Susan Stephens

WNIJ News Reporter/Producer

Susan’s parents should have known she’d end up in radio: her favorite toys were tape recorders, cameras, notepads, and books. Many years later, she’s an award-winning reporter at her favorite radio station. Formerly WNIJ’s News Director, she asked to return to the role of full-time reporter/anchor/utility player in 2010 (less paperwork, more reporting!). Her #1 goal is to tell the most compelling stories in the fewest words possible…all the better if a little humor can be thrown into the mix.  It should come as no surprise, then, that she can whip up a haiku for any occasion. She also enjoys the Detroit Tigers, learning pioneer skills (Gardening, canning, and the like. Just in case.), traveling with friends, and pretending she’s going to get around to playing her theremin.

Jennifer Brdlik

Is it marketing or an “awareness campaign?” That’s the question sparked by a company’s upcoming ads for medical marijuana.

Chicago-based Cresco Labs is the BIG player in Illinois’ medical marijuana market. It holds permits for cultivation centers in Joliet, Kankakee, and Lincoln. It’s a big investment for the company…so it’s investing what it says is “seven figures” worth of ads, in print and on radio, social media, and billboards.

United Auto Workers members have resoundingly rejected a four-year contract with Fiat Chrysler. Workers at the plant in Belvidere were among the last in the nation to vote on the deal union leaders had worked out with the automaker: like most Fiat Chrysler plants nation-wide, they overwhelmingly vote "no."

65% of the Belvidere plant's 3000 UAW members voted against the proposal. It's considered a rebuke of their union leaders who supported the deal.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Votes this week will decide the fate of a four-year contract proposal for Fiat Chrysler employees nationwide. Today, union workers in Belvidere’s plant will cast their ballots.

Belvidere is one of the big Fiat Chrysler plants UAW leaders hope will approve the national contract the union hammered out with the automaker. So far this week, workers at a number of factories have rejected the deal. A truck plant in Warren, Michigan approved it.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Bilingual employees are in hot demand. At least that’s what a recent survey by Northern Illinois University found. One of the greatest areas of need is for teachers with skills in more than one language. WNIJ’s Susan Stephens spoke with NIU Professor James Cohen, who specializes in bilingual education.


The Ho-Chunk Nation is a step closer to legalizing marijuana use on its tribal lands in Wisconsin. 

No, marijuana is not legal to grow, use, or sell on Ho-Chunk lands…yet. But the Nation’s general council voted at a meeting in Madison, Wisconsin to reverse a ban on marijuana on tribal lands. 63% of the 1600 voting members wanted to overturn the anti-marijuana policy. The vote’s not binding: but now the tribe’s attorneys are looking into the legal implications.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Violent crime, heroin use, and police relations in Rockford --  those three problems were the focus of a year-long study by the Department of Justice. The city invited the analysis and received the initial results Tuesday.

Senator Dick Durbin is urging Congress to pass a long-term transportation plan. He used a bridge in Rockford to illustrate a problem plaguing the nation. Durbin and Rockford-area lawmakers held a news conference Monday under the Jefferson Street Bridge while it was getting some much-needed repairs.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Monday, 9:00 pm

The strike is suspended and Rock Valley College faculty and students will be back in class Tuesday. The RVC Faculty Association approved a mediator's contract proposal that had been negotiated last Friday. It appears the wrong contract was voted on and rejected at a faculty meeting Sunday night. The discrepancy was discovered today during negotiations between the two sides. A corrected version was presented to members of the union Monday night and approved.

Rock Valley College

Rock Valley College faculty members rejected a mediator's proposal that could have ended their strike.  Union members gathered to review the latest five year contract from the school and voted to reject it at a meeting Sunday night at the Unitarian Universalist church in Rockford.. 

The two sides met for 10 hours Friday and were given a plan to consider by a mediator working on the contract dispute.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

After a long day of negotiations Friday, the union representing striking Rock Valley College faculty agreed to meet Sunday to vote on a proposal from a mediator

  . If the union accepts the offer, classes could resume as early as Monday. If the union rejects the offer, the two sides will return to the bargaining table Monday.

The school's board of trustees will vote on the mediator's proposal Tuesday at its regular meeting.

Teachers have been on strike since Wednesday. Classes have been canceled since then.