Campbell Conversations

Saturday at 6:30 a.m. and Sunday at 6 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 revealed. This allows you to learn not only about the issue being discussed, but also about the person—how they got to where they are, and where they might go. Grant attempts to go beyond the usual press conference questions and sound bites.

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 at your convenience.

See also:  The Campbell Debates

The Republican primary for Mayor of the City Syracuse is June 22nd. On this week's episode of the Campbell Conversations, Grant Reeher speaks with candidates Thomas Babilon and Janet Burman about their visions and goals for the future of the city.

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The Democratic primary for Mayor of the City of Syracuse is June 22, with early voting starting June 12. On this week's episode of the Campbell Conversations, Grant Reeher speaks with the two candidates running in the primary. Khalid Bey is currently a Syracuse Common Councilor At Large – President Pro-Tem, and Michael Greene who is also a Syracuse Common Councilor At-Large. /

Two distinct and intertwined issues facing the city of Syracuse are the tearing down of section I-81 that runs through the city and what replaces it, and the rebuilding and redevelopment of the highways' on-the-ground footprint. Grant Reeher speaks with two city leaders who hold top positions in Blueprint 15, a non-profit formed in partnership with the city which is taking the lead on the second of those issues.

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On this week's episode of the Campbell Conversations, Grant Reeher speaks with Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh. They discuss the current state of vaccination progress in the area, the status of the Skyline Apartments and issues surrounding the tearing down and redevelopment of I-81.

In this week's episode of the Campbell Conversations, we continue our series on the tearing down and redevelopment of I-81 with our guest Lanessa Chaplin. She's an attorney and and assistant director at the New York Civil Liberties Union. Chaplin has been one of the local leaders who have raised concerns about what might replace the I-81 area. 

On this episode of the Campbell Conversations, we bring you another conversation as part of an intermittent series on the tearing down of I-81 in Syracuse and the rebuilding and redevelopment of its on-the-ground footprint. Grant Reeher speaks with Larry Vale, Ford Professor of Urban Design and Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He's also the author of, "Purging the Poorest: Public Housing and the Design Politics of Twice-Cleared Communities".

On this episode of the Campbell Conversations, Grant Reeher speaks with Ruth Ben-Ghiat, a Professor of History and Italian Studies at New York University. She's the author of the new book, "Strongmen: Mussolini to the Present".

With the New York State budget completed, Grant Reeher speaks with Democratic State Senator Rachel May and Republican Assemblyman Will Barclay to evaluate the $212 billion dollar budget.

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Despite COVID-19, maybe even bacause of it, interesting things are happening at the Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse. This week, Grant Reeher speaks with the museum's executive director and CEO, Elizabeth Dunbar, and Syracuse artist Jaleel Campbell, who has a solo exhibition at the museum titled "Homecoming."

On this episode of the Campbell Conversations, Grant Reeher talks about the Covid-19 vaccine rollout in Onondaga County with Ryan McMahon, Onondaga County Executive, and Dr. David Page, whose medical practice focuses on geriatric care. Page is the current President of the Onondaga County Medical Society, and serves as board chairman of the Health Advisory Committee for the Onondaga County Health Commissioner.

The tearing down of I-81 and the rebuilding and redevelopment of its on-the-ground footprint has been called a "once in a generation opportunity" for the city of Syracuse; it also carries risk. On this week's episode of the Campbell Conversations, Grant Reeher speaks with Lizabeth Cohen, the Howard Mumford Jones Professor of American Studies at Harvard University and the author of, "Saving America's Cities: Ed Logue and the Struggle to Renew Urban America in the Suburban Age."

Consumers of products, services and information seem to be under more threats than ever before. Many of the sources of protection from government, the media and independent organizations have been weakened. Grant Reeher speaks with Marta Tellado, who is on the front lines of the struggle to protect and empower consumers with her position as the President and CEO of Consumer Reports.

Vu Thi Van Anh

On this episode of the Campbell Conversations, Grant Reeher speaks with Vietnamese poet, novelist and journalist Nguyen Phan Que Mai. Her new novel, "The Mountains Sing" is an epic and harrowing multi-generational story of a family in Vietnam going both backwards and forwards in time from its centerpoint in 1972.

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On this week's episode of the Campbell Conversations, Grant Reeher speaks with Ben Walsh. He's just begun his fourth year as Mayor of the city of Syracuse, and recently gave his State of the City address. Grant talks to Walsh about many of the topics that were in Walsh's wide-ranging address.   

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On this week's episode of the Campbell Conversations, Grant Reeher speaks with Anthony Brindisi, the former Democratic Congressman who just conceded his race for reelection in the 22nd District against Republican challenger Claudia Tenney. The 22nd District includes Chenango, Cortland,  Madison and Oneida counties and parts of Broome, Herkimer, Tioga and Oswego counties.

Full interview transcript


Many prominent voices both inside and outside of government are calling on President Biden to focus more attention on rural issues, and even appoint a rural czar to coordinate the effort. On this episode of the Campbell Conversations, Grant Reeher speaks with Charles Fluharty, founder and President Emeritus of the Rural Policy Research Institute at the University of Iowa's College of Public Health. It's the only US national policy institute solely dedicated to assessing the rural impacts of public policies.

Photo credit: Michael Lionstar

On this episode of the Campbell Conversations, Grant Reeher speaks with Steven Greenhouse. He covered labor and workplace issues for the New York Times for 19 years, and has recently written a book about the ups and downs of labor in America titled, "Beaten Down, Worked Up: The Past, Present, and Future of American Labor". He's also the author of, "The Big Squeeze: Tough Times for the American Worker". / Public domain

In this episode of the Campbell Conversations, a conversation about the inauguration of President Joe Biden, the historic inauguration of Vice President Kamala Harris and where we go from here. Grant Reeher speaks with Kristi Andersen, a town councilor in Cazenovia and political science professor emeritus at Syracuse University's Maxwell School for Citizenship and Public Affairs. Also in the discussion is Sean O'Keefe, former Administrator of NASA, former Secretary of the Navy and currently a Professor of Leadership and Management at the Maxwell School at Syracuse University.


Grant Reeher speaks with New York State Assemblyman Will Barclay. A republican, Barclay has been in the state legislature for almost twenty years and represents the 120th Assembly District. The district is north of Syracuse and along the eastern shore of Lake Ontario and includes the cities of Oswego, Fulton, and the town of Lysander. Barclay has held a number of leadership positions in the legislature and is currently serving as the minority leader in the state Assembly. 

New York State Senator Rachel May represents the 53rd State Senate district, and is starting her second term. She chairs the Senate Aging Committee and the Legislative Commission on Rural Resources. The 53rd Senate district consists of Madison County and part of Oneida and Onondaga Counties, including the majority of the city of Syracuse. She speaks with Grant Reeher about the covid response, the state budget, taxes and recreational marijuana.

Hamilton College /

Maurice Isserman is a historian and author. A professor at Hamilton College, he's written many notable works, including the mountaineering histories, "Falling Giants," "Continental Divide: A History of American Mountaineering" and a biography of Michael Harrington called, "The Other American." Grant Reeher speaks with Isserman about his new book, "The Winter Army: The World War II Odyssey of the 10th Mountain Division, America's Elite Alpine Warriors."

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In this year's elections, Republicans across the country outperformed expectations, including in central New York's 24th Congressional District. Rep. John Katko easily won a fourth term in the House, despite polls showing the race as a toss up. This week, Grant Reeher talks with Katko about the election, COVID-19 stimulus, his being named the top Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee, and more. 

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In many elections across the nation this year, including the presidential election, Republican candidates over-performed relative to the expectations going in. That included the race for Congress in New York's 24th District. Polls showed Incumbent John Katko (R-Camillus) and Democrat Dana Balter in a dead heat going into the election, but Katko won the race by tens of thousands of votes. This week, Grant Reeher talks with Balter about what happened in her race and others. 

Syracuse University

The incoming Biden administration is expected to usher in many changes, both in the U.S. and abroad. 

This week, Grant Reeher speaks with James Steinberg, who served as Deputy Secretary of State in the Obama administration, and Deputy National Security Advisor under President Clinton. Steinberg currently serves as University Professor of Social Science, International Affiars and Law at Syracuse University. 

Micaheal Atkinson is a native of Oswego County, and the former Inspector General of the Intelligence Community. He played a pivotal role in the events that led to President Trump's impeachment, having notified Congress of the existence of a whistleblower complaint that alleged President Trump had abused his power to solicit intereference in the 2020 presidential election. Atkinson was later dismissed by the president. This week, Atkinson talks with Grant Reeher about why he did what he did, his experiences after, and the state of public service today. 

This year, Americans started voting well before Election Day, and deciding the winner has extended well beyond it. This week, we'll recap elections from around the region. Joining Grant Reeher are Joanie Mahoney, former Onondaga County Executive, and newly announced President of SUNY ESF, and Syracuse University professor Chris Faricy. 

Syracuse University

Worries about the health of the American political system have escalated in recent years, and there are no easy fixes on the horizon. This week, Grant Reeher speaks with Syracuse University professors Shana Gadarian and Tina Nabatchi about the good, the bad, and the ugly for American democracy.

Ellen Abbott/Angi for State Senate/Facebook

When Bob Antonacci won a seat on the New York State Supreme Court, he left the state Senate's 50th District seat vacant. The district covers parts of Onondaga and Cayuga counties, and includes parts of the city of Syracuse. This week, Grant Reeher moderates a debate between the two candidates looking to fill that seat. Democrat John Mannion lost to Antonacci in 2018. He's being challenged by Republican Angi Renna. 

Rachel May/Sam Rodgers

Democrats in New York are on the verge of winning a veto-proof majority in the State Senate, which could bring profound changes in the state's policies. This week, Grant Reeher moderates a debate between the two candidates running for New York's 53rd State Senate district, incumbent Rachel May (D-Syracuse), and Republican challenger Sam Rodgers.

WRVO News / File Photo

Central New York has been spared some of the worst effects of the coronavirus pandemic, at least compared with areas downstate and across the nation. But can the same be said about the region's businesses? This week, Grant Reeher discusses that with Rob Simpson, president and chief executive officer of CenterState CEO.