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

An international exchange program with big goals is being held in Rochester for the first time. Rochester Global Connections is partnering with Allendale Columbia School to host the Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program. It's a cultural immersion experience for high school students from different parts of Iraq, who who learn about leadership development, peace building, and human rights alongside local students.

We talk to the students about what they've learned, and how they hope to build bridges among their communities when they return to Iraq. Our guests:

  • Cecelia Hencke, executive director of Rochester Global Connections
  • Emily Atieh, global engagement scholar at Allendale Columbia School
  • Murtatha "Seyyid" Almehanni, IYLEP participant 
  • Fatimah Saleem, IYLEP participant


First hour: Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program 

Second hour: Parent Leadership Training Institute

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 violence and war are not inevitable, nor natural parts of the human condition;
  • The new documentary series, The Vietnam War;
  • Al Gore's new film, An Inconvenient Sequel, and the reality of climate change;
  • Rochester's food culture.

The Gateways Music Festival is not only coming back next week, but there are big plans to grow it. The festival, which begins August 8, celebrates diversity in classical music.

We talk with Lee Koonce, president and artistic director of the Gateways Music Festival, about the events and how to bring more diversity to the classical music scene. He also shares his musical journey.

When you see a label that says, "Made in America," it may not mean what you think it does. A recent piece in the conservative publication, the National Review, argued that "buying American" has little meaning in today's global supply chain and we should scrap the phrase, or stop giving it such romantic idealism. Writer Kevin Williamson says if everything you bought were truly local, our economy would be similar to that of North Korea or Venezuela. 

Is that statement accurate? We discuss what "Made in America" really means with our guests:

Our Summer of Food series continues with a conversation about Rochester's food identity. If someone was visiting Rochester from abroad or even out of town and wanted to learn about Rochester's food culture, what would be at the top of the list? A Garbage Plate? Red and white hots? Dinosaur Bar-B-Que? Would you introduce visitors to the local farm-to-table movement?

We discuss Rochester's food identity and the future of our food culture. Our guests:

Filmmakers Ken Burns and Lynn Novick believe now is the time to turn back to the Vietnam War. They say to understand war, we need the passage of time. Their forthcoming 10-episode series called The Vietnam War, launches Sunday, September 17 at 8 p.m. on WXXI-TV. It's an immersive narrative featuring archival footage, photographs, and conversations with nearly 100 witnesses, both in American and Vietnam. You can watch a 30-minute preview here

Lynn Novick is the co-director and producer of the series with Ken Burns. She's our guest this hour, discussing how the project came together and what she hopes viewers will gain from watching the series.

You can join the live audience of two special broadcasts of Connections at The Little Theatre on Thursday, August 24. The episodes will explore different elements and perspectives of the Vietnam War. The event is free and open to the public, but registration is required. Please register here.

Is war simply part of the human condition? In other words, is world peace - true world peace - possible? Iraq War veteran Paul Chappell says yes. He speaks to crowds about peace literacy, and he says the idea that human beings are naturally violent is a myth. Chappell is in Rochester as a guest of the Gandhi Institute, but first, he's on Connections, along with Kit Miller of the M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence.

Things got weird when President Trump spoke to the Boy Scouts. He veered into stories about friends making millions, buying yachts, and hosting wild parties. That put the organization into the awkward position of having to respond. In this hour, we discuss values: decorum, honor, and what it means to be a scout in 2017. Our guests:

  • Stephen Hoitt, scout executive and CEO of Seneca Waterways Council
  • Charles Brady, former scout and Scout leader
  • Joel Helfrich, local historian and former Eagle Scout


First hour: Trump and the Boy Scouts

Second hour: Is war inevitable to the human condition?