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Covestro Head Brings A Hockey Homer's Ethos To Innovation

Courtesy of Covestro
Hakaan Jonsson is the president and newly named chairman of Covestro, headquartered in Pittsburgh.


On today's program: Covestro expands its local presence and testing safer hockey equipment; PennDOT will soon enforce speed limits in construction zones; and a dedicated jazz club finds its footing in Pittsburgh. 

What Covestro has learned from two full years of "Rethink the Rink"
(00:00 — 16:15) 

Covestro, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of adhesives, coatings, plastics and polymers for all sorts of everyday products, is testing new materials for the Pittsburgh Penguins in partnership with Carnegie Mellon University.

President and chairman Haakan Jonssonhimself a Swede, but one with a penchant for black and gold—says it's an extension of a project that began in 2018. Rethink the Rink challenged participants to find material solutions to strengthen player protection without inhibiting athletic performance. It's taken a couple years, he says, but soon new dasher boards will go up along a rink at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex in Cranberry, and newer research and development will take on goalie helmets.

Jonsson says he hopes Covestro can make a difference not only for NHL teams, but eventually for youth hockey as well.

Covestro, which spun out of Bayer in 2015, closed last month on its forebearer's 260-acre campus in Robinson. Jonsson says he hopes to sell the portion Covestro won't need, ultimately creating a more dynamic area in the process. He says the buy itself was an easy commitment.

“Pittsburgh has been part of (our story) for the last 60 years,” he says. “Pittsburgh will be part of our future.” 

Speeding in a work zone could soon cost you
(17:40 — 24:42) 

An automated speed enforcement program is launching in work zones across the commonwealth this winter, with unmanned cameras set to issue citations after the pre-enforcement period ends March 4.

Cheryl Moon-Sirianni, PennDOT executive for District 11, which includes Allegheny, Beaver and Lawrence counties, says the new system will only be operational when workers are present in active work zones.

The state reported 1,804 work zone crashes in 2018. Nearly half resulted in injuries, and 23 people died.

Con Alma takes on Pittsburgh’s historic—but formerly homeless—jazz scene
(24:52 — 38:17) 

The Pittsburgh region has, for more than a century, incubated the careers of artists who are recognized all over the world, but until recently, there hasn't been a venue devoted exclusively to jazz.

90.5 WESA’s Bob Studebaker spoke with John Shannon, co-owner and house band leader of Con Alma, which opened in Shadyside last year.

The club has been a labor of love for Shannon, who says his  family has a strong line of musicians in addition to his famous grandfather, Adventure Time creator Paul Shannon. From the stage to the kitchenrun by co-owner and chef Josh Ross, previously of Pirata downtownShannon says he hopes patrons come away with a full experience.

“People are coming for the jazz, people are coming for the drinks and people are coming for the food," he says. "And what you have is an atmosphere that comes together from these three things.”

90.5 WESA’s Caldwell Holden and Caroline Bourque 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.

Kiley Koscinski is a general assignment reporter for 90.5 WESA. She previously produced The Confluence and Morning Edition. Before coming to WESA, she worked as an assignment desk editor and producer at 1020 AM KDKA. She can be reached at
Kevin Gavin is the host of WESA's news interview program "The Confluence." He is a native Pittsburgher and served as news director for 90.5 WDUQ for 34 years. Since the sale of the radio station by Duquesne University to Pittsburgh EPM, Inc. (now Pittsburgh Community Broadcasting Corp.), he served as Executive Producer of Special News Projects prior to being named as host of "The Confluence" five years ago.
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