Perspective: We Must, We Can, We Will!

10 hours ago
Photo courtesy of Nina Dulabaum

Journeying home from Minneapolis as newly trained Climate Reality Leaders, our vehicle was bursting with talk, laughter, tears and singing as we shared experiences and exchanged notes for planning future actions.

What really resonated with me is the reality of choice. We still have significant choices -- and the legacy we leave future generations will bear witness to our actions.

Illinois State Police

The Illinois State Police is looking to bolster its ranks with new troopers, both rookie and experienced.

ISP is currently taking applications for two different classes of cadets. One would be their standard 26-week training regimen, and the other is a "fast-track" program for those with previous experience in law enforcement. Trooper Aldo Schumann is the Northern Recruitment and Internship Coordinator.

Guy Stephens

The law allowing recreational marijuana in Illinois takes effect next year, and people are trying to get ready. The law calls for expungement of criminal records for some past convictions involving possession of marijuana. One person working on that is Winnebago County State's Attorney Marilyn Hite Ross, and she has a number of concerns.

Perspective: A Small Kindness Can Make A Big Difference

Aug 13, 2019
Michael Schwarzenberger / Pixabay

When we think of people who changed our lives, I think most view long-term events. But when I look back, I realize that a few people influenced my life with a single act of kindness.

Winnebago County Board Chairman Frank Haney and dozens of voters filed suit against 13 county board members on Monday. The federal court filing argues Haney’s efforts to implement reform after winning the election have been thwarted by board members stripping Haney of his executive powers. Haney was elected in Nov. 2016.

The lawsuit is the latest in continued infighting among county leadership.

Illinois is joining a chorus of states condemning a Trump administration proposal to rollback protections for transgender people under the Affordable Care Act.

Health care insurers and doctors could deny service to transgender patients, under a new rule proposed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

It would remove gender identity as a basis for sex discrimination. The rule would also remove protections for women who have had an abortion.

Perspective: What IF People 'Go Back?'

Aug 12, 2019

A Marvel character snaps his fingers and half of our population turns into dust. That is an alluring thought for some. What if a large swath of our population not born in the U.S. similarly exited, to “go back home?”  

Chase Cavanaugh

Northwestern Medicine Kishwaukee Hospital has just acquired a precision surgical robot.

Known as a da Vinci, it consists of multiple arms equipped with different instruments for surgery, such as scissors and forceps. Dr. Ricardo Soares was trained on the system, and said using it takes more time than a conventional surgery. But he said the robot can allow for a procedure that doesn’t require as much time for recovery.

Flickr user Michael Chen "Pills" (CC BY 2.0)

$11.5 million is headed to Illinois to combat the opioid crisis. The money comes from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. More than half will go toward increasing access to behavioral health treatment, with a focus on substance abuse.




State Of The Artist: Here, Go Make Some Stuff

Aug 9, 2019
Connie Kuntz

Every morning at Art Camp, the bell rings at 10:30 and nearly 30 kids from Rockford and Peoria gather in a circle and "sing hello." That means every child is musically greeted by their name so they know they are welcomed, recognized, and loved. After the song, the campers break off into groups organized by age. They learn different disciplines of art including dance, drama, visual arts, gardening and cooking.  This is Ann Rundall's Art Camp. 

Perspective: Bullet The Wonder Dog -- And Me

Aug 9, 2019

My wife’s great aunt married John F. Kennedy’s great uncle. This was in 1928. Jack Kennedy would have been eleven and was likely at the wedding. This means that my wife is only five or six degrees of separation from President Kennedy. It means that I’m only six or seven degrees of separation from President Kennedy. Not that I’m bragging or anything.


Visits to the emergency room for asthma vary widely across Illinois. One reason could be how it's treated.

Asthma is an inflammatory lung condition that can cause bouts of coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. In severe cases, a patient's airways swell shut, requiring a visit to the emergency room.

The Illinois Hospital Report Card tracks these types of visits. Between 2015-2017, Stephenson County had among the highest rates of visits in the state.

Perspective: Ageism

Aug 8, 2019


Growing older is a fact of life that most people dread. We’re embarrassed to be called old. 

Cole Freeman, Data visualization done in collaboration with the Department of Computer Science at Northern Illinois University

A few years ago, when he was going to Yorkville High School, Matt Pitstick saw college recruiters roaming his school who surprised him and made his friends laugh. They were recruiters from a university more than 700 miles away: the University of Alabama.

"I remember when I first saw it, we all just joked about it -- like 'Haha yeah, the University of Alabama,'" he said. "But then you look into it and it's like, 'You know what, maybe that's not a bad idea.'"

Perspective: The Right Side Of History

Aug 7, 2019
Pixabay. Pixlr

History does not repeat itself, but it often rhymes, as Mark Twain reputedly said.  


Sarah Jesmer

Congressman Adam Kinzinger toured parts of his northern Illinois district on Tuesday. 

Tour stops included Rockford and Morris, and regional events for National Night Out, he said.

In DeKalb, Kinzinger and city officials like Mayor Jerry Smith, City Manager Bill Nicklas, and Alderman Carolyn Morris were joined by Northern Illinois University representatives in a bus tour around the city. 

Peter Medlin

Two northern Illinois Congress members are reacting to concerns about student loan debt. Representatives Lauren Underwood and Bill Foster were joined by administrators from public and private colleges.

Near the beginning of the event at Waubonsee Community College, Rep. Bill Foster (D-11) got up and recited the stats: 44 million students with debt over $1.5 trillion dollars. 

“The big picture is there is enough money in this country to make a big dent in this problem,” said Foster.


The head of the Illinois State Rifle Association said it's likely Congress will take some action to restrict gun access in the wake of two more mass shootings in the United States, and he’s concerned lawmakers will go too far.

Perspective: Routine, Please!

Aug 6, 2019
robinsan via Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Some people say there is a season for everything. I reflect on that saying during mundane moments. Routines are followed and no surprises occur. Living in routine time is nice because it’s easy and predictable. I often stop and lavish in the moment of living routinely because I know it won’t last and I will long for routine and predictability at some point. 

Guy Stephens

Illinois 17th Congressional District Representative Cheri Bustos is touting a report released Monday that brings rural Midwestern voices into the discussion on how to address climate change.  

Bustos said the plan for a ‘Rural Green Partnership’ is a way to make sure her part of the country isn’t left out in the response to an issue of national importance. She said some proposals to fight climate change don’t pay much attention to those in agriculture.

Perspective: Thousands Will Lose Benefits

Aug 5, 2019
Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Editor's note: The audio portion of this Perspective is incorrect in the number of Americans who are food-insecure. The correct number is 1 in 8, which was in the original script.  

“I’ve never done this before,” a woman tells me as I help her sign up for food assistance at the Grow Mobile pop-up pantry. “My husband has been ill, and I had to quit my job to take care of him.” One of millions of stories. 



Legalized sports betting will soon come to Illinois as part of the state's new gambling expansion law.

Sports wagering is nothing new. But in the U.S., the practice has generally been illegal outside of a few specific venues. That changed last year when the Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act. It allows states to legalize sports betting.

In Illinois, there are several companies eager to enter the market. But casinos lobbied hard against allowing them unfettered access. State Sen. Dave Syverson (R-Rockford) explains.

Tanya Koonce/Illinois Public Media

The family of a visiting Chinese scholar whose body was never recovered after a former University of Illinois doctoral student kidnapped and killed her has been told the woman's remains may be in a landfill in Vermillion County in central Illinois.

An Illinois state senator has been indicted on federal charges that he took more than $250,000 in salary and benefits over a three-year period from the Teamsters while doing little or no work, prosecutors announced Friday.

In a news release, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Chicago said Thomas E. Cullerton of Villa Park was indicted by a federal grand jury on 39 counts of embezzlement from a labor union, one count of conspiracy to embezzle from a labor union and employee benefit plans and one count of making false statements in a health care matter.

Housing Woes: What Does Resolution Look Like?

Aug 2, 2019
Sarah Jesmer

For the last few weeks, we've been looking at housing problems in the DeKalb area. What does resolution look like as the community works to revitalize struggling neighborhoods?


DeKalb community members have been considering housing conditions when some local buildings were damaged during suspected arsons. 


One of these cases occurred at 808 Ridge Drive in early July. 


Logo design by Spencer Tritt


Teachers’ Lounge is a new podcast from WNIJ telling the stories of education in Illinois with the help of stories from Illinois educators. Join reporter Peter Medlin every other Friday (payday!) for a new episode. 

If you are a teacher, you know a teacher who you think should be on the show, or have a story about a teacher who inspired you -- send us an email at to join the conversation. 

Also, feel free to send us your ideas for stories and topics for the show to cover.


Perspective: Finding The Sublime In The Everyday

Aug 2, 2019
Neal Herbert / National Park Service

What causes awe? It’s felt in the presence of nature and incredible feats of human creation. To feel it daily requires wise humility and awareness. 


Sessions from Studio A - Miles Nielsen

Aug 1, 2019

We are bringing you two sets of music from Miles Nielsen on this week's edition of Sessions from Studio A. Check out his set at Rockford's Prairie Street Brewing Co. with his band, The Rusted Hearts, and then a stripped-down acoustic set recorded right here in WNIJ's Studio A. 

Miles Nielsen & Kelly Steward performing "Over the Moon" in WNIJ's Studio A.

Perspective: Firefly Friendships

Aug 1, 2019
TCMerlot / Pixabay

Have you ever struck up a surprisingly close friendship with a stranger you’ve just met on vacation? I call these “firefly friendships.” Fireflies symbolize communication and illumination – two necessary elements for connecting with new friends that we would never have noticed in our usual domestic habitats. 


Austin Hansen, Ross Beach

Student debt forgiveness has quickly risen from the fringes and become one of the most widely discussed topics going into the 2020 election.


Right now over 44 million Americans have student loans worth about $1.5 trillion


Many of the Democratic candidates for president have begun floating their plans to forgive some student loans or eliminate them entirely.