media and big data with Derek Ruths, assistant professor of Computer Science at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec.

Business Segment - Food Banks

The Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank's mission is to feed people in need and mobilize our community to eliminate hunger. Their vision is for a hunger-free southwestern Pennsylvania. This week contributor Rebecca Harris looks at food banks in the region. 

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Essential Pittsburgh
12:48 am
Mon December 8, 2014

Monday Rundown: Building Bridges to Innovation

Credit Peter Radunzel / Flickr

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

Building Bridges

Pittsburgh native, entrepreneur and Urban Innovation 21 CEO William Generett is an advocate looking to connect the city’s disadvantaged neighborhoods to the tech sector. He joins us in Studio A for a conversation on how he plans to accomplish this goal.


Long considered one of America’s most beloved comedians Bill Cosby is scheduled to perform in Pittsburgh this coming February. However, Mr. Cosby has been receiving a lot of negative press lately for allegations of sexual misconduct. Mr. Cosby is the latest in a long line of childhood heroes and lovable icons mired in scandal. Pop culture contributor Joe Wos joins us for a look at the history of scandal.

Damage Control

Each week viewers tune in to the television show Scandal to watch Olivia Pope “handle” and “fix” the reputations and images of high profile clients. However, in real life what does it take to repair one’s image after falling from grace? Saul Markowitz, president of Markowitz Communications navigates us through the intricacies of public relations damage control.

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Essential Pittsburgh
3:16 am
Fri December 5, 2014

Friday Rundown: The Business Behind Best-Selling Books

What does it really take to go from a manuscript, to a published book, to a bestseller?
Credit Nomadic Lass / Flickr

These topics air Friday December 5, 2014 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

Bipartisan Support for the ABLE Act

For the first time since the early 1990’s, major legislation for people with disabilities is poised to be approved by Congress. The Achieving a Better Life Experience Act, also known as the ABLE Act could make it possible for disabled people to live independently and work without fear of losing important benefits. The ABLE act just passed the House and is now making its way through the Senate. Bob Casey, a US Senator representing Pennsylvania has been sponsoring the legislation. He joins us along with Jillian Zacks, an estate attorney specializing in special needs planning, and a mother of 2 children on the autism spectrum.

On Pointe

Pointe Magazine has included Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre soloists Luca Sbrizzi and Gabrielle Thurlow among its Top 10 Standout Performances of 2014. The dancers, who will be featured in PBT’s production of the holiday classic The Nutcracker, take a moment from their rehearsal to speak with us.

The Business Behind An American Bestseller

Thousands of people set out to write a book each year and get it published. Many hope to see their book turn into a bestseller. But even when a writer tries to do everything right, there’s still no guarantee of success. For that reason, Irina Reyn, an Assistant professor of English at the University of Pittsburgh and author of the book “What Happened to Anna K?” has developed an undergraduate course focused how a manuscript becomes a book and how a book becomes a bestseller. She joins us along with Mitch Hoffman, Executive Editor at Grand Central Publishing, a division of Hachette, to discuss what it takes to get a new book into the hands of readers. 

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Essential Pittsburgh
8:35 pm
Wed December 3, 2014

Thursday Rundown: Tracking Air Quality with Breathe Cam

Two images of the Northside from the Breathe Project's Breathe Cam. Taken at 11:29AM on two separate dates – on a clear day (7/4) details on the horizon are clearly visible; on a hazy day (8/5) fine particle (PM2.5) concentration is high and white haze covers the hillside.
Credit Breathe Cam / Breathe Project and CREATELab

These topics air Thursday December 4, 2014 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

Breathe Cam

Improving air quality continues to be a major challenge in the region, but now Carnegie Mellon University's CREATE Lab has introduced Breathe Cam. It's designed to give area residents direct access to the world's most sophisticated technology for documenting visual pollution in the air they breathe. CMU Robotics professor Illah Nourbakhsh joins us to explain how it works.

WESA Celebrates - Paul Abernathy

Four years ago, after graduating from the seminary, Paul Abernathy made it his mission to help people living in the Hill District. His efforts resulted in the opening of the thrift shop called FOCUS. It stands for the Fellowship of Orthodox Christians United to Serve. It also stands for Food, Occupation, Clothing, Understanding and Shelter, which are needed in this community. Paul Abernathy is the profile subject of this week’s WESA Celebrates.

Pitt-Penn State Rivalry Renewed?

The University of Pittsburgh's first road win against the Miami Hurricanes in more than half a century has made the Panthers bowl eligible. Some are speculating that it could lead to the first football game between Pitt and Penn State since 2000. Veteran AP sports editor and journalist John Affleck, who was appointed in 2013 as Knight Chair at Penn State's John Curley Center for Sports Journalism, joins us to sort out the potential bowl game scenarios. 

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Essential Pittsburgh
12:14 am
Wed December 3, 2014

Wednesday Rundown: The Psychological Impact of Brain Injury

Exploring the ways brain injuries can effect us psychologically.
Credit Ars Electronica / Flickr

These topics air Wednesday December 3, 2014 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

The Violent Death of Kosta Karageorge

Ohio State football player Kosta Karageorge, who disappeared last Wednesday, was found Sunday in a trash bin, the victim of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. Research has shown that football players are three times more likely to develop chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) which can leave its victims depressed, disoriented and suicidal. We'll talk with reporter Andy Chow who has been following this story.

Concussion Research

In the wake of the death of Kosta Karageorge, we'll focus on the link between suicide and concussions with Erin Reynolds, a doctor in neuropsychology for UPMC's Sports Medicine and Concussion Program. Could college football programs be more proactive when it comes to helping players who are dealing with concussion issues?

10 Years of New Voices in Pittsburgh

This week, New Voices Pittsburgh Women of Color for Reproductive Justice celebrates 10 years as a human rights organization in the Pittsburgh region. Initially the grassroots group had some trouble defining themselves and their mission. How do you advocate for reproductive justice when most people don’t understand what that term means? But as they’ve partnering with organizations such as the Women’s Law Project, and brought attention to the treatment of incarcerated women in the state prison system, NVP has carved out a more defined mission and area for growth. We’ll talk with LaTasha Mayes, Founder and Executive Director of New Voices Pittsburgh, about what reproductive justice means for communities in the region and how grassroots organizing is evolving. 

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Essential Pittsburgh
10:36 pm
Mon December 1, 2014

Tuesday Rundown: Holiday Retail and Garfield Housing Trends

A photo taken from Herron Hill, of Bloomfield (in the foreground) and Garfield (the houses on the hillside), shows how the two neighborhoods seem to blend together. We'll talk about future plans for the little boxes on the hillside.
Credit Joseph / Flickr

These topics air Tuesday December 2, 2014 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

Black Fridays and Cyber Mondays and Small Biz Saturdays and....

Black Friday sales are down and Cyber Monday sales continue to increase. So, what is the biggest shopping day of the year? And what is trending in Pittsburgh? We'll talk with Duquesne University marketing professor Audrey Guskey about the ways that times are changing for retailers.

Big Plans for Tiny Houses

With plenty of vacant lots and room for green space, the Garfield neighborhood has come up with a plan to revitalize the area. Tiny homes could attract residents and be the key to remaking the area. Joining us to share this vision for Garfield is Rick Swartz, executive director of the Bloomfield-Garfield Corporation.

WESA Celebrates - Paul Abernathy

Four years ago, after graduating from the seminary, Paul Abernathy made it his mission to help people living in the Hill District. His efforts resulted in the opening of the thrift shop called FOCUS. It stands for the Fellowship of Orthodox Christians United to Serve. It also stands for Food, Occupation, Clothing, Understanding and Shelter, which are needed in this community. Paul Abernathy is the profile subject of this week’s WESA Celebrates.

Business Segment - Garfield

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

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Essential Pittsburgh
10:20 pm
Sun November 30, 2014

Monday Rundown: Sustainable and Corporate, Pittsburgh Remade

Credit Martin Eckert / flickr

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

Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility

Wall Street analysts are noting a growing trend of companies integrating sustainability and corporate social responsibility, known as CSR, with their traditional financial reporting. A number of Pittsburgh companies are part of that trend. Joining us to address how this is making a difference in Pittsburgh are Lauren M. Odrechowski, Corporate Social Responsibility Specialist with BNY Mellon and Matt Mehalik, program manager for Sustainable Pittsburgh.

Remaking Pittsburgh

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the Allegheny Conference. The documentary "We Built This City: How the Allegheny Conference Remade Pittsburgh" chronicles the private-public partnership that transformed the city and the region. The documentary was directed by our guest Michael DiLauro. We'll also talk with Bill Flanagan Executive Vice President of the Allegheny Conference.

Food Destinations

Congratulations, you just made it through the biggest eating holiday of the year. The fridge is full with leftovers and the last thing you probably want to talk about is food, right? Well, travel contributor Elaine Labalme, is here to talk about some food destinations in the region worth traveling to.

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Essential Pittsburgh
12:00 am
Thu November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving Holiday Programming for Noon and 8pm

While the Essential Pittsburgh staff is busy spooning out the cranberry sauce, check out our holiday programming for November 27th and 28th
Credit Satya Murthy / Flickr

Essential Pittsburgh will be off the air November 27th and 28th. 90.5WESA will air the following special programming in its place:

From 11am to 1pm Thanksgiving Day:

"The Splendid Table’s Turkey Confidential," their annual live call-in show helping you get ready for the big meal. They'll even be playing bingo in the control room, play along!

From 8pm to 10pm: 

Third Coast International Audio Festival, Best of the Best 2014. It is a Thanksgiving tradition here at 90.5 WESA to play the year's most amazing stories from around the world. Best of the Best presents the winners of their 14th annual TC / Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Competition. Innovative and insightful, the stories will engage, provoke, entertain, and transport listeners, proving that all you need to discover new worlds is... a little box and an antenna. 

For Friday at noon & 8pm:

We bring you Innovation Hub “Unwrapping the Future." Innovation Hub looks at how innovations are reshaping our holidays — altering approaches to travel, family gatherings, food, and more.

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Essential Pittsburgh
9:58 am
Wed November 26, 2014

Wednesday Rundown: The Downfall and the Future of the Mall

Century III Mall on a Saturday. Malls all over the country are seeing a big decline in visitors. So what's the future of the American mall?
Credit Heather McClain / 90.5WESA

These topics air Wednesday November 26, 2014 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

Shopping Malls in Decline

We’re entering the holiday shopping season which is make or break time for many retailers. It wasn’t too long ago shopping malls were the center of shopping activity. However, in recent years malls have been in decline. Here to look at the change in our shopping habits and address the future of malls is Brian O’Roark, a professor of economics at Robert Morris University.

Career Advice for Older Workers

According to Gallup, workers aged 65 and older have seen a 3 point increase in their participation in the job market. Fueled by a desire to keep working and the necessity to buttress their nest eggs, Boomers and Silent Generation workers are reframing our thoughts about work in retirement. Here to discuss how older workers can thrive on the job is independent career consultant, Sasha King.

Winter Workouts

We all know exercise is good for us. Trouble is, most of the time, fitness isn’t fun. Some actually call it work; and boring work at that. Same gym. Same exercise machines. Same workout routine. There has to be a better way and we’ve asked contributor Joe Vennare, co-founder of the fitness site Fittsburgh to help us out of the exercise rut. 

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Essential Pittsburgh
6:47 pm
Mon November 24, 2014

Tuesday Rundown: Sharing Reactions to the Jury's Decision in the Michael Brown Case

Smoke fills the streets as some buildings are on fire after the announcement of the grand jury decision Monday, Nov. 24, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo. A grand jury has decided not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the death of Michael Brown, the unarmed, black 18-year-old whose fatal shooting sparked sometimes violent protests.
Credit AP Photo/Jeff Roberson

These topics air Tuesday November 25, 2014 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

Demonstrations have been happening all over the country following the a Missouri grand jury's announcement that they will not seek an indictment of police officer Darren Wilson in the August shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown.

We're devoting today's show to this topic and your reactions to the decision, with guest host Kevin Gavin. 

Rachel Lippmann covered last night's announcement for St. Louis Public Radio and joins us for an update.

Then we'll talk with David Harris, University of Pittsburgh School of Law Professor about why a grand jury was used, and his thoughts on the prosecutor's approach.

Tim Stevens, President of the Black Political Empowerment Project gives us his reaction as a community organizer, and some historical perspective on community and police demonstrations in Pittsburgh.

Julia Johnson, lead organizer and local social justice activist says last night's announcement "reflects a larger problem with systemic racism and sets an ugly precedent." She'll talk about the peaceful demonstration being planned for 2pm today at the federal building on Liberty Ave. and the local issues that connect to this case. 

We'll close with Jeff Ritter, Department Chair of Communications at La Roche College about how social media has been an amplifier of positive and negative information throughout the proceedings. 

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Essential Pittsburgh
7:06 pm
Fri November 21, 2014

Monday Rundown: Living with a Bullet and Becoming Your Own Hero

Credit Richard Roberson / Flickr

These topics air Monday, November 24th, at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

Living with A Bullet

More than one-hundred thousand people in America are shot each year. Seventy-five thousand survive. Many of them still carry the bullet. How has it impacted their lives? We’ll pose that question to reporter Chris Togneri who spent six months interviewing survivors. He'll joins guest host, Tribune Review reporter Andy Conte in Studio A.

A Hero’s Journey

Where do you go to become the hero of your life? We’ll pose that question to Pitt educated psychologist Michael Mervosh, co-founder of the Hero’s Journey Foundation. He joins us in Studio A to explain what it takes to awaken our unrealized potential.

Bavaria Returns to the 'Burgh

Vendors from around the world have returned for the third Christmas Market in Market Square. What draws them to the Steel City? We'll pose that question to Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership Vice President of Marketing and Communications Leigh White.

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Essential Pittsburgh
6:43 pm
Thu November 20, 2014

Friday Rundown: The New Sounds of WESA

Credit Ben McLeod / Flickr

These topics air Friday November 21, 2014 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

4th Annual Young Men’s Conference

There’s always a great need for mentors. This is especially true of young African American men. This is one of the reasons behind the founding of the Young Men’s Conference. The event, taking place at Point Park University, was founded by our guest Kevin Carter, chief executive officer of the Adonai Center for Black Males.

Snap Judgment

This Sunday night at 7 p.m., 90.5 WESA welcomes a new show to the weekend lineup, an hour of storytelling called "Snap Judgment." The program is hosted by Glynn Washington whom the Atlantic referred to in a 2013 article as the fastest rising public radio star in memory.

America's Test Kitchen and Ask Me Another

At 2 p.m. on Sundays, 90.5 WESA is trying out a new cooking show, "America's Test Kitchen" from PBS. However it isn't a radio version of the TV show. Host Chris Kimball joins us to explain what's different. And we'll talk with Ophira Eisenberg, host of the game show "Ask Me Another" which debuts Sunday morning at 10 a.m. Ms. Eisenberg was selected as one of New York Magazine's "Top ten comics that funny people find funny." 

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Essential Pittsburgh
12:18 am
Thu November 20, 2014

Thursday Rundown: Isabella Rossellini in Pittsburgh to Talk About the Birds and Bees

Credit Green Porno / Sundance TV

These topics air Thursday November 20, 2014 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.


Olympic gold medal wrestler Mark Schultz joins us to discuss his book "Foxcatcher: The True Story of my Brother's Murder, John du Pont's Madness, and the Quest for Olympic Gold" which tells the story of the 1996 murder of his brother, fellow Olympic gold medalist Dave Schultz, at the hands of John E. du Pont at the Foxcatcher Farms estate in Pennsylvania. A movie based on the events, also titled "Foxcatcher" has been released this month.

Green Porno

Iconic actress, performer and model Isabella Rossellini is coming to Pittsburgh tomorrow for a special presentation of her one-woman show, "Green Porno." Adapted from the Sundance Channel series of the same name, Rossellini has created a unique performance-lecture focusing on the mating rituals of a variety of species. She joins us to discuss her interest in animals and biodiversity and how it led to this show at Carnegie Music Hall presented in conjunction with The Warhol and the Carnegie Museum of Art & Natural History.

City Sidewalks Dressed in Holiday Style

The holiday season is here. To help you get in the spirit, travel contributor Elaine Labalme suggests some destinations, within driving distance, where you can see city sidewalks dressed in holiday style.

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Essential Pittsburgh
10:13 pm
Tue November 18, 2014

Wednesday Rundown: The Costs of Aging While Being Out

The complications of aging can be so costly and daunting that some LGBTQIA people go back in the closet.
Credit Patrick / Flickr

These topics air Wednesday November 19, 2014 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

The Challenges of Being Out and Growing Older 

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 45.3 million Americans live in poverty. While poverty affects people from all walks of life, last week WESA’s Deanna Garcia reported on the prevalence of poverty among those who identify as LGBTQIA, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, or asexual. Poverty becomes an even greater problem as they grow older.

Kathi Boyle, coordinator of older adult services for the Persad Center, is part of a national group called SAGE, Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders. August “Buzz” Pusateri, a retired pharmacist who was diagnosed as HIV positive in the early 1980s. Buzz is chair of the Pitt Men’s Study community advisory board and lives in a retirement community in Oakland. They join us to talk about the challenges of aging and being out.

Smart Blonde

Actress Judy Holliday played the dumb blonde in many films but in real life she had a genius IQ and outsmarted Senators engaged in a communist witch hunt. We'll talk with playwright Willy Holtzman and artistic director Tracy Brigden about creating the musical "Smart Blonde" based on the life of Judy Holliday and the world premiere production at the City Theatre. 

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Essential Pittsburgh
5:27 pm
Mon November 17, 2014

Tuesday Rundown: The Significance of Jury Duty

Credit TfUnQ / Flickr

These topics air Tuesday November 18, 2014 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

Jury Duty

Jury duty is a civic duty many people hope they’ll never have to endure. While many are summoned, few serve. Pitt law professor David Harris joins us for a look at juries from their history to how they’re selected.

WESA Celebrates Dr. Jim Withers

For more than 20 years Dr. Jim Withers has been making his rounds in a most unusual way….he makes house calls to the city’s homeless population. He’s profiled in this week’s edition of WESA Celebrates.

Global Entrepreneurship Week

Entrepreneurship has become the new American dream. However, this business concept isn’t strictly American as evidenced by this week being designated Global Entrepreneurship Week. Contributor Rebecca Harris joins us for a look at the overall growth in entrepreneurship. 

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:05 am
Mon November 17, 2014

Monday Rundown: NPR Morning Edition's David Greene on Reporting From Russia

NPR Morning Edition host and Pittsburgh native David Greene
Credit David Gilkey / NPR

These topics air Monday November 17, 2014 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

David Greene

Public radio listeners are familiar with David Greene as the host of Morning Edition. Prior to his role on the popular morning program, Greene covered politics and events for NPR. He spent two years as a foreign correspondent based in Moscow. The Pittsburgh native joins us for a conversation about his new book "Midnight in Siberia: A Train Journey into the Heart of Russia."

Suggestions for Young Readers

The last time author Jonathan Auxier stopped by the program, he had summer reading recommendations for children. He recently stopped by our studio and spoke with WESA’s man of letters, Morning Edition host Josh Raulerson to offer up some book suggestions for young readers.

The Album Art of Mozelle Thompson

Mozelle Thompson just might be the greatest Pittsburgh artist you’ve never heard of. The Garfield raised native designed album covers, clothing , window displays and more. A retrospective of his album covers is currently on display, through the end of the month, at Most Wanted Art. Joining us to discuss the life and work of Mozelle Thompson is Most Wanted Art Resident Artist Jay Malls who curated the exhibit. 

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Life of Learning
3:30 am
Fri November 14, 2014

Panel: Progressive Discipline Key to Ending School-to-Prison Pipeline

Students, educators, community members and activists recently participated in a 90.5 WESA community forum on the "school-to-prison pipeline."
Chris Squier 90.5 WESA

The adoption of zero tolerance policies in schools has risen sharply since the 1999 Columbine shootings.  But are those policies making schools safer? Many education stakeholders in Pittsburgh say the widespread use of zero tolerance policies has increased the likelihood of students entering the criminal justice system based on school incidents. 

“If we can move from a zero tolerance policy, which excludes children who are having trouble, to progressive discipline, which includes those with a rehabilitative effort to get them back on their feet and back into school, we can do a better job with community safety,” U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania, David Hickton, said at WESA’s community forum entitled "Ending the School-to-Prison Pipeline" on Monday.  

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Essential Pittsburgh
10:25 pm
Wed November 12, 2014

Thursday Rundown: George Takei's Symphony Sci-Fi Spectacular

George Takei as the Grand Marshall of the 2014 Seattle Pride Parade.
Credit Scott Smithson / Flickr

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

Ghosts of Amistad

"Ghosts of Amistad: In the Footsteps of the Rebels" is a documentary by Tony Buba, based on Marcus Rediker's book "The Amistad Rebellion: An Atlantic Odyssey of Slavery and Freedom." It chronicles a trip to Sierra Leone in 2013 to visit the home villages of the people who seized the slave schooner Amistad in 1839. The film premieres Saturday at The Three Rivers Film Festival. We'll talk with both Tony Buba and Marcus Rediker.

George Takei

The man who originated the character of Hikaru Sulu, helmsman of the Starship Enterprise, George Takei joins us in studio. He's in Pittsburgh to host this weekend's PNC Pops "Sci-Fi Spectacular." We'll talk about that event and the upcoming Broadway musical "Allegiance" in which he has a starring role.

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Essential Pittsburgh
10:00 pm
Tue November 11, 2014

Wednesday Rundown: Catching Up with Mayor Peduto and The Blue Mind

What do Pittsburgh's three rivers do for our sense of wellbeing?
Credit Matthew Paulson / flickr

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

Catching Up with Mayor Peduto

It’s been about 2 months since Mayor Bill Peduto has sat down in studio A for his monthly live interview. We’ll catch up with him and his take on the recent purchase of the August Wilson Center, what the election of Tom Wolf for governor means for Pittsburgh, his recent budget address and we’ll follow up on last month’s live community and police forum. Oh, and what's up with this "Jagoff" in the dictionary thing???

WESA Celebrates - Josh Verbanets and Gab Bonessa

This week WESA Celebrates profiles Josh Verbanets and Gab Bonesso who have combined rock and roll and comedy to create and anti-bullying program for kids.

Blue Mind: This is Your Brain on Water

Why is the sound and image of water so soothing to us? Why does being near water improve our wellbeing? And how can this understanding help us make better decisions about water conservation and urban design? Author, lecturer and neuroscientist, Wallace J. Nichols explores these questions and many more in his book “Blue Mind: The Surprising Science that Shows How Being Near, In, On, or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected, and Better at What You Do.” He’s coming to Pittsburgh to take part in the Inspire Speakers Series, in conjunction with Riverlife, a local organization that works on the development of Pittsburgh's riverfront park systems. Wallace J. Nichols joins us along with Stephan Bontrager, Director of Communications for Riverlife. 

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Essential Pittsburgh
11:26 pm
Mon November 10, 2014

Tuesday Rundown: Honoring Local Veterans

A Veteran salutes during the 2011 Veterans' Day Parade in Pittsburgh
Credit U.S. Army / Flickr

These topics air Tuesday November 11, 2014 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.


Southwest Pennsylvania is home to 220,000 veterans, with 97,000 living in Allegheny County. After returning from active duty, all veterans, whether injured or uninjured, are in need of resources such as employment, physical and mental healthcare, job training and housing. Until recently, Pittsburgh-area veterans did not have a centralized, dedicated place to find these kinds of resources. We’ll meet Pittsburgher and Iraq War veteran Jared Souder, founder of Checkpoint a company dedicated to helping Veterans find the resources they need to help resume their lives as civilians.

Purple Hearts Reunited

Purple Heart recipient Captain Zachariah Fike has been helping to return lost medals to their the families of their rightful owners. Since 2012 the founder of Purple Hearts Reunited has devoted his spare time to researching and repairing medals. He joins us to discuss his work and the history of the Purple Heart.

Goldstar, OH

Actor David Conrad has appeared in theater, film and television. However, the Pittsburgh native’s latest project has returned him to his alma mater, the Kiski School. As an artist in residence he’s directing the school’s production of the play "Goldstar, OH." David Conrad joins us in Studio A with a preview of the play. 

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Essential Pittsburgh
6:15 pm
Sun November 9, 2014

Monday Rundown: The Return of the Polar Vortex

Pittsburgh and the partially frozen Monongahela River, the day after a Polar Vortex in January 2014.
Credit Daveynin / Flickr

These topics air Monday November 10, 2014 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

Ferrante Homicide Case

Did neuroscientist Robert Ferrante poison his wife with cyanide? It's a question many Pittsburghers were asking when the jury began deliberating the homicide case against him. Post-Gazette reporter Paula Reed Ward discusses the strange twists and turns this case has taken and why it has received international attention.

Separating Cyber Crime and Terror

Tribune-Review reporter Andrew Conte joins us to discuss how the lines between online thefts and all-out warfare continue to blur as hackers become more effective at attacks that threaten to cause serious economic damage. The Department of Homeland Security last week issued a bulletin to cyber security insiders reporting that a destructive malware program known as "BlackEnergy" has been placed in key U.S. infrastructure systems.

The Polar Vortex

The Polar Vortex is back and it's ready to blast 200 million people with arctic air, lunging into the North Central U.S. this week and expanding southward and eastward. The outbreak of unusually cold air is expected to linger well past the middle of the month.We'll talk with John Radzilowicz, Director of Professional Development at ASSET STEM Education. 

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