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: New Yorkers Against Gun Violence push for new gun legislation

Second hour: Monroe County Sheriff candidate Todd Baxter

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:

  • Pope Benedict's legacy, with Father Thomas Rosica;
  • The Rochester brink's heist of 1993, with Gary Craig, author of Seven Million;
  • Learning from history, with World War II veteran Pete DuPre;
  • If Billy Joel is the worst pop singer ever, and how we evaluate art of any kind.

Is Billy Joel the worst pop artist of all time? Strange question, we know. But Slate writer Ron Rosenbaum wrote a piece, detailing two ideas. First, he explained why he believes Billy Joel is indeed the worst ever. Second, and more importantly, Rosenbaum makes the case for calling out bad art (of any genre) as a means to understanding what good art is. In other words, Rosenbaum pushes back against the idea that the only good art is whatever you like.

Is he right? And what's wrong with Allentown, anyway? Our guests:

  • John Covach, director of the Institute for Popular Music at the University of Rochester
  • Leah Stacy, media professor at Nazareth College and freelance theatre critic at City Newspaper

What's causing the rising lake levels? How much of the criticism is political; how much is fair? We look at Plan 2014, and we explore what's really going on. Our guests:

  • Veronica Volk, reporter and producer for Great Lakes Today
  • Dr. Karen Berger, lecturer in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Rochester
  • Dr. Frank Sciremammano Jr., member of the International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board
  • Frank Bevacqua, public information officer for the International Joint Commission


First hour: Understanding the rising lake levels

Second hour: Is Billy Joel the worst pop singer ever?

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