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

WXXI’s Martin Kaufman lives and breathes all things news. It’s almost impossible to imagine him in another career though he admits he dabbled with the idea of becoming a teacher in his younger years. Fortunately for Rochester and the WXXI family he ultimately chose to work in news and production.

For nearly 25 years he’s been immersed in the news and television programming at the station covering everything from politics, election debates, and the arts, to healthcare and the criminal justice system. Kaufman also helped launch Need to Know back in 1997. The program continues to be the longest running news magazine show in Rochester. While Kaufman is usually behind-the-scenes editing field packages and line-producing the show, he joins host Hélène Biandudi Hofer for a special edition of Need to Know as they both look back at their tenure with the program and say goodbye as they prepare for new adventures.

WXXI’s Hélène Biandudi Hofer first met Rochester resident and former “Lost Boy” of Sudan, Sebastian Maroundit, in 2011. She interviewed the co-founder and president of Building Minds in South Sudan about a significant vote in his home country in East Africa that would eventually lead to South Sudan becoming its own nation. Little did Hélène know at the time that one of her first assignments for Need to Know would take her 7,000 miles away to the village of Mayan Abun in South Sudan.

Her reporting for WXXI focused on the impact of gender and race in education and how the Rochester community helped fund the opening of a school now known to have the largest enrollment of any primary school in South Sudan. The nonprofit news service CURRENT described the reporting project as an effort to build a bridge between Rochester and South Sudan. WXXI viewers and listeners called it “eye-opening” and “needed.”

Sebastian Maroundit joins the Need to Know host on her last program for WXXI to share how things are changing for children in South Sudan and our community’s continued role in that work.

On a special edition of Need to Know, we look back at some of the most inspiring shows and guests that impacted not only Rochester, but communities throughout the country and the world.

These are the people and stories that remind us of the value of the news media and the positive imprint it can have on others.

All that plus a bittersweet goodbye to a longtime staple of this show as he and Need to Know host, Hélène Biandudi Hofer prepare for new adventures.

Hassan Robinson is an athlete, a trainer, and could also be considered a women’s empowerment coach in the health and fitness world. What started as a program to help women and girls become more confident, has launched into an in-person and digital platform focused on making Rochester women know their worth while also becoming stronger - physically and mentally. The RIT grad and co-owner of Fountain of Youth Fitness is also the founder of “Strong Confident Women.” He and his clients explain the value of this work in a realm where gender inequality continues to be an issue.

It was journalist Edward R. Murrow’s groundbreaking documentary, Harvest of Shame, that was credited for opening America’s eyes in 1960 to the state of migrant workers and their children. The film provided an up-close look at not only the poverty endured by the workers and their families, but also the severe lack of resources available to them. According to the advocacy group Migrant Legal Action Program, the film propelled the federal government to act by providing support for migrant students. It was 1966 when the Migrant Education Program was created. It currently serves more than 300,000 three-to-21-year-olds in the US. On this edition of Need to Know, we discuss the impact of this program and if its yielding positive results in the Rochester region.

It’s a program many haven’t heard of even though it’s been around for more than 50 years. What you need to know about America’s Migrant Education Program specifically in the Rochester region. On this edition of Need to Know we’re talking outcomes, challenges, and if the program is really helping to break a cycle of poverty.

Also on the show, it’s strong confident women who raise the bar. That’s the motto of a Rochester man determined to uplift and build women through positivity, community, and evidence-based health and wellness.

Fifty years ago this month an historic event proved that humans could land on the moon. Many hands played a role in making that mission a success, including retired Eastman Kodak electronics engineer and scientist, Arthur Cosgrove. In the mid-to-late 1960s, Cosgrove was directly involved with the Lunar Orbiter Program which helped navigate ideal landing sites for Apollo 11 through mapping the moon’s surface. Cosgrove and WXXI news director, Randy Gorbman, who has been reporting on the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11, join host Hélène Biandud Hofer to discuss where we’ve been and what we have yet to explore.

Adoptees in New York could soon have immediate access to their birth certificates if they’re over the age of 18. Current law states birth certificates for adopted children can only be released by petitioning the courts and asking for access. However, if Governor Cuomo signs the bill passed by the legislature this summer, that will change, making New York the 10th state to give adult adoptees unrestricted access to their birth certificates. While it’s being hailed as a major victory by adoptee rights advocates, the road ahead still has its share of questions and challenges. An adult adoptee support group in Rochester is focused on assisting and uplifting fellow adoptees as they continue to navigate the highs and lows of what some call “the endless journey.” 

After a decades-long battle, adoptees in New York may soon be celebrating a major victory. But as we’ll learn, having unrestricted access to your birth certificate carries with it hopes and fears some people don’t anticipate or understand. Finding support through what some call “the endless journey,” on this edition of Need to Know.

Also on the show, it was 50 years ago when the first humans walked on the moon. We’ll hear from a Rochester man involved in a special project that paved the way for a moment that changed history. 

Creating a self-generating culture of awesomeness is the simple, yet profound mission of The Awesome Foundation, Rochester Chapter. The local branch of this global community gives out a thousand dollars at a time, in the form of micro grants, to advance a wide range of projects and initiatives spearheaded by Rochester residents intended to make all of us fall in love with our city and, of course, recognize its awesomeness. On this edition of Need to Know we learn how it works and the light the project is hoping to shine on Rochester.

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