Brian Shields

Senior News Anchor

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

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Times Union reporter Robert Gavin
Times Union reporter Robert Gavin

It is very unusual for a person to be tried four times for murder, but that is exactly what happened to Cal Harris, a wealthy Tioga County, New York resident who was found not guilty on Tuesday in a non-jury trial in Schoharie County, bringing an end to the criminal portion of a 15-year legal saga. Harris was charged with killing his wife on the night of Sept. 11, 2001. Her body has never been found. Robert Gavin, who covered the case for the Times Union, says the case of Cal Harris was long and legally complex.

Greg Haymes
Times Union

Nippertown's Greg Haymes is back with his May music selections.

Pete Seeger

The music of Pete Seeger will be transformed into dance this Saturday afternoon at the Pete and Toshi Seeger Auditorium at Beacon High School in Beacon, New York. Livia Vanaver and her husband Bill are the organizers of the event, which is a fundraiser for their life’s work of the past 45 years, the Vanaver Project. 

  The recent New York primary was marred by reports that 126,000 Democratic voters in Brooklyn had been removed from the election rolls, leading to renewed calls for voting reforms in New York. Two election officials from Colorado will be in Albany on Wednesday for a panel discussion on election modernization at the Rockefeller Institute of Government. 

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo
WAMC photo by Dave Lucas

With word that a former top aide to Governor Cuomo is under investigation, the Governor has ordered his own probe into a major economic development project in Western New York.

John Dankosky
John Dankosky

Today is primary day in Connecticut, and as with last Tuesday’s vote in New York, today’s vote in Connecticut will matter for the first time in years. By this point, primaries in both states haven’t mattered very much, with nominations often decided, but not this year as the fight is likely to go to the conventions. For more on today’s primary in Connecticut, we spoke with John Dankosky, the host of the program “Where We Live” on WNPR in Hartford.

Earth Ethics is the everyday work of Karenna Gore, the eldest daughter of former Vice President Al Gore. Karenna will be the featured speaker and guest this Saturday for the All Species Day at Southern Vermont College in Bennington. She is the director of the Center for Earth Ethics in New York City.

The Albany-area will be the center of attention for the presidential race today with three candidates making campaign stops. More from WAMC's Brian Shields...

Patricia Strach


 As Election Day approaches, political advertising will begin to saturate radio and television, and a new study says the chances are male voices will be used far more often than female voices to try to get your vote. Patricia Strach, Deputy Director of Research at the Rockefeller Institute of Government, and as Associate Professor of Political Science and Public Administration and Policy at the University at Albany, says a study she authored found that in the Congressional races of 2012 and 2014 male voices were used in political ads 63 percent of the time, female voices 28 percent of the time, while 9 percent of the candidates used both male and female voices.   

The University of Connecticut women’s basketball team is being welcomed back to campus today after the Huskies won an unprecedented fourth straight championship last night against Syracuse. Behind Breanna Stewart’s fourth consecutive tournament MVP award, the victory was UConn’s 75th straight win. But the Huskies have faced some criticism this week for being too dominant. Mark McGuire, executive sports editor at the Daily Gazette in Schenectady, and Albany Times Union sports editor Pete Iorizzo say if anything, UConn has been great for the sport.

An expert on homeland security says there is little doubt that today’s attacks in Brussels that left more than 30 people dead and more than 166 injured was in retaliation for the arrest last Friday in Brussels of the alleged ringleader of the Paris attacks that occurred late last year. Rick Mathews, the director of simulations and training at the University at Albany’s College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity, tells WAMC News why he believes Brussels has become ground zero for terrorism in Europe.

There are three new members of New York’s Education Policy Panel, the State Board of Regents, but will it lead to any changes in the debate over education? The Executive Director of the New York State School Boards Association Tim Kremer believes it will. 



 Woodstock and Watkins Glen, both of which were in Upstate New York, were among the rock festivals that set the standard for the scores of festivals that would follow. At Hunter Mountain in Greene County Mountain Jam 12 is set for June 2-5. It began with just four acts in 2005, and is now a major and economic event for the region. Mountain Jam founder Gary Chetkof told us how the festival goes about booking the line-up. 

Republicans are standing firm, saying the next president should nominate the person to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court, not President Obama, who is in his final year in office.

Greg Haymes
Times Union

Nippertown's Greg Haymes is back with his March music selections.

The legal standoff between Apple and the FBI over access to the phone of one of the San Bernardino shooters is the latest debate over privacy versus security. Dr. Schuyler Foerster, the Brent Scowcroft Professor of National Security Studies at the Air Force Academy, will be speaking Monday evening at the Donald Katt Institute for Constitutional Studies at SUNY Ulster where he will address crime versus terrorism and other related topics including Apple versus the Justice Department. 


  Today is the 11th annual National Women and Girls HIV-AIDS Awareness Day. The organizer of today’s events is the Office of Women’s Health, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in Washington. WAMC News spoke with Martha Bond, the Senior Public Health Advisor in the Office of Women’s Health, for more information on National Women and Girls HIV-AIDS Awareness day. 

Ruth Reichl
Ruth Reichl

The Berkshire Festival Of Women Writers, which begins on Saturday, has 33 events over nine days. On the festival guest list is Ruth Reichl, well known for her cooking and writing with a career that has included the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Gourmet, the Food Network and WNYC. In advance of the festival, Reichl spoke with WAMC, recalling a fond memory from a previous visit to the fest.

Robert J. Freeman, Executive Director New York State Committee on Open Government
NYS Forum

Just how transparent and open is New York state government and the hundreds of local and county governments across the state? That question will be at the center of the discussion tomorrow evening in Woodstock as the Executive Director of the New York State Committee on Open Government, Robert Freeman, speaks at the Mescal Hornbeck Community Center. The speech, which begins at 7, is free and open to the public. In advance of the speech, Freeman spoke to WAMC.

Courtesy of Clearwater

There is new leadership at Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, albeit temporary. Dave Conover is the interim director, taking over for Peter Gross, who recently stepped down amid disagreements with the board over the direction of the organization. Conover has been with Clearwater in various capacities for 25 years, and spoke with WAMC’s Brian Shields about his new position.



An old school building in Albany will be transformed into a high tech teaching and research center. The plans call for a $20 million renovation of the former Albany High School building on Western Avenue into the University at Albany’s College of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Brian Shields spoke with Dr. Kim Boyer, dean of the college. 

Arturo Sotillo/Flickr

Getting drivers and bike riders to safely share the road is one of the main goals of the New York Bicycling Coalition, which works to move the bike movement forward in areas including bike safety, tourism, recreation, law enforcement and infra-structure. The coalition’s Executive Director, Paul Winkeller, says New York has a long way to go in promoting bicycling, as it came in 29th in a recent bike-friendly state ranking by the League of American Bicyclists.

Thomas Mastro

Every state budget season in New York, when higher education is mentioned, the debate usually turns to how much tuition students at the state university should pay. A plan called SUNY2020 was implemented to keep tuition increases small and steady, but there have been complaints about the "rational tuition" program. There is support for SUNY2020 from the Student Assembly of the State University of New York. Thomas Mastro is a senior at SUNY Binghamton and president of the Assembly.

Oneonta Mayor Gary Herzig
Gary Herzig

City officials in Oneonta heard an update from a consulting firm last evening on a new comprehensive plan for the city. Elan Planning, Design and Landscape Architecture of Saratoga Springs was hired for $90,000  to help the city plan its future. A steering committee appointed by the mayor will hear from the public as part of the process. Gary Herzig, the mayor of Oneonta, says the city needs to update its plans for the future.

Greg Haymes
Times Union

Nippertown's Greg Haymes is back with his February music selections.

1. Cindy Cashdollar and Sonny Landreth, "Sliding Home," from Cindy Cashdollar's album Sliding Home, playing at The Egg in Albany on Saturday.

2. Super 400, "Flashlight" from their album Sweet Fist playing at Dinosaur Bar-B-Que in Troy on Saturday.

3. James McMurtry, "Pocatello" from his album Childish Things, playing at The Hangar in Troy on  February 24.

Dr. Tony Collins, president of Clarkson University
Clarkson University

There is a new member of the higher education community in the capital region. Clarkson University based in Potsdam, New York, is now in Schenectady. The Clarkson University Capital Region Campus at 80 Nott Terrace in Schenectady is the former Union Graduate College. Clarkson University President Dr. Tony Collins tells WAMC’s Brian Shields that the merger which took effect February 1st began to take shape just over one year ago.

Orange County Chamber of Commerce/Energize NY

Governor Andrew Cuomo has set an energy mandate for New York. By the year 2030, 50 percent of the state’s electricity needs will be met with renewable resources, such as solar and wind power.  To get there, the state has set up a program under which colleges can compete for $1-million awards for the best energy ideas, and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority has set up a 10-year, $5-billion Clean Energy Fund. John Rhodes, the CEO and president of NYSERDA, explains to WAMC’s Brian Shields how that money will be used.

After decades of violence, distrust and broken negotiations, can a lasting peace ever be achieved between Israel and the Palestinians? A man who has tried to bridge that gap will be speaking this evening at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs. Dr. Gershon Baskin has been an advisor to both Isreali and Palestinian leaders and has been involved in backchannel negotiations, one of which led to the release of an abducted Israeli soldier.

Thirty-five years ago, an airport in the Hudson Valley marker the end of a long and troubling event in American history. January 25, 1981 was a cold Sunday at Stewart Airport, but it was a very warm and welcoming place as well. It was at Stewart Airport that the Americans who were held hostage in Iran for 444 days returned home. WAMC's Hudson Valley Correspondent Hank Gross was there that day covering the events for a local radio station.


The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments last week on a case that could have a big impact on unions, especially in the public sector. A teacher in California objects to paying union fees for activities which she does not support. A Supreme Court ruling in 1977 upheld those so-called fair-share fees, to support the benefits all union members receive under collective bargaining. For more on the case, and what it could mean for the labor movement, we spoke with attorney Mike Billok, a labor and employment expert with the law firm Bond, Schoeneck and King