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Ep 10: Pittsburghers aren’t rude… even if some are Jagoffs

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There was some Pittsburgh podcast synergy in the newest episode of the P100 Podcast, as we welcomed John Chamberlin and Rachael Rennebeck of the YaJagoff! Podcast. In a lively discussion, we talked about why Pittsburghers aren’t really rude, the many meanings of the term jagoff, and a special they group they support.

In our other segments:

  • We discuss the pain of seeing storefronts close — and why it’s not such a bad thing.
  • Executive coach Dick Singer joins us to talk about leadership in 2020.
  • We thank our winners of The Pittsburgh 100’s gift issue contest.

This episode is sponsored by WordWrite:

Centuries before cellphones and social media, human connections were made around fires, as we shared the stories that shaped our world. Today, stories are still the most powerful way to move hearts, minds and inspire action.

At WordWrite, Pittsburgh’s largest independent public relations agency, we understand that before you had a brand before you sold any product or service, you had a story.

WordWrite helps clients to uncover their own Capital S Story – the reason someone would want to buy, work, invest or partner with you through our patented StoryCrafting process. Visit wordwritepr.com to uncover your Capital S story.

Ep. 9 - Looking Back Before We Look Ahead

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For the first P100 Podcast of 2020 (or the last of 2019, depending on when you listen), we’re taking a broad look at Pittsburgh over the past 20 years – then glimpsing at the future.

We’ll talk about the ups and downs, the positive trends and the disappointments that need to be fixed to make Pittsburgh more livable for us all. Then we dive into a discussion on how the region might look very different by 2029.

And don’t miss our latest Pittsburgh Polyphony with Steve Soboslai of Punchline, the great punk band from Belle Vernon performing an anniversary show this week.

This episode is sponsored by WordWrite:

Centuries before cellphones and social media, human connections were made around fires, as we shared the stories that shaped our world. Today, stories are still the most powerful way to move hearts, minds and inspire action.

At WordWrite, Pittsburgh’s largest independent public relations agency, we understand that before you had a brand before you sold any product or service, you had a story.

WordWrite helps clients to uncover their own Capital S Story – the reason someone would want to buy, work, invest or partner with you through our patented StoryCrafting process. Visit wordwritepr.com to uncover your Capital S story.


Full Transcript

 

Logan:             

You are listening to the P100 podcast, the biweekly companion piece to the Pittsburgh 100, bringing you Pittsburgh news, culture and more, because sometimes 100 words just isn't enough for a great story.

Dan:     

Hey everybody, welcome back to the P100 podcast. I'm Dan Stefano, I'm here with Paul Furiga.

Paul:                

Hey, hey.

Dan:                

And Logan Armstrong.

Logan:             

How you doing, Dan?

Dan:                

Okay. Depending to whenever you're listening to this, it could either be the last day of the 2010s, or it could be really early in the 2020s here. It's an interesting time, we're splitting decades finally.

Logan:             

Or it could be 2027 when you're listening to this, we don't know.

Paul:                

Could be, we have a really good archiving service, don't we?

Dan:                

Could be an alien listening to this as a history and saying like, "What was wrong with them?" No, it is an interesting time and Paul, before we get started here, you brought up a fun fact about changing decades.

Paul:                 

Yes, I am sure that many of our listeners will doubt this until I explain it, but I can speak with authority as the oldest host on this podcast because I've lived in parts of eight decades, but I'm only 61 years old.

Dan:                

That's really impressive though, eight decades.

Paul:                

Eight decades. But see, I was born-

Dan:                

Two days into the new one, but-

Paul:                

That's right. I was born in 1958, and I got the ‘60s, ‘70s, ‘80s, ‘90s, the aughts, the teens, and now I'm into the twenties.

Dan:                

Pretty amazing. And myself I've lived in five. Well again, you know we're recording this I think before the 2020s begin, but I think I got a good chance of making it there. And Logan Armstrong, you as our youngest host, you still have lived in quite a few decades, so you're pretty long-

Logan:             

Yep. Repping four decades. Snuck into the 90s there for a few years. Yeah, I'm only 22 now, so it's kind of weird to think about.

Dan:                

That's impressive, a Clinton baby over there. All right, yeah it's fun to look at the calendar and think about these things. But the one thing we are going to do on today's episode is take a look back at where Pittsburgh has been, how it has changed within the 2010s and even the aughts that we talked about, and then we're going to talk about going forward here. What the 2020s might hold for Pittsburgh. Through it all there are ups and downs, and the city obviously has been on probably more ups than downs since we've gotten to 2000s. But there have been some really, some sad moments and there are a lot of important cultural things that I think are holding us back from being a more perfect Pittsburgh right now.

Dan:                

So we're going to get into all of that and then we're going to wrap it up, we're going to make a little bit of a hard right turn there, but we have a really exciting Pittsburgh polyphony segment. Logan, do you want to talk about that?

Logan:             

Yeah, sure. We're going to be sitting down with Steve Soboslai of Punchline, a band that's from around the Pittsburgh region out of Belle Vernon specifically, that's done some great things over the 20 plus years that they've been around, traveled the world. So it was great to sit down with Steve and kind of talk about what's coming up for them.

Dan:                

Yeah, that might be a band that's like four decade too.

Paul:                

There you go.

Dan:                

Yeah, they've been around for quite a while. Okay. We're going to stop having fun with the calendar, but we're going to get to it, and thanks for being with us today.

Dan:                

All right guys, to start today's episode we are going to talk about the Pittsburgh of the past. Pittsburgh of the recent past here. Mostly it's a look back at the 2010s and we can include the aughts in there as well because it's been a really interesting 20 years for Pittsburgh. I think if you go back to the year 2000, for myself, I was 13 years old and it just seemed like this crazy future thing-

Paul:                

I wasn't 13.

Dan:                

You were not 13?

Paul:                

No, I was not.

Dan:                

Okay, 15, 16? Okay. Pushing that?

Paul:                

No, I was not.

Dan:                

Logan, I think you were about three.

Logan:             

I was about three years old, yeah.

Dan:                

All right. So for myself, whenever that was coming around, it seemed like this crazy future time. And there were a lot of cool things that were on the horizon at that time, we knew that the North Shore was going to be redeveloped. It was basically just a gravel lot and back then it was only called the North Side, but some new baseball and football stadiums were going up. And now 20 years later, there are a ton of restaurants, there are office buildings, and was kind of the start I think of taking back our rivers in Pittsburgh, and changing it around there. And Paul, I know you were around for that as well, right?

Paul:                

I was actually at the groundbreaking for PNC Park.

Dan:              

Were you really?

Paul:                

Yes. And it was my job to be the personal handler for Vince Lascheid, who was for decades, the organist for the Pittsburgh Pirates, who most people don't know lives on, digitally only. God bless Mr. Lascheid, he left us several years ago. The Pirates however recorded, I think pretty much everything he ever played. And somebody pushes a button somewhere in PNC Park when they want Vince Lascheid and out comes some organ music.

Dan:                

Right. Well, you know, it's not just baseball and football stadiums that helped turn around this city here. Really it was the medical and the tech boom. And those hospitals are still around.

Paul:                

And also energy.

Dan:                

Energy as well, that's right. That's correct. Yeah, that's one thing we'd be remiss to say, in the 2010s it was really the shale industry as it exploded here in this region. You know, we're sitting on top of some valuable resources, especially in the rural parts, that's valuable land out there.

Paul:                

We got gas, Dan. And we have the okay kind.

Dan:                

Right, the okay kind.

Paul:                

At least in terms of economic activity.

Dan:                

Yeah. It's better, let's put it that way. It's better, it might not be perfect, probably another 30 years from now we're going to be seeing a different type of energy. But for right now, it's I guess let the good times roll on that. But as we mentioned as well, the tech industry was a big part of what helped turned around the city in terms of how I think the rest of the country views it. And just in terms of the type of people that are attracted to it right now, it's a younger place. Logan, I think you'd agree with that. Slightly younger.

Logan:             

Yeah, yeah, no, definitely. And we've been able to kind of make Pittsburgh a healthcare hub, a cluster where we kind of finally have a face to a name as a sector or an industry. We have a lot of major healthcare players here. But as you noted, have a lot of tech companies coming in, especially to the Strip District. I mean, we have Uber here.

Dan:                

We have Apple.

Logan:             

Yeah, Apple.

Paul:                

We have the Facebook Oculus unit, the VR unit is based here.

Logan:             

Oh, I see. I didn't even know that. We have ARGO-

Paul:                

Stick with me Logan, you'll learn something.

Logan:             

Yeah, so we have a lot of tech companies coming in and-

Paul:                

Let's not forget, Duolingo.

Logan:             

Yeah, no, can't forget Duolingo.

Paul:                

Recently acknowledged as the first unicorn in Pittsburgh.

Dan:                

That's correct, and that's fantastic for them. That's so exciting to see. I've used their app before and it's a very fun way to try to learn a language. And it's useful, and so we're thrilled to see that for a company from here that really got its start here as well.

Paul:                

I'm waiting for the Yinzer language translation.

Dan:                

Exactly.

Paul:                

They have many languages on there and they roll out new languages quite frequently.

Dan:               

"Oh, it's slippy outside," you know?

Paul:               

That's right.

Dan:                

Try to pronounce that. What does that mean? But yeah, again, I suppose whenever I said earlier that we are a younger place, it might seem that way, but we really haven't made the population gains just yet. We've got a census coming up that'll probably explain a little more in detail of where we're at. But you know, I think there's a foundation that's being built here that they can use going forward. And basically it's going to be, as always in Pittsburgh, how these public/private partnerships work together to help foster new people coming to the city and just keeping those brains that come out of universities like Pitt and CMU, keeping them in town to build companies like Duolingo.

Paul:                

Yeah. And Duolingo for instance, has had a very well recognized campaign in San Francisco, a billboard campaign essentially saying if you lived in Pittsburgh you could afford this kind of a house, and you could do this and you could do that, in order to recruit talent. And that's been somewhat successful over the years. But if you think about Pittsburgh for a moment, kind of like a forest, get that picture in your mind, what you're saying Dan, is a lot of the older trees obviously they're dying. And as they come down in the forest, the forest is still smaller.

Paul:                

The population though, makes sense, it's the young trees. And so what we're seeing now is while the population of the city of Pittsburgh continues to shrink sadly, the population overall is younger. And one of the reasons is people who grew up in the region, but also people who have moved to the region just like you said, for the hipster vibe. We probably don't have enough man buns and pickle shops. But hey, we got charcuterie and we got all kinds of great restaurants and the club scene is okay. Right, Logan? I mean it's not New York, okay.

Logan:             

No, it's not New York, it's not LA, but you can have fun on weekends.

Dan:                

It's a cool place to be.

Paul:                

Yeah. So there's potential there, right, Dan?

Dan:                

Absolutely.

Paul:                

But there's still a lot of work that needs to be done if this is going to be sustainable and if we're going to grow.

Dan:               

That's right. And while it's exciting to see neighborhoods like Lawrenceville and the Strip District grow and become certainly different places from the way they were even at the beginning of the 2010s, or going back to the year 2000 itself. We'd be remiss to say, to leave out that this has also had an adverse effect on a lot of our population here. The housing in some of these neighborhoods is just untenable anymore. If you build these beautiful looking new apartment complexes, they are affordable only to a certain segment, and these are the challenges that are going to be facing Pittsburgh going forward here.

Dan:                

And just recently even, we had a really interesting and a really sobering development within the city government here where the city council voted to declare racism a public health crisis in Pittsburgh. And that sounds a little shocking, it sounds to some people like it might be extreme, but the stats here are, they came from a-

Paul:                

They're hard to argue with.

Dan:                

Exactly. Came from a report from Pitt earlier this year and again it's, they're hard to argue with. This is from a Post-Gazette article here, really helpful to kind of pull this out. I believe it's from the December 5th issue here, "African Americans compared to whites are living shorter lives, more due to conditions like heart disease rather than violence. They're suffering higher rates of infant mortality and extreme low birth weight. They're five times as likely to grow up in poverty."

Paul:                

You know, I came to Pittsburgh in '94, returned back here after living elsewhere, and I have to say that a lot of the statistics in that most recent report sadly build on earlier reports, some done by the same department at Pitt. And in some ways some things have gotten worse, and people from Pittsburgh are proud generally speaking of their hometown. As you pointed out though, Dan, we've got enormous pockets of, I would say embarrassing lack of economic attainment, that aligns with race and ethnicity. And that is just not the kind of place that I think any of us would want this region to be.

Paul:                

And it relates to some of the other things we talked about a few minutes ago, such as building a workforce of the future. If you're going to leave a significant percentage of the population that already lives in the region behind in terms of educational and economic attainment, how are you going to build the best region you can build for the future?

Dan:                

That's correct. And I think maybe the line that really describes this the best, this comes from Councilman Ricky Burgess, who is also a reverend within the city here. He was one of the authors of the bill that declared racism a public health crisis, and he said, "America's most livable city is also the least livable city for African Americans," and that's a hard thing to hear. And look, we three are three white men. We frankly we were born with a lot of privilege here. And I think an important... bills like this are important to try to set up structures that will help lift up all Pittsburghers, that will try to create an equal playing ground here for whenever people are born and whatnot.

Dan:                

And an important thing for people who are like ourselves here who, we've got certain just built in advantages. You got to listen, and have to understand some of these issues that are affecting segments of our society. And so whenever you see a great new apartment building going up in the Strip or another great new tech startup that's doing great but maybe only employees 40 to 50 people, need to understand that we're not... And need to try to make efforts to not leave behind everyone. People who are in poverty, people who are in these neighborhoods that are being a little left behind.

Paul:                

This is probably the most important issue the region needs to grapple with in the views of many leaders in the region. And really today in the podcast episode as we talk about Pittsburgh of the future, I believe personally this will be the most important measure of whether the next decade is successful, whether or not we've been able to address this problem.

Dan:                

That's correct. And we're going to be jumping into our next segment here pretty soon about Pittsburgh in the 2020s, but let's make sure that we don't forget these points as we discuss the exciting things that are coming. And hopefully again, measures like this that were just passed by city council, that they can help assist all Pittsburghers and again, make us a more perfect city going forward.

Dan:                

All right, Paul, Logan, we're going to talk about Pittsburgh in the 2020s now here. Again, an exciting time because Pittsburgh has come a long way in the past 20 years here, and this next decade, by the time we reach 2029 this place could look very different right now. And a lot of the stuff has already been kickstarted here, and within the next couple of years we're going to see this city is just going to look very, very different. And that's with a lot of big developments coming to the city, right?

Paul:                

Yeah. You know, we sat down and we did a preliminary list and we have half a dozen major regional developments that are coming up. Starting with the airport, which is a multibillion dollar renovation. When people enter the airport, it's going to be something they see immediately, because a lot of what's there now is coming down, going to be replaced with something very different.

Paul:                

You got the cracker plant, which if you travel the Southern beltway from the turnpike from the West down towards the airport, you are going to cross the river and you're going to see the cracker plant. It explodes on you in terms of its stature on the landscape, and you see this $5 billion infrastructure, and we really don't know how that's going to change things. Personally, in the last segment we talked about my eight decades of perspective, so I can remember when, to give the listeners a sense of how things have changed around here, because I think far too often we think things haven't changed in Pittsburgh. In an earlier job I was working around the closing of what was the cracker plant at the time, the Nabisco Bakery, which is now Bakery Square, and is the center and hub of most of the tech investment in Pittsburgh.

Dan:                

Which is where I used to live.

Paul:                

And people were gnashing their teeth at the time, understandably so. People in the Nabisco plant lost their jobs, but it was hard for people to see what that could possibly become. And now Google's there and a lot of other companies, it's been an amazing transformation. So we really don't know with this other cracker plant, which is not really baking cookies.

Dan:                

For natural gas, correct?

Paul:                

It's cracking the natural gas stream to create the basic ingredients to create plastics and a wide variety of other chemicals. We really don't know what's going to happen. I do think it's kind of interesting though, kind of the dichotomy, if the region's experience with what happened in Bakery Square is a good predictor that could be a really, really major difference.

Dan:                

Right. Well, I mean the cracker plant as you mentioned, I mean that's a significantly different industry. And this is adjacent to manufacturing, these are going to be more blue collar jobs, which is something that's been missing in American society here for quite a while since the 2000s here, and especially in our region since the collapse of the steel industry in the 80s. A lot of these big plants that require maybe skilled workers, people that aren't going to be sitting around coding all day, but they are very worthwhile jobs. They're jobs that are hopefully going to pay well.

Dan:                

This is going to be a massive plant. If anybody has not been up there, the size of this thing is just gigantic. So you have to assume that some people in our region are going to benefit from this. So that's an exciting thing to see, whether you agree with the environmental consequences or not, but this is going to be something hopefully positive for the region. As is the airport, as you just mentioned. People don't quite realize what it will be like to have a first-class landside terminal out here, and the improvements won't just be on that terminal, it will also be throughout the rest of the airport.

Dan:                

And hopefully we bring in more direct routes, and that has a great economic boost on the region here. More companies will be interested if they can get out here quicker from where their headquarters are, or perhaps they'll set a headquarters here knowing that they can get to other parts of the country easier. And that's going to be another, it's an expensive project but I think a lot of it is being paid for by say the airlines, and other non-public sources, and it's going to be useful for whenever it comes around, and it's going to be a huge part of Pittsburgh's future.

Paul:                

An important aspect of the major projects that are going to start to come online in the next year or so is how many are actually within the city limits. And when we talked about six or so major projects, we've talked about two, four are actually within the city.

Dan:                

That's right, yeah. Some huge stuff coming up here. One that was in the news story just recently is the big redevelopment that is happening at the Civic Arena, the former Civic Arena site I should say. But First National Bank is going to build an office tower out there, about 24 stories, so it might peek over the top and we might get another little part of our skyline here in Pittsburgh. But that's an exciting thing to see, it's good to know that big Pittsburgh company is going to be staying here, and a building like that will help anchor what they hope to be another great development, another great place for entertainment, retail, even residential areas, here in the city. And so that's exciting to see that that's starting up.

Dan:                

Some other big developments that we should see over 2020, the Hazelwood site that has been talked about for a long time. You know, we figure by 2029 there has going to be something there. It will no longer be a rusted frame of what was once a steel mill. The Strip District, they are well on the way to building up what was the produce terminal, and that development is only going to go straight down to the river. It's beyond just that, so hopefully within a couple of years, less than that, we're going to have a really exciting place in the Strip District to go. It's already a fun neighborhood, so I hope it retains some of that great personality that it has. I know Logan, you feel the same way.

Logan:             

Yeah, definitely. Specifically on the strip that's a great area to go. It has such a rich and varied history, and now culturally, retail and just kind of going there on the weekends. But yeah, as you said, there's a lot of great developments coming there. And you know, it's nice to see these apartments maybe bringing in a more polished clientele to some areas of Pittsburgh. And as we talked about, we kind of have to strike a balance with that. But definitely it'll be interesting to see, and I definitely want to see it keep that personality that you mentioned.

Dan:                

The other development that I wanted to bring up that is within the city limits here, and could be the most visually arresting of them all, would be in the Chateau neighborhood on the North Side just up from the casino a little bit, we've got a developer who wants to build a beach, a lagoon, and a Ferris Wheel on the North Shore. Which would be kind of nuts, but it would actually be pretty cool if it gets done, I'm still a little dubious about it, but-

Paul:                

In PR, we call it unique, not nuts.

Dan:                

I like nuts. I think we can be the agency of nutso. We can kind of go crazy.

Paul:                

No, you know, there's reasons to do what they're doing. And certainly, one of the things we've talked about in today's episode is the perceptions of Pittsburgh over time. And you certainly wouldn't think about there being a beach in Pittsburgh. And the jury's still out. Let's see how it gets built and take a look at the lagoon. Certainly though, a Ferris wheel. Ferris wheels have a lot of history in Pittsburgh.

Dan:                

That's right. The first Ferris wheel, I don't know if it was ... but George Ferris was from Pittsburgh.

Paul:                

Yes, he was from Pittsburgh. So technically invented here, so there is some unity of theme and thought there. With the Civic Arena site and also with the Chateau development, what we're really seeing, akin to what I mentioned earlier about the Nabisco cracker plant, is the fulfillment of a long term promise. The Civic Arena site belongs in terms of development to the Penguins, and it's been a long time coming to get that site redeveloped. A big part of the goal for the community is to reconnect the Hill District back to Downtown. So there's a lot of hope for that and I think that's really a very exciting development to see take shape as we begin the 2020s.

Dan:                

One more development that has been in the news lately that would be ... this would take us almost into like a Star Trek type of future here, except that we-

Paul:                

It will take us into another time zone, Dan.

Dan:                

Yeah, you're right. It would take us into the Midwest.

Paul:               

Chicago.

Dan:                

The proposed Hyperloop transportation system. This is basically high-speed rail on steroids. It would be a somewhat like a train, but it goes inside of a tube type of situation. That's a low pressure tube. Take you up to 500 miles an hour, which as you put, would get you to Youngstown very quickly. But this would actually take-

Paul:                

Yes, you would sneeze and you'd be in Youngstown.

Dan:                

Right, yeah. This would take you between Chicago to Cleveland to Pittsburgh in less than an hour, actually. Pittsburgh to Chicago in less than an hour is impressive.

Paul:                

And it would only cost $47 billion.

Dan:                

Right, yeah. Which is a little bit of scratch, but with inflation I think everybody will be making a little more by 2029. But obviously this is something that's a long way away. You know, it would have to get government approval. Basically what we have had lately are just feasibility studies. But at a certain point, infrastructure will have to change in this country here. And high-speed rail is something that's been thought about in other parts of the country, obviously California has had its ups and downs with it for sure. But it's something, if anybody's had a chance to go overseas, I've been on some high speed rail in Italy, I'll be taking a trip to Japan later this year with my wife and we're going to be, we've already get some tickets to take some of the high-speed rail between some of our destinations. And it's a really, it is an efficient way to get around, and it's a lower cost alternative to air travel.

Paul:                

It can be.

Dan:                

It can be.

Paul:                

And there's also environmental benefits potentially.

Dan:                

Sure.

Paul:                

I was talking to somebody the other day, a friend, and my wife and I, we have a daughter who lives in Chicago and my wife was lamenting that if there are ever grandchildren, that it would be difficult to be there for the grandchildren.

Dan:                

Right, you've got a daughter in Chicago, right?

Paul:                

Somebody was talking about the Hyperloop and said, "What's the big problem? Grandma can jump on the train in the morning and be there in time to take care of the kids."

Dan:                

Right. Well I think-

Paul:                

That sounds weird, but that might be possible.

Dan:                

That would be pretty cool, yeah. Just take a day trip over to Chicago, come home, be snug in your bed later in the day. I think the earliest they would begin building sections of this would be in the late 2020s here. And I believe even Chicago to Cleveland would be the first stage of putting this together. It's fun to think of, this Jetsons-like future. Obviously not flying cars, but the idea of a Hyperloop is definitely something you'd think of in mostly science fiction, but eventually these things will come to pass. And it would be really neat if Pittsburgh were at the forefront of something like this, and it would only again, provide a big boost to the city.

Paul:                

Yeah. And just again, as I said earlier in the episode, as the person with eight decades in perspective here, let's just remember when the Nabisco cracker plant closed down, it was extremely difficult for us to see what the future was going to be like. And now Bakery Square is a technology industry magnet. So these things that we've talked about in today's episode, we can't predict the future, but if we look at the past and how things have changed, we can be pretty darn hopeful.

Dan:                

Right. So I guess the only prediction is we don't know what's going to happen by the time 2029 rolls around, but we're excited for that.

Logan:             

Centuries before cell phones and social media, human connections were made around fires as we shared the stories that shaped our world. Today, stories are still the most powerful way to move hearts and minds and inspire action. At WordWrite, Pittsburgh's largest independent public relations agency, we understand that before you had a brand, before you sold any product or service, you had a story. WordWrite helps clients to uncover their own Capital S story, the reason someone would want to buy, work, invest or partner with you, through our patented Storycrafting process. Visit wordwritepr.com to uncover your Capital S story.

Logan:             

Hey everybody, we're here with Steve Soboslai, lead singer and guitarist of Punchline out of Belle Vernon, a band that's done some crazy things over the past 20 years that they've been playing. Steve, thanks for being here.

Steve:              

Thanks for having me, Logan.

Logan:             

Yeah, happy to have you. We also have my colleague Robin, who's been a longtime fan of Punchline, here to give her insights as a fan.

Robin:             

Yeah, I'm pretty excited. My favorite band Punchline, I met them back in 2006 when they had opened up for Taking Back Sunday. So I've been a huge supporter of the band for since 2006.

Steve:              

Thank you for your support, your constant support.

Robin:             

Yeah.

Logan:             

So as I said, you guys have been around for quite some time. Could you just give us a brief background of how you guys initially formed and what the story's been since then?

Steve:              

Right. So, we have been around a long time, 20 plus years and that's because this is virtually the first band that we started. We had two other bands that we started and kind of fizzled out, but Punchline was the first band that we ever played more than one show with. And I feel like a lot of bands as they got more serious would have changed their name, but we just kind of always stuck with our name. And we've put out, I think our next full length album will be our 10th record, aside from there's a bunch of EPs and singles and all that kind of stuff too.

Steve:              

But our story is that we formed in high school, and then we got more serious when we went to college and developed a fan base in Pittsburgh, which we've been super thankful to have. Thank you, Pittsburgh, if you're listening. And after the following in Pittsburgh developed, then we moved on to playing outside of Pittsburgh, which kind of grew into getting a booking agent, getting a record deal. Started touring the U.S., we made a couple of trips to Japan, we've been to Japan four times, and we've toured the UK twice.

Steve:              

So I lived in Nashville for about five years, and when I moved back, that was about two and a half years ago, and at that point we said, "You know what? Let's kind of revamp this Punchline thing and do it like we haven't done it in years," and we put out a record called Lion that was self-produced. And in the last two years we've done more touring than we have in the last probably eight years.

Logan:             

Wow, that's great.

Steve:              

Went out and we toured with the Gin Blossoms, we toured with Less Than Jake, we toured with The Spill Canvas. And it was really great to get back out there and see what can we do in the year 2019 and in the year 2020, to really make an impact like we never have before.

Logan:             

Yeah, that's great. And so how was that experience coming back after that break and touring LION? Did you see that it was a lot of your fans that kind of grew up with your music coming back? Or did you see an influx of younger fans in the crowd too?

Steve:              

So what I'll say about that is this: the band Gin Blossoms that we toured with, I'm sure that people listening have heard of them. They have five mega hit songs including Hey, Jealousy, Follow You Down and Found Out About You, which is a song that we covered on an EP that we put out last year called Songs From '94, which covers of all songs from 1994. I remember maybe a decade ago we became friends with the Gin Blossoms through an old manager that we had. I remember talking with the singer and he was telling us how they took a really long break from playing music, maybe they took 10 years off. They had these two huge albums, and then they took all this time off.

Steve:              

And when they stepped back into the touring circuit and into making new music, you would think, well yeah I mean they can just step back in and they'll be at the top of the charts and people will be coming to their shows because everyone loves those hit songs, and it's not really the case. They really had to like rebuild things for themselves. And I saw it over the course of the last 10 years. When they came back to it, they were playing like Rib fests and playing these more like you know, county fairs. And then a couple years later they were doing more prominent festivals. And I think it was last summer, we played a show with them. I looked at Robin, she confirmed it was last summer.

Robin:             

It was last summer, yep.

Steve:              

And last summer they had 3000 people there at Stage AE. And I talked with the singer after and he said, "Steve, we could have not have done this 10 years ago," and it's been just stepping back into the ring and kind of building back up. And over the last couple of years, that's been really inspiring for me. We're a much smaller band, but kind of in the same way stepping back into it. You can pick up kind of where you feel like you might have left off, and start building back up. So we've been doing just that and I think it's been a very fruitful for us. And that is the answer to that question.

Logan:             

I'm sure it's cool kind of stepping back into that circuit. Like you said, working your way up, getting through those bigger venues, more prominent venues. And I'm sure, Robin, I'm sure you're dying to hear some new music from Punchline.

Robin:             

Oh yeah. I listen to them almost every day, so yeah. What can we expect in the new year? I saw that you had traveled this summer, I think you went to a campsite or a cabin, right? To record new music?

Steve:              

Yeah. We rented an Airbnb in Amish country in central PA, Woodward, PA, and we had a long weekend of just being creative and coming up with new songs. Kind of just jamming, as they say, which it's hard to find the time to do that. Just getting together and being creative is such a beautiful thing, as opposed to like, "Okay, we're together now. We have to do this thing. We have to go play this show," but just having time to be like, "Let's see what we can come up with." So that was a great trip, and since then we went to Chicago and we recorded three new songs that we're going to be releasing in the new year.

Robin:             

Are we going to hear them in the January show?

Steve:              

We talked about playing one of them. One of the songs, the first one that's done, it's kind of a sequel to Friend From The Future from our last album, and I'm really excited about that. I'm not going to call it a full on sequel because I don't think song sequels necessarily exist, and that makes it sound like ... it's just, it's inspired by that song, kind of picked up where that one left off and kept going with it. It's pretty neat. I don't know if we're going to play it in the new year, but I think that it's going to come out shortly into 2020.

Robin:             

I have so many memories from, I've been to almost, I can't say all of them, but I've been to almost every single Punchline show since I've met you guys in 2006. And one of my favorite memories is when you played one of your anniversary shows and you played 37 songs and it was incredible. So I'm really excited for this anniversary CD, especially I mentioned before that one of my favorite lyrics is on this record. So I'm excited about the show.

Steve:              

Nice. Well we've been putting in a lot of work to refamiliarize ourselves with, she's talking about this album Delightfully Pleased that came out in 2010, so 2020 is the 10 year anniversary of that. And on January 3rd we're going to do a show at the Rex where we play the whole album front to back plus a couple of other songs. So we've been kind of getting back into Delightfully Pleased mode, getting familiar with the songs and we've been practicing a lot and we're really excited. I feel like we're going to do the album justice, and not just go up there and play the songs. We're trying to be really thoughtful about how to do it. I think you'll like it.

Robin:             

I'll love it.

Logan:             

Okay, Steve. Well we can obviously tell that Robin is very excited about the January show as she should be. It should be a great time at the Rex Theater, again on January 3rd. And we know that you have a song you want to play us out with today. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

Steve:              

Yeah, so the song is called Darkest Dark, and I think it was last year we released a music video for it that was shot in Pittsburgh.

Robin:             

At Kennywood.

Steve:              

Yeah, it was shot at Kennywood and all over the city. It's our tribute to Pittsburgh. We had this director capture Pittsburgh in a really beautiful way, so I would urge you to also check out the music video, the song is called Darkest Dark.

Logan:             

That sounds great. Once again, Steve, thanks so much for being here. We really appreciate you coming in.

Robin:             

Thank you, Steve.

 

Ep 8 – Small Talk and Big Ideas

P100-twitter-20191210.png

When we go on about pizza and the weather, you might think it’s going to be a quiet episode of the P100 Podcast, but our guests this week have anything but small talk to offer.

• Nick Bogacz, founder of the award-winning Caliente Pizza & Draft House, has put Pittsburgh pizza on the global map, and he shares his story with us.

• Tom Baker, an Allegheny councilman whose work with nonprofits in the region is an inspiration, talks about setting goals.

• We examine whether the winter weather forecast’s a foregone conclusion.

• We’ve got a preview of The Pittsburgh 100’s exciting gift issue.

 

This episode is sponsored by WordWritePR:

Centuries before cellphones and social media, human connections were made around fires, as we shared the stories that shaped our world. Today, stories are still the most powerful way to move hearts, minds and inspire action.

At WordWrite, Pittsburgh’s largest independent public relations agency, we understand that before you had a brand before you sold any product or service, you had a story.

WordWrite helps clients to uncover their own Capital S Story – the reason someone would want to buy, work, invest or partner with you through our patented StoryCrafting process. Visit wordwritepr.com to uncover your Capital S story.

Transcript:

 

Logan:             

You're listening to the P100 Podcast, the biweekly companion piece to The Pittsburgh 100. Bringing you Pittsburgh news, culture, and more, because sometimes 100 words just isn't enough for a great story.

Dan:                

Hey everybody welcome back to the P100 Podcast. I am your host, Dan Stefano. I'm here with Paul Furiga.

Paul:                

Hey there, Dan.

Dan:                

And Logan Armstrong.

Logan:             

Let’s get it started Dan.

Dan:                

Let’s get it started. Okay, well we got a fun episode for everybody today. For starters, we're going to talk a little bit about a special gift giveaway…

Paul:                

Yes.

Dan:                

... that we're going to be providing through…

Paul:                

Stay tuned for the special four letter word I have for you.

Dan:                

...through the P100 Podcast, and The Pittsburgh 100. Something special we're doing for the holidays here and we're really excited about. Following up after that we're going to be talking with Nick Bogacz of Caliente Pizza & Draft House, who is far more than just a pizza business owner, but they are definitely successful at that. So we'll be interested to learn more about the pizza business.

Paul:                

Yes. He wrote the book on that.

Dan:                

Absolutely, he did actually.

Logan:             

Literally.

Dan:                

Yeah, quite literally. Following that we're going to be talking with Tom Baker, who's an Allegheny County Councilman, but he does a lot more in the community.

Paul:                

So much more.

Dan:                

And we're going to be talking about goal setting, which is popular this time of year. A lot of people are thinking of new year's resolutions, but he goes a lot deeper into it. He's really got a lot of great insight into leadership.

Paul:                

Leadership, yeah.

Dan:                

And after that we're just going to chat about the weather.

Paul:                

I mean, because why not? We always chat about the weather.

Logan:             

We are in Pittsburgh.

Paul:                

We're in Pittsburgh.

Dan:                

Yeah and we're going to talk about the weather and that, but. We go a little bit deeper into that, and then somehow it devolves into a conversation about baseball. But yeah, everybody…

Paul:                

Stay with us, it makes sense.

Dan:                

Yeah. As Logan would say, buckle in, let's get it started, and thanks for being with us.

Paul:                

All right, listen up podcast fans. I have a four letter word for you.

Dan:                

Be careful.

Paul:                

It starts with F, but it ends with E. The word is, free.

Dan:             

Okay.

Logan:             

Now you're speaking my language.

Paul:                

There you go.

Dan:                

My language is the other four letter word, but we'll, yeah.

Paul:                

We're not going to have that. That's been edited out, Dan. So Pittsburgh 100 fans, P100 Podcast fans, we are giving away, thanks to our very generous sponsors, a wide array of fantastic gifts. All you have to do, we're all about 100 here, tell us in 100 words or so ... we got Dan here, Dan's a great editor, he'll make sure every one of our Pittsburgh 100 stories is exactly 100 words, we're not going to hold you to that. But what we want to know from you is, why is Pittsburgh such a great place and why should people want to come visit Pittsburgh? We'll explain this in our next issue. You send an email with your 100 or so words of why you love Pittsburgh to [email protected] Correct, Dan?

Dan:                

That's correct.

Paul:                

We've got some great prizes. Dan, tell us about those prizes.

Dan:                

Yeah, it's a great list here. Lots of, pretty varied, I'd say. Runs the gamut from gift cards and some actual real tangible gifts. But really popular, well-known institutions around the area like Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, passes to Kennywood, gift certificates to restaurants, like Caliente Pizza, which we'll talk about them a little bit more in this episode.

Paul:                

That's right. More in this episode.

Dan:                

Restaurants at the Waterfront, tickets to Arcade Comedy, tickets to River City Brass, which that's a little bit of a shameless plug because our man Paul here has something to do with that, right?

Paul:                

I'm on the board and I am actually a recovering tuba player.

Dan:                

Wait, okay. Not recovering. Come on. Yeah.

Paul:                

Well, I get it out every now and then but it..

Dan:                

Retired.

Paul:                

... it does scare the cat and the dog at home, so.

Dan:                

One of these days I'm going to hear you on the tuba. It's going to be great.

Paul:                

Yes. We'll put that on the podcast.

Dan:                

But also our top gift will be a stay at a Pittsburgh hotel and that's from our friends at VisitPittsburgh.

Paul:                

Unbelievable that folks, if nothing else, enjoy the opportunity for a great meal and a stay in this wonderful place we call home.

Logan:             

Yeah, and we'll have all the details and more, as Paul said, in our upcoming issue of The Pittsburgh 100. Tell you how to enter, some of the prizes we’re giving away, and what you need to do to find yourself with a few extra gifts this holiday season.

Dan:                

Right yeah. The contest will be running through December 19th. After that our panel of judges will take a look and that will..

Paul:                

Our esteemed panel of judges.

Dan:                

Esteemed, right. I don't think I've ever been called esteemed before, but.

Paul:                

You could be called many things.

Dan:                

And again, you will send your award entry, your little story or 100 word story to [email protected] So again, we'll tell you more about it in our next issue on December 12th, but we're excited about it. Start thinking folks, start writing.

Logan:             

Hi everybody. We're back with a special guest on this segment of the podcast. You may know him from winning Best Pizza in America this year at The World Pizza championships in Parma, Italy, Nick Bogacz, owner of Caliente Pizza & Draft House here in Pittsburgh. How you doing Nick?

Nick:                

Great. Thanks for having me today.

Logan:             

Yeah, sure thing. Thanks for being here. So for those unfamiliar with Caliente, you have five locations in the greater Pittsburgh region.

Nick:                

Yup.

Logan:             

How long ago did that start and can you give us a brief background of how that got started and what you're doing now with Caliente?

Nick:                

Sure. So September 2012, I took the plunge and opened up my own business. I always wanted to have my own pizzeria. I worked in the business for about 16 years before then and we opened up in Bloomfield. Over the last almost, I guess seven years, we've opened up five locations.

Logan:             

So five locations over the past seven years. That's a pretty spectacular growth rate. What are some of the things that you did that you thought were unique to Caliente's building a brand that you utilized to grow that fast?

Nick:                

I think a lot of it was we weren't locked into anything in particular. We pivoted a lot while we were branding, and marketing, and opening up Caliente. A lot of times I think entrepreneurs have a set way of how they want to do things and they think, "This is how it has to be done." But then once you're in the grind of it every day, there are certain things you're like, "Hey, wait a second, I want to be this pizzeria and get known for my pizza." But the reality is we're a bar and craft beer is such a big, big presence here in western Pennsylvania, especially at that time seven years ago, that we latched on to craft beer and became one of the top destinations for craft beer in Pittsburgh. So we let that kind of be our brand for probably the first three or four years. Then when we started winning competitions, we got to be known for our pizza, so our brand kind of switched to being really known for the pizza. Now in the last year or so, we've been trying to really blend those both together to get known for both.

Logan:             

Mh-hmm, right. Yeah, well, you're still doing a lot of great things with craft beer. Just a recently released collaboration with Hoppin' Frog Brewery, out of Ohio, came out just a few weeks ago. Is that correct?

Nick:                

Yeah, that's correct. That was probably our 11th collaboration we've done over the last seven years. We're really working behind the scenes to have our own brewery as well. That's on the horizon for 2020. So I think there's a lot of different things that we're trying to do with the beer still, we never forget that that's what helped build the brand in the beginning. I think we're just happy that the pizza's been doing so well too. From the very beginning, people would come in, they'd get the craft beer, and then they'd eat the pizza, say, "Boy, I thought it was going to be bar food, but this pizza's fantastic." Now it's not just Pittsburgh's secret, we're internationally known as well.

Dan:                

Yeah talking about international, you guys obviously went out and done a lot of great stuff at The World Pizza Championships. What has been happening lately then in terms of the international travels of the Caliente crew there?

Nick:                

Sure. So we just got back about four days ago from London and there was an international competition over there. It was a great learning experience. A lot of times we go to these different competitions you're using ovens that you never used before, judges that don't speak English. You would think in London they'd have English speaking judges but they were Italian judges. So you know a great learning experience over there. We traveled with The World Pizza team, which is about 35 representatives from across the country. So guys that have been in the business a long time or guys who have a lot of different kind of locations. They may have slice shops or they may have shops in the stadiums across the country, you pick up different people's expertise when you're traveling with that team. I just think we've really done a good job of representing Pittsburgh, especially when we were back in Parma, in Italy, back in April. I thought we did a great job over there, come back with Best Pizza in America. So I think it's just been, the international part, it's been a lot of travel this year. Before this, I had never left the country, so three times in one year. I'm definitely getting the frequent flyer miles in.

Dan:                

Fantastic.

Logan:             

Yeah, you're not doing bad. You've had a lot of success outside of the World Pizza Championships as well. But back to growing Caliente. I know you talk a lot about building a team and kind of some unique things that you've done as the leader and owner of Caliente that you believe have really propelled your business and brand further than others. Whether it's with how you treat your employees or how you're running operations, and you're talking about a lot of these things in your new podcast, The Business Equation.

Nick:                

Yes. I wrote a book called The Pizza Equation. It's on Amazon, it released in February. After I released it, I had a very successful book tour out in Las Vegas signing books and I've got another signing coming up here in about two weeks in Chicago. So that went really well and I said, "You know what, if I'm selling the pizza book in my industry, what if I took my small business tips and started to share them with the world?" That's why I wanted to go ahead and start The Business Equation Podcast.

Nick:                

Each week is a different tip or tactic. It's a 15 to 25 minute podcast that's just me talking about, "Hey, this is how we handle staffing and our issue," or, "This is how we handle staffing in our store, in our company." They're not quite pizza specific. We talk a lot about different topics. Another one that we talked about was cashflow. I think it's important for a small business. A lot of times you don't understand how cashflow works. It's just a big term or maybe there's a college book that you read about it. But in the real world there's a lot of different tactics you can use for cashflow. I get into that real in depth. I think what The Business Equation Podcast has done is, it's that real world I'm out there living it. It's not what you learn in college, it's not what's in a book. It's a lot of, "Hey, this is what I tried and it worked."

Dan:                

That sounds like some pretty awesome stuff there on The Business Equation Podcast then. So we definitely recommend anybody who's a budding business owner listening here today to subscribe to that and listen. We'd also recommend that they get out to the Caliente shops, especially for this time of year because it's the holidays and you guys have some fun stuff going on, right?

Nick:                

Yeah. This is our second annual food drive. Last year, I don't know quite how many pounds of food we collected, but we had a full suburban full of canned goods. So from now till Christmas we have where you can bring in three canned goods, give them to any Caliente employee and they'll give you a free cheesy bread for your next order, and it all goes to the Pittsburgh public food bank.

Logan:             

That's excellent. Speaking of contributing things to the community, you also have been generous enough to contribute a $50 gift card to any of your Caliente locations for our gift issue this year. We're giving away gifts, thanks to our generous friends and sponsors.

Dan:                

Yeah. As we talked about in the opening segment here, basically all people have to do is send an email to [email protected] telling us about why Pittsburgh, why you love it so much or why it's home for the holidays in 100 words or less. You can get that Caliente gift card that will be one of the gifts that you could possibly get out of that. Nick, we appreciate you playing a part in our gift giving issue here.

Nick:                

Yeah, absolutely. Happy to do it.

Logan:             

Yeah. So Nick, to finish up your work, can everybody find Caliente on socials and where can they learn more about The Business Equation Podcast?

Nick:                

Sure. So The Business Equation Podcast is on all forms, Spotify, Apple, Google Play. Then nickbogaczofficial on Instagram, and then pizzadrafthouse.com, and then calienteandpizzadrafthouse on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. And then like I said, The Pizza Equation is available on Amazon.

Logan:             

Great. And Nick Bogacz here, owner of Caliente Pizza and Draft House. Nick, we appreciate you being here with us.

Nick:                

Thanks for having me.

Dan:                

Thanks man.

Logan:             

Centuries before cell phones and social media, human connections were made around fires as we shared the stories that shaped our world. Today stories are still the most powerful way to move hearts and minds, and inspire action. At WordWrite, Pittsburgh's largest independent public relations agency, we understand that before you had a brand, before you sold any product or service, you had a story. WordWrite helps clients to uncover their own capital S story, the reason someone would want to buy, work, invest, or partner with you through our patented storycrafting process. Visit wordwritepr.com to uncover your capital S story.

Dan:                

Hey everybody out next guest is Tom Baker. He's an Allegheny County Councilman for District 1, which covers a lot of the western and northern suburbs. But Tom, you're involved in a whole lot more. Lots of nonprofits in the region working with young leaders in the area, and in particular, one of the reasons we want to talk with you today is you're the founder and chief program officer of Get Involved!. That's a nonprofit that educates and empowers young leaders. Tom, thanks for joining us.

Tom:               

Yeah, thanks Dan, thanks Paul. Thanks for having me here. I'm glad to be here with you.

Paul:                

It's great to have you here. Dan, a lesson to be learned, elected officials are people too. They have interests outside of the county council room, right?

Tom:               

We do. Many interests, absolutely. That is true.

Dan:                

This is all new to me. Wow, it's remarkable. I thought they just had letters next to their name and they sat around on boards on all the time. Okay that's…

Paul:                

No.

Dan:                

No, Tom, yeah we do appreciate you being here. Can you tell us a little bit more about Get Involved!?

Tom:               

Sure. So Get Involved!, actually it started as a book in 2008. “Get Involved! Making the Most of Your 20s and 30s” came out and it was a really fun experience. Got the tour of the state, got the tour of the country a little bit talking on college campuses. Your colleague here, Robin Rectenwald, actually worked with us in the early days on getting the word out about Get Involved!. In the end we found that really the mission of the book was a much better fit as a nonprofit organization. We gave it a 501(c)(3) back in 2011.

Tom:               

We've been running the Pittsburgh Service Summit now for 10 years. We just had that event in September, September 12. It was great. We've had a few hundred people at the event every year. It's all about bringing people together. Our hope as Get Involved! is for people to say that they aren't bored in Pittsburgh, but they're on a board of directors in Pittsburgh. That can be a board of directors of a nonprofit that they care about, a young professional board, whatever it is, we want people to get off of their couches and into the community helping other people.

Dan:                

Right. You touched on it, there's a lot of regular events that you guys hold. There's one upcoming really soon, and that's the annual Goal Setting Event that you do. Everybody thinks about this time of year - new year's resolutions. But on January 6th you got a pretty cool one, can you tell us a little bit more about?

Tom:               

Yeah. I will say a few years back I did it for two years on January 1st itself. That was a little aggressive. People were like, "I like your momentum with the goal setting, but let's have it maybe not on New Year's day."

Dan:                

There you go.

Tom:               

So we're doing it on January 6.

Paul:                

They might have been out the night before.

Tom:               

They might’ve been.

Dan:                

The goal setting is get over this hangover. Yeah.

Paul:                

That's right.

Tom:               

So January 6th. A little bit they'll gotten back to work at that point. So the goal really is for people to come that night, and when they come every year, to think about their careers, to think about their civic lives. We talked a little bit about fitness as well and things that they might be doing outside of work and outside of their civic lives. We'll talk about family and making sure that they have good friendships too. We'll have different tables set up again this year with different pockets of their lives and they'll set goals at each little table to figure out what they want to do in 2020. So that night they will leave with hopefully a good sheet of goals in these different parts of their lives and also at least a few dozen accountability partners, people that can keep them accountable to these goals. It's fine to say you want to do things or achieve things, but unless you actually share it with somebody that cares about you it doesn't matter. So we're making sure that they share it with other people in that room that night and that we then become accountability partners for each other through the rest of 2020 together.

Paul:                

Wow. So how has that worked in the past few years that you've been doing this? What sort of results are you seeing?

Tom:               

We see a lot more people getting onto either young professional boards or boards of directors. Being in my professional and civic life with Big Brothers, Big Sisters, we've seen a lot of people step up to become Bigs through the Get Involved! community, which we're very appreciative of. My Littles are now getting pretty old. They're 28, 21, 17, and 14. I don't want to get married again, I've been married happily for 15 years, but if I did, all four of them would be in the wedding. They're all four of the best friends of my life. So it's been an incredible experience through Big Brothers, Big Sisters. Actually my 28 year old Little, that got matched with when he was 10, he is the godfather to our toddler, Lila June. Preston is still one of my best friends. This year he flew back from San Francisco to be the MC of my 40th birthday roast actually, which is really fun. So the friendships that have been…

Paul:                

He had a lot of ammunition there, didn't he Tom?

Tom:               

He did. He has like 18 years’ worth of things to share about me. But it's been wonderful. So if it is serving in an organization like Big Brothers, Big Sisters or some of the other ones that we've been involved with over the years, certainly the goal really is to find their passion. We always say within Get Involved!, if you hit the lottery and you can do whatever you want for the rest of your life to do good, to help other people, something that inspires you, motivates you, just find a way to volunteer and help others.

Tom:               

So I'll just say at the last Power Hour that we had ... so this Goal Setting Party is also known as Power Hour number 72. I will say each Power Hour has fun connotations, but it really is a leadership series, it is a leadership panel, where we bring in different guest speakers. So the goal of each Power Hour really is for people to learn from a couple of different community leaders, get to know each other, and then work together in some fashion. So we've had good success over the years with people getting jobs through the Get Involved! Network, with getting put onto boards, getting appointed to different leadership roles. It's been really wonderful.

Paul:                

Do you think Tom, the timing of the book and the growth of the organization, there's, let’s just say, well it's open to, to everyone, you are really targeting a particular demographic, which is say people of your age group, millennials. Do you see any trends with regard to leadership that are generational?

Tom:               

It's interesting. Starting, we talked about county council, it will be a much younger council come January. I've been the youngest one for the last six years, but there will be one person exactly my age and then two younger. So we are seeing more young people running for office. Even where my wife and I live, all of our elected officials, the two state reps and the Senator where we live, are all younger than me, younger than 40. So we do see more people running for office. But just in general to the school district where we live, when I was on I was the youngest by I think 20 or 30 years. Now there's five people that are all within the same age range in their '30s and even '20s. So you do see more young people running for office.

Tom:               

But in nonprofit boards, I mean nonprofit boards want young people to get involved. That's the fast track leadership program that we do within Get Involved!. That Robin Rectenwald, your colleague and your staff member, Paul, she was actually one of the first graduates of that program years ago. The program, it's always been geared towards just making sure that young people know that nonprofits, community organizations want them. They desperately want them to get involved in their work. I think sometimes a 25-year-old thinks, "I could never be on a nonprofit board. I can't write a $5,000 check or a $1,000 check." But there's so many skill sets, and strategies, and things you can bring to the table that nonprofits desperately want and need for their organizations.

Dan:                

That's fantastic. For a lack of a better way to say this, how does one get involved in Get Involved!?

Tom:               

How do you get involved in Get Involved!? Yes. So we have an active Facebook page. Our website is just getinvolvedinc.org. We do have the event coming up on January 6th. In the course of any given year we'll have another cohort of fast track community leaders next year. In 2020 we'll have four to six Power Hours as well. So by the end of 2020 we'll be up to almost 80 Power Hours that we've done as an organization. Then next year we'll have our 11th annual Pittsburgh Service Summit. So that's a great way to come together and really get to know people here in the community. I will say, anyone that would want to collaborate on events, we love working with other community organizations. We're happy to collaborate and partner with other community groups to do good and to get each other involved in the city.

Dan:                

Right.

Paul:                

That's great. And once again, that website is getinvolvedinc.org.

Tom:               

.org. You got it, yup, yup.

Paul:                

Okay, great.

Dan:                

Right, yeah. Tom, thanks so much for being here, we really appreciate it. Hey everybody, get involved.

Tom:               

Get involved in Get Involved!, yeah.

Dan:                

All right everybody for the last segment today we're going to chat about the weather.

Paul:                

Wither the weather Dan.

Dan:                

Wither the weather. Wow, you've such a way with words.

Paul:                

I'm telling you man. I've withered outside in the weather.

Dan:                

Right, yeah. This is the subject that everybody talks about. You know, you're alone in an elevator with somebody, you got nothing to talk about, you chat about the weather. "Oh, it's a nice day," whatever, but.

Paul:                

That's right.

Dan:                

No, right now we're finally starting to see snowflakes. It's getting cold enough, particularly in the Pittsburgh Metro region we're seeing them. If you're out west or up north you probably…

Paul:                

Out east. East Highlands.

Dan:                

All right, Westmoreland County should not be called Westmoreland County because I always want to call it west.

Paul:                

That's true.

Dan:                

That drives me nuts, but yeah. okay. If you say you're out in Westmoreland, or up north where it's just colder, or you got more hills, you've probably seen a lot more snow so far this year, but.

Paul:                

A little.

Dan:                

I finally had to actually wipe some snow off my windshield over in Mount Lebanon about a week ago and that was something, but. So I got a little curious about the weather. I said, "Okay, what kind of a snowy year are we going to have?" Apparently the Farmer's Almanac, that font of wisdom, said that it's going to be a frigid freezing snowy winter. So I got a little deeper into it and I took a look at the long range weather forecast. So you could check into January, 2020, which obviously isn't that long from now. But they're predicting rain to snow from January 11th to the 14th, it's going to be cold, more snow the week after that, more snow toward the end of January. I've always found this pretty amazing that they can predict this stuff and they claim that it's pretty accurate, it's like 80% accuracy, until I took a deeper dive here. I checked out a little more into, yes. It turns out a study from the University of Illinois, the great meteorologists over there, they say that the Farmer's Almanac's only, say, 50% accurate. The secret formula that these Farmer's Almanacs, which there's a couple of competing ones. I guess there's the Farmer's Almanac…

Logan:             

…competitive landscape, I didn't know that.

Dan:                

... In the old Farmer's Almanac, the old one, yes.

Paul:                

The old Farmer's alm?

Dan:                

Right, yeah.

Paul:                

Is it an old farmer or an old almanac?

Dan:                

I don't. What was it, plural farmers, apostrophe…

Logan:             

Or both.

Dan:                

Farmers apostrophe or is it just one farmer apostrophe S. I guess we have to learn about that. But I always just find this stuff kind of fun and neat to talk about. Regardless, we've got some snow coming up this winter.

Paul:                

Yeah, but apparently there's fake news even in the weather, huh Dan?

Dan:                

Accurate, accurate, yeah.

Logan:             

So it sounds like the Farmer's Almanac is a 50% and they're just flipping a coin and going, "Eh, eh snow."

Dan:                

They call it 80% after that, it's great.

Paul:                

This reminds me of The Wall Street Journal article several years ago where they get all these esteemed prognosticators together about how the stock market will do.

Dan:                

Okay.

Paul:                

And then they gave a monkey darts to throw at a board and the monkey did better in picking stocks apparently than some of the prognosticators. It's the whole field of weather. In Pittsburgh we have some great weather forecasters, personalities, right?

Dan:               

 Absolutely, yeah.

Paul:                

But think of this, what other business could you be in and be wrong 50% of the time and people love you?

Dan:                

You've seen my pitching…

Logan:             

Marketing.

Paul:                

Marketing, not at our firm Logan.

Dan:                

You've seen me pitching to clients, they're pitching to clients stories and stuff. Sometimes you're batting below 500 on that one, but.

Paul:                

Speaking of batting, I mean if we want to be honest about this and maybe something like the Farmer's Almanac is more entertainment than anything else. But when you talk about a very difficult line of work, think about somebody like Ted Williams, the long deceased, but best hitter ever in the history of baseball.

Logan:             

Sure.

Paul:                

I mean the guy had a .400 average. What that means is out of every 10 times he went to the plate, he made an out six times.

Paul:                

So to put things in perspective.

Dan:                

I'd maybe put Pete Rose on that pedestal, but he's not in the Hall of Fame so I guess you can't say anything about it.

Paul:                

I was actually there the night that he broke Ty Cobb's record. But that's another story.

Dan:            

Really? That's impressive. But somehow we got into baseball from a weather conversation here.

Paul:                

What we're talking about is, what the difference is, I mean, I can watch Ted Williams while, I can't watch him, but I can watch a hitter and they're either going to make an out or they're going to get a hit. But what I want to know whether I need to go outside in that and I need to know what to wear, I want a little bit more predictability. Don't I?

Dan:               

Sure. Yeah, well, I would say try to stick with the experts then and maybe you only pay attention, say, a few days in advance because even a seven-day forecast can change pretty quickly.

Paul:                

Yeah, I'm with that.

Logan:             

And we are well beyond 100 words today. Thank you for listening to the P100 Podcast. This has been Dan Stefano, Logan Armstrong, and Paul Furiga. If you haven't yet, please subscribe at p100podcast.com, or wherever you listen to podcasts, and follow us on Twitter @pittsburgh100_ for all the latest news, updates, and more from The Pittsburgh 100.

 

Ep. 7 - Lighting Up the Night and Trotting with Turkeys

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We’re past the “I can’t believe holiday decorations are already up” portion of the season. It’s time to celebrate the holidays, and Pittsburgh has two big events coming up that we’ll discuss in this week’s episode.

For starters, we talk with some representatives from the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership about Comcast Light Up Night on Nov. 22. Then we bring in the race director of the YMCA of Greater Pittsburgh’s Turkey Trot.

After that, Paul and Dan take a deep dive into a potential change to the U.S. immigration system, and we close out with a special guest for our Pittsburgh Polyphony series.

 

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Ep. 6 - On Sinkholes and Sopranos

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This week on the P100 Podcast, of course, we had to address the sinkhole that shook Pittsburgh (and fueled a day’s worth of memes). We dig deep to learn how sinkholes form and consider ourselves grateful to be above ground (it was only a few blocks away from us). Elsewhere in the episode:

  • Alexandra Loutsion, a soprano singing the lead role in Pittsburgh Opera’s “Florencia en el Amazonas,” stops by.
  • Priya Amin of Flexable discusses her childcare solution for working parents and gives a preview of an upcoming webinar.
  • A Veterans Day tribute to those who served.

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Ep. 5 - Learning How to Heal a Year After Tragedy

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As Pittsburgh prepares to mark one year since the attack on the Tree of Life synagogue, we invited Maggie Feinstein of the 10.27 Healing Partnership to discuss the new center’s mission and how Squirrel Hill has healed over time.

Also in this episode, we talk about fear-based marketing, future modes of journalism with a guest who has a special connection to the podcast, and hear a track from a promising singer from Sewickley.

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Ep. 4 - The Science of Fear, Mummies in Pittsburgh, Hockey Season and Crazy PA Town Names

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In this episode of the P100 Podcast, our hosts Paul, Dan and Logan welcome Nicole Chynoweth from the Carnegie Science Center to discuss the center’s new exhibit on mummies. From there we move on to the science of fear, and then on to hockey with their guest, Jeremy Church. This episode wraps up with a review of some unique Pennsylvania town names. We bet you have your favorites.

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Ep. 3 - Port Authority, Getaways, Pittsburgh in Film and Flower Crown

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Welcome to another episode of the P100 Podcast. Today we cover our own Port Authority. Robin Rectenwald shares with us some local getaways inside tips. Director, Dawn Keezer from the Pittsburgh Film Office talks about on location in Pittsburgh. This episode winds up with Pittsburgh Polyphony spotlight - Flower Crown.

This Episode is sponsored by WordWrite

Centuries before cell phones and social media, human connections were made around fires as we shared the stories that shaped our world. Today, stories are still the most powerful way to move hearts and minds and inspire action. At WordWrite, Pittsburgh's largest independent public relations agency, we understand that before you had a brand, before you sold any product or service, you had a story.

WordWrite helps clients to uncover their own Capital S Story. The reason someone would want to buy, work, invest or partner with you through our patented story-crafting process. Visit wordwritepr.com to uncover your Capital S Story.

Here is the full transcript from this episode:

Logan:
You're listening to the P100 Podcast, the biweekly companion piece to the Pittsburgh 100, bringing you Pittsburgh news, culture, and more. Because sometimes 100 words just aren't enough for a great story.

Dan:
All right. Welcome back to another episode of The P100 Podcast. I'm Dan Stefano. I'm here with Logan Armstrong.

Logan:
Good to see you again, Dan.

Dan:
And Paul Furiga, who'll be joining us just momentarily.

Dan:
Today's episode, we've got four segments for you. First, we're going to be discussing public transportation in both Pittsburgh and other American cities. We're going to talk with Dawn Keezer of the Pittsburgh Film Office, which will be a lot of fun. It was a really good chat with her. We're going to discuss quick getaways you can take outside of Pittsburgh. Sometimes you got to get away, and we'll be talking with Robin Rectenwald of WordWrite for that one, and then we'll finish it up with talking about a good local Pittsburgh band for our Pittsburgh polyphony series. Excited to hear that, so let's get to it.

PORT AUTHORITY

Paul:
All right guys. Let's talk planes, trains, and autonomous automobiles. A little shout out there to the old John Candy movie.

Dan:
That's a classic movie.

Paul:
It is a classic movie.

Dan:
Steve Martin too, right?

Paul:
Steve Martin, that's right. Yes indeed.

Logan:
Much before my time.

Paul:
Oh, you got to see that movie.

Dan:
Logan, you weren't even alive.

Paul:
You weren't alive, but you can stream it.

Dan:
Is it John Hughes?

Paul:
Yes. I think it's a John Hughes film actually, one of the-

Dan:
Okay. See, I know my movie stuff.

Paul:
... few he did in that era when it wasn't all about teen angst. But speaking of teen angst and public transportation, it seems like a perennial topic in the news in Pittsburgh, is how to get from point A to point B. And I just don't mean the topography. For instance, if you drew my street on a map, it would look like a lasso, you know the old cowboy thing?

Dan:
Sure.

Paul:
You can get onto Courtney Place, the street I live on, and turn left on Courtney Place and go around a circle and turn left, and you're still on Courtney Place. That's another issue. What we're talking about today is, maybe because of things like that, how difficult it is to get from point A to point B. And the importance of public transportation.

Paul:
And so, recently Dan, Logan, we were looking at the news about the Port Authority starting or considering some 24-hour transit routes. And Logan, I know you're an Oakland denizen, some of those routes would head out that way, that we'd start with you. Thoughts?

Logan:
Yeah, I'd be a big fan of that. I know that they're only considering really the heavier routes, which obviously make sense. You don't want to have empty buses going all night, but I think that would be really helpful.

Logan:
I know there have been a few times where, whether I'm in Oakland or elsewhere past midnight or so, I mean, it gets pretty scarce trying to get to point A to point B, and there are Uber and Lyft, but Pitt students have Pitt IDs and they get free Port Authority rides, and so, I mean, you're going to expect college students to be out pretty late, so I think they should be able to take advantage of that. So I think it's a great idea.

Dan:
Well, it's not only for the college students too. I believe one of the aims behind the Port Authority trying this is to help people who might work late shift. Those late shift workers who, maybe they're not done until 2:00 or 3:00, and they're working at least on some areas near these routes and it really helps them, and I think they're important to have for modern city living.

Paul:
You know, one of the challenges that we've had in the last several years is funding for public transportation. I think that still is a huge issue. Now we have competition for public transportation.

Paul:
Logan, you mentioned ride sharing, Lyft or Uber. And of course Pittsburgh is a hotbed for autonomous vehicle development, and it made a bit of news a few weeks ago when the CEO of one of the companies here in Pittsburgh that are testing autonomous vehicles, Argo AI, wrote a medium blog post in which he said that that company will never build autonomous vehicles for personal use.

Paul:
And I think a lot of people were figuring that, again, remember my street, it goes in a circle, that Uber and all of them were here because they were ... If you can figure out how to drive in Pittsburgh in an autonomous vehicle, you could drive anywhere in an autonomous vehicle.

Paul:
I don't know. Dan, what do you think? Autonomous vehicles in your garage? Yes? No?

Dan:
I don't know. Maybe a personal vehicle…that'd be a difficult buy-in. I think it's one of those things where just in my life I've always had a car that I drive myself. I mean, obviously if, say in the future there are babies that are born that only know autonomous vehicles and might be used to it for them.

Dan:
But I can say that I have been in an autonomous car. And I've had the AI driving me around. I took an Uber once that was an AI car, and obviously there were two people in the front seats, one behind the wheel who just had, was a little bit hands-off, and then another with the computer taking in all the data. It was a really cool experience.

Dan:
But one part that, at one moment we were driving through, I believe it was Bloomfield or somewhere along Baum Boulevard, and we came to one of those classic Pittsburgh 19-streets-meet-at-once intersections. And there was somebody coming in the opposing lane who had made a sharp cut in front of us. And the car made a really sudden stop. And so, I was talking with the operators about it and they said one of the problems that, problems or issues or minor things is, these AI, they still have to take into account other people's decisions. And that's really where I think that that's where the work has got to be done yet, in autonomous vehicles here.

Dan:
And so, it's going to be tough if not every car out there is going to be driven by another robot, you know?

Paul:
Well, and you know, Dan, we were talking about this earlier, and if you think about it, if every new vehicle after some date and time were autonomous, you would still have, what did you say? 200 million?

Dan:
I couldn't tell you how many-

Paul:
Millions.

Dan:
... cars are out there, but probably hundreds of millions of cars.

Paul:
Non-autonomous vehicles.

Dan:
Right. Precisely. So it's going to take a while before this stuff is at its scale and it's the only thing available.

Logan:
Yeah. You can map streets all you want, but you can't really map human decision making.

Paul:
Well, one thing we know for sure, the topic of getting from A to B here in Pittsburgh is not going to go away anytime soon. So on some distant future podcast, look for us to update our musings on getting from here to there.

Dan:
You're going to keep complaining about that lasso, aren't you?

Paul:
I am.

GETAWAYS

Dan:
All right. For this next segment, we have Robin Rectenwald. And she's an account supervisor here at WordWrite.

Dan:
Robin, thanks for being here.

Robin:
Thanks for having me.

Dan:
Absolutely. We wanted to bring you in because a couple of stories recently that we had in the 100 discussed some short getaways that you can take from Pittsburgh here. And there were both some really interesting luxury type locations, and Robin, one of those places that you went to was Bedford Springs Resort in Bedford, PA. And you talked about just being your first solo trip, but also just seemed like a really cool, unique place that was a quick little drive away.

Robin:
Yeah. My best friend had actually told me about the Omni Bedford Springs Resort. She needed some time away, she was going through a really stressful time in her life. And so, years later I finally was able to take the trip for myself. It was on my to-do list for a while.

Dan:
Sure. Well, it seems like it's pretty cool to take one of these trips, and it's really just in your backyard, too. And I think maybe a lot of people don't quite realize all of these ... You don't have to go all the way to the coast. You don't have to go to California or something, Florida, to find a really great vacation. And did you find that?

Robin:
Yeah, that's what I loved about this trip. I actually am someone who doesn't like to drive very far distances by myself. I'm a little bit of a drowsy driver.

Dan:
That's really safe, to be on a Pennsylvania turnpike as a drowsy driver!

Robin:
Yeah. But this one was quick and easy. It was literally on the dot two hours. So yeah, just getting there was super easy. I felt comfortable going by myself.

Dan:
Right. And was it as relaxing as it claimed to be?

Robin:
It was beautiful. I really did feel like I was in paradise. The hotel itself is beautiful, it's historic, so you go in, it's these big staircases, these old elevators, this creaky floors. It was just taking a step back into time into, like the 18 hundreds.

Dan:
It's kind of like The Shining hotel before it became The Shining hotel. Right?

Robin:
Much less creepy.

Dan:
Right, yeah. No Jack Nicholson bursting through your door. That's good to know.

Dan:
Logan, you recently wrote just recently in the 100 here about some pretty cool little cabins through a company called Getaway.

Logan:
Yeah, quite a fitting name. I had seen one of their ads on some social media, and-

Dan:
Social media has ads?

Logan:
I know, right? It's incredible.

Dan:
Wow.

Logan:
But so, they're these cabins, they're just 45 minutes from Pittsburgh. They're in Lisbon Creek, Ohio, tucked right next to a state park out there. And yeah, I mean, they're cabins across these 59 acres of land, and I'm definitely trying to make it out there. I haven't yet, but they look beautiful and they're nice and away from wifi so you can just let yourself go. But so, I had seen one of their ads on social media and I've now been barraged with Getaway ads for the past two weeks on every single social media platform.

Logan:
But yeah, it's 45 minutes, something just quick and easy, you can getaway. It doesn't take too much time off work if any at all. Just go out there for the weekend and just relax.

Dan:
Right? Now those cabins are actually next to Beaver Creek State Park. So very close. And I edited that story, so I have a lot of ads from Getaway right now, too. It's great.

Dan:
I think one thing that is cool to remember here is that we can take these small trips, and it's such a great time of year to get away and be into the country. Do you guys like going out, maybe doing some hiking, going to see some fall leaves? Robin?

Robin:
Yeah, I'm actually going on a train ride with my mom, the end of September. It's in Elks, West Virginia, and they have these four-hour train rides. So yeah, another quick getaway.

Dan:
Right? When I was a kid, I took a, it was all the way up in North Central PA. We took a trip through the --

Robin:
Oh, Kinzua Bridge?

Dan:
Yeah. Which, I don't think that exists anymore. I'm pretty sure it got blown down-

Robin:
No, it's still there. I was just there in May.

Dan:
Oh. I could have sworn it got blown down in a storm. I guess I'm completely wrong.

Robin:
It's partially did, so you can actually go there and see a partial bridge, and you can hike underneath it. It's pretty cool.

Dan:
Oh wow. That's really cool. Yeah, so I remember it being very high, so that's pretty cool.

Logan:
Yeah. I also love going out to Ohiopyle, or Ohiopyle depending on who you ask. But that's great. It's probably a two, two and a half hours. You can go out there and see Fallingwater while you're out there. Yeah. Lots of hiking trails.

Robin:
Kentuck Knob.

Logan:
What's that?

Robin:
Kentuck Knob is another Frank Lloyd Wright's house right nearby Fallingwater.

Logan:
Oh really?

Robin:
Yeah.

Logan:
See, I did not know that. I’ve got to put that on the list.

Dan:
Right. Well, I think the important thing to take away from this is, everybody, we've got some really great fall weather coming up, some really awesome leaves to see and foliage, and everybody should definitely take advantage of these locations that are just a couple hours away.

Logan:
Centuries before cell phones and social media, human connections were made around fires as we shared the stories that shaped our world. Today, stories are still the most powerful way to move hearts and minds and inspire action. At WordWrite, Pittsburgh's largest independent public relations agency, we understand that before you had a brand, before you sold any product or service, you had a story.

Logan:
WordWrite helps clients to uncover their own Capital S Story. The reason someone would want to buy, work, invest or partner with you through our patented story-crafting process. Visit wordwritepr.com to uncover your Capital S Story.

PITTSBURGH IN FILM

Paul:
Well, welcome back everybody. I'm Paul Furiga, I'm publisher of the Pittsburgh 100 and President and Chief Storyteller of WordWrite. And we are pleased today to have with us Dawn Keezer, who on September 24th will celebrate 25 years of running the Pittsburgh Film Office.

Paul:
Logan, that's just hard to believe, isn't it?

Logan:
Yeah, no, it's awesome. I'm glad that we have such a great organization here in Pittsburgh. It does wonders for the city.

Paul:
Dawn, welcome.

Dawn:
Thank you.

Paul:
Tell us a little bit about the film office and what you folks do.

Dawn:
Well, the Pittsburgh Film Office is an economic development agency that focuses on marketing Southwestern Pennsylvania to the film industry. And that includes everything from feature films, television shows that you see on TV, commercials, documentaries, corporate videos. Anything, I used to say, anything rolling any kind of film. Now it's anybody using their iPhone that's doing anything on a professional level. We're helping them make that happen here in Southwestern PA. We represent all 10 counties in the region. Some people don't realize how big a reach the film office has.

Logan:
Tell us a little bit about your day-to-day role in the film office and what you're doing on a day-to-day basis.

Dawn:
Well, we have a huge staff at the film office. There's three of us that work there full time and that includes me. We all do a little bit of everything.

Dawn:
I've been there a really long time, so I'm the go-to both for our relationships with the government officials who really help us make everything happen when we're closing streets and closing bridges and need help getting into places like SCI Pittsburgh, but essentially the film office is a one-stop shop for the film and entertainment industry.

Dawn:
Whether they need permits to close streets, whether they're looking for an office supply company to give them their copier machines, for lumber for to build their sets, to find local crew. Anything that's going to involve their project moving forward, they call the film office and we're the ones that help them make that happen.

Paul:
When Logan and I were talking about this segment, Dawn, we were talking about the history. One of the cool things that people always talk about with Pittsburgh is that so much happens here with film and with TV, but that didn't happen by accident. Tell us how the film office got started and why.

Dawn:
Well, the film office got started, as I was told, I'm the second director, Robert Curran was who actually was here when they started the film office under the Greater Pittsburgh Office Of Promotion. It was all being operated, I'm showing you guys, because I like to use my hands, but it was in the bottom drawer of a person working in Mayor Sophie Masloff's office at the time. He'd pull out a drawer, go, "Okay, what do we do with this one?"

Dawn:
And when Silence of the Lambs decided to film in Pittsburgh, they went, "Wow, we've really got to step this up."

Dawn:
So the Greater Pittsburgh Office Of Promotion created the Pittsburgh Film Office. Russ Streiner, who's our current board chair, actually founded the film office with a few others, and they really started professionalizing the whole approach. By the time I got here it was an established film office, but it was really about making sure the community is protected and the clients, the film companies, are getting what they want done and accomplished.

Dawn:
Pittsburgh looks great, but everyone feels good about it at the end of the day.

Paul:
I think, and Logan, chime in here, but most people in Pittsburgh, and I'm making a generalization here, but I think they're proud to see Pittsburgh in TV and film, but we don't really have an understanding as Pittsburghers of how this all really works.

Paul:
An economic impact of 650 million, you said?

Dawn:
Well, that's how much wanted to be spent here. And it is.

Paul:
Wanted it to be spent.

Dawn:
They wanted to spend here. We're going to be lucky to retain about 200 million of it.

Paul:
Oh my goodness.

Dawn:
And this is money spent throughout the entire economy. The big spend, of course, is on our local crew, which we have some of the most experienced, amazing craftsmen that work in this, craftsmen and women, who work in this industry throughout the region.

Dawn:
Our crew is so good people travel them. They take them elsewhere because if they're not working at home, they leave. And in the old days they were lucky to stay. I say the old days prior to the film tax credits, they were lucky to be here for one film a year, and then they would go work in different states, in different places. They've all been able to stay home now.

Paul:
Well, let's talk about that for a second, because, in Pennsylvania anyway, it seems like certain legislators get upset about the size of the credit. But from what I've seen, our credit's not really that big compared to other states.

Dawn:
Our credit is woefully underfunded and oversubscribed. We needed $127 million dollars to retain all the work that Southwestern Pennsylvania had for this year alone. And we have to share the film tax credit with our friends over in Philly. We're one of the only states that have two production centers, meaning two places where people film.

Dawn:
I equate the tax credit to a 25% off coupon you get at your local store. This is money coming in. We're giving them 25 cents on every dollar they spend after they've spent 60% of their budget in the commonwealth. And they have to prove this. They fill out forms, they're audited. We know where every dime is spent on every single thing they do well before they ever get their tax credit certificate.

Dawn:
We just keep having the conversations and hopefully, we'll get to the point where they go, "Oh, we really do need to increase the film tax credit."

Dawn:
Georgia has a 30% uncapped tax credit. I told you, we had topped 1.5 billion this last year, and that's since 1990. Georgia had six billion dollars’ worth of film work last year.

Paul:
Wow. Now that is just amazing.

Dawn:
And they're looking for other places to go. If you look at the level of content that's being created right now, with the growth in all the streaming channels and everything else, they're all looking for homes. It's Netflix, it's Disney, it's Amazon. All our clients, they've all been here, they're all coming back. They're all, it just ... We have an opportunity here to really grow it, and I'm really hoping we get to capitalize on it this year.

Logan:
Like you said, everything you're saying makes sense. I would think that just pounding the nail and then hopefully it gets through some people's heads and realize that there are two production centers here and that that would bring so much money into our economy that otherwise goes unspent.

Logan:
Through your 25 years though, it sounds like people have wanted to less have Pittsburgh as a double, and actually want their film set in Pittsburgh. Would you say that's correct?

Dawn:
It's really interesting. It's a great question because we've really seen a growth in the number of shows that set it here. And primarily we're getting more people to write Pittsburgh into the scripts. There's more work being created. It saves them money when they set it in Pittsburgh because then they don't have to worry about, "Oh, there went a police car that's got the wrong logo on it, there goes -

Paul:
Re-badging, resigning things, yes.

Dawn:
... everything."

Dawn:
We've seen a huge increase in that, which has been fun and it makes life a lot easier for everybody. And it gives us some great marketing.

Dawn:
Sometimes not so much. Right? Sometimes it's not a storyline that Pittsburgh would want to promote, but again, it's a movie. We're not portraying real life here, or a TV show, whatever it happens to be.

Paul:
That's great. So, as Pittsburghers, what can we do to help the film industry here thrive and grow?

Dawn:
Well, what we're really lucky about, I always tell people there are three main reasons anyone films here. It's the tax credits, it's our crew, it's the diversity of locations.

Dawn:
The fourth unofficial one is the film friendliness of Pittsburgh. We welcome these projects with open arms. We still are excited about it. Yeah, sometimes they block your driveway. Sometimes they're in the way, and we deal with all this usually minor inconveniences that happen throughout the region, but for the most part, we're very supportive. So we'd love for that to continue when people really get to know how friendly our region is.

Dawn:
Our website is pghfilm.org. We're on all of the social media channels, Facebook, Twitter, everywhere else you're supposed to be these days. It's important that you go check in on what's happening, and if you want to be an extra, we put that information up on our website. We really try to keep things up to date and current as possible.

Dawn:
I mentioned we have three full-time employees. I have a full staff of interns, they're amazing, from all the local major universities in the region, and they're charged with getting all that stuff updated, so they've been doing a great job. But it's really just checking in and staying supportive.

Dawn:
And for the legislators that are listening, are you people out there who have friends that are legislators? It's important to remind them that the film tax credit affects the entire region. Not just the people who see the direct impact, but the entire region. We're all benefiting from this economic development generator. And the goal with the tax credits was to not only have an incentive but to build an industry sector. We've done that. Now we need to start building infrastructure and getting purpose-built sound stages and getting some things moving.

Dawn:
Just supporting the film industry as a whole, as a real viable business in the region, it's really the key.

Logan:
Great. Well, thank you so much for being here, Dawn. We really appreciate you being here and giving your info and knowledge and expertise on this. This has definitely given me an expanded view of what the Pittsburgh Film Office does. And so, yeah, just thanks for being here.

Logan:
This is Logan Armstrong and Paul Furiga with the P100 Podcast, and thanks again.

Dawn:
Thank you.

FLOWER CROWN MUSIC

Logan:
Okay, Dan, coming into our next segment, I want to take a couple of minutes to spotlight a local band, Flower Crown, who is on the Crafted Sounds record label, who is a local record label which is run by my friend, Connor Murray. They're doing a lot of great things. But Flower Crown is, I would call them dream-pop, very hazy, very ambient, chill.

Logan:
My first introduction to them was when I heard their song Bender Szn, it landed on Spotify's Fresh Finds Six Strings playlist, which is a pretty prominent playlist in the platform. It got them a lot of good exposure. As an artist, you're always looking to get on playlists like those.

Logan:
But yeah, I know you had a little chance to listen to them. What did you think?

Dan:
Yeah, I think that dream-pop is maybe a good way to describe them. I hadn't heard that term for a genre until you brought it up to me. Until you introduced me to this band here, but I'd agree with it. They'd be nice to just have, put them on for a good mix, a good playlist for a long drive or something like that. And just a nice, kind of soothing, but they do a pretty nice job with their instrumentation. They sound good. So yeah. Excited to hear some more.

Logan:
Yeah. Yeah. It's a five-member band. And what I like about Flower Crown is that while the music is, like you said, it's great for a long road trip. It's very just, you can kind of get into it. They create their own atmosphere. I haven't met them personally, but from what I've seen on social media and in the public, they're pretty likable guys.

Logan:
Their profile picture on Facebook has one of them in a big hot dog suit. One of their single covers has them taking off, the guy's in an alien suit, they're taking off his alien head, almost like a Scooby-Doo character. It's nice to be able to see bands that you're able to relate with and are still making music on that scale.

Dan:
That's awesome. What are we going to hear from them coming up?

Logan:
Yeah. As I mentioned earlier, I think a great introduction to them is Bender Szn, off their latest project called Sundries, which came out in May. It's a great little single to head out into your day. Very chill. Great for a day like this in October. So yeah, I hope you enjoy.

Ep. 2 - Pittsburgh’s Future, 100 Things, Aliens

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For this episode of the P100 Podcast, we have a full house! Joining our regular hosts Logan, Dan and Paul are The Incline Director and author, Rossilynne Culgan who has just published the book 100 Things to do in Pittsburgh Before You Die. WordWriter Hollie Geitner stops by to review a new list of top hated business jargon buzzwords. Let's see how many you use regularly. Stick around to the end, as Dan and Logan discuss . . . aliens.

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Ep. 1 - A taste of Labor Day, RibFest, Steelers, and Pick Patek

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This is our inaugural episode of the P100 Podcast, featuring hosts Paul Furiga, Dan Stefano and Logan Armstrong of WordWrite Communications. Here's a bit about how the show will work.

As with The Pittsburgh 100, the P100 Podcast will be coming to you 25 times a year, the same week the newsletter hits inboxes. What can you expect? Every episode will have a quartet of roughly five-minute segments featuring not just the three guys in the room, but great guests, insightful segments looking at the region’s news, history and culture, and a deeper dive into stories from the newsletter. 

This episode covers the events and history around Labor Day weekend, including Pittsburgh’s ties to the holiday, another fantastic food festival to look forward to and, of course, the start of football season. We wrap it up with a discussion of the region’s surprisingly long musical history, including a look at a local who might have a big future on the scene: Pick Patek, a hip-hop artist with a big following over Spotify. He was also featured in a recent Pittsburgh Polyphony article.

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