McKeesport's Own Mikey Dee on Polka's Enduring Popularity

July 02, 2015 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: Podcast

For folks who attend International Village each year, Mikey Dee needs no introduction. The McKeesport native and McKeesport Area High School graduate serves as master of ceremonies, but since he was a teen-ager, he's also been a working, touring musician, both with his own band and with musicians such as Frankie Yankovic and Harold Betters.

Dee has just recorded what he says is his "20th or 21st" album --- "In Your Dreams" --- an album of polka tunes, including covers and several originals.

We asked him to explain some of the culture of polka music, the reasons for its enduring popularity, and why it still holds such an important role in the lives of people of Eastern European descent in Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Milwaukee and other cities.

You can hear the interview --- and two tracks for Dee's new CD --- on "Two Rivers, 30 Minutes." The show airs at 9:30 a.m. Fridays on WEDO (810), 8 a.m. Sundays on WZUM (1550), and is available as a free podcast from Stitcher and iTunes.

Last week, we broadcast John Hoerr's 2009 speech at McKeesport Heritage Center, when he discussed the life of McKeesport-born playwright Marc Connelly, as well as his own novel about McKeesport, "Monongahela Dusk":

. . .

ADVERTISEMENT: Support for "Two Rivers, 30 Minutes" comes in part from the McKeesport Hospital Foundation. Since 1976, the foundation has addressed key concerns that affect our good health, as well as our education, social needs, recreation, and safety and security. The foundation partners with UPMC McKeesport and other agencies to eliminate barriers to all services for all residents of the Mon Valley. Visit www.mckhospitalfoundation.com, or call (412) 664-2590.

 

YWCA Director Discusses Housing, Social Needs

June 25, 2015 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News, Podcast

Last week on "Two Rivers, 30 Minutes," we talked to Maggie Jensen, chief executive officer of the YWCA of Greater Pittsburgh.

We asked her what are the greatest social service needs in the Mon Valley area? How is the YWCA addressing those needs? And how can people in McKeesport, Homestead, Braddock, Clairton and the surrounding areas connect with health insurance and child care resources?

Tomorrow: In honor of McKeesport native, author and historian John P. Hoerr (above), we'll broadcast his 2009 speech at McKeesport Regional History & Heritage Center, when he discussed the life of McKeesport-born playwright Marc Connelly, as well as his own novel about McKeesport, "Monongahela Dusk."

Hoerr died Sunday at age 84 in Massachusetts, where he had lived for several years.

A graduate of McKeesport High School and Penn State University, Hoerr was a veteran of the U.S. Army who began his long career as a journalist with United Press in 1956. He may be best known for his work as a labor reporter and editor with Business Week magazine.

But his biggest legacy may be his books he wrote about the Mon Valley, especially his 1988 book about the collapse of the American steel industry, "And the Wolf Finally Came."

"Two Rivers, 30 Minutes" airs at 9:30 a.m. Fridays on WEDO (810), 8 a.m. Sundays on WZUM (1550), and as a free podcast from Stitcher Radio and iTunes.

. . .

ADVERTISEMENT: Support for "Two Rivers, 30 Minutes" comes in part from the McKeesport Hospital Foundation. Since 1976, the foundation has addressed key concerns that affect our good health, as well as our education, social needs, recreation, and safety and security. The foundation partners with UPMC McKeesport and other agencies to eliminate barriers to all services for all residents of the Mon Valley. Visit www.mckhospitalfoundation.com, or call (412) 664-2590.

 

At Work and Play in Ohio

June 24, 2015 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: Commentary-Editorial

Opinions expressed at Tube City Almanac are those of individual authors, and not those of Tube City Community Media Inc., its directors or volunteers. Responsible replies are welcome.

Last week, my wife and I took a five-day mini-vacation in Ohio, hitting a bunch of the state's small towns --- places such as Piqua, Troy, Chillicothe, Sidney, New Concord --- and visiting friends.

. . .

In Monroe, Ohio, north of Cincinnati, we spent a few hours at the Traders' World flea market, one of the largest and best-organized flea markets I've ever seen.

There was a lady there doing permanent makeup tattoos. Getting a tattoo at the flea market is bad enough, but would you really want a flea-market-based tattoo artist to work on your face?

. . .

Seriously, folks, I want to tell you ...

We had a good time on the trip, though something I wrote five years ago still holds true today; when you travel around the Northeast, you learn that the entire United States has become a nation of McKeesports.

There are many, many towns of McKeesport's size that have an abandoned factory or two or three, with a boarded-up downtown and decaying residential neighborhoods. The factory may have made steel, auto parts, appliances, electronics, plastics, and it may have closed in the 1980s or in the last five years.

But America's industrial heart has really and truly been ripped out, and it's not an issue of which political party was in charge in each of these towns (much of Ohio is solidly Republican), or an issue of race (many of the counties we visited were 95 to 98 percent white).

The only issue is money; the big corporations that made the industrial products in these towns have shipped the jobs overseas. In most cases, they didn't lower their prices and pass their savings onto the consumers; instead, they took their increased profits and paid their executives and a handful of investors obscene wages or perks.

It is very difficult to see how the controversial trade agreement known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership will possibly improve the situation. The Obama administration claims it will make it easier for American companies to sell their products overseas, but it's not, by and large, overseas companies that are shipping American jobs to China and Korea; it's our own American companies.

 
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What Makes a 'Good Neighbor'?

June 12, 2015 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News, Podcast

What makes a good neighbor? On Thursday, I went to McKeesport's 52nd annual "Good Neighbor Day" festival to interview participants about their groups and organizations, and also ask them to define the phrase "good neighbor."

You'll hear from representatives of the McKeesport Lions Club, the McKeesport Trail Commission, the McKeesport Area High School teen parentlng program, McKeesport Youth C.A.S.T., Mon-Yough Community Services, UPMC McKeesport, FamilyLinks, the Jewish Healthcare Foundation of Pittsburgh, and more.

"Two Rivers, 30 Minutes" airs at 9:30 a.m. Fridays on WEDO (810) and 8 a.m. Sundays on WZUM (1550).

. . .

ADVERTISEMENT: Support for "Two Rivers, 30 Minutes" comes in part from the McKeesport Hospital Foundation. Since 1976, the foundation has addressed key concerns that affect our good health, as well as our education, social needs, recreation, and safety and security. The foundation partners with UPMC McKeesport and other agencies to eliminate barriers to all services for all residents of the Mon Valley. Visit www.mckhospitalfoundation.com, or call (412) 664-2590.

 

Minority HIV Prevention Group Targets Mon Valley

June 10, 2015 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: Announcements

In the 1980s, human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, and acquired immune deficiency syndrome, or AIDS, seemed to be in the news on a daily basis.

HIV and AIDS don't seem to be grabbing many headlines, but that doesn't mean the problem has gone away, says Sabira Bushra, founder and executive director of the Partnership for Minority HIV/AIDS Prevention. In fact, more than 140 new cases are diagnosed in Allegheny County every year.

What has changed, she says, is that being diagnosed HIV positive is no longer the death sentence that it seemed to be 20 years ago. Early detection, and proper health care, can enable people who have contracted HIV to live a life largely free from symptoms.

But in the Mon Valley, Bushra says, it can be difficult to be tested—and there's still a stigma around HIV, especially among people of color, because it's still perceived to be a "gay men's" disease.

In fact, women make up 25 percent of HIV sufferers, and most of them contracted the disease through heterosexual contact.

HIV also continues to disproportionately affect people of color, including African-Americans and Latinos.

The HIV/AIDS partnership will hold an informational event at 1 p.m. Saturday, June 27 at Zion Baptist Church, 1300 Locust St., to explain the importance of testing and try to answer questions. Speakers will include Dr. Sherida Williams, a women's health specialist; and program manager John McClellan.

WPXI-TV (11) reporter Brittney McGraw will be a special guest.

We talked to Bushra last week on "Two Rivers, 30 Minutes." You can hear the program at 9:30 a.m. Fridays on WEDO (810), 8 a.m. Sundays on WZUM (1550), or subscribe and listen on your computer or smartphone using the free Stitcher or iTunes apps.

 

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