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Essential Pittsburgh

Essential Public Media

Essential Pittsburgh is a locally-produced program from 90.5 WESA dedicated to developing a deep, ongoing exploration of critical issues impacting Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania, as well as featuring community leaders and newsmakers in the Arts, Sciences, Technology, Business, Healthcare, Government and Education.


Pittsburgh, PA


Essential Pittsburgh is a locally-produced program from 90.5 WESA dedicated to developing a deep, ongoing exploration of critical issues impacting Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania, as well as featuring community leaders and newsmakers in the Arts, Sciences, Technology, Business, Healthcare, Government and Education.






67 Bedford Square Pittsburgh, PA 15203 412-256-8783


Pittsburgh Native Soccer Star Meghan Klingenberg Is Ready For Rio

In 2012, Pine-Richland graduate Meghan Klingenberg served as an alternate for the U.S. Women’s Olympic Soccer team. This year in Rio de Janeiro, Klingenberg will have the opportunity to be on the medal stand.


Mayor Peduto Reacts To Recent Shootings And Previews Philadelphia's DNC

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto said he became addicted to watching the Republican National Convention this week. He described falling asleep on his couch watching the late night shows and cable news. “I’ve been watching conventions since I was in second grade,” Peduto said. “I can’t think of a convention that I actually became compulsively obsessed with watching.”


How A Bar Band From Latrobe Became 'The Shondells'

In early 1966, a rock n' roll song called "Hanky Panky" went to the top of the charts in Pittsburgh after a Steel City dance promoter and DJ named Bob Mack gave it a spin. What Mack didn't know is that the song, recorded by Tommy James and The Shondells in 1964, had languished for two years prompting the band members to go their separate ways and get day jobs. When Mack finally tracked down Tommy James in Niles, Michigan where the song was recorded, James told him The Shondells were no more.


Mandela Washington Fellows Share Their Mission With The Pittsburgh Community

Duquesne University is hosting 25 African young professionals this summer as part of President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative. The initiative seeks to provide leadership training to young professionals in Sub-Saharan Africa.


Pittsburgh Native Chronicles How The Arab Spring Defined The Middle East

Pittsburgh native Shelly Culbertson describes a journey through six countries seeking to understand how the Arab Spring shaped the Middle East in her book "The Fires of Spring: A Post-Arab Spring Journey Through the Turbulent New Middle East." She joins us in studio to discuss her journey and where the Arab Spring nations stand today.

'How The Post Office Created America' Details Agency's Historic Signficance

While traveling from Wyoming to New York City, Winifred Gallagher was struck by the vast size of the United States. The trip inspired her to write about the agency fondly remembered for traversing the length of the country delivering correspondence: the post office.

Beach Boy's 'Pet Sounds' Celebrates 50 Years As Historic First Concept Album

Fifty years ago, the Beach Boys released the influential pop album “Pet Sounds,” which many consider one of the first concept albums. Written and produced primarily by Brian Wilson, the album includes hits like “Wouldn’t It Be Nice?” and “God Only Knows.” We caught up with Al Jardine, who is coming to Pittsburgh next month as part of a 50th anniversary tour during which they perform “Pet Sounds” in its entirety.

'This Campaign Is Yuuuge!' Pittsburgh Cartoonists Tackle The 2016 Election

While this election season may be stressful for voters across the U.S., it has served as the fodder of political cartoonists’ dreams. Pittsburgh’s Toonseum is showcasing some of the best political cartoons of the season with their exhibit This Campaign is Yuuuge!: Cartoonists Tackle the 2016 Presidential Race.


Oldest Living Black Olympian On His Experience At The 1948 Games

Herb Douglas is 94 years old and a graduate of Taylor Allderdice High School, as well as the University of Pittsburgh. He’s also a 1948 bronze medalist and the oldest living black Olympian. Douglas’ passion for the Olympics and sports ignited when he met Jesse Owens.


Governor Wolf Says He's Pleased With Recently Passed 2016-17 Budget

In contrast to last year to last year’s nine month impasse, Pennsylvania legislators and Governor Tom Wolf have reached an agreement on the state budget less than two weeks after the July 1st deadline. Governor Wolf attributed this partly to the momentum built up by passing medical marijuana, liquor reform, and a new education funding formula.


Wilkinsburg's Dream City Showcasing The Borough's Creative Community

Writers, musicians and performance artists will convene this weekend to celebrate creative expression at “Wilkinsburg Dream City Art.” The event provides a space for the community to celebrate creativity with over 45 artists on showcase. We’ll hear more about Dream City from participating artists Jason McKoy, Joey Behrens, and Herman “Soy Sos” Pearl.


National Day Of Rage Protests Planned In Solidarity With Black Lives Matter

The hacktivist group Anonymous is calling for a National Day of Rage protests in cities across America today. This is being done in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. The Pittsburgh protest is scheduled to take place this evening at 7pm at the City County Building. Post-Gazette columnist Tony Norman joins us to talk about how things have become so tense that Tim Scott, a conservative senator from South Carolina, has broken ranks to express his concerns about policing.


From Duquesne To Jumonville, Pittsburgh Has Rich History Of French Influence

Bonne Fête Nationale! July 14th marks the celebration of the French National Day, commonly known as Bastille Day, to commemorate the storming of the Bastille fortress during the French Revolution in 1789.


Locally-Developed Robotic System Improves Minimally Invasive Surgeries

Developed here in the Steel City, the Flex Robotic System could be a game changer when it comes to surgeries. We’ll discover the impact it could have on patients, hospital systems and more with James Jordan, vice president and chief investment officer at Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse.


Climbing For A Cause: Local Man Scales Mt Kilimanjaro For Cystic Fibroris Foundation

Pittsburgh's Derek Davies is embarking on a journey to Tanzania, Africa to climb Mt.Kilimanjaro. Part of his mission is to raise awareness and money for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Derek Davies joins us to discuss his adventure along with Pat Joseph, Executive Director of the Western PA Chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.


Former Oakland Catholic Standout Swimmer Headed Rio Olympics

Former Oakland Catholic standout swimmer Leah Smith is heading to next month's Summer Olympics in Rio. Smith qualified by finishing second in the women's 400-meter freestyle final of the U.S. Olympic Trials in a personal best time of 4:00.65. She also has earned a spot on the 800 meter freestyle relay. She joins us to talk what it feels like to represent Pittsburgh in the Olympics. More Essential Pittsburgh segments can be heard here.


Pittsburgh Inspires Exchange Students To 'Change The Narrative' Of Mexico

Sixty Mexican college students, from all socioeconomic strata in Mexico, are visiting Pittsburgh as part of an educational cultural exchange. The group are all members of a program for highly talented students. Their trip includes visits to the campuses of the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University as well as a meeting with Mayor Bill Peduto.


Proposed VA Rule Change Could Decrease Wait Times For Patient Care

Over half a million veterans are currently facing wait times of more than 30 days to receive care from the VA system. In one attempt to address the...


Take A 'Jaunt' Around Pittsburgh With New Architecture App

Pittsburgh architecture, modern and contemporary, is highlighted as part of a new app called Jaunt. The program derives from a partnership between...


Four Local 'Brats' Are Headed To The Junior Roller Derby Olympics

For the first time, roller derby will be included in the Amateur Athletic Union Junior Olympic Games. Four junior derby athletes who skate locally for...