The Confluence

Weekdays at 9AM

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news show, broadcasting live weekdays from 9 to 10 a.m. The program provides context beyond the region's biggest headlines, blending reporting from the WESA newsroom with in-depth, one-on-one interviews and roundtable conversations with community leaders, academics and experts, activists and interesting personalities about current events, politics, business, economics, science, health, technology, the environment, arts, culture, sports and food. The program debuted as a weekly show Friday, Sept. 2, 2016, and expanded to a daily format Monday, Aug. 27, 2018.

The full-time team includes Kevin Gavin, Megan Harris and Kiley Koscinski. Production assistance by Meg Fair. Our spring 2019 interns are Alex Lenigan, Mick Stinelli and Julia Zenkevich.

Find past episodes of the Confluence via podcast here, or suggest a person or topic by emailing confluence@wesa.fm.

Ways to Connect

Courtesy of Jeff Goldblum / Decca Records

West Homestead native Jeff Goldblum has a knack for booking roles in lucrative Hollywood franchises like Jurassic Park and the Marvel universe, but he's nurtured another love, albeit quietly, for most of his life: jazz.

Keith Srakocic / AP

Last summer, companies across the country, including Mylan Pharmaceuticals in Pittsburgh, began recalling large quantities of blood pressure drugs after carcinogens were found in the medications. Commonly prescribed medications including valsartan, losartan, irbesartan and Amvalo were affected.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Many overdose fatalities in Pennsylvania are opioid-related, but deaths from methamphetamine and other stimulants are back on the rise. For people who use meth, especially those who also identify as LGBT+, resources can be scarce.

There is a growing need for queer-centered resources in Pittsburgh, says Tommy Brassell, a medical assistant at Central Outreach Wellness Center, a clinic that specializes in LGBT health care. 

Matthew Craig / Young Preservationists Association of Pittsburgh

Preserving historical buildings and landmarks “can be a force for a renewal of spirit,” according to Matthew Craig, executive director of Young Preservationists Association of Pittsburgh.

Ebrahim Noroozi / AP

Surgeons have successfully performed organ transplants for more than five decades, but patients still have to take powerful medication to prevent their bodies from rejecting the live-saving donations. 

Google Maps

A long-standing “gay-owned, gay-operated, and gay proud” nightclub in the Strip District is closing its doors this weekend, after one more farewell party. For seven years, Cruze Bar has been a popular gathering spot for the city’s younger set of LGBTQ-identifying adults. Did development push the party spot out of the neighborhood? And what will its departure mean for other queer spaces?

Keith Srakocic / AP

Last year was Pittsburgh's wettest on record, triggering dozens of landslides, forcing people out of their homes and costing the city millions in repairs. 

Margaret Sun / 90.5 WESA

Understanding fare inequity and providing riders better tech tools are top priorities for the Port Authority of Allegheny County in 2019, CEO Katharine Kelleman says. 

Kathleen J. Davis / WESA

Celebrations with dumplings—symbols of good fortune and connection—and lucky red envelopes begin in earnest today to mark the Lunar New Year, followed by 15 days of banquets, ceremonies and performances in honor of 2019's "Year of the Golden Earth Pig."

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Dr. Leonard Moore, vice president for diversity and community engagement and George Littlefield professor of American history at the University of Texas at Austin, teaches classes about the evolution of black politics and power throughout the 1960s and 1970s.

Beth Hollerich / Allegheny County Airport Authority

Allegheny County Airport Authority CEO Christina Cassotis says federal TSA workers serving the region's two main airports are glad to be at work—and receiving a paycheck—since the government shutdown halted late last week. 

Ted S. Warren / AP

Discrepancies between state and local laws in Pennsylvania have led to a battle of discretion in the way marijuana-related charges are applied. Police officers can still charge people for possession of the drug, but prosecutors are increasingly unwilling to pursue these cases. 

Gene J. Puskar / AP

The city's homeless population could face life-threatening conditions over the next few days as single-digit temperatures and sub-zero wind chills settle in across the region

Kiley Koscinski / 90.5 WESA

Since the summer of 2017, Pittsburghers stuck in traffic at the intersection of Bigelow Boulevard and Herron Avenue could be greeted by a billboard with the same smiling face, positive message and personal phone number. Its message belonged to poet Rachel Ann Bovier. 

Gene J. Puskar / AP

Furloughed government workers are heading back to work Monday after President Trump signed a temporary end to the partial federal government shutdown. The repercussions, though, are still being felt throughout the community. With the threat of another potential shutdown looming, local organizations are preparing for the worst.  

Seth Farrington / Courtesy of Krish Mohan

Racism, sexism and immigration can be difficult to talk about, especially when engaging people across the political aisle. Pittsburgh stand-up comedian Krish Mohan says he's up to the task and finds that comedy is an effective vehicle to bring folks together. 

Courtesy of Clarion University

The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education's internal review found all 14 state-owned universities are facing fiscal challenges and ever-declining enrollment.

Daniel Greenstein, the new chancellor of PASSHE, says those concerns track with schools across the country. As student needs and interests evolve, state-run universities will have to adapt, he says, potentially downsizing, eliminating majors or refocusing efforts in specific programs better able to cater to Pennsylvania's future workforce.

Photo by Alyson Derrick / Simon & Schuster

Siobhan Vivian and Rachael Lippincott started as teacher and student, one shepherding two courses of "Writing Youth Literature," and the other still on track to one day practice medicine. When they met, Lippincott says her world began to change. 

Courtesy of the University of Pittsburgh

How do you create a sustainability plan for a building that wasn't designed with the environment in mind? This challenge isn't unique to the University of Pittsburgh campus, but it's one they hope to tackle with a sustainability plan guided by the former director of the Green Building Alliance, Aurora Sharrard.

Courtesy of Pressley Ridge

Proper classroom accommodations for students on the autism spectrum can be hard to come by. One local group hopes to provide better access to environments where students have the best chance at a good education. 

Sarah Bader / Courtesy of Kamara Townes

Kamara Townes, who goes professionally by Wavy Wednesday, is an emerging artist who uses satire in her work to explore pop culture and racism. She uses bright colors and draws on cultural symbols like Barbie to confront social justice through her work. 

Andrew Harnick / AP

Republican changes to the 2018 tax code moved the target for Americans hoping to itemize charitable donations. The higher threshold—now $12,000 for single filers, up from $6,000 in years prior—could result in larger but less frequent donations for higher-income donors, or fewer donations altogether. 

AP

Sala Udin has been a political activist for more than 50 years. He marched on Washington, was a freedom rider and eventually took up a career in politics, serving first as a city councilman and today as a Pittsburgh Public Schools board member. 

Phil Mansfield / The Culinary Institute of America

East Liberty native Tim Ryan grew up wanting to be an attorney, not a chef, but an early stint at dishwashing changed his mind. 

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

 

The Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh led more than 120 security trainings in the year leading up to the deadly mass shooting at Tree of Life in October, including an active shooter drill at the synagogue just weeks before.

Charles Sykes / Invision/AP

Cartoonist and writer Alison Bechdel started writing when she was just a child with a diary. But even then, she was preoccupied with issues that would define the lesbian experience.

Courtesy of Therese Rocco

Therese Rocco joined the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police in 1948 as a temporary replacement in the missing persons office. In post-war Pittsburgh, she says, most male officers believed women couldn't handle police work, let alone carrying a weapon. 

Matt Rourke / AP

 

Criminal convictions can affect people's working lives and chances of finding safe and suitable housing for decades to come, even when the charges were minor and put no one in harm's way.

Pexel

Small business owners need help to grow, but often the people who could help them most aren't accessible, or don't know someone is looking.

Doris Carson Williams, president and CEO of the African American Chamber of Commerce of Western Pennsylvania, says black-owned businesses employ thousands of workers in the region, but Pennsylvania's business climate still scores poorly. She joined The Confluence to talk about the chamber's history, membership and goals for 2019.

Courtesy of Marty Ashby

In the late 80s, musician Marty Ashby worked for the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and experimented with smaller jazz events on the side. Then he met the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild. He knew he'd found his calling.

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