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

On this week's show, from mass shootings and terrorist attacks to ongoing issues of racism, sexism and much more….Rochester area religious leaders come together to address the challenges of our time.

Then, we ask why aren’t more women joining the political arena as candidates? We’ve got some answers that may surprise you.

If you’re an addict in recovery finding a job is not an easy feat. An arrest record, time served behind bars, and the permanent suspension of a driver’s license can make gaining employment a challenge. However, at Rochester’s Coffee Connection all of the above could make you the perfect fit. Places such as Parkleigh, the University of Rochester, and all three Kitty Van Bortel car dealerships are stocked with the fair trade, organic, sustainably-farmed coffee from the Coffee Connection. Watch the story of a local spot where hundreds of women in recovery have gone to gain job skills and much more.

The heroin and opioid epidemic, recently declared a national public health emergency, is a problem surrounded by questions. Experts join Need to Know's Hélène Biandudi Hofer to help make sense of some of the most pressing questions and concerns in relation to addiction, treatment and support.

206 - that is the number of deaths in 2016 related to heroin, opioids, fentanyl, and related substances within the ten counties served by the Monroe County Medical Examiner’s office. That’s a number that grew 142 percent from 2015 to 2016.

It’s also a number that the Polito family of Rochester, like countless others, feared would include their own child, Mary Jo. In 2016 they learned their daughter was addicted to heroin and life as they knew it changed.

The Polito family’s story is one that may resonate with many watching this broadcast. And it’s a story Mary Jo herself wanted to share solely in the hopes of helping to save at least one life.

It’s a problem that’s not going away, in fact, it’s only getting worse. The heroin and opioid crisis in the Rochester region is taking lives, destroying families and neighborhoods, and shattering dreams.

On this edition of Need to Know we hear from addicts trying to reclaim their lives, a family with a message for others struggling to help their loved ones, experts working to peel away the layers of addiction and the women of a special coffee shop whose once broken dreams are being rebuilt.

The heroin and opioid epidemic is taking the lives of young and old in our region...and it’s only getting worse.

Thursday, November 2 at 8 p.m. on WXXI-TV is a special edition of Need to Know as addicts, families, and people involved in grassroots efforts speak out to help peel back the layers of addiction and provide a path for support.

Trick-or-Treat night is right around the corner. What you may not know is that dressing up in scary costumes and venturing from porch to porch to get that handful of sugar isn’t always easy or possible for everyone. For children with physical, intellectual and developmental disabilities the centuries-old Halloween traditions are not always accessible and inclusive, but you can learn how they can be. 

On October 19, the Center for Disability Rights hosted a candidate forum on disability issues. WXXI’s Hélène Biandudi Hofer moderated the event last year where one question continued to come up for area politicians: Will you vote to approve ride-hailing even if companies are not required to ensure people of all abilities can access rides? Fast-forward 12 months and now Uber and Lyft are both operating in Rochester. But are they operating for everyone? Biandudi Hofer recently met with Center for Disability Rights Board Member Kenyatta DaCosta to get his take.

It’s a phrase some of you have likely heard more than once: “Choose a job you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.” While researchers say the precise attribution is questionable, some would say the meaning behind the phrase bears some truth. But for the more than 10 percent of unemployed Americans with a disability - which is nearly double the unemployment rate of those without a disability - finding a job is the ultimate goal.

You’ll meet Justin, a young man who found a job he loves. A local organization believes Justin’s story is one of many that drive home the importance of building inclusive work communities to help understand the diverse strengths of all abilities.

Some people call it the “daily grind,” but on this edition of Need to Know you’ll meet others who describe it as a “daily dream.” We discuss power of employment for individuals with disabilities and why this month federal and local agencies are on calling on more companies to diversify their workforce.

Also on the show, ride-hailing companies now operating in upstate New York are intended to make getting from point A to point B easier. But do their services work for everyone?

And with Halloween right around the corner we look into what it takes to make the holiday’s festivities accessible and inclusive for all kids in our community. 

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