Arts, Sports & Culture

We seek to cover our region's vibrant art and culture scene, as well as our iconic teams and the fans that follow them.

Expanded Arts and Culture reporting in western Pennsylvania is generously supported by the Jack Buncher Foundation.

Speaking Volumes: Ruth Drescher

Nov 19, 2012

Ruth Drescher from Squirrel Hill will be the first to admit that Paul Auster's new memoir -- written entirely in the second person -- may not be for everyone. But she found Winter Journal unexpectedly compelling.

Paul Auster, Winter Journal

This memoir from the author of The Invention of Solitude details his mother's life and death, as well as the effects of time and aging on one's body and memory.

The Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh kicked off its 13th annual Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood Sweater Drive today, hoping to “warm up the winter for a family in need.”  The iconic Fred Rogers began each television show by putting on a pair of sneakers and a cardigan sweater.  One of his sweaters is displayed in the Smithsonian Institution's Museum of American History.

Marketing Director Bill Schlageter said the Children's Museum is proud of how many people have participated through the years.

Get Ready to Light Up Friday

Nov 15, 2012

The holiday season will officially hit Downtown Pittsburgh tomorrow as Christmas trees are lit, bands begin to play, and the city celebrates the 52nd annual Light Up Night.

This year’s Light Up Night begins at noon Friday as Mayor Luke Ravenstahl lights the City's official Christmas tree at the City-County Building and the U.S. Steel Plaza dedicates its crèche simultaneously.  The county lights its tree later that afternoon.

Speaking Volumes: Staycee Pearl

Nov 12, 2012

Staycee Pearl is a Pittsburgh-based choreographer who stages dance performances based on, or inspired by, works of literature. She offers a few favorite books and talks about their role in her work at the Kelly-Strayhorn Theater.

Octavia Butler, Wild Seed

Braddock Hospital had been in the community for more than 100 years when it closed in 2010. It had been bought by UPMC in 1996, but declining admissions and the resulting revenue loss took its toll. Braddock independent filmmaker Tony Buba was at the closing announcement and said he got consumed in the effort to save the hospital, during which he shot a lot of footage. He put together a film about the saga, but said it’s about much more.

PA's First Lady Tours Pittsburgh School

Nov 6, 2012

Pennsylvania First Lady Susan Corbett has been stopping at various schools across the state as a part of her “Opening Doors” initiative that aims to increase high school graduation rates by targeting middle school students.

Speaking Volumes: Paige McKenzie

Nov 5, 2012

Paige McKenzie, from Penn Hills, is a fan of travel writing and memoirs.

“We accept the love we think we deserve," is perhaps the most famous line from the recently released movie, “The Perks of Being A Wallflower”.  The film was the inspiration for Pittsburgh’s first “Wallflowers and Wildflowers: An Alternative Homecoming”.  The event welcomes local high school students who find it difficult or intimidating to attend their own school dances and will be held at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History Saturday, November 10.

With Halloween passed, for those of us not trick-or-treating, people are looking to move on the the next holiday. The Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership will kick off the Christmas season with the 52nd annual Light Up Night.

With the CAPA (Creative And Performing Arts) high school choir performing, organizers and officials met in PPG Place’s Wintergarden to announce this year’s events.

Speaking Volumes: Lori Jakiela

Oct 29, 2012 VOLUMES_Lori Jakiela_0.mp3

Lori Jakiela is a poet, a memoirist, and a devotee of sparse, unsentimental prose. A few of the books you might encounter in her writing class at Chatham or Pitt-Greensburg:

Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast

Bruce Springsteen will take the stage in Pittsburgh Saturday night, but it will not be just another concert. The music icon has partnered with Rainbow Kitchen Community Services to help benefit its food pantry. The organization will be collecting monetary donations and non-perishable food items during the show at the Consol Energy Center.

The Homestead based charity offers several anti-hunger programs and support services for local families focused primarily on helping low-income people to achieve and maintain an improved quality of life and self-sufficiency.

A night of music, bocce, and food awaits attendees of One Young World as they leave the David L. Lawrence Convention Center tonight.

The Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership (PDP) is organizing the One Young World Welcome Exchange.

“We have a beautiful downtown. I was lucky enough to get to go to the welcome ceremony,” said PDP President and CEO Jeremy Waldrup. “What they were saying was ‘What’s your initial reaction?’ ‘Everyone in Pittsburgh is super-friendly; your city’s beautiful and very clean.’ And those are incredible first impressions to have.”

In a city known for its love of food, international delegates taking part in the One Young World Summit this weekend will attend “home dinners” throughout Pittsburgh. The dinners will provide the young adults with a taste of authentic American cuisine and hospitality.  Some of the dinners will be at private homes, others at institutions such as Phipps Conservatory and the University of Pittsburgh.

Bringing Creativity Back To Pittsburgh

Oct 15, 2012

A local non-profit group is hoping to get a handle on just how creative one city neighborhood is and then look for ways to encourage more creativity.  CityLAB has launched the Garfield Creative census, which will calculate the percentage of creative workers in Pittsburgh's Garfield neighborhood.

Speaking Volumes: R. Stanton Wettick

Oct 15, 2012 VOLUMES_R Stanton Wettick.mp3

When he's not eyeball-deep in legal briefs, Allegheny County Common Pleas Court Judge R. Stanton Wettick likes to reads fiction and nonfiction imbued with a sense of place. He recommends:

Richard Ford, Canada

Art of the World’s Fair Comes to Pittsburgh

Oct 12, 2012

 The Carnegie Museum of Art is opening a new exhibition this weekend highlighting the art of design that has been part of the World’s Fairs over the years.

Inventing the Modern World: Decorative Arts at the World's Fair, 1851-1939 includes more than 200 objects representing the advances in artistry exhibited during 88 years of the fair’s history.

Jason Busch, Chief Curator at the museum, said they want people to feel like their stepping back in time.

Speaking Volumes: Pledge Drive Edition

Oct 8, 2012

In recognition of the fall membership campaign, book picks from 90.5 WESA and WYEP pledge room volunteers:

Kate Howe, Beaver Falls

VictorHugo, Les Miserables

Grant Street Is A "Great" Street

Oct 3, 2012

Pittsburgh’s Grant Street has been recognized as one of the greatest streets in America.

The American Planning Association (APA) designated Grant Street as one of 10 great streets for 2012 under the organization’s Great Places in America program. The program looks for architecture and infrastructure that exemplifies exceptional character while also highlighting the role planning and planners play in communities.

Speaking Volumes: Bruce Boni on Banned Books

Oct 1, 2012 VOLUMES_Bruce Bonni.mp3

In recognition of Banned Books Week (9/30-10/6), we talk literary censorship with Bruce Boni of the American Civil Liberties Union of PA.

The following titles are just a few of the hundreds challenged or removed from U.S. schools and libraries in 2011, but you can still find them at your local CLP branch:


This Week is Banned Books Week

Sep 25, 2012

Short films about banned books, a theater performance of The Wizard of Oz, and notable Pittsburghers reading from censored works will highlight Pittsburgh’s 17th Banned Books Week.

The ACLU of Greater Pittsburgh, in conjunction with the Carnegie Library and WYEP, is hosting “FREADom” on Thursday  to celebrate free expression in art and literature.  

Speaking Volumes: Chuck Kinder

Sep 17, 2012 VOLUMES_Chuck Kinder.mp3

Christmas will still come, but the Celebration of Lights at Hartwood Acres Park has been suspended indefinitely due to an increase in costs and a decline in sponsorships. The decision came as a result of the county’s limited financial resources after taxpayers had to cover most of the $1.5 million cost last year.

Amie Downs, Director of Communications for Allegheny County, said there is a chance the show could go on, but only if sponsors “come out of the woodwork” over the next few months.

Speaking Volumes: Tom Sweterlitsch

Sep 10, 2012 VOLUMES_Tom Sweterlitsch.mp3

Pittsburgh writer and librarian Tom Sweterlitsch has wide-ranging reading interests in fiction. Lately he's been reading:


Stewart O'Nan, Songs for the Missing

Speaking Volumes: David Greene

Sep 3, 2012

If you've ever wondered whether NPR hosts actually read the books featured on the air, the answer is: yes. Morning Edition host and Pittsburgh native David Greene talks about some of the more memorable reads he's encountered while prepping for author interviews and foreign assignments.

Maria Semple, Where'd You Go, Bernadette?

Portraits of the Healthcare-Lacking

Aug 27, 2012 Wrap_Mary Wilson _SOC.mp3

An artist from Bucks County has been painting portraits of people who do not have health insurance.

Speaking Volumes: Patrick Dowd

Aug 27, 2012

Pittsburgh City Councilman Patrick Dowd started out as a historian, and while he's no longer in academia his reading still reflects that background. These days Dowd reads historical nonfiction mixed with fiction "with a serious historical bent."

Edwin Coddington, The Gettysburg Campaign: A Study in Command

Kennywood Ethnic Days Thrive

Aug 25, 2012

Pittsburgh's multi-ethnic heritage is celebrated at Kennywood Park multiple times each summer.  Cultural groups gather for more than a dozen nationality days at the amusement park including a Polish Day that has been taking place for 81 years.   Traditional music, dance, ethnic food and kitsch sales, along with awards and religious celebrations, are among the features of a number of the ethnic days.   During Polish Day, Catholic priest Miroslav Stelmaszczyk has for years manned a stand selling massive potato pancakes and dill pickles.

Two 20-foot tall steel sculptures were moved Wednesday from an old coke plant, where they were built, to their new home on the South Side. The planning and constructing of “The Workers” has taken about 15 years and included 21 artists.

Speaking Volumes: Patricia DeMarco

Aug 20, 2012 VOLUMES_Patty DeMarco.mp3

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the publication of Silent Spring. The landmark work by southwestern Pennsylvania native and Chatham University alumna Rachel Carson helped launch the modern environmental movement, and still enjoys a large and avid readership after half a century in print. 

Joe Wos

Aug 10, 2012

Toonseum director Joe Wos has been rediscovering some old favorites, and discovering some groundbreaking new graphic novels.

Joe's comic picks for adult readers:

Charles Addams, My Crowd