The Sound of Science - "Self-Driving Cars"

Nov 16, 2018

Kate: Hi, I’m Kate Powers from NIU STEM Outreach, and this is the Sound of Science. Joining me today is Sam Watt who has a question from one of our loyal listeners.

Sam: That’s right, Kate. Today’s question is from Marcus, who asks, “How do self-driving cars work?”

Kate: Great question, Sam. We hear a lot these days about self-driving cars and if they’re safe, but how do they actually work with no one at the wheel?

Carl Nelson/WNIJ

Gas prices are on the decline nationally and in Illinois. That's because of less demand and a greater petroleum supply.

Prices are often dictated by demand, and AAA reports there is significantly less at the moment because it’s past the summer driving season. Spokeswoman Beth Mosher explains.

“Well, we’re out of that summer driving season and so naturally there’s less driving that is happening, even as we head into one of the busiest travel days of the year, which is Thanksgiving,” she said.

A few weeks ago, WNIJ got a request from a student group at Northern Illinois University asking for a tour of the radio station. The handful of students were with the NIU chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists, or NABJ. The group offers professional development and networking opportunities for students interested in broadcasting. As they were touring the studios, they agreed to let the microphones be turned on them.

Dejaniria Ferguson is a journalism major from Chicago.

Sessions from Studio A - Justin Gambino

Nov 15, 2018
Carl Nelson / WNIJ<iframe width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe>

Justin Gambino performs "Your Hands & Feet" in WNIJ's Studio A.

Justin Gambino performs "Silhouettes" in WNIJ's Studio A.

It’s been a rough couple of years for Illinois community colleges, from the slashed funds of the budget impasse to concerning enrollment declines. This is the final installment of a three-part series on how these very different schools have stayed afloat by embracing change and, more importantly, putting the "community" in community college.


The Kishwaukee table tennis club's practice is in full swing. They're preparing for a tournament coming up soon.


Susan Stephens / WNIJ

The Catholic Diocese of Rockford has released a list of 15 clerics accused of sexually abusing minors. The list includes priests, a deacon, and a brother. The accusations range from 1925 to 1991. Some of the names were released previously, but some are being disclosed for the first time. All have been removed from the ministry and ten have died. Bishop David Malloy says the list is being released to “reassure the faithful and public at large.” It's available on the Rockford Diocese website.

State's Attorney Resigns To Become A Judge

Nov 14, 2018
Winnebago County State’s Attorney’s Office

Winnebago County State's Attorney Joe Bruscato submitted his resignation to County Board Chairman Frank Haney.

Bruscato's last day as State's Attorney is December 3, when he will be sworn in as a judge for Illinois' 17th Judicial Circuit Court in Winnebago and Boone counties. Bruscato has served as State's Attorney since he was first elected in 2008. His current term doesn't expire until 2020.

In Illinois, the debate over gun control was waged in county-wide elections.


Voters in more than a dozen counties recently approved measures urging the state not to pass further gun control measures. And in several counties, the proposals added immigration to the mix.

It’s been a rough couple of years for Illinois community colleges, from the slashed funds of the budget impasse to concerning enrollment declines. We begin a three-part series on how these very different schools have stayed afloat by embracing change and, more importantly, putting the "community" in community college.


City officials issued a statement regarding an investigation into a financial irregularity. The statement says a senior-level City employee discovered a financial irregularity involving potentially misappropriated funds in last year’s budget.

According to the statement, as a result of this discovery, which involved the possible misdirection of $250,000 from one fund to another in order to plug a deficit, the City has taken the following steps:

• It has launched an internal investigation to determine the facts related to this matter.

Hans / Pixabay/Creative Commons

When you take out your trash, you typically divide it into household waste and recyclables. But oftentimes, there's a third category: yard waste.

Yard waste can vary greatly, from lawn clippings to portions of trees. But the most common waste people gather up this time of year is piles of leaves. Municipalities have different schedules for picking up leaves. Andy Raih is DeKalb Interim Street Superintendent. He says they collect from the end of October through the end of November.

It’s been a rough couple of years for Illinois community colleges, from the slashed funds of the budget impasse to concerning enrollment declines. This is part two in a three-part series on how these very different schools have stayed afloat by embracing change and, more importantly, putting the community in community college.


The Sound of Science - "Fall Leaves"

Nov 9, 2018

M: Welcome to the Sound of Science on WNIJ. I'm Mackenzie Thompson from NIU STEM Outreach, and today I'm joined by my good friend, Sam Watt. Sam, today we have a question from Rhea, who asks, "Why do the leaves change colors in the fall?"

S: Good question - and a timely one. I was raking all those pretty colored leaves out of my yard last week.

M: Yeah, they certainly are everywhere this time of year, but they sure look nice while still on their branches.

Sarah Jesmer

Protests unfolded across the country Thursday evening in response to the resignation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, after the president asked him to step down. Some see this as President Trump directly threatening the investigation into Russian involvement in the 2016 election. and partners orchestrated the mass protest, including one in DeKalb.

courtesy of John Borling, Hans Rupert

200 men and women from across Illinois have been named to the state’s “Bicentennial Honor 200” list. They’re being recognized as military veterans who continue to serve their communities. Veterans from 50 counties across Illinois will be honored next month at the state’s 200th birthday celebration at Navy Pier in Chicago. Two of them are from Rockford.

Illinois Governor-Elect JB Pritzker announced Thursday that Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara will join the Budget & Innovation Team as part of the bi-partisan Transition Committee. According to a news release, the team will focus on "tackling the financial issues facing Illinois and help develop new ways to stimulate the state’s economy and improve its business climate."  

U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski (D) was re-elected to his seat in Illinois' 3rd Congressional District, receiving more than 70 percent of the vote. But for some, it was troubling that his opponent, Arthur Jones, got as much as 27 percent.

In the spring, the district made national headlines when Jones, a holocaust denier and avowed Nazi, won an uncontested Republican primary. His candidacy was roundly condemned by political leaders across the nation.

The Beauty And Science Of Bird Banding

Nov 8, 2018
Connie Kuntz

Who doesn't love the brilliant beauty of a tiny bird? They are adorable and have a way of inspiring young people to pursue scientific careers.

One such person was, and is, Dr. James Marshall, associate professor of biology at Rockford University.  He fell in love with birds when he was eight years old.  Decades later, he has banded more than 10,000 birds.

whitesession/CC0 Creative Commons / Pixabay

Illinois public health officials are hoping vaccination campaigns help stop the spread of several prominent diseases. 

By immunizing as many people as possible, health care providers want to prevent disease from taking hold in Illinois. Dr. Nirav Shah is Director of the Illinois Department of Public Health. He says right now there's an emerging threat from outside the state.

"A number of states across the country, including some of Illinois' neighboring states, have been experiencing very large outbreaks of Hepatitis A," he said.

flickr user Tex Texin ""Crime Scene Do Not Cross" tape" (CC BY 2.0)

Chicago's police superintendent is recommending the firing of an officer who three years ago fatally shot a teenager and his neighbor while responding to a disturbance call.

On Wednesday, Superintendent Eddie Johnson filed charges with the city's Police Board that recommend Officer Robert Rialmo be fired for shooting 19-year-old Quintonio LeGrier and 55-year-old Bettie Jones. In making his recommendation, Johnson alleges "multiple rule violations."

Keicher Keeps Illinois House Seat

Nov 7, 2018
Chase Cavanaugh

Republican State Rep. Jeff Keicher held onto his seat in the Illinois 70th District race.  He defeated Democratic challenger Paul Stoddard and credits both his team and campaign for the victory. 

“I have an amazing team of not only volunteers, but interns and campaign assistants, and the community in general who really stood up and helped because our message is one for making Illinois a better place for the long term," Keicher said.

Underwood Defeats Incumbent Hultgren In Illinois 14th District

Nov 7, 2018
Sarah Jesmer

Democrat Lauren Underwood gathered supporters at the Kane County Fairgrounds in St. Charles.

She delivered her victory speech as final tallies came in for the Chicago suburbs. Underwood successfully unseated Republican incumbent Randy Hultgren, to represent the 14th congressional district.

"I aspire to be a bold representative for this community," Underwood said. "Someone who is wholly responsive and accountable to her constituents-- unbought and unbossed."

Kinzinger Holds 16th Congressional Seat

Nov 7, 2018
Peter Medlin

Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger was decisively re-elected over challenger Sara Dady to retain his post in Illinois’ 16th congressional district. Kinzinger announced his victory at the Grundy County GOP’s election night event in Morris, surrounded by local Republican leaders. He said his victory in the perennially-Republican district was thanks to his track record on traditional Republican values.

Pritzker Routs Rauner For Illinois Governorship

Nov 6, 2018
Victoria Lunacek

The chairman of the Illinois Democratic Party says voters "rejected the politics of negativity, personal destruction and blame" in Tuesday's election.

House Speaker Michael Madigan of Chicago says Democrats' victories answered a "call for a new day in Illinois."

Democrat J.B. Pritzker defeated incumbent Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner. Rauner harshly criticized Madigan as corrupt as they locked horns repeatedly during a record-long budget stalemate that resulted in billions of dollars of overspending.

Democratic State Senator Kwame Raoul of Chicago defeated Urbana lawyer Erika Harold – in the race for Attorney General.

Just an hour and a half after the polls closed, Harold took the stage at the I-Hotel to announce she had conceded to her democratic opponent. While many expected a close race, Raoul held an early double-digit lead over the Harvard law grad.

Despite the outcome, Harold said she was proud of her campaign.

She also invoked her strong religious faith in her concession speech. 

Follow live coverage of the 2018 midterm elections, including results and analysis. Get caught up on the latest news.


Flickr user / kristin_a (Meringue Bake Shop) "Vote!" (CC BY 2.0)

Federal, state, and local elections will be monitored on Election Day by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office.

The United Sates Attorney’s Office will monitor elections in Rockford and the surrounding area on Election Day. As part of the effort, the office will operate a telephone hotline where citizens can report complaints related to the voting process. The hotline number is 312-469-6159. It will be staffed by assistant U.S. attorneys, on Election Day only.

The Sound of Science - "Genes from our Parents"

Nov 2, 2018

Kate: Welcome to the Sound of Science on WNIJ. I’m Kate Powers from NIU STEM Outreach. Today we have a question from Marcella. She wants to know what percentage of our genes come from our parents. Marcella, it depends on who bought the denim pants and how many pairs you already have.

Sam: That’s not what she had in mind. She wants to know about DNA, not dungarees. Obviously we get 50 percent of our genes from our biological mothers and 50 percent from our biological fathers.

Kate: And 8 percent from viruses.

Sam: Viruses?


Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor recently revealed that she has been diagnosed with the beginning stages of dementia, probably Alzheimer’s disease. O’Connor’s husband also lived his final years with the disease.

Sessions from Studio A - Emily Hurd

Nov 1, 2018
Spencer Tritt / WNIJ

Emily Hurd performs "Brush Fire" in WNIJ's Studio A.

Emily Hurd performs "Daytime Fireflies" in WNIJ's Studio A.