Megan Mack

Connections Producer

Megan Mack the producer of Connections with Evan Dawson and Unleashed: The Pet Show. She joined the WXXI News team from WHEC-TV, where she produced newscasts and The Olympic Zone, and from the University of Rochester, where she served as an assistant director of public relations. Her background extends to television sports and entertainment, and to communications and social media management for non-profits.

Megan earned her B.S. in Television-Radio-Film from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, and her B.A. in Italian Language, Literature, and Culture from the College of Arts and Sciences at Syracuse University. She is also a graduate of The Second City’s Conservatory program.

Ways to Connect

On Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that government workers who choose not to join a union cannot be charged for the cost of collective bargaining. The plaintiff in this case, Mark Janus, a child-support specialist for the state of Illinois, challenged a requirement that government workers who opt out of a union still have to pay partial dues to cover the union's cost of negotiation and other functions. It was a predictable 5-4 decision. Justice Samuel Alito wrote the majority opinion with the court's conservatives joining him.

The decision is expected to be a blow to organized labor, but how detrimental can it be? Our guests discuss:

Data from the Pew Research Center shows that there are mixed messages about public trust in science, and science advocates say the field is under attack.

A group of graduate students at the University of Rochester Medical Center have joined together to try to improve perceptions of science. Students in the “Thinkers and Drinkers” group meet up with strangers at local bars and, in exchange for free appetizers, talk to them about science. The goal is to help the students improve their communication skills when it comes to explaining science, and to improve science literacy in the general population.

We talk with members of the group about their program and why they think it’s needed in this current moment.

  • Heather Natola, Ph.D., post-doctoral associate in the department of Biomedical Genetics at URMC, and co-founder of Thinkers and Drinkers
  • Jessica Hogestyn, Ph.D. candidate in the neuroscience graduate program at URMC, and co-founder of Thinkers and Drinkers
  • Tracey Baas, Ph.D., assistant professor of Microbiology and Immunology and executive director for the University of Rochester Broadening Experiences in Scientific Training (URBEST) program at URMC

Politico reports that liberal gun rights groups have grown in the past year. And while conservative gun owners far outnumber liberal gun owners, the firearms enthusiasts who vote for Democrats want their fellow progressives to understand their viewpoints.

Our panel discusses what it’s like being the unusual combination of gun-owning progressives, and what they want their fellow progressives to know about gun policy. In studio:

  • Alexis Thorne
  • Walt Borowiec
  • Dave Tese

University of Rochester Medical Center

First hour: Firearm-owning progressives discuss gun policy

Second hour: "Thinkers and Drinkers" group works to improve science literacy

The Rochester Jewish Film Festival kicks off next week, and one film tells the story of a local Holocaust survivor. Jack Feldman grew up in Poland and was sent to Auschwitz during the war. In the camp, he was known only by his number, A17606. 

The tattoo on his arm caught the attention of his great-grandson, Elliott Saiontz. Saiontz interviews Feldman in the film, “The Number on Great-Grandpa’s Arm.”

We get a preview of the film this hour from Feldman, Saiontz, and Feldman’s granddaughter, Stacey Saiontz. We also hear what else is in the lineup for this year’s festival. In studio:

  • Jack Feldman
  • Stacey Saiontz
  • Elliott Saiontz
  • Bonnie Abrams, director of the Center for Holocaust Awareness and Information at the Jewish Federation of Greater Rochester
  • Andrea Miller, director of the Rochester Jewish Film Festival

You may have seen the recent TIME Magazine cover that juxtaposed President Donald Trump and the image of a crying child at the American border. It turns out, that child had not been separated from her parents, and now there are questions about whether TIME should have used the image at all.

Our panel of photographers and journalists weighs in. In studio:

  • William Snyder, four-time Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer, and chair of the Photojournalism Program at RIT
  • Jenn Poggi, assistant professor of photojournalism at RIT, and former photo editor for the Associated Press and U.S. News & World Report

Activist Robin Wilt earned 17 percent of the vote in Tuesday night’s primary–a fourth place finish, just a few votes behind Adam McFadden. The Brighton Town Board member says she’s disappointed with the results, but her campaign was a success.


First hour: Discussing ethics in photojournalism

Second hour: Previewing the Rochester Jewish Film Festival

With the summer kicking off, we’re seeing more children playing outside in their neighborhoods and neighborhoods streets. But do all kids have access to safe places to play?

New research shows that that car crashes involving pedestrians and cyclists are more frequent in some of Rochester’s most economically-challenged neighborhoods. What it will take to make streets safer?

We’re joined by experts and local residents who share their ideas. In studio:

  • Mike Bulger, coordinator for the Healthy Communities Project at Common Ground Health
  • Renée Stetzer, vice president for community outreach and chair of the Pedestrian Workgroup at Reconnect Rochester
  • Lydia Rivera, vice president of the Edgerton Neighborhood Association
  • Wendy Karen, secretary of the Edgerton Neighborhood Association

A restaurant owner in Virginia asked White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders to leave her establishment over the weekend. The owner said she knew Huckabee Sanders defended the president’s ban on transgender people in the military, and out respect for her employees who are gay, she told Huckabee Sanders to leave. The move has led to a fierce debate.

Our guests discuss their take on the issue. In studio: