Evan Dawson

Connections Host

Evan Dawson joined WXXI in January 2014 after working at 13WHAM-TV, where he served as morning news anchor. He was hired as a reporter for 13WHAM-TV in 2003 before being promoted to anchor in 2007.

Evan is also the author of Summer in a Glass: The Coming Age of Winemaking in the Finger Lakes and is the managing editor/Finger Lakes editor for the New York Cork Report, a web site that offers independent news, reviews, and commentary about the New York wine industry.

He has written freelance articles on topics including politics, wine, travel, and Major League Baseball.

Ways to Connect

James Brown / WXXI News

First hour: Debating the presence of police in schools

Second hour: Discussing the RPO's 2020-2021 season with new music director Andreas Delfs

The seventh season of PBS' "Finding Your Roots" with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. offers another series of compelling stories about well-known people tracing their family ancestries. The episode that airs tonight features music artist Pharrell Williams, who learns some painful truths about his ancestors. Like many African Americans, Williams was unable to find much information about his genealogy due to a dearth of records before emancipation.

This hour, we talk with the lead genealogist from "Finding Your Roots" about the new season, about the challenges African Americans face in tracing their ancestries, about resources available in the process, and we hear from two women who found their roots. Our guests:

  • Nick Sheedy, lead genealogist for “Finding Your Roots,” season seven 
  • Cheryl Wills, award-winning journalist, anchor for Spectrum News NY1, and author of “Emma,” “The Emancipation of Grandpa Sandy Wills,” “Emancipated: My Family’s Fight for Freedom,” and “Die Free – A Heroic Family Tale” 
  • Teej Jenkins, host of WXXI’s “Arts in Focus,” and producer for WXXI-TV 

For more information about "Finding Your Roots" and resources to help trace your ancestry, click here.

What kind of effort do school districts make to teach Black history? The West Irondequoit School District is moving beyond the usual, often narrow approach. As part of a new video series through the Our Voices Project, students are educating their peers and the public about lesser-known Black historical figures.

Do you know about the lives and legacies of Jeremiah Hamilton, Bass Reeves, Afeni Shakur, and Maria Stewart? You will with our guests: 

  • Jackie McGriff, director and producer for the Our Voices Project
  • Courtney Shouse, parent, and member of the Education Task Force for Eliminating Racism and Seeking Equity (E.R.A.S.E.) 
  • Tyleea K. Payne-Harley, member of the Irondequoit High School Mosaic Club, who portrays Maria Stewart in the Our Voices Project
  • Selena G. Eyob, member of the Irondequoit High School Mosaic Club, who portrays Afeni Shakur in the Our Voices Project
  • Justin R. Connor, member of the Irondequoit High School Mosaic Club, who portrays Bass Reeves in the Our Voices Project

We're joined by the president of the Rochester Police Locust Club, who discusses the events of the weekend, and his thoughts on proposed changes for policing.

Our guest:


First hour: Discussing how the Our Voices Project is transforming curricula about Black history

Second hour: PBS' "Finding Your Roots," and the challenges African Americans face in tracing their ancestries

The University of Rochester Medical Center will end its Executive Health and special patient services programs.

The organizers of a local educational opportunity are hoping to boost interest in the traditional trades. The field was one of the Landmark Society's previous "Five to Revive," and it has been working to create a pipeline for trades workers. A new partnership with SUNY Geneseo has been successful in that effort. The university now offers a three-part course series called "Historic Preservation and Rural Renewal." 

We talk to instructors and students about historic preservation and how they will apply their skills in the field. Our guests:

The music industry is attempting to relaunch after a mostly lost year due to the pandemic. Joywave's Daniel Armbruster joins us. He says that at any given time, roughly half of active bands are touring, and half are writing/recording. When restrictions lift, nearly all active bands will want to play live music. That will result in a glut, with not nearly enough venues to support the bands that want to play out or tour. What happens next? How many bands can survive this?

Armbruster takes us through the Joywave approach. Our guest:

Hollywood Records

First hour: How will the music industry look post-pandemic?

Second hour: Discussing how to build a pipeline for the traditional trades

How do your store your data? Hard drives? The cloud? A local inventor says a device he created is indestructible and will make your data available in perpetuity. It’s called Totenpass, and it’s constructed from solid gold. Inventor Bruce Ha says not only can the device withstand fire and other natural elements, it also eliminates future dependence on the internet or the cloud when it comes to saving precious digital files. Ha has concerns about who owns content when it’s uploaded to the cloud or to sites like Facebook or Twitter. How can you protect your own information?

This hour, we discuss data storage and ownership with our guests:

  • Bruce Ha, inventor, entrepreneur, creator of Totenpass, and founder and CEO of Stamper Technology, Inc.
  • Scott Malouf, attorney whose practice focuses on the intersection of social media and the law