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.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Former Rockford Police Chief Chet Epperson doesn’t miss the phone calls and emails that piled up every day during his decade as his hometown’s top cop. But he already misses the constant crises that make up the life of a police chief.

Epperson retired at the age of 53 on November 13th. He’s devoting more time to his family and his new job as an expert on police use of force on the federal monitoring team for the New Orleans police department.

Epperson sat down with WNIJ’s Susan Stephens last week to talk about his 33 year police career. 

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

The Rockford area has a long history of women’s baseball, from the Rockford Peaches in the '40s and '50s to today’s Starfires. Now it’s trying to capitalize on that history by wooing the International Women’s Baseball Center to build a museum there.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Heroin users in one northwestern Illinois county are finding an unusual ally when they’re ready to give up drugs…their local police.

U.S. Marshals Service

There’s still more money to be wrung from the former Dixon comptroller’s assets. Another auction of Rita Crundwell’s possessions begins next week. 

U.S. Marshals have recovered and returned about $9.5 million of the nearly $54 million Crundwell stole from the city of Dixon. Crundwell embezzled the money from the city’s coffers over two decades. She was convicted of fraud in 2012.

Today’s the day for many medical marijuana patients in Illinois. As many as eight dispensaries around the state are scheduled to open as the next chapter of legalizing medical marijuana begins.

Only around 33-hundred people have been granted medical cannabis licenses by state regulators. That’s one reason people in the industry have been coordinating informational meetings about how to apply. Last Wednesday, one such forum was held in Rockford.

No pictures, please.

Two Northern Illinois University students and another man were arrested Friday in connection with the Sept. 26 death of Oluwarotimi "Timi" Okedina. Okedina fell from an eleventh story window in Stevenson Towers, a residence hall complex at NIU. The 19-year-old was in his second year at Northern and studying geology.

The DeKalb County Coroner found that Okedina had LSD and marijuana in his system at the time of his death. Investigators determined it played a role in the fall that killed him, which was ruled accidental.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

A murder suspect Rockford-area police and the FBI have been pursuing for four years is now being held in the Winnebago County Jail on one-million dollars bond. Luis Eduardo Anaya was arrested in Mexico in September. 

He has been the main suspect since 23-year-old Brandon Wright of Rockford was shot to death in his car in 2011. Wright’s parents, Rosemary and Donald, became anti-violence activists and have coordinated a peace concert and march in his memory. 

courtesy of Stanley Campbell

If something’s happening in Rockford, odds are Stan Campbell is there. He’s at home at rallies, debates, and protests…especially protests…and has been for more than thirty years, as director of Rockford Urban Ministries.

As a teen, Campbell was the youngest member of the radical right, anti-Communist group, The John Birch Society. But one year of service during the Vietnam War, October 1970 to October 1971, changed the young conservative’s life.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

America needs more aircraft mechanics and avionics technicians. Rockford is now home to one of the nation’s only registered apprenticeship programs aimed at filling that need. The U.S. Department of Labor and Rockford aircraft maintenance company Emery Air signed an agreement Wednesday to create a training pipeline for the career that’s in heavy demand.

Jenna Dooley

Hundreds of students representing Northern Illinois University and several other Chicago-area schools gathered Thursday night to call for Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner and lawmakers to agree on a budget.

The students and community leaders spoke out against cuts to MAP grants, social services, and the halt in construction of the Stevens Building, which housed NIU's School of Theater and Dance.

Rauner served as the  keynote speaker at Thursday night's DeKalb County Economic Development Corporation annual fundraiser.