WXXI AM News

Hélène Biandudi Hofer

Need to Know Host

Hélène Biandudi Hofer is host and producer of WXXI TV's Need to Know, an award-winning, half-hour weekly news and public affairs program. Hélène joined the station in September 2010 as the host of All Things Considered.

Before moving to Rochester, Hélène worked at the CBS Primetime show 48 Hours Mystery in New York City. While at CBS she contributed to several documentary specials for the network including the tragedy at Virginia Tech, the tribute to news icon Walter Cronkite, the inauguration of Barack Obama and the CBS/VOGUE Fashion’s Night Out program.

Hélène is a graduate of New York University’s Broadcast Journalism program. After graduation, she returned to her hometown, Columbus, Ohio, where she worked as an associate producer for WBNS-TV.

Ways to Connect

For Barack Obama it’s playing basketball and pool. For Congresswoman Frederica Wilson it’s collecting hats. For George W. Bush it’s painting. These are some of the hobbies of political leaders in our nation that give us just a little insight into the person behind the politician. But what about our local political figures in Rochester? It can be rare to get a behind-the-scenes look of their lives….until now. A special segment on Need to Know this summer will take us inside the lives of candidates in the race for Rochester mayor. The focus: getting to know them through one of their favorite pastimes. First up, Democrat Rachel Barnhart.

New Rochester City School District Superintendent Barbara Deane-Williams says building trust isn’t about words, but actions. We’ll learn how she plans to act to improve relationships, mind-sets, build trust and enforce change in the city school system. 

Also, a new series introduces us to the person behind the politician in this year’s mayoral race in the City of Rochester.

Somalia. Bhutan. Nepal. The Democratic Republic of the Congo. Burma. These are a handful of the many nations represented among Rochester’s refugee population. While their ethnic and cultural backgrounds are quite different, their stories of survival and their paths to Rochester have similar themes. And on World Refugee Day, those stories will come together in an effort to advocate for refugee rights and build bridges when there may be misunderstanding. 

News coverage including the youth voice, gauging the youth perspective, and digging into issues affecting our youth are of importance to WXXI. Part of that coverage includes identifying and connecting with young people, in this case high school students , who are not only working hard in the classroom, but also want to make our community and our world a better place.

Need to Know’s “Top of the Class” series introduces you to these amazing young people. On this edition of the program viewers meet Tori Hoefen, the 2017 valedictorian at East Rochester Junior-Senior High School. 

There’s an opportunity gap that exists in urban education. For those who live in Monroe County, but outside the City of Rochester, this gap matters to them too. How? The fate of our suburbs is deeply connected to the livelihood of our cities, including our public schools. But closing that opportunity gap can happen. On this edition of Need to Know we learn how.

Guests include: Pedro Noguera, Ph.D., a renowned expert on public education in America, a sociologist and a Distinguished Professor of Education at UCLA and Shaun Nelms, Ed.D., an associate professor at the University of Rochester’s Warner School of Education and Superintendent of East High School.

There’s a question that has plagued the Rochester community for decades: What will it take to improve educational outcomes for city school students? On this edition of Need to Know we’ll learn how one thing, equity, could change everything.

Also on the show, they’ve escaped war, violence, persecution and natural disasters. And some who now call Rochester “home” are still living with uncertainty. We’ll learn why World Refugee Day has a new meaning.

And meet a local valedictorian with a heart for others and a mean forehand as our Top of the Class series continues.

Renowned sociologist, professor and education commentator Pedro Noguera is in Rochester to explain what it takes to bring equity and excellence to schools. He’ll join East High School Superintendent Shaun Nelms in our studio for this timely conversation on Need to Know.

Need to Know airs Thursday night at 8 p.m. on WXXI-TV.

Our Top of the Class special series as host Hélène Biandudi Hofer talks with Tori Hoefen, a senior from East Rochester Junior-Senior High School.

Artist Laural Hartman recently invited WXXI into her studio. As we know with art, there’s generally a deeper meaning behind a painting, drawing or sculpture. With Hartman’s work, we’re awakened to a life experience with several layers - some of which resonate with many of us and others we’ve never encountered until now.

Hartman, also a faculty member at RIT’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf joins Tabitha Jacques, Director of the Joseph F. and Helen C. Dyer Arts Center at RIT to explain what mainstream museums may not understand about the specialty of deaf art.

While the American Health Care Act is being considered by Congress, local disability rights advocates are taking action. They’re calling on President Trump to support the Disability Integration Act (DIA). They’re also calling for people with disabilities to have a voice in the health care reform debate. One of those advocates who recently traveled to Washington is Ericka Jones of the Center for Disability Rights.

Jones joined a demonstration outside the White House which led to more than 80 arrests according to the disability rights group ADAPT. She explains the potential impact of the DIA on all sectors of the community.

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