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.

Sorting truth from lies during any election can be a daunting task. But some educators see this election cycle as an important teachable moment.

Louise Basile chairs the social studies department at Boylan High School in Rockford.  “Students need to be taught to be critical thinkers about all experiences in life,” she says, “so they make informed choices and understand the consequences of them.”

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

The case of The People vs. Jack McCullough is back in a DeKalb County courtroom Friday. The story of the disappearance of Maria Ridulph spans seven decades.

Seven-year-old Maria Ridulph of Sycamore was kidnapped and murdered in 1957. Jack McCullough was convicted in the cold case in 2012: He was freed earlier this year when his conviction was vacated.

A lot happened in between.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

We’re learning a lot more about the workhorse of the world’s flower beds and planter boxes: the Petunia Genome Project is complete, with the help of researchers from Northern Illinois University.

NIU professors Tom Sims and Rick Johns were among the primary researchers in the four year project. Johns says mapping the petunia’s DNA involved 50 researchers from 10 countries.

Science used to be one scientist working in a lab with a few students but now international collaboration is the rule, not the exception.

unitedwayrrv.org

The financial struggle isn’t over for the organizations that provide social services to people in need in Illinois.

There are still a lot of questions about the stopgap budget passed by lawmakers, according to Paul Logli. He’s the president and CEO of United Way of Rock River Valley. Logli says providers have heard from a number of state agencies that they have 18-month contracts that expire January 1st.

Austin Cliffe

Bees, bats, and other animals that perform the critical job of pollinating plants are in the spotlight this week. We observe National Pollinators Week by donning our beekeeping veil and joining Lynnea Laskowski as she takes care of her hives. She’s a volunteer beekeeper with DeKalb County Community Gardens -- she and her bees spoke with WNIJ's Susan Stephens.

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