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

Salva Dut is the founder of Water for South Sudan. He's one of the 17,000 Lost Boys of Sudan who fled his village when war ravaged the country between 1983 and 2005. Dut walked thousands of miles from his home to Ethiopia, and then to Kenya, where he lived in refugee camps for years. In 1996, he came to the United States as a refugee, and realized how many Americans take food and water for granted. Back in Sudan, villagers must walk miles every day just to gain access to clean water.

Dut made it his mission to help improve conditions for people in South Sudan. In 2003, he formally established Water for South Sudan, a non-profit which drills wells for villages. Dut is in Rochester for several events at Monroe Community College, but first, he shares his story on Connections. In studio:

  • Salva Dut, founder of Water for South Sudan
  • Lynn Malooly, executive director of Water for South Sudan

Be honest: When you think of a family in poverty, or a single mother in poverty, is it easy to think that you've made some good decisions in your life, and if people in poverty made better decisions, they would be where you are?

This hour, we explore how we understand -- or misunderstand -- poverty, and what we can do about it. Susan Dreyfus is the president and CEO of the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities. She's from Milwaukee, but she'll be in Rochester in the coming weeks to discuss how social sector organizations can address poverty. We preview that discussion and ask her how she views Rochester's efforts to combat poverty. Our guests:

It's the second Monday in October, and while many cities and states celebrate Columbus Day, others have officially changed the holiday to Indigenous Peoples' Day. There is a movement in cities across the nation to make such a change in an effort to celebrate Native Americans, their history, and their culture.

Many people who support Indigenous Peoples' Day say we shouldn't celebrate Columbus -- a man who promoted slavery and was responsible for the genocide of Native Americans. Yet, some Italian Americans who defend Columbus Day say scrapping the holiday would be an affront to their heritage.

This hour, we discuss the holiday, what it means, and how schools teach Native American history. We also talk about a new textbook, Native American: A History.

  • Peter Jemison, historic site manager for Ganondagan
  • Michael Oberg, distinguished professor of history at SUNY Geneseo, and author of Native America: A History

There's controversy in Henrietta, where Town Supervisor Jack Moore is being criticized for allegedly making racially-insensitive remarks. The EEOC investigated the complaints in late September and determined that several had merit. Now, some residents are calling for his resignation.

Moore's supporters say the timing is political with the upcoming election, and members of the Henrietta Roadrunners Association Union say 82 percent of their group supports Moore.

We discuss the complaints, how the EEOC works, and how discrimination filings impact the workplace. Our guests:

  • Reverend Ruben Goff, Henrietta resident
  • Larry Knox, organizer with SEIU
  • Iman Abid, Henrietta resident
  • Justin Cordello, employment law attorney with Cordello Law PLLC
  • Chuck Marshall, employee for the Town of Henrietta who supports Jack Moore

First hour: Controversy in Henrietta, the EEOC, and how filings about discrimination impact the workplace

Second hour: Should Columbus Day be changed to Indigenous People's Day?

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:

  • How we respond when we witness or hear about acts of violence, with Jeremy Richman, the father of a child killed in the Sandy Hook shooting;
  • White advantage and microaggressions, with Debby Irving, author of Waking Up White;
  • The benefits and challenges of living without a car;
  • The musical legacy and songwriting of Tom Petty.

The New York State Board of Regents named its "Teacher of the Year," and the winner is from our area.

Christopher Albrecht is a fourth grade teacher in the Brockport Central School District. We talk to him about his career, and his thoughts on the future of education and the teaching profession.

Rock legend Tom Petty died on Monday, and this hour, we talk about his life and work. Petty has been acclaimed for his “rootsiness,” even though he performed in sold out arenas. His songs have been praised for being soaring and sad. 

How should we define Tom Petty's musical legacy? We listen to some of his music and discuss that question with our guests:

  • John Covach, director of the Institute for Popular Music at the University of Rochester
  • Dave Drago, producer and owner of 1809 Studios
  • Saby Reyes-Kulkarni, music journalist
  • Sarah Hart, Tom Petty fan and “American Girl”


First hour: The legacy of Tom Petty

Second hour: Christopher Albrecht, New York State's "Teacher of the Year"

It may seem unusual to have conversations about preserving our water bodies after major weather events like hurricanes or the flooding on the Lake Ontario shoreline, but excessive runoff is a major source of pollution. It’s a problem in our area — one that the H2O Hero initiative hopes to combat.

The program is celebrating its tenth anniversary, and this hour, we talk to the team behind it about its progress. Have the goals changed as a result of weather events? How do we prepare for future issues? And what can we do, on an individual level, to protect Lake Ontario and the Genesee River? Our guests help us understand the science and the mission. In studio:

  • Todd Butler, president and CEO of Causewave Community Partners
  • Dan Menelly, president and chief science officer for the Rochester Museum and Science Center
  • Paul Sawkyo, coordinator for the Water Education Collaborative (WEC)

  • Caroline Kilmer, WBE-certified stormwater consultant, and chair of the Water Education Collaborative (WEC)