WXXI AM News

PBS

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.

A new NOVA special, "Decoding COVID-19," takes viewers inside hospitals and scientific research labs around the world during the height of the outbreak. The film follows the work of scientists as they race to develop treatments and a vaccine for COVID-19, and it shares the personal stories of families who have navigated illness and loss.

We preview the special with its producer, and with an infectious disease physician and an infectious disease researcher featured in the film. NOVA's "Decoding COVID-19" airs Tuesday at 9 p.m. on WXXI-WORLD. Our guests:

  • Sarah Holt, writer, director, and producer of NOVA's "Decoding COVID-19"
  • Dr. Nahid Bhadelia, M.D., infectious diseases physician and medical director of the Special Pathogens Unit at Boston University School of Medicine
  • Galit Alter, Ph.D., professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, and group leader at the Ragon Institute of Massachusetts General Hospital, MIT, and Harvard

During the season premiere of the PBS Kids’ show “Arthur,” Arthur’s teacher, Mr. Ratburn, got married. The episode, “Mr. Ratburn and the Special Someone,” featured the wedding of Mr. Ratburn and his partner, Patrick. The show is the latest in a series of children’s television programs and books to highlight diverse characters and inclusive storylines.

This hour, we discuss the value of inclusion on screen and in print – as well as behind the scenes – and the learning goals for children. Our guests:

  • Lesli Rotenberg, chief programming executive and general manager for children’s media and education at PBS
  • Cara Rager, manager of educational training and family engagement at WXXI Education
  • Leslie C. Youngblood, author of “Love Like Sky”
  • Ed Popil (Mrs. Kasha Davis), local drag performer and children's book author

We're joined by the team behind the PBS show, "Nature." Executive producer Fred Kaufman and filmmaker Ann Johnson Prum are in Rochester for a (sold out) screening at The Little Theatre.

We get a behind-the-scenes look at how the episodes are produced, including how Kaufman and Johnson Prum coordinated shoots at national parks during the government shutdown. We also discuss "Nature's" upcoming special series, "American Spring LIVE," and how local community members can team up with WXXI to become citizen scientists. In studio:

  • Fred Kaufman, executive producer of "Nature"
  • Ann Johnson Prum, filmmaker for "Nature"
  • Betsy Ukeritis, inter-regional environmental educator for the Western Adirondacks, Central New York, and the Finger Lakes regions with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

Two surprise hits at the box office this summer are documentaries, and the stars behind them are being lauded for their quiet voices and powerful messages. Screenings of “RBG,” a documentary about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” a film about children’s television icon Fred Rogers, have been selling out around the country.  Theater owners and critics say Ginsburg and Rogers’ voices appeal to people across the political spectrum and have the power to heal divides in a polarized country.

We discuss the impact Ginsberg and Rogers have had on generations of people. In studio:

  • Elissa Orlando, senior vice president of television and news for WXXI
  • Paula Larew Wooters, teacher in the Rochester City School District’s Universal Pre-K program at Asbury Day Care Center
  • Beth Cordello, chair of the employment law practice at Pullano & Farrow

For 44 years, you could find actress Sonia Manzano on Sesame Street playing the iconic character, "Maria." While loyal Sesame Street viewers knew her as a cheerful and supportive friend to Big Bird, Elmo, and Oscar, Manzano's role on the show was more than meets the eye: she was the first Latina woman many viewers ever saw on television, and she won 15 Emmys for writing scripts that explored a number of issues, including multiculturalism.

Manzano is the keynote speaker for the YWCA of Rochester's Empowering Women Luncheon on Wednesday, but first, she joins us on Connections. We talk to her about her journey to Sesame Street, how her tumultuous childhood influenced her career, and her thoughts about diverse casting on screen. Our guests:

  • Sonia Manzano, actress and author
  • Jean Carroll, president and CEO of the YWCA of Rochester and Monroe County

Tips for Talking About Shooting With Your Kids

Dec 14, 2012

How do you talk about today's events with your children?  Here are some strategies from PBS Parents.