Still Working

  • Hosted by Margaret J. Krauss & Kevin C. Brown

Everyone works. Not everyone works in the same way or with the same expectations; some people don’t even collect a paycheck. But work shapes who we are, what we think, and how we view others. Created by Margaret J. Krauss and Kevin C. Brown, Still Working is a 10-episode audio documentary that profiles the experiences of western Pennsylvanians through their work. From bartenders and CEOs to dairy farmers and emergency room doctors, Still Working explores the uneven burdens, dangers, and joys that working creates.

 

Short: Arguing Can Be Invigorating

Dec 5, 2018
Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

“The English word ‘rabbi’ is derived from the Hebrew word ‘rabi’ meaning, ‘my teacher,’” explains Rabbi Seth Adelson. On a recent afternoon, he gestured toward the bookshelves that line the back of his office and said Jews have traditionally been known as the people of the book. “We are committed to writing our tradition down. We're still arguing about our ancient books,” he said. “That is what has kept us alive.”

Care Work

Nov 28, 2018
Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Keeping young children safe and curious, caring for aging parents or counseling a friend suffering from heartbreak are not easy tasks. Done off-the-clock, we don’t not always think of these things as work. In this episode of 90.5 WESA’s series, Still Working, we follow four people for whom caring is part of the job description.

Short: 'Like Getting Punched In The Face'

Nov 28, 2018
Kevin C. Brown / 90.5 WESA

A rainy day combined with a moss-covered tree, and Bryan McQuaid ended up with a broken bone in his shoulder. While trimming trees for an electric utility, the spikes on his shoes slipped. McQuaid’s safety harness caught him, but swung him hard into a tree.

Short: Bartender Confidential

Nov 21, 2018
Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

An ice machine breaks; a cook cuts her hand; the kitchen runs out of a key ingredient early in the night. After 20 years in restaurants, bartender Nicole Battle has seen it all. No matter what is going on behind the scenes, “you're expected to be on all the time,” she said. “It’s ... insanely mentally challenging sometimes.”

Short: The Art Behind The Art

Nov 20, 2018
Kevin C. Brown / 90.5 WESA

Before a ballet can be performed, dancers need to know their moves, tickets must be sold, and musicians hired. Oh, and the performers need something to wear.

Short: Shoes Of The Trade

Nov 8, 2018
Kevin C. Brown / 90.5 WESA

Stay on your toes. For Julia Erickson, a principal dancer with the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, this phrase is more than metaphor. It’s part of her job. And one that requires a special tool.

Bar Work

Nov 1, 2018
Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

To “set a high bar” is one of those stock phrases moms and bosses use to talk about expectations and achievement and the importance of giving your all. In this episode of Still Working, 90.5 WESA’s series about work, we took that bar literally. We shadowed a lawyer (who must pass the bar to practice), a ballerina (who begins class each day at the barre), an ironworker (“Rebar makes the world go round"), and a bartender (not going to explain that one).

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Steve Kelley spends his nights cleaning offices in downtown Pittsburgh. He’s a union janitor with SEIU 32BJ. While he makes his way through three huge floors, he thinks about music; he plays heavy metal. “It’s my heart, it’s my passion,” he says.

Kevin C. Brown / 90.5 WESA

Emergency room physician Dr. Tom Martin doesn’t mind living in the past, a little bit. When he goes home, he spends time thinking about his night and patients. But it isn’t what went right that he wants to remember.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Being prepared is not just a motto for the Boy Scouts. When the mercury plummets, evening breaking news reporter Andrew Goldstein of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette knows the value of having the right tool for the job.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

As far as Justin Bongiorni is concerned you can keep your toast, your gourmet sandwiches, your extravagant grilled cheese. For the head baker at Allegro Hearth Bakery, bread stands alone. “I don't need to add anything to it, really. It's fine just like that for me.”

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Steve Kelley spends his nights working more than twenty stories up. It can be scary sometimes—all alone, high off the ground in Pittsburgh’s Gateway Center—especially when he can see lightning flash through the huge windows. But most often it’s peaceful, says the union janitor with SEIU 32BJ: “Just the work and me.” Night work is essential to the economy, but it can often be invisible, even hazardous. 

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Baseball is full of disappointments: strikeouts, fielding errors, hitting into double plays. And in the minors, those moments carry extra weight; every guy has his sights set on getting called up to the big leagues. For Jonathan Schwind, there was only one way to stay positive through a long season: take it one day at a time.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Lowell Friedline struck out on his own as a dairy farmer in 1988 when he started buying his farm in installments from his dad. By the time his father died, Friedline was nearly debt-free. It’s been part of his philosophy ever since: don’t buy what you don’t know how to pay for. But for small farms like the one he and his family work, the margins are slim.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Whistles are essential equipment for a number of jobs: gym teacher, football referee, traffic cop. But the humble whistle is perhaps most at home in the hands of a lifeguard, as Alexxis Turner explained. She was the head guard for Phillips Pool in the City of Pittsburgh.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Field maintenance can mean the difference between a cleanly fielded grounder or a nasty hop, between a successful sprint to first base or a fall in the infield. At People’s Natural Gas field, home to the Double-A team the Altoona Curve and 100 miles east of Pittsburgh, it all rests on McClain Murphy’s shoulders. He’s the head groundskeeper.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Millions of Americans work outside, in agriculture and fishing, construction and shipping, and in the burgeoning outdoor hospitality industry. While it may seem dreamy to office workers the world over, people who work outside often face tougher conditions, from longer hours or seasonal work to how much their bodies can take. In this episode of Still Working, we talk with a minor league baseball playera dairy farmer, and a City of Pittsburgh lifeguard. Each of their workplaces carries a whiff of nostalgia: the glory of a summer ballgame, the steadfastness of the small American farmer, the sweet relief of the pool on a scorcher of a summer day. But they’re also challenging places to work.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Every morning, staggered by time zones and separated by continents, people around the world wake up and go to work. No two people are the same, and everyone experiences the world differently. Yet we all share one thing in common: we have to go to work.