Ian Pickus

News Director

A lifelong resident of the Capital Region, Ian has been with WAMC as a producer since late 2008. He began working on Morning Edition and has produced The Capitol Connection, Congressional Corner, and several other WAMC programs. Ian can also be heard filling in as Morning Edition and Weekend Edition anchor and on The Roundtable, various newscasts, and Any Questions?. An avid fan of sports and music, Ian holds a BA in English and journalism and an MA in English, both from the University at Albany. He became news director in March 2013.

Ways to Connect

WAMC's Ian Pickus and resident quizzer Mike Nothnagel are back with their latest show.

Blair Horner
C.W. McKeen / The Post - Standard, 2006

On Thursday, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the corruption conviction of former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver – who was facing 12 years in prison after being convicted of taking $4 million in kickbacks. Prosecutors said the powerful Democrat used his powerful post to help a doctor and real estate developers. The court said the judge’s instructions on the theft of honest services law were unclear in light of the 2016 Supreme Court decision on ex-Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell. Blair Horner, executive director of the New York Public Interest Research Group, has long been a champion for ethics reform in the state legislature. He spoke with WAMC’s Ian Pickus about what the decision means for that effort. 

WAMC's Ian Pickus and resident quizzer Mike Nothnagel head to Area 51 for this week's show.

Joe Cocker: Mad Dog With Soul movie poster
Joe Cocker: Mad Dog With Soul

The life and legacy of one of music’s peerless voices will be discussed this Saturday at Upstate Films Woodstock, which will screen the new documentary Joe Cocker: Mad Dog With Soul at Upstate Films Woodstock. The 9 p.m. showing will be followed by a conversation with director John Edginton, who has produced and directed several other documentaries, as well as Woodstock co-creator Michael Lang, who managed Cocker for many years. The film is a warts-and-all look at a soulful singer from Sheffield, a showbiz survivor who battled alcoholism for most of his adult life.

Pokey LaFarge
Nate Burrell

Not too many musicians can claim a sound all their own, but in the past decade or so Pokey LaFarge seems to have accomplished just that over hundreds of tour dates and the eight studio albums he has released. The latest album is Manic Revelations, which came out in May. LaFarge and his band will be in our region for several dates this summer.

A photo of the boat that would be Boaty McBoatface.
The Natural Environment Research Council

WAMC's Ian Pickus and resident quizzer Mike Nothnagel switch seats for the final show of June.

It’s hard to overstate the hours most people around my age spent with R.L. Stine’s books growing up. The author of several series including Goosebumps and Fear Street, Stine has sold more than 300 million copies. Goosebumps is now marking its 25th anniversary. It’s also become a feature film starring Jack Black, with a sequel on the way, a TV series, and led to spinoff book series, including the new SlappyWorld story arc.

Former Congressman Hinchey
Hinchey family

The family of former Hudson Valley Congressman Maurice Hinchey announced today that the Democrat, 78, is suffering from a rare, terminal disorder known as Frontotemporal Degeneration. He was diagnosed after a recent battle with prostate cancer. Hinchey was in Congress from 1992-2012 and the state Assembly from 1975-1992. The disease has limited the once-eloquent Hinchey's language skills and has affected his walking, balance and muscles.

WAMC's Ian Pickus and resident quizzer Mike Nothnagel return for their trivia fix.

WAMC's Ian Pickus and resident quizzer Mike Nothnagel are back with a quiz about literary homes.

Anchored by a core of young, homegrown talents and a camera-ready star, the New York Yankees appear poised for a sustained run at October glory. No, not Derek Jeter’s pinstripers of 20 years ago. Contrary to many preseason predictions, the 2017 Yankees find themselves in the thick of the pennant race thanks to breakout performances from players like Aaron Judge. For the past 16 years, MLB.com's Mark Feinsand has had a front-row view of the action. He also reported for the New York Daily News. His new book is The New York Yankees Fans’ List, which is published by Triumph.

Rep. Paul Tonko
Lucas Willard / WAMC

New York Congressman Paul Tonko, a Democrat from the 20th House district, is reacting to the shooting in Virginia Wednesday morning at a Congressional baseball practice in which House GOP Whip Steve Scalise and others were injured. President Trump announced the alleged shooter has died of injuries sustained during the shootout. Rep. Tonko of the Capital Region tells WAMC News that the tone Wednesday between political rivals has turned "conciliatory."

Following the June Fund Drive, WAMC's Ian Pickus and resident quizzer Mike Nothnagel switch seats for a show all about gratitude.

A scene from Hell on Earth.
Junger/Quested

In his journalism, books and films, Sebastian Junger is often attracted to extremes — as in projects like The Perfect Storm, Tribe, and the Oscar-nominated Restrepo. His haunting new documentary with Nick Quested is called Hell on Earth: The Fall of Syria and the Rise of ISIS. The movie shows the human stakes of a civil war that has killed 400,000 people and displaced even more. It also explores the complicated political picture that has led to few good options in this volatile region. Hell on Earth airs Sunday on National Geographic Channel.

WAMC's Ian Pickus and resident quizzer Mike Nothnagel get cracking on their next 300 shows.

Trip Gabriel of the New York Times
Trip Gabriel

Longtime New York Times reporter Trip Gabriel covered the presidential election last year. In recent months, he’s been heading to red states to report on the people there and how they feel. The paper recently ran an eye-opening series on long-haul truck drivers. Young and old alike expressed ambivalence about a career that keeps them away from home for long stretches — with a close eye on the clock. Gabriel spoke with WAMC’s Ian Pickus.

WAMC's Ian Pickus and resident quizzer Mike Nothnagel are back for their 300th show.

WAMC's Ian Pickus and resident quizzer Mike Nothnagel take a turn in the moshpit.

Homer at the Bat
The Simpsons

Many former baseball greats will be in Cooperstown over Memorial Day weekend, but the focus is on a different kind of Homer. The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum is paying tribute to a different kind of Homer on May 27. The Hall will honor the beloved 1992 Simpsons episode “Homer at the Bat” and induct America’s favorite dad into the Hall. The episode was one of the show’s most ambitious. The series was then in its third season, and it got some of the game’s biggest names to guest star.

Congressman Paul Tonko
Congressman Paul Tonko

Although he says it's too early to know if Congress should consider impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump, New York Congressman Paul Tonko, a Democrat from the 20th district, says he is joining the call for an independent investigation into the White House's firing of FBI Director James Comey and President Trump's disclosure of intelligence to emissaries from Russia. The New York Times reported that before firing Comey, the president had asked him to halt an investigation into embattled then-national security adviser Michael Flynn.

NPR's Richard Harris
Doby Photography/NPR

We often hear NPR science reporter Richard Harris covering a new discovery or scientific advancement on WAMC — but as Harris writes in his new book, bona fide groundbreaking biomedical research has increasingly become the exception, not the rule. Harris has been reporting for NPR since 1986. In Rigor Mortis: How Sloppy Science Creates Worthless Cures, Crushes Hope, and Wastes Billions, he describes a scientific culture in which “publish or perish” imperatives come at the expense of truth.

Fearful of the agenda of Republicans in Washington and the Supreme Court’s future makeup, advocates for reproductive health care rights are lobbying lawmakers at the state capitol in Albany today. They are hoping to convince legislators to codify abortion and other reproductive health care protections in state law before the end of the session in June.  Andrea Miller is President of the National Institute for Reproductive Health. She spoke to WAMC’s Ian Pickus in our studios this morning.

WAMC's Ian Pickus and resident quizzer Mike Nothnagel are back in action, hoping the quiz takes flight.

Rensselaer County Executive Kathy Jimino.
Rensselaer County Executive Kathy Jimino.

Republican Rensselaer County Executive Kathy Jimino, who has been in office since 2001, announced on Thursday that she would not seek another term. She tells WAMC's Ian Pickus that although she believes she would have won another term, she plans to spend more time volunteering and downsizing her house. Jimino says she will stay in Rensselaer County after her term expires, and added that she backs Deputy County Executive Chris Meyer to succeed her. Jimino also explained why she thinks the Faso-Collins amendment in the American Health Care Act is a good idea.

Malcolm Nance
Malcolm Nance

For counter-terror and intelligence analyst Malcolm Nance, President Donald Trump's abrupt firing of FBI Director James Comey on Tuesday has raised more questions about the investigation into ties between the administration and Russia, even as a White House spokeswoman said Wednesday that the administration wants the FBI to complete its investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. 

Albert Einstein and the people around him — many of whom shaped science history — are getting a fresh look on the new National Geographic series Genius. The new show, which premiered in April, jumps back in forth in time, focusing on the physicist’s early school days and young adulthood and his middle age experiences fleeing Germany. Samantha Colley plays the brilliant thinker Mileva Maric, who would become Einstein’s first wife. She has also appeared on stage and in the series Victoria.

Lake George, the site of a fatal boat collision last summer.
Lucas Willard

On Monday, a Warren County, New York jury found Alexander West guilty of eight charges including manslaughter, boating while drunk and leaving the scene of a boat crash that killed an 8-year-old California girl last summer. Prosecutors said West was under the influence of drugs and alcohol when his boat hit the vessel carrying Charlotte McCue and her family on Lake George. The Daily Gazette’s Ned Campbell has been covering the trial over the past three weeks. He spoke with WAMC’s Ian Pickus.

WAMC's Ian Pickus and resident quizzer Mike Nothnagel are back in all their imperfect glory.

BJ Leiderman
Mark Edward Atkinson

We’re about to talk to a person whose work is heard multiple times a day on WAMC — but rarely his voice. Until now. BJ Leiderman, the composer behind several public radio theme songs including those for Morning Edition, Marketplace, Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, is out with his first album, called BJ. The album is both funny and serious, cheeky and earnest. And it even features Bela Fleck on banjo.

Fifty years after its release, The Graduate still looms large in American culture. With the film back in theaters, WAMC’s Ian Pickus has this appreciation.

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