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.

Winnebago County Sheriff's Department

Winnebago County Sheriff’s deputies are guarding a man in a Rockford hospital. He’s suspected of killing a 16-year-old Machesney Park's Rebecca Finkenhofer and shooting her grandmother Tuesday night.

Michael Mernack, 36, was shot by Winnebago County sheriff’s deputies after they were called to a Machesney Park home. They say he was armed.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

It’s the shortest day and the longest night of the year. To advocates in Rockford, the Winter Solstice symbolizes the harshest challenges for the homeless in their city. Wednesday, they held their annual memorial for homeless people who died this year.

Richard Reed was there to remember his friend Humberto, who was just 31 when he died in April. He recalled that he was “a good pool shooter, a good friend, a nice and kind person. And I’m thankful that I knew him.”

Department of Justice / whitehouse.gov

President Barack Obama has pardoned one Illinois resident and shortened the sentences of seven other Illinoisans convicted of federal crimes.

Great Lakes Basin Transportation / greatlakesbasin.net

What’s the Great Lakes Basin Railroad and why should I care?

The GLBR is a proposed railway that, if you live in northern Illinois, southern Wisconsin, or northwest Indiana, you’ve either never heard of or have spent a lot of time learning about over the last year.

Under the current route proposal, the Great Lakes Basin Railroad would enter Kankakee County, Illinois, just below the Will County line, traveling west-southwest to enter Grundy County a couple of miles above its southern boundary.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Over the past year, through three iterations of route proposals, many landowners were outraged when they learned their homes and farms were in the path of a railroad that would divert freight traffic around the Chicago area. They took that anger to a series of sometimes raucous public hearings.

But it’s easy to lose sight of the individuals in a crowd. This isn’t just a gang of rabble-rousers; these are real people. So we met with opponents of the Great Lakes Basin Railroad on their own turf: turf that the rail company would like to sink its tracks into.

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