By Nicholas Vercilla, Point Park News Service:
A feeling of nervous anticipation filled the building as Marcus Charleston and Kevin Gavin traveled from room to room to make sure their final preparations were in place.
As guests arrived and the clock slowly ticked towards noon, both men knew the pilot episode of their new radio show was about to air for the first time for the greater Pittsburgh area.
The brand-new radio show called “The Confluence” debuted Sept. 2 on 90.5 WESA, Pittsburgh’s NPR news station.
The show, which is hosted by Gavin and produced by Charleston, is designed to provide a more in-depth analysis of news stories with professional journalists and other professionals as the weekly guests. Also, it presents a platform to discuss how the topic affects the community at large.
“We want this to be a place where journalists can give their take on a story and have Pittsburghers hear it in a way they might not have,” Charleston said.
Charleston said that by focusing more on journalists’ views and not on the politicians or other newsmakers will help the show be different from other weekly roundup shows.
“Our aim is to add depth and context – to help listeners better understand the ‘why’ behind the news of the week, and know what might happen next,” Pittsburgh Community Broadcasting CEO Terry O’Reilly said in a statement.
Gavin said the idea for the show was pitched to him by Marco Cardamone, the interim general manager of WESA during the summer.
Gavin said that the show will feature new guests every week, including some reporters from the station. He said that he is excited moving forward with the show and that the most fun for him is that he gets to learn something new every week.
The name of the show came from the idea of reporters coming together sharing ideas like the three rivers in Pittsburgh coming together in a confluence.
“It’s a reporters’ round table,” Gavin said. “The goal of the show is to really engage the audience.”
The pilot episode of the show featured a variety of guests and discussion topics.
In the first segment, WESA government and politics reporter Mark Nootbaar and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporter Chris Potter talked about the presidential campaign and how Pennsylvania could be a key state in deciding the election.
Potter said that he listens to WESA to and from work every day and that he values the in-depth reporting that NPR stations are allowed to do with little commercials.
In the second segment, WESA reporter Virginia Alvino and “Homewood Nation” publisher Elwin Green discussed Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay and his reputation in the city.
Alvino said that she learns well through conversation and that this show will allow listeners to put the dots together and create a picture of the stories they are telling.
The third segment featured WESA reporter Sarah Schneider and Post-Gazette reporter Mary Niederberger talking about all of the changes that are taking place within the Pittsburgh public schools.
Schneider said that NPR is a good format to give more context to stories.
“It’s good to help explain what happened,” Schneider said.
Niederberger said that a lot of times traditional media outlets, like newspapers, don’t have the time to look deeper into stories.
She said that she applauds NPR stations that take the time and interest to look at those issues affecting the area.
“They take issues that are facing the community…and look for some solutions,” Niederberger said.
The pilot episode ended with Gavin reflecting on the lasting impact former Pittsburgh Mayor Bob O’Connor has had on the area.
WESA is located 67 Bedford Square in Pittsburgh’s Southside and can be reached at 412-381-9131. “The Confluence” will air live every Friday from noon to 1 p.m.
*For the official website of “The Confluence,” click here.