On today's program: A festival hopes to spark a lifelong love of reading; how rain contributes to barge accidents in the Ohio River watershed; flu season is still upon us, but the state and local data are confusing; a rock icon is staging a collaboration with Pittsburgh’s Mendelssohn Choir; dinosaurs are taking over the convention center this weekend; and what to expect from 90.5 WESA’s latest podcast.
Driving teens to books takes lots of energy
(00:00 — 12:17)
American teens are four times more likely to use social media daily as they are to read a book or a newspaper or a magazine, according to research published last fall by the American Psychological Association.
“Those are scary numbers,” says Kelsey Ford, director of the Bookish in the Burgh teen literary festival, “and I am working with teens who are really passionate about books and are trying to change their peers’ minds about books.”
Now in its second year, the March festival—presented by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust—features writing workshops, an open mic session for students to share their work, book club discussions and author panels. Ford says 35 authors plan to attend, including Tiffany Jewell, who is conducting an anti-racist workshop.
“Teens are so savvy, so socially conscious and those are the teen books that are being published right now,” she says. “So Bookish was designed to celebrate all these stories and champion teen voices.”
More rain could mean more accidents on our rivers
(13:50 — 17:50)
The Ohio River begins in Pittsburgh, and flows through or along the borders of six states carrying vessels from kayaks to barges. And as with any traffic, there are accidents.
The Allegheny Front reports serious waterway accidents have been on the rise in recent years, and rain might be part of the problem.
Local flu cases declining, but a second peak is possible
(17:53 — 22:02)
Flu seasons are calculated from October 1 to September 30 of every year, and according to the Allegheny County Health Department, about 8,000 residents have been stricken so far in 2019-20. That’s compared to 9,856 for the entire 2018-19 season.
“Cases peaked in late December,” county epidemiologist Dr. Kristen Mertz says. “Type B is going down in the number of cases and Type A is going up. So I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a second peak this year.”
So far there have been seven flu-related deaths in the county, but typically flu afflicts the Pittsburgh region well into April. On paper, the outlook looks worse around Pittsburgh, but that’s due in part to how local officials report the data.
“For example, in Philadelphia, flu is not a reportable condition so their numbers are much lower,” Mertz says.
Police drummer Stewart Copeland hosts world premiere in Pittsburgh
(22:13 — 27:37)
Rock star drummer and film and video game composer Steward Copeland has selected Pittsburgh to host the premiere of his latest project. 90.5 WESA’s Bill O’Driscoll reports that Copeland, best recognized as founder of the British rock band The Police, will debut “Satan’s Fall” at the Roxian Theatre in McKees Rocks on Feb. 7 and 8.
The show explores the story of Satan grappling with God’s announcement of a Messiah and his command that all must bow to him. Copeland explores the story through an oratorio with the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh.
Step into the past with touring dino show, Jurassic Quest
(27:42 — 34:45)
From cuddly puppets to life-size animatronics, an interactive tour of dinosaurs is taking over the David L. Lawrence Convention Center this weekend. Dinosaur trainer Sarah Menard says it’s family friendly and appropriate for all ages and abilities.
Jurassic Quest, in Pittsburgh Friday through Sunday, features walk-through exhibits, rides, films, inflatables, science stations, crafts, photo screens and more.
Pittsburgh Explainer podcast launches Friday
(34:48 — 38:30)
90.5 WESA is launching a new podcast called “Pittsburgh Explainer.” Every Friday morning, we’ll bring you the biggest news stories of the week in 20 minutes, hosted by WESA editor Liz Reid. Listeners can expect to hear from WESA’s reporters about the week’s top stories and maybe a tale or two that didn’t make the newscasts. Listen to “Pittsburgh Explainer” wherever podcasts are found.
90.5 WESA’s Caroline Bourque and Caldwell Holden contributed to this program.
The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in weekdays at 9 a.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts.