WXXI AM News

Megan Mack

Connections Executive Producer

Megan Mack is the executive producer of "Connections with Evan Dawson" and live/televised engagement programming. 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

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First hour: Is it time to change the voting age to 16? 

Second hour: Discussing the state of the pandemic locally

We're looking at a potential United States after Roe v Wade. For conservatives, a long-held dream could finally become reality: with the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the court could soon have a conservative super-majority, and Roe v Wade could be overturned. For progressives, it's a nightmare: the end of abortion rights at the federal level, and a 50-state patchwork of different laws.

Our guests discuss what could happen, and what to expect:

  • Sharon Stiller, J.D., partner and director of the employment law practice at Abrams, Fensterman, Fensterman, Eisman, Formato, Ferrara, Wolf & Carone, LLP; and board member for the National Women’s Hall of Fame
  • Pastor Rick LaDue, United Methodist Church of Webster
  • Sarah Clark, longtime legislative staff member for multiple members of the U.S. Senate and candidate for New York State Assembly in the 136th district

The New York Times has obtained Donald Trump's tax information, which journalists have been seeking for many years now. They report that the president paid exactly $750 in total taxes in 2016, the same in 2017, and zero in most other years. That's because the president reported massive business losses, and he wrote off a number of other expensive items -- like haircuts. Critics say the president is bound to be in trouble with the IRS for fudging the books. Supporters say that he simply did what most people would do: reduce your tax bill by whatever means necessary.

Journalist David Cay Johnston has written more about the American tax code than just about any other reporter. He joins us to discuss the president's tax burden, and what we know about legal deductions. Our guest:

David Cay Johnston / Twitter

First hour: Investigative journalist David Cay Johnston on Trump's taxes

Second hour: Discussing a potential United States after Roe v Wade

The recent summer-like weather won’t stick around too long, and with the cold months approaching – and no end to the pandemic in sight – the way we live and socialize will change. In March, when the pandemic began, we had a conversation on this program about how to help people who may feel isolated or lonely. Those issues are still a concern for many people, and especially individuals who struggle with mental health challenges and substance abuse disorders.

Research from July shows that more than half of U.S. adults reported that their mental health has been negatively impacted due to worry and stress over the coronavirus, and separate studies link social isolation and loneliness to poor mental health and an increase in substance abuse.

This hour, we’re joined by guests from East House who help us understand how to provide different forms of support for people struggling with these issues. Maybe you or someone you know has been feeling disconnected, depressed, or has relapsed. We talk about how to have those conversations, how to find assistance, and how to prepare for the months ahead.  We also preview an upcoming virtual event hosted by East House. Our guests:

  • Kim Brumber, president and CEO of East House
  • Cheri Reed-Watt, residential program director for East House who is living in recovery
  • Sabrina May, program manger for East House’s Affinity Place Peer Respite Program who is living in recovery
  • Dr. Aaron Olden, M.D., physician and owner of Mindful Medicine Rochester

When is the last time you visited your favorite restaurant? How has it adapted to the challenges of the pandemic? Many restaurants across the country are finding creative ways to keep business going after shut downs and limits on indoor dining, and those conversations are becoming more urgent as we head into the cold months. Will restaurants in regions like ours be able to weather the winter?

According to a recent study from the New York Restaurant Association, nearly 64 percent of restaurant owners surveyed across the state say they are likely or somewhat likely to go out of business by the end of this year unless they see financial relief. A consulting firm for the restaurant industry estimates that between 20 and 25 percent of independently-owned restaurants that closed earlier this year will never reopen.

So what’s the situation here in Rochester and the Finger Lakes? We talk about the state of the industry with the New York Restaurant Association and local restaurant owners, and we hear from listeners about their experiences with take out or dining out during the pandemic. Our guests:

Brett Dahlberg

First hour: Discussing the current and future state of the restaurant industry during the pandemic

Second hour: How to help people struggling with mental health or substance abuse challenges prepare for the pandemic winter

Colleges across the country have taken a variety of approaches to addressing student safety during the pandemic. Some institutions have already shut back down and shifted to remote learning after COVID-19 cases on campus have spiked. Thursday evening, the Washington Post published a piece on virus prevention efforts at colleges, and it raised the question of if those efforts will "get trashed by a few student parties." According to the piece, some college leaders have dropped by bars to hand out masks to students, while others have shut down parties or kicked out students for violating rules.

This hour, we talk with local students about the college experience during the pandemic. What's it like to live and learn on – or off – campus this semester? Our guests weigh in:

  • LaTivia McCowan, junior majoring in theater at the University of Rochester 
  • Hernan Sanchez Garcia, senior majoring in history and English at the University of Rochester 
  • Jared King, freshman majoring in game design at Finger Lakes Community College 
  • Emmarae Stein, senior majoring in communications and history at Nazareth College

We continue our series of conversations with candidates running for office. This hour, we talk with candidates for the 135th Assembly District seat. Republican incumbent Mark Johns was first elected to represent the district in 2010. His opponent, Democrat Jen Lunsford, is an attorney with Segar & Sciortino.

We talk with the candidates about their platforms and priorities for the district, and they answer our questions and yours about a number of issues impacting the community. Our guests:

  • Mark Johns, Republican candidate for the 135th Assembly District
  • Jen Lunsford, Democratic candidate for the 135th Assembly District 

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First hour: Mark Johns and Jen Lunsford, candidates for the 135th Assembly District

Second hour: Discussing the college experience during the pandemic

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