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 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. 

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.

Brian Siewiorek / 90.5 WESA

Democratic control of the U.S. House and a Braddock resident in the lieutenant governor's seat are both valuable sources of support for the Pittsburgh region in 2019, according to Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald. 

Gene J. Puskar / AP

Nearly 10 weeks ago, Pittsburgh was shaken by a deadly mass shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Squirrel Hill. The city’s resilience in the face of tragedy gripped the nation.

Brian Siewiorek / WYEP

 

It’s been a year full of pivotal and impactful news, from court battles over redrawn Congressional maps and the resulting Democratic gains, to a shocking grand jury report on clergy abuse and demands from survivors for a change to statute of limitation laws, and even in church leadership.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

 

It’s been a trying year for the Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office, spawning lengthy grand jury reports and charges against one East Pittsburgh Police officer.

Courtesy of Germaine Watkins

A group of local journalists traveled to Haiti this fall to gather stories and images from the small Caribbean island. They brought back bits of life and culture, and what one storyteller called “another side of Haiti.”

Joining the Confluence to talk about the trip are:

Frank Franklin II / AP

 

It takes a delicate touch to step in in the wake of tragedy, and one Washington D.C.-based law firm has a lot more experience than most.

Camille Biros, business manager for Feinberg Law Offices, has helped shepherd clients through mass shootings, terrorist attacks and sexual abuse scandals. Now, they're helping mediate the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program for the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh.

Megan Harris / WESA

 

After building a reputation as a well-known activist in Pittsburgh, Leon Ford is ready to take what he considers the next step: running for office.

Nick Childers / Associated Artists of Pittsburgh

 

It's the oldest, continuously exhibiting visual arts membership organization in the country, boasting alumni like Andy Warhol, Mary Cassat, Samuel Rosenberg and Rochelle Blumenfeld, and works of its 600-plus modern members will be available to view and purchase all over Pittsburgh in 2019.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

SNAP benefits, sometimes referred to as food stamps, were in a precarious position until this week when Congress approved a compromise on a 10-year, $867 billion farm bill that no longer requires recipients to meet a work requirement as previously proposed. 

Stephanie Strasburg / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

 

Edinboro University's in-house, round-the-clock assistance program catering to students with disabilities earned the school a lauded national reputation, but university officials now say it's too expensive to continue, and that choosing their own off-campus attendants will better prepare students for life after graduation. 

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

 

Officials, community leaders and advocates gathered downtown Monday to renew a commitment to protecting human rights on the 70th anniversary of Human Rights Day. But what does that commitment mean in a practical sense?

Andrew Medichini / AP

 

The state Supreme Court ruled to permanently shield the names of 11 unidentified priests listed in a grand jury report detailing decades of child sex abuse, citing Pennsylvania's unique right to reputation.

Knotzland

 

Philadelphia fashion week, demand at Larrimor’s and a spot on Facebook’s small business council might not have been where Nisha Blackwell thought her sewing career would take her. According to the Homewood-based, bowtie business owner, she wasn’t sure how to turn on her machine a little more than four years ago.

Pennsylvania Department of Transportation

There are thousands of bridges big and small in Pennsylvania, and many are in need of replacement or repairs. 

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

 

Gaps in medical resources across rural Pennsylvania can be challenging, even for nursing school recruiters hoping to ultimately fill the local workforce.

J. Scott Applewhite / AP

 

The U.S. Supreme Court could soon make the process by which states confiscate property used in a crime, even if it was used tangentially, much more difficult for states like Pennsylvania. Some state civil asset forfeiture laws allow police to take cash, cars or real estate, even without proof of a crime.

University of Pittsburgh School of Law

 

People in the justice system often rely on law libraries for information, especially if they can’t afford an attorney. Sometimes those situations are complicated by mental health challenges.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

From tree and light displays to baked goods, music and shopping, the holiday season brings with it scores of Yuletide traditions in Pittsburgh.

For 57 years, they've included the Carnegie Trees display in the Carnegie Museum of Art’s Hall of Architecture. The museum's Women's Committee erects five colossal Colorado spruce trees every winter, curatuting each to a unique theme. This year, members looked to Carnegie International artist Karen Kilimnik to set the tone.

Ron Schwane / AP Photo

The assembly plant recently targeted by General Motors in Ohio's Mahoning Valley served as an economic lifeline for thousands of locals over the years. The announcement Tuesday effectively closes the Lordstown plant and six others next year as part of a larger campaign to restructure operations. 

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