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

In 1990, researchers discovered the first evidence of a gene involved in breast cancer susceptibility. In 1994, the gene was cloned. Since then, we've learned a lot about the BRCA gene, and hundreds of mutations. So what can and should be done for patients with this gene?

This hour, we answer your questions about breast care, from everything from preventive mastectomies to insurance. We also hear the story of a local family's experience with breast cancer. Our guests:

  • Dr. Lori Medeiros, director of the Breast Care Center at Rochester General Hospital
  • Erin Pata, underwent a preventive double mastectomy 
  • Dale Axtell, breast cancer survivor and Erin's mother
  • Nancy Harter, breast cancer survivor and Erin's aunt

On May 1, the Department of Defense released new information about a troubling subject: cases of sexual assault in the military. The data shows that 14,900 service members reported being sexually assaulted in 2016. That’s down from 20,300 reported cases in 2014. Despite the reduction in those numbers, the DoD isn’t confusing progress with success. The vast majority of cases go un-reported, with many victims choosing silence out of fear of retaliation. They struggle with PTSD, and sometimes, cannot find access to counseling services.

All of these issues are at the heart of a compelling new play now on stage at Geva Theatre Center. It’s called Other than Honorable, and it tells the story of Grace Rattigan. Now a private attorney, Grace served in the military in her 20s and was a victim of sexual assault. Even though she left active duty, her experiences continue to haunt her – she suffers from PTSD, nightmares, and the added stress of her husband being deployed to Afghanistan. But her life takes on new meaning when she accepts a military sexual assault case.

The play was 10 years in the making, but, of course, remains relevant today. We discuss Other than Honorable, and how to help victims of sexual assault.

  • Jamie Pachino, playwright
  • Jessiee Datino, actor who plays Grace Rattigan in Other than Honorable
  • Kinga Kondor-Hine, licensed mental health counselor at the Veterans Outreach Center
  • Pat Bishop, art therapist at the Veterans Outreach Center

During the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, Governor Jay Nixon chose police Captain Ronald Johnson to oversee law enforcement efforts. It was a delicate situation, and Cpt. Johnson wanted to respect demonstrators while maintaining order.

Cpt. Johnson is in Rochester as a guest of Baden Street Settlement to talk about lessons learned from Ferguson. Our guests:

  • Captain Ronald S. Johnson, Missouri State Highway Patrol
  • RPD Deputy Chief Mark Simmons, board member for Baden Street Settlement

One of the most remarkable storytellers in Rochester is 93-year-old Pete DuPre. He was an army medic during World War II, and for 80 years, he's played the harmonica. Soon he'll play his harmonica at the State of the County address, and he's taken his talents to Nashville's recording studios.

Pete tells us his stories, which include plenty of laughs, but also the pain of seeing what war can do to man.


First hour: Harmonica Pete DuPre

Second hour: Cpt. Ronald Johnson on lessons from Ferguson

Democrat & Chronicle journalist Gary Craig has just published a book about the infamous Rochester Brinks heist. Craig pulls many threads together to spin this tale of deception, robbery, and murder. So who really did it? And where is the money? We've been looking forward to this discussion for a long time.

One of the most well connected priests in the world is a Rochester native who assisted the Vatican during the transition period between Popes Benedict and Francis. Father Thomas Rosica is the CEO of Salt and Light Catholic Media, and is a priest of the Congregation of St. Basil. He's back in his hometown to host a retreat, and he joins us on Connections to talk about the work and impact of Pope Francis.

Father Rosica has worked as a media attaché for Francis, providing English language translation. He sees this Pope as a hand reaching out to the truly needy around the world. We discuss the refugee crisis, the meaning of "pro-life," and what it means to be Christian.

First hour: Father Thomas Rosica on the state of the Catholic Church

Second hour: Journalist Gary Craig on his new book about the Rochester Brinks heist

Last fall, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued new recommendations for limiting media use among children. How can parents work under these guidelines and help their kids unplug and reconnect to non-digital activities?

A book called The Game is Playing Your Kid offers advice for monitoring and limiting screen time for children. The author, Dr. Joe Dilley, is in Rochester as a guest of the Norman Howard School. He joins us in studio to talk about how parents can help kids transition from overuse to more mindful use of technology. He's joined by Dr. Elizabeth Murray, assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics at Golisano Children's Hospital.

Can science and faith coexist in today's politically-charged environment? A 2015 survey found that nearly 70 percent of evangelicals in the United States don't see religion and science as being totally at odds. Meanwhile, a survey cited by National Geographic says scientists may be just as likely to believe in God as those outside the scientific community.

We discuss the relationship between science and religion with our guests:

  • Rev. J. Eric Thompson, priest in charge at St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Dansville
  • Dan Courtney, co-founder of Young Skeptics, and atheist activist