David Sommerstein

Reporter/Producer, NCPR

David Sommerstein, a contributor from North Country Public Radio (NCPR), has covered the St. Lawrence Valley, Thousand Islands, Watertown, Fort Drum and Tug Hill regions since 2000. Sommerstein has reported extensively on agriculture in New York State, Fort Drum’s engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the lives of undocumented Latino immigrants on area dairy farms. He’s won numerous national and regional awards for his reporting from the Associated Press, the Public Radio News Directors Association, and the Radio-Television News Directors Association. He's regularly featured on NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Only a Game, and PRI’s The World.

Sommerstein started his career in radio as a sit-in jazz and Latin DJ at Buffalo NPR affiliate WBFO. He’s a huge baseball fan, speaks fluent Spanish, and hosts a bilingual music show featuring funk, hip hop, Latin and world beats, called The Beat Authority.

Ways To Connect

A day after Aaron Woolf announced he would not run for the North Country's 21st Congressional seat again, another Democrat stepped up to say he will. Mike Derrick is a Clinton County, New York native.

Search continues for escaped prisoners

Jun 11, 2015
governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

State Police focused their search late last night on an area around Cadyville and West Plattsburgh in Clinton County, as the manhunt for two missing inmates continues.

Multiple news sources, including the Plattsburgh Press Republican, reported that portions of Highway 374 were closed overnight and local residents were urged to stay indoors and keep their lights on outside their homes.

ChrisDag / Creative Commons

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) said she has “serious concerns” with the way U.S. Border Patrol agents conduct roadside checkpoints in New York's North Country. The viral video of a St. Lawrence County woman being tased by agents last month drew her attention.

David Sommerstein / NCPR

For more than a decade, undocumented Hispanic workers have been indispensable on dairy farms across Upstate New York. The immigrants live largely invisible lives and rarely stray off the farm to avoid detection by federal agents. They are also less likely to report abuses.

It's a hectic day at Production Unlimited in Watertown, N.Y. Everyone has to drop his regular work — making plastic binders, safety equipment, office supplies — for a huge order.

Beth Carpenter punches hole after hole into colored plastic tags. She and her co-workers are paid based on how fast they work, usually well below minimum wage. Carpenter has done all different kinds of tasks here for more than 15 years.

"And I like working here every day," she says. "I work here five days a week. That's why I'd like to make sure we fight to keep this place open."

Catherine Loper / WRVO News file photo

The cities of Syracuse, Oswego, Watertown and more than a dozen towns and villages in Jefferson County are urging residents to run a trickle of water through a faucet to keep pipes from freezing. One of them is the village Mannsville, south of Watertown. David Sommerstein spoke with the village Mayor Lori Cashel. She says she can’t remember freezing pipes being this much of problem in decades.

The first black American hockey player in NHL history is telling his story almost 30 years after he retired.

Val James was a revered and feared fighter — known in hockey as an enforcer — during short stints for the Buffalo Sabres and the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 1980s. But he was defenseless to the racist taunts and slurs that showered down on him from opposing teams' fans.

David Sommerstein / NCPR

Republican Elise Stefanik cruised to an easy victory to become the North Country’s next Congresswoman. She defeated Democrat Aaron Woolf 53-32 percent, with the Green Party candidate winning 11 percent of the vote.

At his campaign headquarters near his home in Elizabethtown Tuesday night, Woolf acknowledged some rough patches in his campaign.

Republicans pigeon-holed filmmaker Aaron Woolf from the beginning as a “Manhattan Millionaire,” a carpetbagger. But people at this folksy, Adirondack bar near his home don’t see that Aaron Woolf at all.

David Sommerstein/NCPR

This week, WRVO is profiling candidates for Congress in central and northern New York. Today we take a look at Elise Stefanik, the Republican running for the open seat in 21st district in the North Country.

Stefanik hopes to return the North Country’s seat in Congress to the Republican side of the aisle as it had been for decades before Democrat Bill Owens won three times. She would become the youngest member of the House at 30 years old.

NYS Democratic Party

This week, WRVO will profile candidates for Congress in central and northern New York. We begin with Aaron Woolf, the Democrat running for the open seat in 21st district in the North Country.

New York's North Country Democrats surprised everyone when they chose Aaron Woolf to try to succeed Bill Owens after he announced his retirement. Woolf is running against Republican Elise Stefanik and Green Party candidate Matt Funiciello.


A new poll in New York's North Country's Congressional race finds Republican Elise Stefanik leading Democrat Aaron Woolf 46 to 33 percent. Green Party candidate Matt Funiciello is favored by 10 percent of those polled.

The poll was conducted independent of the candidates by WWNY-TV 7 News in Watertown and Siena College. It has a four point margin of error.

The poll also finds North Country voters deeply dissatisfied with their state and federal leaders, with more than 10 percent of voters saying they're unsure how to vote.

St. Lawrence County Sheriff's Office

More charges are expected this week against a St. Lawrence County couple who allegedly kidnapped two Amish girls.

Police gathered potential evidence from the home of Stephen Howells II and Nicole Vaisey of Hermon Sunday. The pair was arrested Friday night on charges of first-degree kidnapping with intent to harm two Amish girls, ages 6 and 12.

Brian Mann / NCPR file photo

After entering the race as a complete unknown last year, Elise Stefanik won the Republican Party primary in New York's 21st Congressional District Tuesday night by a commanding margin over Matt Doheny.

Stefanik, a 29-year-old political analyst, overcame non-existent name recognition, opposition from some senior GOP leaders, and claims that she was a "carpetbagger" from outside the North Country district.

David Sommerstein/NCPR

Last summer, the country's top professional anglers were catching hundreds of pounds of Bass in the St. Lawrence River for the Bassmasters Elite tournament. Elite series officials deemed it a big success. A study found it generated $1-3 million for the region.

But are tournaments like Bassmasters Elite bad for the fish?

Sidsel Overgaard/WRVO

This weekend is the state’s annual celebration of maple syrup. Maple Weekend is a rite of spring and ushers in the first crop of the year.

New York is the country’s second biggest producer of maple syrup, behind Vermont. Producers will put out more than two million taps this spring.

Acting New York State Agricultural Commissioner Richard Ball says producers are nervous about the late winter.