Perspective: Good, Bad, Ugly

Apr 9, 2021

COVID-19:  The good, the bad, and the ugly!

The good news is I finally balanced my checkbook, updated my address book, and made out my will. 

My winter wardrobe has been pared down to 3 pairs of flannel pajamas and a pair of Uggs.  Since I didn’t “meal plan” as much as paw through the cupboards and graze through the fridge, let me just say, pajamas do lie.  Salvation Army and Goodwill got some good deals from me.

Sessions from Studio A - Mathew Ray Fichter

Apr 8, 2021

Mathew Ray Fichter brings his beautifully honest songwriting to Studio A this week. Join us for a live performance recorded in Studio A, with music from Fichter's solo record "Hell Camino" which is out now on Mostly Annoyed Records and also Bandcamp. We'll also talk with the singer-songwriter about his background and his songwriting, plus Dan Edmunds will tell us more about his label, Mostly Annoyed. 

Sophia Varcados.

For some, music can be a great companion through good and bad times. On Sunday, a northern Illinois music therapist gives insight on how these tunes can also be used for healing.  

Jen Conley is a board-certified music therapist and a licensed professional counselor. She said music is gratifying but some people don’t recognize its deeper power. 

Perspective: The Empty Tomb Challenge

Apr 8, 2021

Easter and Passover have concluded and Ramadan begins soon.  These three religious groups take time to remember and retell their central religious stories and celebrate them. 

Christians dare to assert that the dead can be brought back to life.  But the biblical stories of Easter were laced with fear and disbelief.  The Gospel of Mark ends abruptly after three women went to grieve at Jesus’ tomb, and when finding it empty fled in fright and despair, not telling anyone what they had experienced. 

NIU Meteorologist Expects Active Tornado Season

Apr 7, 2021
NIU Today

This year’s tornado season is expected to be wetter and more intense than usual.  

Northern Illinois University Professor of Meteorology, Victor Gensini attributes this prediction to 2021’s La Niña weather pattern, when the water temperatures off of the Pacific Ocean are quite cold.

He said strong tornado systems are beginning to concentrate in certain regions of the United States.

Spencer Tritt

Today felt like the first day of school, even though Hinckley-Big Rock is eight months into the school year. That’s according to Jessica Sonntag, the director of student services there.

It’s the first day they’ve had all of their students in school all day. But, there are 20 students who have been in-person all day since last August: those who receive special ed accommodations for 70% or more of their school day.

Perspective: Justice For All

Apr 7, 2021
Logan Weaver / Unsplash

After a summer of unrest, protest, conversations, and prayer vigils, the trial for former Minneapolis police officer Derrick Chauvin is now underway. The former officer was captured on video where, for more than nine minutes, he appeared to kneel on the neck of a handcuffed George Floyd. Mr. Floyd was taken from the scene unresponsive and would eventually die from the injuries.

Sarah Jesmer

With all precincts reporting, unofficial totals show Cohen Barnes has won the election to be the next mayor of DeKalb. He received 2,391 votes to claim 62% of the votes against challenger Carolyn Morris. Barnes and Morris met several times in forums to outline their vision for DeKalb, including a forum hosted by WNIJ, the League of Women Voters of DeKalb County, and the DeKalb Public Library.

Poetry Out Loud

A Chicago student won the Illinois state championship for a national poetry competition.  

Catherine Herrera is a senior at William Howard Taft High School. The 17-year-old first took part in the Poetry Out Loud contest a few years ago. She said she originally entered the contest because she loves performance theater. 

Perspective: The Grass Is Green

Apr 6, 2021
Dawid Zawila / Unsplash

It has been so pleasurable to see the mud-brown grass of winter give way to the lush, green grass of spring. The robins are also happy; pulling hard on their lunchtime worms. The only difficulty is that green grass grows. Regular haircuts are needed and if you receive some badly timed monsoons, it can be hard to coordinate cuttings, leading to a cowlick-y and unruly lawn. Such is the case with my yard. What started out as mild, short tufts of grass has progressed to full-fledged toupees and comb-overs. The grass is long and lank.

Juanpablo Ramirez-Franco

Winnebago County residents can now apply for financial help due to hardships related to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Winnebago County officials announced on Monday that the money is available through a federally-funded $8.3 million Emergency Rental Assistance Grant for housing stability for renters and landlords.

Anqunette Parham is with the city of Rockford’s Human Services Department. She says the city and county have already given out hundreds of thousands of dollars in emergency rent assistance. 

The Twinkie, America’s model junk food, got its start in Illinois. Twinkies were invented on April 6, 1930 at the Continental Baking Company in River Forest. Manager James Dewar noticed that the equipment used to make the company’s small, baked strawberry shortcakes sat idle when strawberries were out of season. He came up with the idea to inject the spongy yellow cakes with a fluffy, white cream filling, and the Twinkie was born.

Perspective: Saving Our Bat Friends

Apr 5, 2021
Illinois Natural History Survey


The bat landed on my pillow.

And needless to say, we four teenage girls broke out in a chorus of screams that would have made Hollywood proud. We were spending the night in our Northwoods cabin’s “guest house,” a single room attached to an old log garage with plenty of cracks for bats and other critters to gather.

Meet The Candidates For The DeKalb School Board

Apr 2, 2021
Spencer Tritt

A virtual forum with candidates for the DeKalb School Board was held by the DeKalb Public Library before the April 6 consolidated elections. The most pressing issue in the district was unanimous for all five of the candidates running for the three seats: COVID-19 and its academic and mental health impact on DeKalb students. 

Provided by Jan Bristol.

Welcome to WNIJ's Poetically Yours. Poetically Yours showcases poems by northern Illinois poets. Today's segment features poems by Jan Bristol. 

Bristol is a native of Carroll County, Illinois who says she has Mississippi River in her blood. She spent many years in Colorado, but came back home, to what she describes as "along the river and palisades."  Bristol retired from the aerospace industry and is also a member of the writers' group E-town Scribes.

Here are two of Bristol's untitled short poems.

Untitled 1

I remember when

  Refugees fleeing war-torn countries have lived with stress and anxiety before.  For many, the pandemic has brought those feelings of uncertainty flooding back.  We'll hear from refugees, now living in Illinois.

We learn how an executive order signed by the governor to limit legal action against health care providers during the pandemic is having some unintended consequences.   And, how a man doing yard work discovered a civil war-era artifact that has proved to be a lucky find for a new museum.

Those stories and more on Statewide.

Our lineup:

Lissette Jacobson & Maurice McDavid

On a new episode of Teachers' Lounge, Lissette Jacobson and Maurice McDavid! They’re elementary school principals in West Chicago and the hosts of the podcast “Black, Brown & Bilingüe”! They talked to Peter about the mission of their show – uniting the Black and Brown communities with conversations & education.

Election Day for DeKalb is coming up on April 6. Recently the two mayoral candidates took time to share their personal journeys with the community.   

The “Getting to Know You” conversations took place at New Hope Missionary Baptist Church and were streamed on Facebook Live for both Alderman Carolyn Morris and local businessman Cohen Barnes.  

Perspective: Enjoy The Moments

Apr 2, 2021
Susan Stephens / WNIJ

It's spring! Time to shake off those winter blues and enjoy feeling the warm sun once more.

Now that the snow is finally out of the way, do you look forward to returning to a hobby? Maybe you’re a gardener ready to get your hands back into the soil. Are you ready to get pedaling that bike hiding in the corner of your garage? Or maybe it is time to walk off those pandemic pounds you and your furry friend have gained.

Sessions from Studio A - Olivia Ports

Apr 1, 2021

Join us for a live performance from singer-songwriter Olivia Ports on this week's show! This young performer from Aurora has a big story to tell. Her new EP Hospital Prom is out now everywhere and was inspired by Olivia's own experiences fighting a primary immunodeficiancy. Listen for a live set from Olivia Ports and guitarist Chris Leonard, recorded in Studio A. We'll also talk with Olivia about her music and the stories behind some of her songs.

Juanpablo Ramirez-Franco

Workers from Easterseals in Rockford picketed in front of the organization’s former offices. Contract negotiations between the organization and the union are lagging over wage increases. 



Brenda Schlueter is a paraprofessional with Easterseals, an organization that provides educational services to children and young adults with behavioral or developmental disabilities. 


Illinois K-12 Schools to Receive Federal Funds to Help Get Students Back in the Classroom

Apr 1, 2021
State of Illinois

  Governor Pritzker Wednesday announced Illinois K-12 school districts are receiving seven billion dollars in federal funding to support students as they return to the classroom after distance and hybrid learning due to COVID-19.

Pritzker says to help revitalize education in the classroom, his administration and the P-20 Council are providing schools with a 180-page guide called the Learning Renewal Resource Guide.

Perspective: Vote Local

Apr 1, 2021
Unsplash + Pixlr

On April 6, Illinois voters are electing new mayors, school board members, township supervisors, city council members and more, and are weighing in on referendums. What do you think about raising chickens in your back yard? How about your neighbors?

Peter Medlin

The NIU Convocation Center in DeKalb is normally used for commencement ceremonies and Huskie basketball games, but it has doubled as a mass vaccination site since January. The arena jumbotron even plays ESPN for residents waiting in observation after their shot.  

Last week, the DeKalb County Health Department held four vaccine clinics at the Convocation Center. The department’s team has been assisted by two, 18-person National Guard teams who help with check-ins, second dose scheduling and observation.

Juanpablo Ramirez-Franco

The sixth-term Congressman took questions as part of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences public lecture series,  "Rebuilding Democracy."


Watch Now: Cortland Mayoral Candidate Forum

Mar 31, 2021

The League of Women Voters of DeKalb County and WNIJ hosted a virtual, public Mayoral Forum where candidates for the Mayor of Cortland had the opportunity to speak.

The forum features Mayoral candidates Charmaine Fioretto, Douglas Corson and Mark Pietrowski. Susan Greenwood of the League of Women Voters of Naperville moderated.

Watch below:

Perspective: Welcome To Your (Virtual) Library!

Mar 31, 2021
Kranich 17 / Pixabay

America celebrates National Library Week April 4th through 10th with the theme “Welcome to Your Library.” As a retired school librarian and a current trustee of the Batavia Public Library, I believe this theme is especially appropriate.  It reminds us that everyone is welcome at the library and encourages us to discover what is new.

Perspective: This Arrangement Isn't Working

Mar 30, 2021
Francisco Solares-Larrave

"This ménage à trois is not working," I informed my husband over the breakfast table.

Of course, the current state of affairs is his fault, because he brought Mimi into the house. Moody, difficult to please and argumentative, she lets her frustrations out on him. Mornings are the worst because she complains loudly, is impatient for breakfast and resentful when her needs are not met. Naturally, he was smitten by her youth and good looks, so he fell for her damsel in distress act.

Courtesy of Jenn Harrison

The “Goggins Challenge” involves running four miles, every four hours for 48 hours, day and night – that’s 48 miles. For middle school teacher Jenn Harrison, it was a little too short. She laced up her shoes and tacked on an extra mile to each to make it an even 60 miles.

First United Methodist Church of DeKalb

A northern Illinois church is bringing back its free monthly Sunday dinners after they were interrupted by the pandemic.  

Vicki Boone is a volunteer at First United Methodist Church of DeKalb. She said the "R.E.A.L meal sharing food and friendship" program is bigger than a handout.  

“It stands for -- I think what we hope all churches would be at their best -- relevant, engaging, authentic and loving,” she explained.

Boone emphasized that this is at the heart of what the establishment does.