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

Mural artist Sarah Rutherford is combining the power of story and voice in a unique project she recently completed here in Rochester. It’s called Her Voice Carries and it features five murals highlighting the empowering stories of five Rochester women from different walks of life. Though their journeys may be different, they share an interesting common thread. That story on this edition of Need to Know.

A record-breaking number of women are running for political office this year. According to some women in the political trenches, the reasons run deep. And according to some researchers and lawmakers, the impact could be long-term. It all seems quite fitting as the Centennial celebration is underway in New York for women’s suffrage. On August 23rd, leaders from around the state will gather in Rochester for Seneca Falls Revisited: A Women’s Equality Weekend. The meaning behind the event and its intended impact on this edition of Need to Know.

Politicians, entrepreneurs, activists, and reformers throughout New York are coming together in Rochester on August 23rd. What do they have in common? The pursuit for women’s equality. That story on this edition of Need to Know.

Also on the show, five women, five stories, and five murals with one purpose. How a local artist intends to connect a community through the commonalities of our human experience...and the power of a woman’s voice.

Most racial and ethnic minority groups have similar - or in some cases, fewer - mental health disorders than their white peers. And yet, the consequences of mental illness in minorities may be long-lasting. That’s according to the American Psychiatric Association. The disparities in mental health care for racial, ethnic and religious minorities is real. How is it happening, why is it happening, and what resources are available right here in our community to help combat it? We look into these questions and more on this edition of Need to Know.

Artist Nate Larson describes Twitter as a river, ever-changing, never the same twice. It’s from that river that he and fellow artist Marni Shindelman work to identify a significant moment, from a single tweet, that they can bring to life through photographs and immersive installations. The artists have found a unique way to transform data into art and activism. They’re in Rochester for the month of July through a partnership between the George Eastman Museum and the Out Alliance to help area teens create their own photographic projects focused on Rochester. 

The New York State Education Commissioner was in Rochester this week for a cultural education visit. MaryEllen Elia toured a number of the city’s cultural attractions as part of her work to bridge cultural institutions throughout the state with childhood education. During her trip, she stopped by the Need to Know studios to discuss everything from the newly-named Distinguished Educator for Rochester, the closing and re-opening of failing schools, and more. 

Half of all chronic mental illness begins by age 14. And more than two-thirds of young people report experiencing at least one traumatic event by the age of 16. There are dire consequences to these numbers IF they’re not addressed. As researchers point out, untreated traumatic stress and mental health can lead to school dropouts, suicide and more. For these reasons and others, a number of teens in Rochester are fighting back against these statistics to help their peers not only develop the skills they need to survive but to also provide them with the means to heal. The teens are youth organizers with Rochester’s Teen Empowerment and they’re hosting a series of workshops this summer for teens, by teens addressing trauma and mental health.

While the work to break public stigma of mental illness in our country continues, there’s another issue to address: disparities in mental health care for people of color. The problem and a local solution to the issue on this edition of Need to Know.

Also on the show, trauma and mental illness are plaguing our youth. We’ll hear from teens specifically focused on helping other teens not just survive, but find healing and support from traumatic life experiences.

What does it take to fix a troubled school system? On this edition of Need to Know, we talk with State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia about what she believes are solutions to some of the Rochester City School District’s long-standing problems.

Also on the show, how photography and technology are helping teens express activism through art. 

If you’re an individual with a disability or a person of color you’ll have to search a little harder to find someone who looks like you in the legal profession. Law happens to be one of the least diverse professions in our country. Some argue not enough is being done to change this problem because there’s a lack of consensus that this is an issue, to begin with. Locally, steps are being made to help foster a more diverse legal system. The Rochester Diversity Clerkship is an effort to do just that.

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