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The Campbell Conversations


The Campbell Conversations is an interview-based public affairs radio program, created, hosted, and produced by Grant Reeher, Director of the Campbell Public Affairs Institute at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. The show airs on WRVO Public Media Saturdays at 6 a.m. and again on Sundays at 6 p.m., and is also available as a downloadable podcast.  WRVO Public Media is the largest regional NPR-affiliate in Central New York, with a listening area spanning 22 counties and southern Ontario.

The half-hour program features extended, in-depth interviews in which Reeher goes beyond and behind the current news cycle to explore important questions concerning public affairs. Guests include notable people from Central New York — writers, politicians, activists, public officials, and business professionals — whose work affects the public life of the community, as well as nationally-prominent figures visiting the region to talk about their work.  It is also a recognized go-to place for candidate debates during election cycles.  The program enjoys a regular audience among political, non-profit, educational, and other policy-related social networks.

Among the program’s recognitions and awards are a “Best Special Program” award from the Syracuse Press Club, and a “Best Interview” award from the New York State Associated Press. 

“In the Campbell Conversations, we try to provide the extra space for the depth I am always hungering for as a listener,” said Reeher. “I hope listeners will find the guests’ commentary as interesting as I do when I have the privilege of talking with them.”  The Campbell Conversations are conversations in the public interest.  

Links to current and past interviews can be found here

Campbell Conversations

NPR Morning Edition host David Greene on the Campbell Conversations
When a national tragedy occurs, we often head for the nearest radio or television to get the latest news. That happened this week, when a gunman shot and killed 58 people and injured hundreds of others during a country music concert in Las Vegas.  (Sat, 07 Oct 2017 11:28:45 +0000)

Juanita Perez Williams on the Campbell Conversations
Earlier this month, Juanita Perez Williams defeated two other candidates to become the Democratic nominee in the race for mayor of Syracuse, picking up more than 50 percent of the vote. She now moves on to the general election in November, where she faces three other candidates. This week on the Campbell Conversations, Grant Reeher talks with Perez Williams about her campaign and some of the issues facing city residents.  (Sat, 23 Sep 2017 09:12:00 +0000)

A Campbell Conversations debate: Should NYS hold a constitutional convention?
On the ballot in New York this Election Day, is a referendum on whether or not to hold a state constitutional convention. If approved, the entire state government structure could be up for reform, or even up for grabs.  (Sat, 16 Sep 2017 09:04:00 +0000)

State Sen. John Defrancisco on the Campbell Conversations
State Sen. John DeFrancisco (R-Syracuse) has been publicly considering a challenge to Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2018. Could an upstate Republican stand a chance against a downstate Democrat in a state with a 2-to-1 Democratic advantage? DeFransisco joins host Grant Reeher this week to consider how it could be done and what it could mean for New York.  (Sat, 09 Sep 2017 12:29:20 +0000)

A Campbell Conversations debate between the three Democratic candidates for Syracuse mayor
On September 12, Democrats in Syracuse will vote in a primary and will choose who they want to be their candidate in the race to be Syracuse's next mayor. Juanita Perez Williams, Joe Nicoletti and Marty Masterpole are running in that primary. The winner will be on the Democratic Party line in an already crowded election field, which includes Republican Laura Lavine, Howie Hawkins from the Green Party, and Ben Walsh on the Upstate Jobs Party line. This week, the three Democrats sat down with host Grant Reeher for a debate that covers a number of issues facing the city. The first audio file is the broadcast version of the debate. The second file is another 15 minutes of Q&A that didn't make it into the broadcast. A note on this debate from host Grant Reeher: It was clear when the candidates and their staff members gathered in my office prior to our taping that there was very little tension between them, in comparison with other debates I’ve moderated for the program. They seemed more  (Fri, 25 Aug 2017 08:54:00 +0000)

Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney talks shared services on the Campbell Conversations
Can local governments in New York better share the services they provide in order to improve quality and to save taxpayer dollars? A provision in this year's state budget calls for counties to develop proposals for greater sharing of services. This week, Grant Reeher talks with Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney, about the process of sharing services across municipalities.  (Sat, 19 Aug 2017 17:39:52 +0000)

Robert Doucette on the Campbell Conversations
One of the bright spots in the recent history of the city of Syracuse has been the redevelopment of parts of the city's downtown area. One of the primary movers of that revitalization has been Robert Doucette. This week, Doucette joins Grant Reeher to discuss the city, economic development, and the replacement of Interstate 81 through downtown.  (Sat, 12 Aug 2017 10:16:49 +0000)

Bill Magnarelli on the Campbell Conversations
This week on the Campbell Conversations, Grant Reeher speaks with State Assemblyman Bill Magnarelli (D-Syracuse). They discuss how this year's legislative session worked out, the tendency for governors to wrap legislation into the annual budget, ethics and public confidence in government, as well as the Syracuse mayoral race.  (Sat, 05 Aug 2017 09:49:44 +0000)

This week on the Campbell Conversations: 'How CNY Works'
Syracuse has some of the most concentrated poverty in the nation. It has also experienced a long term decline of its economic base: manufacturing. What is the city's work climate? This week on the Campbell Conversations, we're joined by the two co-chairs of a recent report by the Onondaga Citizens League, titled "How CNY Works," Melissa Menon and Craig French. Menon is the Talent/Community Engagement Manager at DARCO Manufacturing. French is a retired pastor of the University United Methodist Church in Syracuse.  (Sat, 08 Jul 2017 10:04:00 +0000)

This week on the Campbell Conversations: Quality housing for the poor in Syracuse
Last Month, NPR and PBS aired reports on two federal programs for low income housing , the low income housing tax credit program and Section 8 housing vouchers. The reports uncovered many shortcomings. This week, we explore how these programs are working in the Syracuse area. We're joined by Paul Driscoll, commissioner of Syracuse's Department of Neighborhood and Business Development, and Stephanie Pasquale, the department's deputy commissioner. In part two of the conversation, we look at Syracuse's efforts to provide quality housing for the poor and to generate more mixed income housing, and whether they're working.  (Sat, 24 Jun 2017 09:25:00 +0000)

Syracuse mayoral candidate Laura Lavine on the Campbell Conversations
Can a Republican candidate still be competitive in the heavily Democratic city of Syracuse? This week on the Campbell Conversations, Grant Reeher talks with Laura Lavine, the Republican candidate for mayor. Lavine has never run for political office, and most recently served superintendent of the LaFayette School District. They discuss her approach to leadership, and some of her more specific policy ideas for the city, as well as the politics of running from the minority party.  (Sat, 17 Jun 2017 09:53:00 +0000)

Syracuse mayoral candidate Howie Hawkins on the Campbell Conversations
Howie Hawkins has run for many local, regional, and statewide offices. This year he has thrown his hat in the ring again, as Green Party candidate for Syracuse mayor. Many of the ideas he has championed in the past have ultimately been taken up by Democrats, and some have been turned into law—but could this be the election where he will have a more direct say on future policy? Hawkins joins host Grant Reeher on this week’s edition of the Campbell Conversations. They discuss taxes, education, segregation, fairness, and economic development, and also how Spanish kept the candidate from receiving an Ivy-League degree.  (Sat, 10 Jun 2017 09:38:00 +0000)

Syracuse mayoral candidate Ben Walsh on the Campbell Conversations
If there was ever a year that an independent candidate might stand a chance of election in a local race, this is it. Dissatisfaction with the two parties and with politics as usual is at a high-water mark. This week on the Campbell Conversations, host Grant Reeher speaks with independent Syracuse mayoral candidate Ben Walsh. The two discuss the issues facing the city, where leadership of the city has gone right and wrong in recent years, and why Walsh is an independent rather than a Republican, like his father and grandfather.  (Sat, 03 Jun 2017 09:07:00 +0000)

Journalist Steve Featherstone on the Campbell Conversations
In recent years, a number of police shootings of African-American citizens has prompted protests and sharpened the political divide. Could these shootings be a product of newer trends and the way police are trained in a post-9/11 world? This week, Grant Reeher speaks with journalist Steve Featherstone, whose recent article on the topic appeared in the New Republic.  (Sat, 27 May 2017 12:50:48 +0000)

Joanie Mahoney and Bob Antonacci debate government consolidation for Onondaga County
The principal recommendation of the final report of the Consensus Commission on Local Government Modernization is to establish a new municipal form of government for Onondaga County, with a single executive and a 33-seat legislature. There has been much debate on the issue, including a recent debate on the issue at Syracuse University's Maxwell School. This week on the Campbell Conversations, we bring you another debate between one of the biggest supporters of a metropolitan government, Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney, and one of the biggest detractors, County Comptroller Bob Antonacci. Following the conclusion of the broadcast portion of the debate, Mahoney and Antonacci kept talking for more than 20 minutes. That unaired portion of the debate is below.  (Sat, 20 May 2017 09:26:00 +0000)

Seamus Kirst on the Campbell Conversations
Seamus Kirst has written a raw and revealing new memoir about his struggles with addiction, sexual identity, and mental health. The book, Sh*tfaced: Musings of a Former Drunk, also contains an equally unvarnished foreword by his father, the writer Sean Kirst .  (Sat, 13 May 2017 09:40:00 +0000)

Richard Hanna on the Campbell Conversations
Richard Hanna spent six years in Congress, representing New York's 22nd Congressional District. He did not run for reelection in 2016, and was replaced by Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-New Hartford). He often voted against his Republican colleagues in the House, and even supported Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential race. This week, he talks with Grant Reeher about the state of politics today, his own political future, and more.  (Sat, 15 Apr 2017 09:56:00 +0000)

Rep. John Katko on healthcare, Trump's budget, his own future, and more
Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) joined Grant Reeher for this week's edition of the Campbell Conversations. Topics included his recent public forum in Oswego, the healthcare debate in Washington, President Trump's proposed federal budget, his own political future, and much more.  (Sat, 08 Apr 2017 10:00:00 +0000)

Preview: Rep. John Katko on the Campbell Conversations
Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) joined Grant Reeher for this week's edition of the Campbell Conversations. In this preview, they talked about whether Katko has seen any political retribution for not backing President Donald Trump during the campaign, how House Speaker Paul Ryan is doing, and Katko's own political future. Note: Full audio and transcript of the interview will be available Saturday, April 8 at 6:00 a.m. GR: When I spoke to you last time we talked about the possibility that you might face some payback from the White House for publicly rejecting Trump as a candidate. And I wanted to know have you had any experience of that so far in the dealings with him or with the White House? JK: No they haven't been calling me to come down there for lunch, but I didn't expect that to happen either. But you know I think that quite frankly, this guy just wants to get things done. And so he was really taken aback when he invited people down to the White House for example during the Affordable  (Fri, 07 Apr 2017 08:44:00 +0000)

Sean Kirst on the media, the city of Syracuse and the soul of central New York
Sean Kirst's stories about the people of Syracuse and the trials and tribulations of the area were a beloved feature of the local newspaper, and are still missed. Kirst has a new book out based on those columns, The Soul of Central New York . This week, Grant Reeher talks with Kirst to talk about the book, the news media and some of the challenges the city of Syracuse is facing.  (Sat, 01 Apr 2017 09:20:00 +0000)