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.

A Winnebago County jury delivered a "guilty" verdict Wednesday night in the 2008 murder of Rockford attorney Gregory Clark.

Clark was shot in the back while he used a snow blower in front of his home during a snowstorm in February 2008. Witnesses said they saw a blue van speeding away from the scene.

A program designed to get more minority teachers into Illinois classrooms is turning directly to the public for support. 

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Brian Leaf will be remembered by many as the talented business reporter for the Rockford Register Star. But those who knew him also are sharing stories of his talents as a friend, father, spin-class instructor, musician, local music supporter, hunter, nature-lover, and all-around good guy.

Leaf died Wednesday at the age of 57. He had a heart attack while teaching a spin class at the YMCA in Rockford.

The man who kidnapped and murdered a Rockford newspaper boy in 1975 has died in prison at the age of 78. Now the family of Joey Didier will no longer have to circulate petitions to keep his killer, Robert Lower, from being paroled.

Lower’s 20th attempt for release from his life sentence was set for 2019: he was last denied parole in February 2014.

The disappearance and murder of the 15-year-old in March 1975 affected the community deeply. Thousands of Rockford residents have signed petitions over the decades asking the state's parole board to keep Lower in prison. 

pritchardstaterep.org

Today on WNIJ’s Friday Forum, we take on education in Illinois. 

State Rep. Bob Pritchard (R-Hinckley) is a member of the bipartisan bicameral commission tasked with reforming school funding in Illinois. The commission's recent report set a goal of increasing state funding for education from 26% to 50%. Pritchard says they also came up with 27 factors to help identify, then close, funding gaps between the wealthiest and poorest districts. 

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