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

Actors from popular television dramas of the past and present are coming to  Rochester on Friday, September 22. However, they’ll be performing a different type of drama -  live reading of the Greek Tragedy Ajax. The ancient play describes the visible and invisible wounds of war. The play is part of an innovative public health project intended to create an open dialogue and understanding about the impact of war on veterans, their families and communities. We discuss the importance of Theater of War and how it can serve as a bridge to understanding.

It began as a journey to self discovery. But it’s a quest that hasn’t quite come to an end. And international leader on race and genetics and health disparities, Rick Kittles, PhD, would likely say, that’s a good thing. So would the more than 150,000 people that have utilized the company he co-founded, African Ancestry, to help connect the DNA dots to their family tree. But the discoveries don’t stop there.

The RIT alum and Director of the Division of Population Genetics at the University of Arizona was in Rochester to keynote the 2017 Patients First Awards Luncheon for the Jordan Health Foundation. Before that keynote Rick Kittles joined this edition of Need to Know to talk genetics, ancestry and how it all connects to health. 

Everyone from Whoopi Goldberg to Samuel L. Jackson have sought to find the answer to one question” where am I from? But tracing DNA to find family roots has also resulted in significant discoveries. The connection between genetics, ancestry and health on this edition of Need to Know.

Also on the show, why TV stars are traveling to Rochester to set the stage for a community conversation about veterans, their families and post-combat wounds.

And it’s the war some refer to as an “unfinished history.” Preserving stories of the Vietnam War to better understand its impact. That just before a special 10-part, 18-hour series on PBS. 

This week on Need to Know, he has traced the ancestry of more than 150,000 people including Oprah Winfrey and Morgan Freeman. And it all began with a personal desire to know where he came from. A world-renowned leader in the genetic ancestry movement joins us to discuss his latest work and why it matters to you.

Also on the show, a veteran, advocate, and vice chair of the Veterans Outreach Center talks criminal justice reform and the theatre of war.

Sickle cell. That’s something you've likely heard about, but don’t know much about. It’s a disease that just might impact someone you know - in the office, in the classroom, or in your neighborhood, but you probably wouldn’t be able to tell. Why? Because sickle cell is a disease that doesn’t necessarily show wear and tear on the outside, but on the inside it can do significant damage - damage that can lead to death. But in New York State and in the Rochester region, work is underway to breathe new life into efforts that would improve the prevention of complications and treatment of sickle cell disease.

It’s one of the most common genetic disorders in the United States. So why do some battling the illness question if they’ve been forgotten? On this edition of Need to Know -- the fight to survive, to improve treatment, to raise funding and to educate - all in the name of sickle cell. We’ll hear from those fighting the disease and from those in the medical field trenches, just ahead.

Also on the show, the incumbents in the race for Rochester City School Board explain why they want four more years. But is it enough to help bring needed change to the district? 

It's one of the most common genetic diseases in our country affecting tens of thousands throughout the U.S. - including neighbors, friends and colleagues living in our region. Yet some patients and advocates say it doesn't garner the funding, and media coverage of other diseases - leaving some wondering if they've been forgotten. Doctors, patients and family members speak out and share what's being done to help combat sickle cell disease on the next Need to Know.

When a member of your family is in a wheelchair you may not think taking off on a kayaking adventure together on the Erie Canal is possible. However, it is. On this Need to Know segment we join in on the experience with an area mother and son sharing this special moment together for the first time through Rochester Accessible Adventures. We also learn about the work being done by RAA in an effort to revolutionize inclusion when it comes to eliminating barriers to active lifestyles for individuals with disabilities and their families. 

A living wage. That’s what a coalition of advocates and community agencies that support individuals with disabilities have been calling for in our state. The focus of that fight - the more than 120,000 New Yorkers who work with and care for individuals with disabilities. They’re called Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) and according to the New York State Chapter of the Arc they’re in chronic short supply While the governor allocated $55 million in the budget this year to support a wage increase for these professionals working with nonprofits - is that enough to recruit, train and sustain employees? We examine the current state of DSPs and the challenges they’re continuing to face on this Move to Include edition of Need to Know.

A hard-fought wage increase battle saw some success this year. But workers who help those living with disabilities say they are still in need of support. On this edition of Need to Know we’ll discuss what a profession that some call underpaid and undervalued is looking for in an effort to help our most vulnerable and those trained to care for them.

Also on the show, a revolution in inclusion. We’re checking out a local group on a mission to get businesses and organizations equipped to offer recreational activities to people of all abilities.

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