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New FBI Special Agent In Charge Says Partnerships With Community, Local Law Enforcement Are Key

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FBI Pittsburgh
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The Pittsburgh Field Office serves Western Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

On today’s program: Michael Nordwall, the new Special in Charge at the FBI Pittsburgh Field Office lays out his priorities to address drugs, cybercrime and domestic terrorism in the role; City Theatre’s associate artistic director Clare Drobot preview’s the company’s 2021-2022 season of in-person performances; and the history of how parts of the city’s riverfronts transformed from railroads supporting steel mills to pedestrian trails.

New head of Pittsburgh's FBI Field Office says he will develop partnerships to address crime rise
(0:00 - 10:21)

Violent crime is rising across the nation and in Pittsburgh. According to the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police, the city saw a 55% increase in homicides in the first half of this year.

Michael Nordwall was named the special agent in charge of the FBI's Pittsburgh field office in May, and part of his job is addressing this rise in crime. He says his office will prioritize coordinating with other law enforcement agencies like the Pittsburgh Police Department and U.S. Attorney's office to handle it.

"Once you get to the field office, it's really working with our partners, getting to know the communities and understanding, what really are the threats here in the community?" he says.

Nordwall says cyber crime will be a priority for his office. His previous position as chief of the Transnational Organized Crime Global Section required taking on cyber crime in Asian and African countries.

"The cyber threat is no longer a niche or a boutique threat," he says. "It's everywhere, and it crosses all of our threats."

Nordwall hopes to foster partnerships with foreign countries and the private sector to deal with cyber threats.

One threat Nordwall says he doesn’t want to ignore is domestic terrorism. He says law enforcement has to walk the line between preventing crime, and upholding civil rights.

“We protect an individual’s right to think what they think, regardless of how offensive it might be, to say what they want to say, regardless of how it might make others feel,” explains Nordwall. “But when that crosses over into a crime, whether it’s bias motivated or for other reasons, that’s where we want to get involved, we want to certainly prevent that crime.”

He says the key to this is making sure people trust the FBI enough to contact them when they see something suspicious.

"A huge need for us is to make sure we're connected with the public," he says. "Bringing people in, demystify the FBI, make it so that they understand what our mission is."

City Theatre announces in-person season, starting this fall
(10:29 - 17:55)

With more widespread distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, more people are feeling comfortable hosting and attending in-person events again. In light of this, Pittsburgh’s City Theatre announced their upcoming in-person season.

“It feels like we're ready and people are excited to come back to the theatre, to be there in person and support the artists they've been supporting online all year,” says Clare Drobot, associate artistic director at City Theatre.

Last fall, City Theatre did host in-person performances, with a few caveats. Actors performed on stage, but the audience was seated in cars, watching the performance on a screen, like a drive-in movie. Drobot says that this gave actors a taste of live performances again, but still felt somewhat impersonal.

“There's something about live theatre, right?” says Drobot. “It's meant to be this partnership between the performers and the audience. So there's something that you just can't recreate in other ways.”

She says this year’s lineup will reflect certain bonds the theatre has formed over the past year.

“I think this season builds on all of the partners we were working with throughout the pandemic, continuing that tradition of collaboration and supporting both our local and national arts communities.”

The full show lineup for the 2021-2022 season can be found on City Theatre’s website.

The history of Pittsburgh’s riverfront trails
(18:03 - 22:30)

Pittsburgh’s riverfront trails have attracted cyclists, runners and families for decades. But as 90.5 WESA’s Katie Blackley reports for our Good Question! series, it wasn’t easy to transform abandoned steel mill sites into a thriving environment for visitors, native plants and animals.

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.

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. kgavin@wesa.fm
Marylee is the editor/producer of The Confluence, the daily public affairs show on WESA. She got her start in journalism at The Daily Reveille and KLSU while attending Louisiana State University. She took her passion for audio journalism to UC Berkeley's graduate program and worked in public radio at WPR in Madison, WI, and WOSU in Columbus, Ohio.
Laura Tsutsui is a producer for The Confluence, WESA's morning news show. Previously, she reported on the San Joaquin Valley with the NPR affiliate station in her hometown of Fresno, California. She can be reached at ltsutsui@wesa.fm.
Hello! My name’s Rebecca Reese, and I’m a rising Junior English Writing / Digital Narrative & Interactive Design student at the University of Pittsburgh. Currently, I’m working as a production assistant for The Confluence. I’ve lived in the Pittsburgh area my entire life, and have a passion for technical audio production as well as social issues, especially those relevant locally.
Eoin is a production assistant for The Confluence and a senior at NC State University studying political science. He got his start in broadcasting at WKNC, NC State's college radio station. When he's not working, he enjoys hiking, surfing, and listening to music.
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