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

First hour: An update on Rochester's Black Lives Matter movement

Second hour: Summer of Food - Women in the wine industry

Nearly 44 million American adults experience mental illness in a given year, yet only about 60 percent receive treatment. The stigma surrounding mental illness keeps many adults — and youth — from asking for help.

Compeer Rochester is working to change that; the organization says there’s strong evidence behind the therapeutic value of friendship. Compeer offers mentoring programs where adults and youth struggling with mental illness are matched with community members.

We talk to members of the program who say it has changed their lives. Our guests:

  • Dana Frame, executive director of Compeer Rochester 
  • Jim Sedita and Steve Smock, adult match at Compeer Rochester 
  • Joshua, youth match at Compeer Rochester 
  • Dr. Stacy B. Killings, Psy.D., crisis therapist at Strong Memorial Hospital and school psychologist at Gates Chili High School

If you’re like most social media users, you want the freedom to post whatever you’d like and the opportunity to access materials that interest you. Yet, when the technology you use to enjoy those freedoms becomes a way to restrict them, it raises a number of issues. This is the theme behind a number of recent news stories involving social media.

Germany just passed one of the world’s toughest laws cracking down on hate speech on social media. Critics say that the law may lead to censorship because it puts too much pressure on social networks to ban questionable content. In the U.S., the Supreme Court recently overturned a North Carolina law that barred registered sex offenders from using some social media sites, saying it limited their free speech. And at Harvard, a number of students’ acceptances were rescinded after college officials found them posting offensive content on Facebook.

So how can we balance the freedom to post with protecting people from hate speech or offensive content? Our guests weigh in on these stories and more. In studio:

  • Scott Malouf, attorney whose practice is focused on the intersection of social media and the law 
  • Mike Johansson, senior lecturer of communications at RIT, and social media consultant at Fixitology


First hour: Social media, free speech, and the freedom to post

Second hour: The therapeutic benefits of friendship for people with mental illness

This year's Pulitzer Prize committee recognized some of the smallest newspapers in the country with awards. The Storm Lake Times in Iowa and the Charleston Gazette-Mail in West Virginia won Pulitzers for their investigative reporting and editorial work.

We talk to the awardees about small town journalism and the value of print reporting. Our guests:

  • Art Cullen, co-owner and editor of the Storm Lake Times
  • Eric Eyre, statehouse reporter for the Charleston Gazette-Mail
  • Justin Murphy, education reporter for the Democrat and Chronicle


First hour: Small newspapers that won Pulitzer Prizes

Second hour: BackStory explores the history of Independence 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:

  • A disability rights activist's experience in Washington, D.C., while protesting potential cuts to Medicaid;
  • How journalists decide what to cover and what not to cover;
  • The differences between cultural appropriation and cultural exchange;
  • The benefits of integrating geothermal and solar energy systems in homes.

Have you heard of geothermal energy systems? It's a growing trend in renewable energy, and it's becoming more popular in homes in our area.

We toured a home in Fairport that uses solar and geothermal systems. We talk to the owner about the technology, and the financial and environmental impacts. Our guests:

  • Martin Smith, Fairport resident who installed solar and geothermal systems in his home
  • Jesse Cook, president of Geotherm Inc.

A recent op-ed in the New York Times defending cultural appropriation has sparked controversy. Writer Kenan Malik compared campaigns against cultural appropriation to gatekeeping. In response, author K. Tempest Bradford pointed out that those who defend appropriation either don’t understand it, misrepresent it, or ignore its complexity. She says there’s a difference between appropriation – when a dominant culture takes elements from a culture of people who have been oppressed, leading to exploitation – and cultural exchange.

The issue isn’t a new one, nor does it show any signs of being resolved. Recently, prominent writers and editors in Canada lost their jobs over defending appropriation, and writers and artists in the U.S. have faced backlash as well.

So how can writers and artists create inclusive work that honors and doesn’t harm other cultures? Our guests help us understand the nuances. In studio:


First hour: The differences between cultural appropriation and cultural exchange

Second hour: Exploring geothermal energy and the future of renewables