Essential Pittsburgh
12:40 am
Fri January 30, 2015

Friday Rundown: Getting Set for Super Bowl Sunday

The Vince Lombardi Super Bowl trophy
Credit camknows / flickr

These topics air Friday January 30, 2015 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

Super Bowl Sunday

In case you haven’t heard, the Super Bowl will be played this Sunday. While area football fans may have little interest in a game that doesn’t feature the Steelers our guest, Ron Dick, associate professor of sports marketing at Duquesne University, offers some reasons for tuning in to the big game.

Super Bowl Commercials

This year a 30-second Super Bowl spot sells for $4.5 million dollars. With so much money on the line, which advertising strategies are the most effective? How are advertisers changing tactics to get people's attention? And who are they targeting? We'll discuss this with Bob Gilbert, Associate Professor of Marketing at the University of Pittsburgh's Katz School of Business.


Did the New England Patriots make it to the Super Bowl by taking air out of footballs in the AFC Championship game? Are NFL executives dragging out the investigation to avoid having anything come out during Super Bowl week? Have the Steelers ever cheated? We'll put these questions and more to Pittsburgh Post-Gazette sportswriter emeritus Bob Dvorchak. 

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Essential Pittsburgh
9:52 pm
Wed January 28, 2015

Thursday Rundown: A Public Education Campaign for Medical Marijuana

Medical marijuana from a California dispensary.
Credit David Trawin / Flickr

These topics air Thursday January 29, 2015 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

Medical Marijuana in PA

Efforts to pass a medical marijuana bill in Pennsylvania have received a boost with the election of a new governor. But how can marijuana advocates sway skeptical House members who sat on the legislation last year? We'll talk with Patrick Nightingale of the Pittsburgh office of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws who says he's been engaged in a years long public education program.

On the Job - Procrastination

"Don’t put off till tomorrow what you can do today" is an apt quote, warning against procrastination. However, in this month’s On the Job segment, independent career consultant Sasha King addresses why procrastination might not be such a bad thing.

Travel Segment - Phoenix

This year’s Super Bowl will be played in Phoenix. If you can’t make it to the big game travel contributor Elaine Labalme still recommends a visit to the Valley of the Sun. She’ll fill us in on her food and travel recommendations for Arizona’s capital city. 

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Essential Pittsburgh
10:27 pm
Tue January 27, 2015

Wednesday Rundown: Statewide Coverage of the Heroin Epidemic

Use of the opiate overdose reversal drug Naloxone, also known as Narcan has saved many lives since it became more readily available for emergency use.
Credit M / Flickr

These topics air Wednesday January 28, 2015 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

Riding the Rush: Reporting on a Heroin Crisis in Pennsylvania 

The statement, “2014 was the year heroin became an epidemic” is prominent in a journalism project curated by our content partner, PublicSource. As news of an increasing number of heroin overdoses have made headlines across the state, newsrooms are making a coordinated effort to cover important angles of this public health crisis. Sharon Walsh is the editor of PublicSource, she joins us along with Dr. Neil Capretto, Medical Director of Gateway Rehabilitation Center, to talk about the compilation of media coverage and how PA communities are addressing the heroin problem.

WESA Celebrates Inventing Pittsburgh

Foxhunting came west over the Alleghenies with the region's earliest European settlers and took root in the Pittsburgh area. It built community and preserved land. Margaret J. Krauss reports that this piece of history is alive and well--sort of--at the Sewickley Hunt Club.

The Power of One Voice

In 2012 a symposium was held in Pittsburgh, at Chatham University and the National Aviary, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring. The documentary "the Power of One Voice" chronicles the environmentalist author’s life and humanitarian efforts. We’ll speak with producer/director Mark Dixon and Patricia DeMarco, former director of the Rachel Carson Institute at Chatham University--and a Rachel Carson expert.

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Essential Pittsburgh
6:30 pm
Mon January 26, 2015

Tuesday Rundown: Persisting Racial Disparities and Quality of Life in Pittsburgh

Credit Andy / Wikipedia Commons

These topics air Tuesday January 27, 2015 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

Minority Report

Once touted as one of America’s most livable cities, a recent report by the University of Pittsburgh suggests otherwise when it comes to African Americans. The report highlights the racial disparities affecting the quality of life for Pittsburgh’s black community. We’ll address the report’s findings with Larry Davis, Dean of the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Social Work and director of its Center on Race and Social Problems.

Business Segment - Repurposing

Repurposing refers to finding new uses for items. Some enterprising entrepreneurs have even turned this into a profitable moneymaking venture. This week contributor Rebecca Harris looks at the business of repurposing. 

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Essential Pittsburgh
10:24 pm
Sun January 25, 2015

Monday Rundown: Local Muslims Challenge the Message of Extremists

Friday morning at Oakland's Islamic Center of Pittsburgh.
Credit Islamic Center of Pittsburgh

These topics air Monday January 26, 2015 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

Pittsburgh Muslims Speak Out

Pittsburgh area Muslims are challenging the message of the extremists involved in the Charlie Hebdo killings in Paris. We'll talk with Sheikh Atef Mahgoub, Islamic Center of Pittsburgh in Oakland. He says the killers in France were not defending the honor of Islam. He joins us in Studio A.

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Essential Pittsburgh
10:14 pm
Thu January 22, 2015

Friday Rundown: The "Great Scott" and Poet, Robert Burns

Robert Burns statue in Kilmarnock, Scotland
Credit SummondByFellas / Flickr

These topics air Friday January 23, 2015 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

Great Scott! 

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Essential Pittsburgh
12:02 am
Thu January 22, 2015

Thursday Rundown: Next Steps for the Site of the Civic Arena and the Hill District

Credit Jarrett Stewart / Flickr

These topics air Thursday January 22, 2015 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

The Future of the Civic Arena Site

Negotiations between the city, the Penguins and the Hill District Community Development Corporation have resulted in plans to move forward with the development of the former Civic Arena Site. We’ll discover what could be next for the site with Hill District CDC President and CEO Marimba Milliones. 

Fit While You Sit

Headaches, carpal tunnel syndrome and joint pain are some work related injuries sending people to the chiropractor. What can be done to create a healthier work environment and reduce sick days? We’ll pose that question to Dr. Justin Foltz who will explain how we can be fit while we sit.

Travel Segment - Museums

From major metropolitan areas to smaller cities there are some interesting museums to be found. This week travel contributor Elaine Labalme suggests museums with great exhibits to enjoy on a winter’s day. 

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Essential Pittsburgh
8:00 am
Wed January 21, 2015

Wednesday Rundown: Making That Advanced Degree Useful Outside Academia

Credit Wrote / Flickr

These topics air Wednesday January 21, 2015 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

Versatile Ph.D.

The Steel City is justifiably proud of its many universities, but with more education can come more problems. People graduating with Ph.D.s and other advanced degrees face an employment crisis in today’s university and the larger economy. Joining us to talk about their efforts in expanding the options for Pittsburghers with advanced degrees are Alexandra Oliver and anupama jain. They are local representatives for Versatile PhD, a business that fosters networking and professional development for people with graduate degrees who may want to explore non-academic work.

WESA Celebrates - Charles Kline

Textiles aren’t generally known for their career-ending power, but an expensive rug led to the downfall of the last elected Republican mayor of Pittsburgh and ushered in a new era of city government. Margaret J. Krauss has the story.

Inventing Pittsburgh

"90.5 WESA Celebrates Inventing Pittsburgh" is a new historically focused series which airs during "Morning Edition" and on "Essential Pittsburgh." Over the next year, producer Margaret J. Krauss will capture stories from Pittsburgh’s more than 250-year history, exploring how the city and region came to be what it is today. She joins us for a preview and an explainer of the project. 

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Essential Pittsburgh
8:47 am
Tue January 20, 2015

Tuesday Rundown: The State of the Union and an Eye on Gas Prices

President Obama addressing Congress, the Senate and members of the Supreme Court at the 2014 State of the Union address
Credit Chuck Kennedy / Official White House Photo Gallery

These topics air Tuesday January 20, 2015 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

The State of the Union

Tonight at 9pm, President Barack Obama will deliver the State of the Union address to Congress, the Senate and the rest of the country. But his office has already put forth many plans for the year. Before the president gives his address, we'll get some perspective on what he'll propose, from University of Pittsburgh presidential rhetoric and political communication professor Jerry Shuster.

Gas Prices

The word “staycation” seemed to enter the lexicon when gas prices were continually on the rise a few years back. Now, to the delight of consumers, gas prices are on the decline. Joining us for a look at how this is impacting the nation is Robert Morris University Economics Professor Brian O’Roark.

Business of the Arts

Whether it’s the theater, symphony or museums, the arts contribute a great deal to the city. This week contributor Rebecca Harris looks at the business of the arts in Pittsburgh. 

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Essential Pittsburgh
6:17 am
Mon January 19, 2015

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day Programming for Noon & 8pm

Credit Heather McClain / 90.5 WESA

This program airs Monday January 19, 2015 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA.

Two leading scholars comment on three key speeches of the American civil rights leader and Nobel Peace Laureate Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Junior.

Dr. Clayborne Carson has been directing the King Papers Project since 1985, after being specially requested by Coretta Scott King. He also established the Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute at Stanford University in 2005.

Dr. Vincent Harding is Professor of Religion and Social Transformation at Illif School of Theology in Denver, Colorado. He was also a friend and speech writing partner of King. 

Find out what they have to say about the following speeches written and delivered by King; "Selma to Montgomery," "Beyond Vietnam" and "I've Been to the Mountaintop."

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Essential Pittsburgh
1:17 am
Fri January 16, 2015

Friday Rundown: Equality, Access and Solidarity

Credit Mark Grapengater / flickr

These topics air Friday January 16, 2015 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

Wheelchair Standards

There are 70 million wheelchair users worldwide. Our guests Dr. Rory Cooper and Dr. Jon Pearlman are helping to create new standards for the wheelchair bound. The doctors are co-directors of Pitt’s Department of Rehabilitation Science and Technology, and this month they’re launching the International Society of Wheelchair Professionals. They’ll join us to discuss how their work will impact wheelchair users around the world.

Increasing Accessibility

For the second year in a row the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council has received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts called the Art Works grant. The support provided by the NEA is helping to fund an Increasing Accessibility initiative for the arts. This initiative is designed to serve specific portions of the city‘s population. Here to tell us more about this initiative is Anne Mulgrave, manager of grants and accessibility for the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council.

Ending White Silence

Throughout the last 6 months of demonstrations and protests of police violence, activists all over the world have adopted the phrase, “Black Lives Matter.” In addition to that message, you may have seen the phrases, “I resolve to challenge racism” and “End White Silence.” In many cases, the people holding up signs with those phrases have been white. Recognizing that discussions of race and racism can be different when people of color are not present, WHAT’S UP?! Pittsburgh is a local group focused on promoting anti-racist action, and knowledge. Members such as etta cetera and Rose Lynd who identify as white, look at ways to challenge racism in their communities, among family and friends, even within themselves. They join us to discuss the ongoing work of WHAT’S UP?! Pittsburgh and the many ways they confront racial injustice. 

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Essential Pittsburgh
6:36 pm
Wed January 14, 2015

Thursday Rundown: From Dem to GOP, Will PA See More Bipartisanship in the House?

Majority Leader Dave Reed (R-Indiana) took the oath of office on Tuesday, January 6. The ceremony marks the start of the 199th Session of the Pennsylvania General Assembly. Reed, who is now in his seventh term, was elected by his fellow House Republicans as Majority Leader in November 2014.
Credit State Rep. Dave Reed / Facebook

These topics air Thursday January 15, 2015 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

Follow the Leader

State Representative David Reed first entered politics as a registered Democrat. Last week he was sworn as the leader of the Pennsylvania House GOP. The Indiana County native joins us to discuss his vision for the future of the commonwealth and how he plans to work with a Democratic governor.

Harrisburg Sued Under New State Gun Law

Harrisburg was the first city to face a challenge to its gun laws under a new Pennsylvania law targeting gun measures. It comes from a gun rights group representing a state police corporal. City officials have been bracing for lawsuits in the wake of Governor Corbett's signing of legislation that allows gun owner groups to challenge local ordinances. Patriot News editorial page editor John Micek joins us to discuss the issue.

Airport Wildlife

Earlier this week, the WESA newsroom reported on the capture of a short-eared owl near the runway of the Pittsburgh International Airport. The medium sized owl is considered threatened in the state of Pennsylvania. So special care needed to be taken to retrieve, tag, and relocate the bird. Bob Mulvihill, an ornithologist with the National Aviary joins us to talk about this process. And we’ll talk with Bobby Hromack, a wildlife specialist for the airport and biologist with the USDA, about what goes into the management of wildlife around an airport runway. 

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Essential Pittsburgh
10:28 pm
Tue January 13, 2015

Wednesday Rundown: A New Year and New Headlines with Mayor Peduto

Credit Jessica Nath / 90.5 WESA

These topics air Wednesday January 14, 2015 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

Peduto in the Public Eye

It’s a new year, with a few new headlines for Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto. He returns to studio A for his monthly live conversation. We’ll talk public safety, being in the public eye on Undercover Boss and the O’Reilly Factor, and his take on the public school task force.

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Essential Pittsburgh
10:47 pm
Mon January 12, 2015

Tuesday Rundown: Joe Wos on the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show

Credit NVIDIA Corporation / Flickr

These topics air Tuesday January 13, 2015 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

From Ukraine with Love

University of Pittsburgh professor and Ukraine native Tim Mylovanov has recently returned from an eventful holiday trip to his home country. He joins us to discuss the situation there and his efforts to help create positive change in Ukraine amid economic challenges and conflicts with Russia.

Tomorrow Today

The International Consumer Electronics Show, held in Las Vegas, is history for another year. Our pop culture contributor Joe Wos was one of the many people in attendance and joins us in Studio A to fill us in on the next big gadgets that could be changing our lives.

Business Segment - Resilient Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh, Chicago, Dallas and Boston are just a few of the 35 cities selected to be part of the Rockefeller Award’s resilient cities challenge. Business contributor Rebecca Harris joins us this week to tell us about this honor and what it means for the Steel City. 

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Essential Pittsburgh
5:11 pm
Fri January 9, 2015

Monday Rundown: The Embattled Attorney General and the Courier's Crusade

PA Attorney General Kathleen Kane
Credit Office of the Attorney General / Office of the Attorney General

These topics air January 12, 2015 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002. 

The Rise and Fall of Attorney General Kathleen Kane

The political future of PA State Attorney General Kathleen Kane looks to be falling as fast as it rose. Evidence of wrongdoing has been found by the special prosecutor and grand jury who are recommending she be criminally charged. We’ll get an update on the current troubles of the beleaguered attorney general with John Baer, political columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News and Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Angela Couloumbis.

The Courier’s Crusade

The deaths of African American men, during encounters with white police officers, across the U.S., has sparked protests and demonstrations nationwide. However, where is the outrage regarding black on black crime? For ten years the New Pittsburgh Courier has been publishing a monthly report of these crimes. How is the community reacting? We’ll pose that question to Editor and Publisher Rod Doss, editor and Staff Writer Ashley Johnson.

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Essential Pittsburgh
5:27 pm
Thu January 8, 2015

Friday Rundown: 3D Printing and Searching for General Tso

Chinese take out is a world-wide favorite
Credit John / Flickr

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

The Evolution of 3D Printing

Earlier this week, SpaceX had to delay the launch of an unmanned cargo ship headed for the International Space Station. Some of that cargo includes spare parts needed by the Space Station scientists. But very soon, because of 3D printing technology, people in remote locations, such as the Space Station will be able to create their own spare parts and tools, on the go. Last fall, the first zero gravity 3D printer was sent to the Space Station and test parts have been created based on digitally downloaded designs. This news, along with the announcement of a large General Electric additive manufacturing facility coming to the Pittsburgh area, highlights the major advancements in 3D printing technology and its role in the future growth of our technology base. University of Pittsburgh professor, Howard Kuhn is a well known researcher and consultant in the world of additive manufacturing/3D printing. He joins us to talk about the advancements and evolution of the industry.

Searching for General Tso 

The new food documentary The Search for General Tso takes viewers on a gastronomic journey. The film’s producer is New York Times writer and Splendid Table guest host Jennifer 8. Lee. She’ll clue us in on the origins of General Tso’s chicken and other Chinese dishes that enjoy worldwide popularity.

Celebrating Pittsburgh’s Jazz Legacy

This weekend will mark the launch of a new program celebrating Pittsburgh’s jazz history. Steel City Grooves: Celebrating Western Pennsylvania Jazz will chronicle the past, present and future of jazz in Pittsburgh. Joining us for a preview of this Senator John Heinz History Center Volunteer Ambassador Program is WESA jazz host Bob Studebaker.

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Essential Pittsburgh
5:19 pm
Wed January 7, 2015

Thursday Rundown: An Attack on Free Speech and Connecting to the Community

Credit SLB Radio Productions / SLB

These topics air Thursday, January 8, 2015 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

Terrorist Attack on Free Speech

In the aftermath of the shooting deaths of 12 people at a satirical weekly in Paris, what concerns does this tragic event raise for political cartoonists here at home? We’ll discuss terroristic threats to freedom of speech with award winning political cartoonist Rob Rogers of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Randy Bish,editorial cartoonist for the Tribune Review.

Crossing Fences

Since 2012 the Crossing Fences project has been using audio and radio to connect generations. Their latest project helped African American males connect with leaders in their community. Joining us to discuss the project are Larry Berger, executive director and Chanessa Schuler, multi-media specialist of Saturday Light Brigade Radio. 

Winter Beaches

As the temperatures plummet, how many of us don’t pass some of our time dreaming of relaxing on a warm, sandy beach? Elaine Labalme, who tweets about food and travel under the Twitter handle New Girl in Town, joins us to suggest beach destinations you can escape to this winter.

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Essential Pittsburgh
1:45 am
Wed January 7, 2015

Wednesday Rundown: Local Water Quality Improves, But Is It Good Enough?

Credit Joseph / Flickr

These topics air Wedesday January 7, 2015 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

Southwestern PA Water Quality

The good news is a new study by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection reports improved water quality in the rivers of Southwestern PA. The bad news is more needs to be done. We’ll talk with Deputy Secretary of Water Management Kelly Heffner about the condition of the region’s waterways.

A Re-Examination of Local Gun-Control Ordinances

Last November, Governor Corbett signed into law Act 192, which allows Pennsylvania gun enthusiasts and groups to sue communities that have "lost and stolen" ordinances, local laws requiring gun owners to notify police when a firearm goes missing. The law has supporters and critics. Post-Gazette reporter Chris Potter joins us to look at both sides of the issue.

McCarthyism in Pittsburgh

During the first week of January 1955, five employees at the Westinghouse Electric Corporation's East Pittsburgh plant were fired as "undesirable" following hearings in Washington held by Senator Joseph McCarthy's investigations and subcommittee. Historian and author Charles McCollester recalls the event. 

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Essential Pittsburgh
12:06 am
Tue January 6, 2015

Tuesday Rundown: Exploring the Value of Diplomacy

Credit Lorenia / Flickr

These topics air Tuesday January 6, 2015 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

Ohio Earthquakes

Researchers at Miami University in Ohio have concluded fracking was most likely the cause of earthquakes that have taken place in the state. Last March, 77 earthquakes occurred in Poland, Ohio a town near the PA-OH state line. Reporter Julie Grant of the Allegheny Front joins us to discuss this recent report.

Would You Like To Buy an Ambassadorship?

In 2014, a number of President Obama’s US ambassador appointees were confirmed by the Senate, despite their lack of diplomacy experience. Appointees such as Noah Bryson Mamet, the new ambassador of Argentina, have never visited the country where they will be stationed. While a president naming political appointees as ambassadors is not new, international policy experts such as Penn State International Affairs professor and retired U.S. Ambassador Dennis Jett are concerned. In his new book “American Ambassadors The Past, Present, and Future of America’s Diplomats” he looks at the various paths to becoming a diplomat. Joined by Dan Simpson, another former ambassador and a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette columnist, they discuss the role of ambassadors in this ever more globalized world.

WESA Celebrates Al Condeluci

For more than 40 years, Al Condeluci has been instrumental in changing the lives of thousands of disabled people in the Pittsburgh area. His awareness and dedication started first hand, with his cousin Carrie, who had Down Syndrome.

Business Segment - Allentown

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 Allentown. 

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Essential Pittsburgh
8:17 pm
Sun January 4, 2015

Monday Rundown: New York's Ban on Fracking and Pennsylvania Shale Issues in 2015

One of many fracking protests in New York City in the last few years.
Credit Adam Welz for CREDO Action / Flickr

These topics air Monday January 5, 2015 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.  

New York's Ban on Fracking

Last month the state of New York voted to ban fracking. While many celebrated this news some saw their visions of an economic boom go bust. We’ll get a first-hand account of this latest development from journalist Tom Wilber who covers shale gas developments. We’ll also talk with Reid Frazier, a reporter for the Allegheny Front, about what impact, if any, New York’s decision could have on Pennsylvania and how the commonwealth’s shale industry may change under the governorship of Tom Wolf.


Developing an assistive brace for people with Parkinson’s disease was more than a humanitarian act for Courtney Williamson; it was personal. It has also served as her entrance into the medical devices industry. We’ll meet Courtney Williamson and discover how Carnegie Mellon University is aiding in her passion for care giving.

Pittsburgh Fitness Challenge

It’s a new year and many are resolving to get in shape. Our fitness contributor Joe Vennare is on a mission to help Pittsburghers get in shape in 2015 by taking the Fitness Challenge. He’ll help us get started and fill us in on healthy events taking place in the Steel City in January.

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Essential Pittsburgh
12:49 pm
Thu January 1, 2015

Friday Rundown: Looking Back and Looking Ahead, Politics in 2015

PA Governor Elect, Tom Wolf on primary election night.
Credit Tom Wolf / Flickr

These topics air Friday January 2, 2015 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. 

Today we look at the political events that shaped 2014 at the local and national level, and what they can mean for us in 2015.  

A Year of Change for Pittsburgh

From a new Mayor to a new Police Chief, the City of Pittsburgh saw sweeping change among its leadership. Chris Potter of the Post-Gazette joins us to talk about Bill Peduto ushering in a new era of transparency in city government and how the hiring of Police Chief Cameron McLay will impact community/police relations.

A New Governor in Pennsylvania

Patriot News and Penn Live Editorial and Opinion Page Editor, John Micek joins us to look back at a year that saw the election of a new governor in Pennsylvania. When Democrat Tom Wolf takes over for Tom Corbett this month, he will face a host of challenges as he tackles an ambitious agenda.

How 2014 Compares with 1968

Post-Gazette columnist Tony Norman says when it comes to 2014, we probably haven't experienced as much turmoil in a single year since 1968. From the riots in Ferguson and the nationwide demonstrations in reaction to police violence inflicted on African Americans, to the debate over gay rights in the U.S., the American landscape was filled with social upheaval. 

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Essential Pittsburgh
11:32 pm
Mon December 29, 2014

Best Author Interviews from 2014

Credit Kate Ter Haar / Flickr

These topics air Tuesday December 30, 2014 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA.

We’re looking back at some of our favorite author interviews from 2014.


In 1996 Olympic wrestling gold medalist Dave Schultz was shot to death by millionaire John du Pont on the Foxcatcher Farms estate in Southeast Pennsylvania. A movie about these events, called “Foxcatcher,” was recently released in theaters. It’s based on a book by Schultz’s brother and fellow gold medalist Mark Schultz. We spoke with Mark Schultz in November about the true story behind his brother’s murder.

The Signature of All Things

Before Elizabeth Gilbert wrote her best-selling memoir "Eat, Pray, Love" she was known for novels about travel, adventure, and characters that defy convention. Elizabeth came to town for the Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures Monday Night Speaker Series in November to talk about her latest novel, "The Signature of All Things" and her return to fictional storytelling.

Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes

Pittsburgh based author Jonathan Auxier writes books for ages 8 to 14. He’s visited our show a number of times in the past year to review the works of other children’s book authors. You'll hear our first interview with Auxier back in February, when he described his new book, “Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes” featuring a small blind orphan who happens to be the greatest thief who ever lived.

Tomorrow & Tomorrow

“Tomorrow & 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 great early reviews. It's been an auspicious start to the literary career of cyber-punk author Thomas Sweterlitsch, a long-time Pittsburgher. Hear an interview with him, conducted by Morning Edition host Josh Raulerson. 

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Essential Pittsburgh
3:09 am
Thu December 25, 2014

Holiday Hiatus and More Best of 2014

Credit Michael Wyszomierski / Flickr

Essential Pittsburgh is on holiday hiatus. Please enjoy 90.5WESA's Holiday Programming in the meantime.

We will resume our "Best of 2014" shows on Monday December 29 with a science and SciFi themed show.

Ira Flatow, host of the NPR call-in science program Science Friday talks about how they've evolved over the last 25 years and found new ways to make science relatable.

Actor George Takei tells compelling stories about his experiences playing Helmsman Sulu on Star Trek, working on a TV show in Pittsburgh, and how his award-winning musical Allegiance connects with his activism for gay rights and Japanese American rights.

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Essential Pittsburgh
11:36 pm
Mon December 22, 2014

Tuesday Rundown: Best of NPR Host Interviews in 2014

Sign at the NPR building in Washington DC
Credit Mike Licht / Flickr

These topics air Tuesday December 23, 2014 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA.

Today we’re looking back at some of our favorite interviews with NPR hosts in 2014.

NPR Morning Edition host, former Moscow bureau chief and Pittsburgh native, David Greene starts us off with his "Reflections on Russia."

Award-winning NPR journalist and former All Things Considered co-host Michele Norris talks about her experiences “Eavesdropping on America’s Conversation on Race.”

Then you'll hear from Glynn Washington, host of "Snap Judgement," a storytelling program recently added to 90.5 WESA's weekend lineup.

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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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