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 speaks with rock journalist Dave Thompson, author of Hearts of Darkness: James Taylor, Jackson Browne, Cat Stevens, and the Unlikely Rise of the Singer-Songwriter.

Republicans, including the powerful chair of the New York state party, are beginning to flock to Tampa for next week’s convention. WAMC’s Ian Pickus has more.

Chairman Ed Cox has run the state party since 2009, and despite a Democratic enrollment advantage, has overseen some key victories: the Republican takeover of the state Senate after two years of troubled Democratic rule, and several Congressional seat pickups during the 2010 midterms.

A Siena College poll shows 80 percent of New York voters want the state's minimum wage raised from $7.25 an hour to $8.50.

The poll shows an uptick in support of three percentage points since June.

The Democrat-controlled Assembly has passed legislation to raise the wage, with sponsors saying the current level is too low to meet the rising cost of food, shelter and other necessities.

The measure faces opposition from the Senate's Republican majority, whose leaders say it would hurt businesses and the fragile economy.

WAMC's Ian Pickus speaks with pro wrestler, former Southern Methodist University football player, and Glens Falls native “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan, who recounts his wild times in the ring in a new memoir, Hacksaw.

Courtesy WNYT

Federal experts are still in the early stages of investigating a small plane crash that killed one man and injured another in upstate New York.

The National Transportation Safety Board says it may take a year to report the likely cause of the wreck in suburban Albany.

The men reported an engine problem and attempted an emergency landing shortly after take-off Wednesday from Albany International Airport. The Beechcraft Bonanza skidded into some trees, killing 67-year-old Walter Uccellini of Albany.

Any Questions #51

Aug 17, 2012

WAMC's Ian Pickus and resident quizzer Mike Nothnagel are all about the Brians this week.

Last week's challenge
Gold is the traditional gift for a 50th anniversary, so here's a challenge inspired by that: Think of a 5-letter word beginning with P that describes something flat. Add AU (as in the chemical symbol for gold) to the end of this word, and you'll get another word that describes something flat. What are the words?


Secretary of State William Galvin has taken over the East Longmeadow town clerk's office, saying a preliminary investigation has confirmed claims of potential voting fraud.

Galvin said Wednesday his office will directly supervise the 2012 elections and voter registration practices in the western Massachusetts town. He said an investigation found an influx of forged absentee ballot requests and hundreds of individuals whose voter affiliation was changed from Democrat to Republican in town voting rolls without their permission.

During this week of vice presidential fixation, WAMC's Ian Pickus speaks with Bloomberg researcher Joshua Glasser, author of The Eighteen-Day Running Mate: McGovern, Eagleton, and a Campaign in Crisis, about the lessons learned during 1972's bizarre race.

The 14th Annual Kateri Tekakwitha Peace Conference is taking place this Friday and Saturday at the the National Kateri Tekakwitha Shrine in Fonda, NY. The conference, this year, is entitled Crossing the Line: A Call to Revolutionary Love. We are joined by conference organizers, John Amidon and Maureen Aumand.

Sarah Knight is this week's bookseller. She joins us from Northshire Bookstore in Manchester Center, VT.


WAMC's Ian Pickus speaks with Daniel Levitt, author of The Battle That Forged Modern Baseball: The Federal League Challenge and its Legacy.

Has the vice presidential nominee ever impacted the election?

Jessica Hill / AP

Registered Republicans and Democrats are choosing their parties' standard-bearers for the November general election.

That includes primaries on Tuesday for candidates in two hotly contested races for the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives.

This marks the second time in two years that Connecticut has had an open seat for the U.S. Senate. Sen. Joe Lieberman, an independent, is retiring at the end of the year. Back in 2010, former Democratic Sen. Christopher Dodd did not run.

WAMC's Ian Pickus speaks with musician Ben Taylor, who releases his first new album, “Listening,” in four years this week.

Police officers are being credited with preventing a man from jumping off a bridge over the Hudson River at Albany.

The Albany Police Department says city officers, police from neighboring Rensselaer and state troopers responded to the Dunn Memorial Bridge Sunday afternoon after motorists reported a man standing on the edge of the span's westbound side.

When police arrived, the man was standing behind a chain-link safety fence about 100 feet over the river.

The man made a sudden move to jump, but the officers were able to hold onto his legs and pull him to safety.

Any Questions #50

Aug 10, 2012

Time flies when you're having trivia: WAMC's Ian Pickus and resident quizzer Mike Nothnagel mark their 50th show.

Last week's challenge
Start with the name of the explorer LEIF ERICSON. Change one letter to a D, then rearrange the result to spell a two-word phrase (five letters in the first word, six letters in the second) that names a person you might take a road trip with. Who is it?
Answer: If you change an I to a D, you can spell CLOSE FRIEND.

Doug Kerr

The State University of New York at Binghamton's $70 million expansion as part of a new program to bolster the university centers statewide has started.

In April, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and university officials announced the Smart Energy Center at Binghamton, designed to move the center forward in the growing field and create jobs and spinoff businesses for the Southern Tier.

Other major university centers in Buffalo, Stony Brook and Albany are in line for similar expansions of specialty areas using a pool of mostly existing capital funding and tuition increases.

Dan Nicholas

Attorney General Martha Coakley is seeking a $9.7 million fine against NSTAR after her office found the utility failed to adequately prepare, respond, and communicate during Tropical Storm Irene and the October 2011 snowstorm.

Coakley's office made the recommendation in a brief filed Tuesday with the Department of Public Utilities which has the authority to impose the fine.

Authorities say tests conducted at the site of a fire at a transformer recycling company, and within a 15-mile radius, show no detectable levels of potential carcinogens.

Columbia County officials say the state Department of Environmental Conservation informed them of its PCB test results for TCI of New York, where a large fire erupted Aug. 1. As a result, state health officials say there is no reason to believe there is a threat to public health. State agriculture officials also say there are no concerns about livestock or produce.

Martinez Monsivais / AP

President Barack Obama is labeling opponent Mitt Romney's tax plan as "Romney Hood," saying it takes from the middle class and gives to the rich.

Speaking last night at a campaign event in Connecticut, Obama said the GOP plan "is like Robin Hood in reverse."

Obama says Romney's tax plan would give tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans while forcing middle-class families to pay up to $2,000 a year in additional taxes.

Any Questions #49

Aug 3, 2012

WAMC's Ian Pickus and resident quizzer Mike Nothnagel boldly go where no quiz segments have gone before: to the realm of exploration.

Last week's challenge
Start with the name ANSEL ADAMS. Add a letter, then rearrange the letters to spell the names of three things you might see in a photograph of a beach.
Answer: If you add a P, you can spell PALM, SAND, and SEA.

LACONIA, N.H.—First Lady Michelle Obama will make a series of New Hampshire campaign stops as she rallies support for the President.

Mrs. Obama plans to attend a fundraiser in Holderness early Thursday afternoon and then make public appearances at Laconia Middle School at 3 p.m. and at the field house at Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester at 5:15 p.m.  The First Lady's events in Laconia and Manchester are free and open to the public. Tickets are required due to limited space, and will be available to the public on a first come, first serve basis.

Tristan O'Neill, WAMC

A spectacular fire in Columbia County Wednesday night forced the evacuation of residents living near TCI Industries at 39 Falls Industry Park in West Ghent.

Fire broke out at the building around 10:30 p.m. The company dismantles transformers. Thick heavy smoke pouring from the roof was seen by firefighters when they arrived.

Caitlin Childs

 A federal judge in Connecticut has ruled that part of a federal law that defines marriage as between a man and a woman and denies federal benefits to married gay couples is unconstitutional.

U.S. District Judge Vanessa L. Bryant in Hartford ruled Tuesday that the provision in the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act violates the Fifth Amendment right to equal protection.

The ruling came in the case of six married same-sex couples and a widower who sued after being denied federal benefits. The plaintiffs are from Connecticut, New Hampshire and Vermont.

WAMC's Ian Pickus speaks with Rob Reid, the founder of Listen.com, which created Rhapsody, and the author of Year Zero, his debut novel.

Ari Bakker

Body piercing just got a bit more prickly in New York.

Under a law signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, anyone under 18 years old will have to get written permission from their parents or legal guardians before piercing anything on their bodies.

Cuomo and the Legislature overwhelmingly passed the law in June. They say it will reduce infections and the spread of blood-borne diseases. Cuomo said about 20 percent of piercings result in infection.

WAMC's Ian Pickus speaks with living legend Buddy Guy, one of the blues' most accomplished guitarists and the author of a new memoir called When I Left Home.

Elliot deBruyn / AP

Protests kicked off Sunday ahead of the 36th annual meeting of eastern Canadian premiers and New England governors, even before the official talks got underway. 

A spokeswoman for several protest groups involved in Sunday's demonstrations says police in riot gear used rubber and pepper bullets against protesters blocking buses trying to leave a Burlington hotel that is the sight of the conference. 

WAMC's Ian Pickus speaks with Sports Illustrated's Jack McCallum, the author of a new book on the 1992 USA men's basketball team called Dream Team: How Michael, Magic, Larry, Charles and the Greatest Team of All Time Conquered the World and Changed the Game of Basketball Forever.

Any Questions #48

Jul 27, 2012

WAMC's Ian Pickus and resident quizzer Mike Nothnagel zoom in for a show about famous photos.

Last week's challenge
Think of two words that each name a unit of volume (one has six letters, the other has four). Change one letter to an R, then rearrange the result to name things that have lots of measurements on them. What are the units and what are the things?

Answer: The units are BUSHEL and PINT. If you change the H to an R, you can rearrange the letters to spell BLUEPRINTS.