Evan Dawson

Connections Host

Evan Dawson joined WXXI in January 2014 after working at 13WHAM-TV, where he served as morning news anchor. He was hired as a reporter for 13WHAM-TV in 2003 before being promoted to anchor in 2007.

Evan is also the author of Summer in a Glass: The Coming Age of Winemaking in the Finger Lakes and is the managing editor/Finger Lakes editor for the New York Cork Report, a web site that offers independent news, reviews, and commentary about the New York wine industry.

He has written freelance articles on topics including politics, wine, travel, and Major League Baseball.

Ways to Connect

Author Lisa Hillman shares her personal story of raising a child with an addiction. The Hillmans are a prominent family in Annapolis, Maryland – Lisa, an accomplished fundraising executive for a leading healthcare system, her husband, a former mayor. Yet in Secret No More, Hillman offers a look behind the curtain. Her son, Jacob, struggled with addiction beginning in high school, and his addiction progressed from alcohol to the marijuana, to OxyContin, and then, to heroin.

In her book, Hillman shares her family’s journey, with the goal of offering hope to other struggling parents. She’s our guest for the hour.

Did you have an opportunity to catch Monday’s solar eclipse? If not, hang in there until 2024 or join us for this hour of post-gaming the event, where we'll share all the highlights. Our panelists discuss their eclipse-hunting experiences and the science behind the event. Our guests:

  • David Meisel, distinguished professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at SUNY Geneseo
  • Brian Koberlein, senior lecturer of physics at RIT
  • Dan Menelly, president and chief science officer for the Rochester Museum and Science Center
  • Carrie Andrews, eclipse hunter


First hour: Post-gaming the eclipse

Second hour: Author Lisa Hillman and her book, Secret No More

We learn about two local organizations that provide recreational activities for people with disabilities: the Challenger Miracle Field and EquiCenter. Our guests share their experiences and the impact these organizations have had on our community. In studio:

  • Ron Kampff, president of Challenger Miracle Field of Greater Rochester, and coach for the Webster Challenger Team and the Rochester BEEP Baseball Team (Rochester Pioneers)
  • Nico Santiago, Challenger player
  • Karen Werth, operations and therapeutic riding instructor for EquiCenter
  • Barbara Stickney, veteran and participant at EquiCenter

This conversation is part of WXXI’s Inclusion Desk, spotlighting issues related to disabilities. The WXXI Inclusion Desk is part of Move to Include, a partnership to encourage thoughtful discussion about issues of inclusion and the differently-abled.

Across the country, communities are grappling with how to handle white supremacists and neo-Nazis in their midst. In Honeoye Falls, a recent HF-L grad was spotted marching with the throngs in Charlottesville. Now there's a community debate about what to do -- protest in front of his home? Distribute signs of warning? Ignore him?

Our panel discusses how we got here, and where to go from here. In studio:

  • Rev. Judith Davis, member of the steering committee for the Movement for Anti-Racist Ministry and Action (MAMA)
  • Pastor Wanda Wilson, member of the MAMA steering committee 
  • Howard Eagle, member of the MAMA steering committee 
  • Rachael Harris, member of MAMA and student at MCC
  • Rabbi Peter Stein, senior rabbi at Temple B'rith Kodesh
  • Julia Ortenzi, HF-L graduate and student at Sarah Lawrence College


First hour: Reactions to the events in Charlottesville

Second hour: How Challenger Miracle Field and EquiCenter are helping people with disabilities

Weekend Connections is a collection of some of the most noteworthy moments from the week on Connections with Evan Dawson. This episode includes conversations about:

  • Reactions to the memo about race and gender at Google; 
  • Gun rights and Rep. Chris Collins' proposed SAGA bill;
  • Cross-cultural relationships and themes from the film, The Big Sick;
  • The music of Joni Mitchell. 

This fall could be the first time since 1967 that a constitutional convention will be held in New York State. New York voters have an opportunity to hold a convention every 20 years. It gives New Yorkers a chance to reexamine how our state works, and to make improvements and changes to the state constitution.

There's a heated debate on both sides of the issue. Lawmakers and unions oppose a convention, saying it would roll back worker protections. Other groups support a convention, saying the constitution needs reform. 

We discuss the process, and if it is held, what a constitutional convention could accomplish. Our guests:

An upcoming symposium seeks to address many issues related to homelessness, including housing as a human right. The Homeless Services Network of Rochester will present the 14th HSN Symposium on Wednesday, September 27 at the Rochester Institute of Technology.

Our guests preview the symposium and discuss homelessness in Rochester. In studio:

The Summer of Food takes a journey half an hour east of Rochester to the site of the historic Pultneyville Grill. When the restaurant closed in the past year, locals worried about what might replace it. The answer has been twofold: Swilly's, a fast casual joint that offers lobster rolls and other sea-based fare at a walk-up window, and The Owl House, which has a home in Rochester and a new home in the old PG.

These kinds of establishments can offer new life for communities, and we talk to long-time Pultneyvillers who want to see a successful enterprise in this space. Our guests:

  • Brian Van Etten, owner of Swilly's
  • Jeff Ching, owner of the Owl House on the Lake
  • Deb Parts, Co-Chair of the Pultneyville Home Tour
  • Peter Parts, former owner of the Pultneyville Grill and owner of the Pultneyville Docks on Salmon Creek