Campbell Conversations

Sundays at 6:00 p.m.

Every week Grant Reeher, Director of the Campbell Public Affairs Institute at Syracuse University, leads a conversation with a notable guest. Guests include 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.

The Campbell Conversations are longer interviews which encourage the character of the interviewee to be exposed. This allows you to learn more about the person, how they got to where they are, and where they plan to go. Grant attempts to go beyond the usual press conference questions and sound bites, which usually accompany a discussion about his guests.

Podcasts of the show are available via iTunes.

If you have any questions about an episode or any comments for Grant, feel free to contact him by email at gdreeher@maxwell.syr.edu at your convenience.

See also:  The Campbell Debates

Since the Great Recession, non-profit organizations have struggled to get the resources that they need, and many have failed.  They’ve also had to adapt to new technology, which has changed the ways that people want to give, and raised their expectations of transparency.  This week on the Campbell Conversations Grant Reeher discusses those challenges with Peter Brinkerhoff, an expert on non-profit organizations and their management, and the author of several award-winning books in the non-profit field.

Richard Ravitch has had a life full of significant public service positions in New York City, and has assumed those positions at critical times.  He has a memoir out, titled So Much To Do.  In this conversation with host Grant Reeher, Ravitch looks back on some of those experiences, and argues that a sense of collective responsibility and shared sacrifice were the keys to overcoming the challenges, and considers how those qualities are faring in today's political climate.

  Last September Zephyr Teachout challenged Andrew Cuomo for the Democratic nomination for governor, and claimed 33 percent of the vote, more than anyone predicted at the start of her run.  The Fordham law professor now has a book out on corruption in American politics, and in this episode of the Campbell Conversations, host Grant Reeher talks with her about that, and about her experiences on the campaign trail.

Poverty has long been understood to be a root cause of crime.  What's less well understood is how crime--and the criminal justice system--contribute to poverty.  In this edition of the Campbell Conversations, host Grant Reeher explores that dynamic with Marsha Weissman, the executive director of the Center for Community Alternatives, an organization dedicated to finding alternatives to incarceration and supporting people in the criminal justice system.

How is the problem of Latin American immigration and the recent wave of immigrant children seen by two spokespersons for the region?  On this week's episode of the Campbell Conversations host Grant Reeher speaks with Francisco Altschul, El Salvador's Ambassador to the United States, and Julio Ligorria, Guatemala's Ambassador.  Together they encourage American listeners to understand and appreciate the historical context for the current problem, and press for the idea of shared responsibility--for the past, and for addressing the problem in the future.

In the final segment of the Campbell Conversation joint interviews with candidates, host Grant Reeher speaks with the candidates for New York State's 129th Assembly seat:  Democrat Incumbent Bill Magnarelli and Republican challenger Rick Zaccaria.  The two debate the Common Core, fracking, the state's business climate, and what it takes to be an effective legislator. 

Campbell Conversations

Democrat Rep. Dan Maffei and his Republican opponent John Katko appear together in their first debate of the campaign with Grant Reeher of the WRVO's Campbell Conversations. The two candidates for the 24th Congressional District have agreed to six debates before Election Day.

WRVO's debate has been broadcast in two parts. This second half focuses largely on domestic policy issues.

Campbell Conversations

Democrat Rep. Dan Maffei and his Republican opponent John Katko appear together in their first debate of the campaign with Grant Reeher of the WRVO's Campbell Conversations. The two candidates for the 24th Congressional District have agreed to six debates before Election Day.

WRVO's debate will be broadcast in two parts. The first half includes a discussion on the campaign commercials for both candidates, as well as what the United States should do about the Islamic State (ISIS) and the spread of the Ebola virus. Part two will be broadcast Sunday, October 26 at 6 p.m.

Ryan Delaney/WRVO and Katko for Congress

The race for the 24th Congressional District has been characterized by its negative campaign ads. Grant Reeher, host of WRVO's Campbell Conversations, moderated the first debate between incumbent Democrat Dan Maffei and Republican challenger John Katko. In this portion of the debate, Reeher asked each candidate about their use of negative ads.

One of the most competitive state legislative races in this region is the contest for the 127th Assembly district seat, between incumbent Democrat Al Stirpe and Republican challenger Rob DeMarco.  DeMarco is a former prosecutor in the Onondaga County District Attorney's office.  In this conversation the two spar over whether the state provides a healthy climate for business development and how that relates to taxing and spending, the NY SAFE Act, and how much reform the state legislative process still needs.

This edition of the Campbell Conversations begins a series of joint conversations this fall with candidates in contested races for elected positions.  This week the two candidates for Onondaga County Sheriff join host Grant Reeher, in their first shared appearance.  Republican Gene Conway and Democrat Toby Shelley discuss their background and experience, the need to make changes at the sheriff's department, their vision for greater cooperation with other law enforcement agencies in the county, and just how vigorously they'll enforce the SAFE Act. 

Pavel Baev is a leading international expert on Russian foreign and security policy.  He grew up and studied in the former Soviet Union, worked in the Soviet Ministry of Defense, and is now a professor at Oslo's Peace Research Institute, as well as a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.  In this conversation with host Grant Reeher, Baev discusses what's motivating Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Ukraine, and what's at stake for the West in the conflict there.  He compares Russia's involvement to Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait, and argues that Russia is "experimenting" in

Continuing its series on poverty in the Syracuse region, this week's edition of the Campbell Conversations focuses on an under-studied and under-appreciated aspect of the problem: adult literacy.  Peter Waite is the Executive Vice-President of ProLiteracy, and Marsha Tait is Executive Director of Literacy CNY.  Together they discuss how literacy and economic challenges interact.

See below for highlights of the interview:

Grant Reeher (GR): How prevalent is the literacy problem?

This episode of the Campbell Conversations continues with the theme of poverty in the Syracuse region.  Host Grant Reeher talks with Tom Buckel, a former county legislator and partner in a large Syracuse law firm who now works as an Attorney for Legal Services of Central New York, and Deborah O'Shea, the pro bono coordinator for the Volunteer Lawyers Project of Onondaga County.  They discuss poverty and the access to civil legal services.

Grant Reeher (GR): Can you give me a brief overview of the mission of your organization and the kind of work that it does?

Syracuse is one of the poorest cities in the nation.  The poorest of those poor, both individuals and families, struggle with homelessness.  As a first installment in an ongoing series on poverty in the Syracuse region, Grant Reeher talks with Kevin Frank, the Executive Director of the Brady Faith Center, located on Syracuse’s South Side.  Frank discusses his on-the-ground and in-the-street work with the homeless, and suggests what government, non-profit organizations, and all of us, can do to promote genuine relationships, which he sees as the key in addressing the problem.

Zephyr Teachout is mounting a spirited challenge to Andrew Cuomo’s re-election campaign, running against the incumbent governor in this September’s Democratic Primary.  So far the governor has refused to debate her, but in this edition of the Campbell Conversations, Teachout sits down with host Grant Reeher to discuss political reform, state policy, her chances in September and possibly November, and even her curious name.

When Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner sent a letter to President Obama offering to host undocumented Latin American children at a former convent, a spirited version of the immigration debate erupted in the area.  On this week's edition of the Campbell Conversations, host Grant Reeher continues his interview of both Miner and Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney.  They discuss the  hosting decision, and also have a more general conversation about leadership and politics in the region.

Syracuse is facing a host of challenges and opportunities; front and center among them are the replacing of I-81 and the economic development of the city.  On this edition of the Campbell Conversations, Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner and Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney sit down together with host Grant Reeher to discuss these key issues. 

Note: See the transcript below for highlights of the conversation.

When the New York State Senate’s Independent Democratic Conference joined in a majority coalition with Republicans in 2012, it claimed that the arrangement would provide more up-or-down floor votes on progressive legislation.  In announcing a new intention to caucus with Democrats following this November’s elections, the IDC is claiming that the arrangement will provide….more up-or-down votes on progressive legislation.  How can both claims be true?  That question and others related to political power-sharing arrangements are explored with this week’s guest on the Campbell Conversations—IDC

Michael Falcone is Chairman Emeritus of the Pioneer Companies, a commercial real estate development enterprise in Upstate New York, Denver, and Phoenix.  Prior to that, he was a partner with Robert Congel in the Pyramid Companies.  In this edition of the Campbell Conversations, Grant Reeher speaks with him about malls, hotels, the development trajectory of Syracuse, the proper role of government in development, and Syracuse University's impact on the city.

Through its Engage CNY initiative, the non-profit organization CNY Arts has recently completed a thorough inventory and survey of the arts, and of citizens' views and preferences about arts and culture in the Central New York region.  In this edition of the Campbell Conversations, Grant Reeher speaks with Stephen Butler, the executive director of CNY Arts, about the findings, and about the plan that has been developed in light of them.  They also discuss the Syracuse Symphony and the Everson Museum.

On this week's edition of the Campbell Conversations, host Grant Reeher talks with the David Holwerk, Director of Communications for the Kettering Foundation and a long-time print journalist, about the problems with American democracy and constructive citizen engagement, and what the Foundation is doing to try to address them. 

One of the fallouts of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision has been the emergence of several groups dedicated to amending the Constitution, in order to reverse the case and limit the role of money in politics.  A leader among them has been the group Move to Amend.  On this week’s edition of the Campbell Conversations, Grant Reeher talks with the group’s national spokesperson, David Cobb.  Cobb was also the Green Party’s presidential candidate in 2004.

In one of his first extended public interviews, John Katko talks with Grant Reeher on the Campbell Conversations.  Katko is the former federal prosecutor challenging Dan Maffei for the 24th Congressional district seat this fall.  In a wide-ranging discussion, Katko addresses whether he’s a moderate or a conservative, how he thinks about entitlements and taxes, Obamacare, and the level of dysfunction in the current Congress.  He also discusses the role of money in the campaign.

Elect Her is an initiative co-sponsored by the American Association of University Women.  It involves trainings held at universities and colleges to support and recruit more young women to pursue leadership positions on campus, as well as future political office.  In this edition of the Campbell Conversations, host Grant Reeher speaks with a local director of the Association, and a recent student participant in the initiative, about the problem of under-representation of

In this edition of the Campbell Conversations, Grant Reeher continues the discussion with Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee.  The governor frankly describes the political challenges he's encountered as governor, and the effects of his party switch after being elected.  He also discussed his state's relatively smooth roll-out of Obamacare, and his political future. 

In the first of two-part interview, Grant Reeher discusses the current level of conflict and polarization between the two parties with Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee.  Chafee is particularly well-suited as an observer of this problem--when in the U.S. Senate he was known as a moderate Republican.  He left the party following his service there, and successfully ran for governor as an independent.  He's now a Democrat.

Over the past 40 years, the world has witnessed a wave of democratization.  Why have so many dictatorships fallen?  This week on the Campbell Conversations, University of San Francisco professor Stephen Zunes argues that it’s largely because of strategic non-violent movements.  Zunes also specializes in the Israel-Palestine conflict, and there he argues that the U.S. enables Israeli policies that give it little incentive to compromise, making the peace process difficult. 

One of Syracuse’s most intriguing mayors is Democrat James McGuire, who in 1896 bucked a Republican establishment to be elected into office, at just 26.  This week on the Campbell Conversations host Grant Reeher talks with his biographer, Onondaga County Court Judge Joseph Fahey, about the mayor’s times, his legacy, and his controversial activism on behalf of Irish independence. 

In a continuation of last week's conversation about government whistleblowing, host Grant Reeher talks this week with two actual whistleblowers, both of whom tell powerful stories about their experience.  Susan Wood blew the whistle on the Food and Drug Administration's political stonewalling on the approval of the morning-after pill "Plan B," and Thomas Drake blew the whistle on the National Security Agency's "Trailblazer" data collection project, and was later charged with espionage, bef

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