WXXI AM News

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

A new book from longtime Washington Post journalist Amy Goldstein tells the true story of a Midwestern town whose foundation was rocked with the closing of auto giant GM's plant during the Great Recession.

In Janesville, Goldstein illustrates the domino effect the closing of a major factory can have on the lives of individuals. As the New York Times reports, the book also offers "sobering takeaways" about how ineffective job retraining can be for workers forced to reinvent their careers. Goldstein will be a guest of MCC next week, but first, she joins us to share her intimate portrait of a working class town and what policymakers today can learn from a community like Janesville.

First hour: Journalist Amy Goldstein, and her new book, Janesville

Second hour: Historian Walter Stahr and his new book, Stanton: Lincoln's War Secretary

An increasing number of millennials check their horoscopes everyday, and more than half of young adults in the U.S. believe astrology is a science. Why -- when science has proven that astrology isn't based in facts -- do so many people turn to it for guidance?

We discuss the psychic services industry (think palmistry, tarot-card readings, mediumship, etc.), epistemology, and more. Our guests:

Do you take selfies? Do you own a selfie stick? Do you use the hashtag "#selfie" frequently? If you answered "no" to any of these questions, maybe you agree with critics of selfies, who say they are all about narcissism. But is that unfair?

Researchers at the Rochester Institute of Technology say we are putting selfies in too small of a box. We talk to them about the history and future of selfies, the motivations behind them, and what they tell us about ourselves. In studio:

  • Amanda Kearney, RIT graduate student whose thesis was entitled “Uses and Gratification of Posting Selfies on Social Media”
  • Jonathan Schroeder, professor in the School of Communication at RIT

First hour: Understanding selfie culture

Second hour: Why an increasing number of millennials believe astrology is a science

Author Todd Moss draws on his experiences as a former State Department employee to drive the narratives of his Judd Ryker series. He newest book, The Shadow List, involves scam emails, a Nigerian corruption scandal, and a Russian master criminal.

Moss, a Pittsford native, will be a guest at the JCC’s Jewish Book Festival, but first, he joins us on Connections to discuss the parallels between his fiction and his former career.  

Members of the LGBTQ community are blasting actor Kevin Spacey, saying he conflated homosexuality with pedophilia. Late last month, actor Anthony Rapp told BuzzFeed that Spacey made a sexual advance toward him in 1986, when Rapp was 14. In a statement on Twitter, Spacey said he does not remember the encounter, but apologized and said his actions were caused by “deeply inappropriate drunken behavior.” In that same statement, Spacey then said he now chooses to live as a gay man.

The timing of Spacey’s announcement has fueled backlash: critics say it was a calculated PR move to distract from the alleged sexual misconduct, and it furthers the stigma that links homosexuality and child molestation – which is not backed by research. We talk about the impact of Spacey’s statement. Our guests:

  • Rowan Collins, education coordinator for the LGBTQ Academy at the Out Alliance
  • Kevin Coffey, assistant professor of social work in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Rochester Medical Center
  • Michael Lecker, director of LGBTQ health and inclusiveness at Trillium Health

First hour: Why Kevin Spacey's announcement furthers dangerous stereotypes

Second hour: Thriller author Todd Moss, and his book, The Shadow List

Weekend Connections is a collection of some of the most noteworthy moments from the week on Connections with Evan Dawson. This episode includes conversations about:

  • The property tax assessment system, with Paychex founder Tom Golisano;
  • Racial injustice in America, and what we can learn from history;
  • How science can inspire good and evil, with novelist Michael Chabon; 
  • The craft beer scene in Western New York.

Here's a strange question: Is empathy a good thing? Paul Bloom is a psychology professor at Yale and he wrote a book called Against Empathy. He says we're getting it wrong when it comes to empathy, and it's not a moral force. He explains why in the book, but leading practitioners in nonviolent communication disagree. They say empathy is vital and we need more of it.

One of those leaders is Miki Kashtan. She's be in Rochester this weekend for a workshop on bridge building, but first, she joins us on Connections to discuss empathy, nonviolent communication, and more. In studio:

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