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

It's a second helping of the Summer of Food, and we're going a half hour west of Rochester to a historic old property. In LeRoy, a beautiful building on the edge of the Oatka Creek became one of the first Main Street locations in the 1820s. It was a fixture, but in 2004, a massive fire gutted the building that had served as a factory, a bank office, a private home, and then a restaurant. The burned out shell was a sad reminder of what was lost -- until a team of individuals decided to pour a lot of money (that's the publicly disclosed sum: a LOT) into reviving it. This summer, it opened as a restaurant for the locals (Farmer's Creekside Tavern & Inn); a high-end dining destination upstairs (One Main LeRoy); and a wedding / special events facility.

Here's the big question: can it become enough of a regional draw to survive? Our guests hope the answer is yes. 

  • Bill Farmer, owner of Farmer’s Creekside Tavern & Inn and One Main LeRoy
  • Chris Grocki, general manager of Farmer’s Creekside Tavern & Inn and One Main LeRoy
  • Sean Wolf, executive chef at Farmer’s Creekside Tavern & Inn and One Main LeRoy
  • Greg Rogers, mayor of LeRoy

The tragic and bizarre story of Holly Colino's descent into mental illness has sparked a lot of media attention, but the murder she allegedly committed was not at all typical of someone struggling with such problems. And here is the concern of the local mental health community: Can we dig into Colino's past to understand what led her back to Rochester without mistaking her story as something common or typical? People with mental illness already deal with stigma and misunderstanding. 

We explore all of that with our guests:


First hour: Misconceptions about mental health and violence

Second hour: New restaurants in LeRoy revitalize a historic property

Mayor Lovely Warren announced Tuesday that the City of Rochester will demolish 175 vacant homes. The issue of zombie properties and what to do about them has been a source of debate in the community. Mayor Warren says vacant homes become harbors for drug users, they aren't safe, and they bring down neighborhood morale and property values. She says it's time to take down those buildings and start fresh.

Some local organizations have different ideas about what to do. We talk to stakeholders about their thoughts on City Hall's plan. In studio:

*Note: We extended an invitation to representatives from the City of Rochester, but no one was available to participate. 

Fashion Week of Rochester kicks off in October, and in one sense, it's a great opportunity to have some fun with creative ideas and fashion in different settings. But there's more to Fashion Week than runways and models. It goes back to 2010 -- the year the event began -- when organizers used it as a vehicle to raise funds and awareness for homeless youth and adults in crisis in Rochester.

We talk about services provided by he Center for Youth, including the Crisis Nursery, and we'll preview the lineup for Fashion Week. In studio:

  • Elaine Spaull, executive director of the Center for Youth
  • Meghan Mundy, chief fashion organizer for Fashion Week of Rochester
  • Sarah Vitberg, mother
  • Effie Youme, fashion designer and Ivory Coast native

First hour: Fashion Week of Rochester 2017

Second hour: Addressing Rochester's problem with zombie homes

Throughout time, you may go back and watch a movie that you loved as a child, but now, it plays differently to you. There's something that feels uncomfortable; something has changed. 

If you watch Coming to America, National Lampoon's Vacation, Dumbo, Peter Pan, and many other popular films, you'll find examples of racism, sexism, and homophobia.

This hour, we explore how perceptions of art -- particularly of films -- evolve over time. Our guests:

  • Jack Garner, longtime film critic
  • Lester D. Friedman, professor and former chair of the Media and Society Program at Hobart and William Smith College, and co-author of Monstrous Progeny
  • Bri Merkel, artistic director for The Little Theatre
  • Jonathan Ntheketha, actor, performance educator with Impact Interactive, and senior assistant director of the Multicultural Center for Academic Success in RIT's Division for Diversity and Inclusion

Author Kurt Andersen asks a question about what went wrong in our country in his new book, Fantasyland: How American Went Haywire: A 500-Year History. Andersen thinks something has gone wrong, and he thinks it's embedded in the American DNA.

Andersen writes, "Why do we believe in conspiracy theories? Why do so many of us believe in magical thinking or have poor reasoning skills?" He also says, "Why are we like this? The short answer is because we’re Americans—because being American means we can believe anything we want; that our beliefs are equal or superior to anyone else’s, experts be damned. Once people commit to that approach, the world turns inside out, and no cause-and-effect connection is fixed. The credible becomes incredible and the incredible credible."

Andersen is tough on our history. He's our guest for the hour. 


First hour: The Working Tapes of Studs Terkel

Second hour: APM Reports - "Keeping Teachers"

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 colleges teach students about sexual assault awareness;
  • Racial disparities revealed in a new report about poverty in Rochester;
  • How to have conversations about diversity and inclusion with children;
  • New methane research and how it can impact climate change.