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

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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. 

Syracuse University

Taxes have figured prominently in this year's presidential election, first in the primaries and now in the general election. This week, Grant Reeher speaks with Len Burman, the Paul Volcker Chair in Behavioral Economics and Professor of Public Administration and International Affairs at the Maxwell School Center for Policy Research at Syracuse University. Burman is also one of the leading experts in tax policy, and the author of "Taxes in America: What Everyone Needs to Know."

The arts have been especially hard hit during the coronavirus pandemic, and have been struggling to cope and respond. This week, Grant Reeher speaks with Steve Butler, executive director of CNY Arts, a nonprofit organization devoted to the advencement and support of the arts in the region. 

Tom Fazzio / Syracuse University (file photo)

Across the nation, urban areas have suffered the most from the COVID-19 pandemic, and Syracuse is no exception. This week, Grant Reeher talks with the city's mayor, Ben Walsh. They discuss the fight against the pandemic and its financial implications, the issue of police conduct, and other political issues. 

Payne Horning / WRVO News (file photo)

In 2018 the race for New York's 22nd Congressional District seat was extremely close, with Democratic challenger Anthony Brindisi defeating incumbent Rep. Claudia Tenney by just over 4,000 votes. This year, Brindisi is the incumbent, and Tenney is the challenger. This week, Grant Reeher talks with Tenney about her campaign, COVID-19, and more. 

WRVO Public Media

No local leader has been on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic in central New York more than Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon. This week, McMahon talks with Grant Reeher about Onondaga County's challenges and successes in responding to the pandemic, the financial impact, and whether it is safe to restart in-person classes when schools start back up in September. 

Dana Balter campaign

The race for central New York's 24th Congressional District promises to be very competitive, as it was in 2018, where Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) defeated Democratic challenger Dana Balter by about 5 percentage points. This year, Balter is challenging Katko again. She joins Grant Reeher to discuss her campaign and why she says a change is needed. 

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Rep. John Katko was last on the Campbell Conversations in May, to discuss the response to the coronavirus pandemic. He joins Grant Reeher this week to further discuss the pandemic, President Trump's leadership during the crisis, the 2020 election, and more.

In the aftermath of the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, as well as other instances of police brutality, sustained protests and movements for change in police policy have sprung up around the country, including central New York. This week, Grant Reeher speaks with Yusuf Abdul-Qadir,  one of the leaders of The People's Agenda for Policing, and the director of the CNY chapter of the New York Civil Liberties Union. 

Pat Bradley / WAMC

North Country Rep. Elise Stefanik has been a leading voice for Republicans in Congress, and gained a national profile for her defense of President Trump during impeachment hearings. This November, Stefanik is being challenged by Democrat Tedra Cobb, in a rematch from 2018. Cobb talks with Grant Reeher about her campaign, and why she should represent the North Country in Congress. 

Howie Hawkins 2020 campaign

Longtime Syracuse resident and political activist Howie Hawkins has run for just about every political office there in Syracuse and across New York, including mayor of Syracuse, Common Council, City Auditor, governor, Congress, and U.S. Senate. In his 25th campaign, he's running for president, after being chosen as the Green Party's nominee. This week, Hawkins talks with Grant Reeher to discuss his campaign and why he says progressives shouldn't settle for Democrat Joe Biden. 

When Bob Antonacci left his central New York state Senate seat after being elected as a state Supreme Court Justice in 2019, it left a vacancy for the 50th District seat for the second time in two years, after longtime Sen. John DeFrancisco retired in 2018. This week, Grant Reeher speaks with John Mannion, a Democrat trying to win the seat in November. Mannion lost to Antonacci for the seat in 2018. He's being challenged by Republican Angi Renna. 

WRVO News (file photo)

This November, Republican Sam Rodgers is challenging incumbent state Sen. Rachel May (D-Syracuse) in the state's 53rd Senate District. This week, Rodgers talks with Grant Reeher about his campaign, the response to COVID-19, and they take a deep dive into the state legislature's response to the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, which has sparked protests over police brutality across the country.

When Bob Antonacci left his central New York state Senate seat after being elected as a state Supreme Court Justice in 2019, it left a vacancy for the 50th District seat for the second time in two years, after longtime Sen. John DeFrancisco retired in 2018. This week, Grant Reeher speaks with Angi Renna, a Republican trying to win the seat in November. Renna is running against Democrat John Mannion, who lost a close race to Antonacci for the seat in 2018.