Brian Shields

Senior News Anchor

WAMC Senior Correspondent Brian Shields has been with WAMC for 23 years as senior news anchor, host and reporter.

Ways to Connect

Tim Kremer
Tim Kremer

While some issues come and go at the state capitol in Albany, education always remains on the agenda for the governor and the state legislature, and this year will be no different. The theme of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s State of the State address on Wednesday was “ built to lead,” but Tim Kremer, executive director of the New York State School Boards Association says a better description might be a work in progress.

  Actor Charlie Sheen’s recent announcement that he is HIV-positive shed new light, albeit temporary , on a disease that once dominated health care policy and the headlines. It may not get as much attention, but HIV and AIDS is still a serious health care issue, and one organization still in the fight is the Alliance for Positive Health in Albany. William Faragon was recently selected as the organization’s new executive director, and spoke with WAMC’s Brian Shields. 

File photo by Lucas Willard / WAMC

It could be months before some 5,000 people in a small town to the east of Albany can use the municipal water supply. The EPA recently urged people in Hoosick Falls in Rensselaer County not to drink or cook with the water. In addition, children and people with skin conditions should avoid long showers or baths. EPA Regional Administrator Judith Enck says the water in Hoosick Falls has been contaminated with the chemical PFOA.

When moviegoers leave the theater after taking in the latest chapter in the Star Wars story, will it translate into a new or renewed interest in the exploration of the universe? The answer to that question is a definite "yes" according Dr. John Delano, a distinguished teaching professor emeritus of atmospheric and environmental sciences at the University at Albany who has worked on NASA-funded projects including the chemical analysis of samples brought back from the moon.

Saru Jayaraman
Saru Jayaraman

As New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is expected to push for a $15 an hour minimum wage for all New Yorkers during the legislative session that begins next month, one organization says New York should make sure everyone gets the higher wage, especially workers who rely on tips. Saru Jayaraman is the co-director of the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United and director of the Food Labor Research Center at the University of California at Berkeley. 

Greg Haymes
Times Union

WAMC's Brian Shields speaks with Nippertown's Greg Haymes about his holiday musical selections.

National Education Association

 No Child Left Behind is being left behind as both the House and Senate in Washington have agreed on a new comprehensive education bill that now goes to the president’s desk. The measure, which President Obama is expected to sign, will give more power back to the states, but it will maintain federal mandates for testing for grades three through eight. However states will have authority over how these test results are used in gauging student and teacher performance. The President of the National Education Association Lily Eskelsen-Garcia spoke with WAMC News today about the new law.

National Resources Defense Council

The Cuomo Administration has set a goal of New York obtaining 50 percent of its energy needs through renewable sources such as wind and solar by the year 2030. That’s only 15 years away, so can that goal be met? Kit Kennedy is the Director of the Energy and Transportation Program at the Natural Resources Defense Council. She worked for Andrew Cuomo when he was state attorney general and says the goal of 2030 can be met.

Photo by Jean-Gabriel Neukomm
National Endowment For The Humanities

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has signed legislation authorizing The Women’s Suffrage 100th Anniversary Commemoration Commission, which will implement events and programs marking the role New York played in the suffrage movement nationwide, and the right for women to vote. Sara Ogger is the Executive Director of the New York Council For The Humanities, which will be organizing and providing funding for events across the state marking the celebration of the Suffrage Movement 100 years ago.

Working Families Party
Working Families Party

Like the Republicans and the Democrats, the Working Families Party continues to look back at the results from election day two weeks ago with an eye on 2016, which will be a busy year with Congress, the state legislature and the White House all on the ballot. The New York State Director of the Working Families Party, Bill Lipton, says the party ran nearly 1,000 candidates in New York and did well, while many of the candidates who were backed by the party line also ran as Democrats and Republicans.

Klezmer music has enjoyed growing popularity in recent years, but its roots go back centuries to Eastern Europe. The music has also been influenced by American trends after arriving on these shores. For more on Klezmer, its sound and its history, we spoke with Lorin Sklamberg of the Klezmatics, who will play this Sunday at The Egg in Albany.

Greg Haymes
Times Union

It's November and here are Greg Haymes' musical selections for this month: 

Greg Haymes
Times Union

Nippertown's Greg Haymes stopped by with something a little different this month: a roundup of some seasonal Halloween songs.

Half Moon Market

The tulips are long gone for another year, but the leaves are now providing the color at Washington Park in Albany, a perfect setting for the Half Moon Market, an independent craft fair that will be held this Saturday and Sunday at the Washington Park Playhouse. For more on the market, we spoke with two of the organizers: Adelia Sugarman of Owlkill Studio and Caroline Corrigan, co-founder of the Fort Orange General Store in Albany.

October brought a new Executive Director to the Pride Center of the Capital Region. Michael Weidrich has served as the Interim Director, and has been on the staff of the Pride Center since 2012.The Center serves approximately 40,000 members of the LGBTQ community in ten Eastern New York counties. WAMC’s Brian Shields spoke with Michael Weidrich.

There's a candidate for the Democratic nomination for president who promises to step down from office and hand power to the vice president once he signs a campaign and election reform bill into law. Lawrence Lessig, 54, a South Dakota native, Harvard professor and attorney, also ran a poll to determine who the voters want as his running mate. Lessig says he would leave the White House if Congress agrees to pass the Citizens Equality Act 2017.

The 21st annual Race for the Cure to benefit breast cancer research will take place Saturday in Albany at the Empire State Plaza. There is a 5-k coed run and a two-mile family walk. For more on the event and for an update on efforts to prevent and cure breast cancer, we spoke with Tori Roggen, executive director of the Northeastern New York Affiliate of Susan G. Komen For the Cure.

Librarians want to make sure that when we pick up a book at the library we have a full range of choices. The American Library Association has declared September 27th to October 3rd “Banned Books Week." For more we spoke with Barbara Jones, the director of the Office for Intellectual Freedom at the American Library Association.

WAMC this week is hosting two foreign journalists, Ulviyya Akhundova of Azerbaijan and Iryna Kyporenko of Ukraine. They spoke with WAMC's Brian Shields about what they're learning during a two-week stay in the U.S., and what it's like being a reporter back home.

March Gallagher

A new president and CEO will take over soon at The Community Foundations of the Hudson Valley, a philanthropic organizations that works to benefit Dutchess, Ulster and Putnam counties by raising money for scholarships, grants, endowment funds and charitable organizations. The Board of Trustees recently named March Gallagher as CEO and president effective Sept. 28. She is now with Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress.

Greg Haymes
Times Union

It's harvest season, and there's quite a cornucopia of great music festivals on the calendar this month:

Legal action may be the next step in the controversy over the transfer of the Orange County town of Monroe to the neighboring Hasidic community of Kiryas Joel. The annexation of 164 acres was approved this week by the Monroe town board. Orange County Executive Steven Neuhaus is opposed to the move for a number of reasons, including how the process was carried out and the strain it will put on county services like the sewers and infrastructure.

  As the new school year began , the New York State School Boards Association urged a truce in education, asking all sides of the often emotional debate over common core and other issues to hold off on the arguments and focus instead on the students who were returning to class. The executive director of the State School Boards Association, Tim Kremer, says unfortunately the truce did not last very long.

Seventy-five former members of Congress have written a letter to the current members of Congress urging their support for the joint comprehensive plan of action, the nuclear agreement between Iran, the U.S. and five world powers. Among those who signed the letter is a former democratic New York congresswoman, Elizabeth Holtzman. 

Oneonta Mayor Gary Herzig
Gary Herzig

Gary Herzig has been appointed the mayor of Oneonta in a unanimous vote by the common council. The Democrat who is running unopposed for mayor in this fall’s election replaces acting Mayor Russ Southard, who took over late last year after the death of Mayor Dick Miller. Herzig, who is expected to take over later this month, admits there has been some disruption in city government over the past year.

  September is Suicide Prevention month. Mary Jo Gibson, a licensed clinical social worker and wife of upstate New York Congressman Chris Gibson, joins Capital Region AFSP Director Laura Marx and WAMC's Brian Shields to discuss suicide prevention and the efforts of the Congressional Spouses for Suicide Prevention to spread awareness during the month of September. 

Greg Haymes
Times Union

WAMC's Brian Shields speaks with Nippertown's Greg Haymes about the local music scene.

While praising President Obama's work in the issue, and promising not to lobby his fellow lawmakers to follow his decision, New York's Senior U.S. Senator, Democrat Charles Schumer, issued a statement last night in opposition to the joint comprehensive plan of action, better known as the Iran nuclear deal. Schumer is the highest ranking Democrat to come out against the plan. A strong supporter of the agreement is Thomas Pickering, the former U.S. Ambassador to Israel, Russia and Jordan and  the U.S. Ambassador to the UN during the first Gulf War. Ambassador Pickering, now vice chairman of Hills and Company, says the deal with Iran is rock solid.

The companies that were granted medical marijuana licenses last week by the New York State Health Department are now moving forward, setting up manufacturing facilities and dispensaries. One of the companies is Etain, which has started construction on a growing operation in the Warren County Town of Chester. Etain's Chief Operation Officer is Hillary Peckham, who says she became interested in medical marijuana after her grandmother was diagnosed with ALS.

The agreement has been announced, but the many details of the nuclear deal  between Iran and six world powers will be looked over and scrutinized in the coming weeks. Professor James Ketterer, the director of International Academic Initiatives at Bard College, says there are many moving parts to the agreement.

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