Chase Cavanaugh


Chase started in radio while earning his Master's in diplomacy and international commerce at the University of Kentucky.  He was bitten by the radio bug while volunteering at Radio Eye (a local equivalent to NIRIS) and soon became a reporter at WUKY. After four years of reporting in Kentucky's Bluegrass, Chase traveled north to join WNIJ as Morning Edition producer.  Chase reports on a variety of developments in our broadcast area but is particularly drawn to anything with a political or international connection.  He is also an avid board gamer.

Northern Illinois University is expanding its admissions campaigns further into the virtual space in response to COVID-19.

The university had already offered photos, overhead campus drone tours, and mailing campaigns to prospective students. But another focus is on making up for the “day visits” that social distancing prevents families from taking part in. Vice President for Enrollment Management Sol Jensen explains.

Winnebago County Health Department

A northern Illinois health department is emphasizing the importance of social distancing as the coronavirus pandemic continues. Winnebago County Public Health Administrator Sandra Martell said it’s key to ensuring the county can “flatten the curve.” 

Steve Williams

A vintage machine built by a Rockford company is joining the permanent collection at the National Museum of Industrial History. 

Our story begins in Kalispell, Mont. with Steven Williams. He’s a woodworking enthusiast who owns a “shop” of sorts.

“People come to visit, they say you don’t have a woodworking shop, you have a museum," he said. "And so I buy old vintage machinery and I restore it to factory condition and I use it every day.” 

DeKalb County Health Department

Members of a northern Illinois health department held a web event Wednesday to answer questions about COVID-19. 

The event, part of Northern Illinois University’s STEM Café series, was an opportunity for the DeKalb County Health Department and the DeKalb County State’s Attorney to address resident concerns. Officials emphasized the importance of social distancing, and offered clarity on county testing, isolation, emergency response and the risk of exposure. The Department’s director of community health and prevention, Cindy Graves, explained: 

Susan Stephens

Northern Illinois University is adjusting student bills to reflect the social distancing measures implemented due to COVID-19. These measures include having students take remote classes and a reduction of services on campus due to less staff physically present.


In-person mental health services are being scaled back due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some groups are making a transition to telemedicine to compensate.  

When it comes to therapy and psychiatric care, telemedicine isn’t new. It involves a videoconference or phone call between patient and caregiver.  It has proven useful in rural areas, where it may not be feasible for the patient to make regular trips to the doctor in a faraway city or town. 


Scammers are taking advantage of the pandemic to trick people into giving away money and personal information.

Some of these scams take the forms of e-mails and robocalls claiming to be from a reputable organization like the CDC or WHO. There can be an appeal to urgency, such as saying you were exposed by someone to the disease, and they need your personal information. Others may be asking for donations, but those aren’t actually going to a legitimate organization. Retired NIU Professor David  Sinason specializes in fraud prevention. He said due diligence is key.

DeKalb County Health Department

Testing for the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, remains focused on those most at risk for the disease.

Lisa Gonzalez is the public health administrator for the DeKalb County Health Department. She said, right now, testing requests go through a health care provider, and are still focused on a limited subgroup. 

“We’re really looking at testing only those who are severely ill or who fit in the other criteria like living in a congregate setting, having a chronic health condition, or a weakened immune system,” she said.

Northwestern Medicine is implementing new rules at its hospitals and clinics in response to the spread of COVID-19. 


Centers that treat addictions are adding social distancing to their services. At Remedies Renewing Lives in Rockford, this includes limiting the size of and spacing out in-person groups. Other measures include providing take-home medication and corresponding by phone with clients that are at risk for COVID-19. Counselor Cheryl Hollembeak notes social distancing doesn't mean isolation.

U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos of Illinois says testing capacity for the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, is improving. Currently there is a two-to-three day turnaround time for test results. The tests are being carried out by three state labs, commercial and national labs, and several hospitals. Bustos says the quantity of test kits is improving rapidly.  

“The governor told me this morning that by Sunday of this week [March 22], we should be near full capacity as far as being able to get all the testing done that we need to.”

Secretary of State

Illinois Secretary of State offices, including those that deal with driver services, are closed until the end of the month due to the coronavirus outbreak. Secretary of State Jesse White says the expiration dates for drivers' licenses, plates, and other transactions will be extended by at least 30 days.  

Illinois State Police

The Illinois State Police are preparing for further action related to the coronavirus outbreak in the coming days and weeks.

This includes the transport of patients needing medical care, carrying medical supplies from the national stockpile, and coordination with the national guard. In a Wednesday press conference, ISP Director Brendan Kelly urged residents to abide by the restrictions on bars, restaurants, and public gatherings.

U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos of Illinois is encouraging passage of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. The measure was passed by the House Saturday. It currently awaits action in the Senate. Bustos says the act includes various forms of compensated time off for affected workers.  

“Two weeks of paid sick time for workers in small businesses. On top of that, we’ve got another 10 weeks of paid sick leave for the workers, and that impacts as many as 87 million workers," she said. 


Despite coronavirus-related shutdowns across Illinois, primary campaigns remain in full swing. 

The Illinois Primary election takes place Tuesday.  Campaigners for democratic presidential frontrunners Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders say they’re still optimistic about turnout. Retired Senator John Kerry is a Biden campaign surrogate and praised Sunday night’s debate performance.

U.S. 16th District Representative Adam Kinzinger says maintaining health care capacity will be key in combating the coronavirus. 

President Trump declared a state of emergency Friday afternoon. That frees up $50 billion for states to address the crisis.  Congressman Kinzinger says this will help Illinois overall but a particular focus for the state will be ensuring there remains space in local health care systems to treat the most vulnerable patients.

Burpee Museum of Natural History

Fossils and dinosaurs will be the talk of the town in one part of Rockford this weekend.  

This is the Burpee Museum of Natural History’s 22nd annual PaleoFest.  The event brings paleontologists and their associates together to share their latest research with each other and the public. Joshua Matthews is Burpee’s Director of Paleontology. He said this gathering started in the 1990s in response to local interest and fossil finds.

DeKalb County Health Department

As the coronavirus spreads, local health departments and hospitals are monitoring the situation and making plans. 

To keep abreast of the situation, municipalities are in constant contact with their counterparts across the state. Lisa Gonzalez, Public Health Administrator for the DeKalb County Health Department, explains. 

“We have the Region 1 Health Departments which are the 9 counties in northwest Illinois, but we also work with Chicago region health departments and statewide health departments as well," she said. 

Chase Cavanaugh

Northwestern Medicine is celebrating the first anniversary of a program meant to be a bridge from a hospital stay to home.

NM started the Homeward Healing Swing Bed program at Valley West Hospital in Sandwich early in 2019. It allows patients who have finished receiving care for their immediate conditions to get additional rehabilitation treatment. This can range from physical therapy and wound care to IV and antibiotic treatment.

Chase Cavanaugh

As the Illinois primary election draws closer, college students are preparing to cast their votes. Some for the first time. As part of our series, "You're the Boss," we asked several NIU voters at campus voter registration events about their most important issues in the election, and what questions they would ask candidates and current officeholders directly if they had the chance.  Here's what they had to say:

Salvador Meza, electrical and computer engineering major, Chicago

Chase Cavanaugh

Coyotes dominated the conversation at a public meeting Tuesday in Rockford. Officials from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources discussed why coyotes are attracted to urban areas, and how to avoid attacks. Many residents expressed concern about the canines, but Conservation Policeman Nathan Murry said education is an important first step. 

Chase Cavanaugh

Kishwaukee College in Malta has many students who have or will reach voting age.  But education instructor Cynthia de Seife said some of these students had misconceptions.

“A while back, I was doing voter registration here at the college and some students were saying how they don’t vote, they don’t ever vote, their vote doesn’t count," she said. " And I thought, 'No. This is a college. No no no. This is not okay. We can do better than that.'”

Wikimedia Commons

The Copley Hospital campus in Aurora is now on the National Register of Historic Places. It is the first “purposefully-built” city hospital and dates back to 1888.

Rachel Barnhart is with MacRostie Historical Advisors and wrote the nomination. She said the building was important for the types of care it offered.

“The first part of Copley Hospital, now there was an option to give birth under medical supervision. And then also surgical operations could be conducted in the hospital as well," she said. 

Flickr user Miso Beno/ CC 2.0 Noncommercial

A bill in the State Senate aims to keep people with violent criminal histories from obtaining firearms.

State Senator Julie Morrison is sponsoring the legislation, which is part of Senate Bill 1966. She said a key aspect is closing gaps in the process of getting a Firearm Owners Identification, or FOID, card. 

Carey Cavanaugh

Trolls have lived in Morton Arboretum since the summer of 2018, but the gentle giants are moving out later this year.  

"Soybeans" by Flickr User Aerna's Mom / (CC x 2.0)

Illinois farm exports to China have suffered due to the coronavirus outbreak, but that isn’t the only factor.

China is the world’s largest importer for products such as soybeans, which Illinois farmers produce in abundance.  The coronavirus outbreak has reduced demand, but economist Todd Hubbs at the University of Illinois said it’s been a recurring problem with the trade war.

Democratic U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth says there is a deep division in the country that does not help the political process.

She said President Trump’s State of the Union address didn’t make this any better. She also said Senator Romney didn’t exactly vote “against” the president.

Courtesy of the Forest Preserve of DuPage County

Recent encounters between coyotes and humans have put the canines in the public eye. We have details on why these animals seem to be popping up in more populated areas. 

Earlier this month, one animal was captured in Chicago and sent to a wildlife rehabilitation center, while another remained on the loose. Despite the extensive news coverage, one question still remains. What brought them downtown?

U.S. Department of Defense

Retired General David Petraeus will visit Illinois in October.

He’ll be the next speaker in the University's "World Leaders Forum."  2004 Judson alumnus Mark Vargas is also leading a Q&A at the event. Vargas said he met the General while working as part of an economic special task force in Iraq during the U.S.-led war. 

“General Petraeus was leading our coalition forces to clear and hold as part of our counterinsurgency strategy and then the civilian force would reopen factories and put Iraqis back to work,” Vargas said. 


A new grant will help researchers try to increase the survival rate for lung cancer.

The Community Foundation of Northern Illinois recently awarded a $100,000 grant to the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Rockford for lung cancer screening and research. Associate Professor Dr. Neelu Puri said it will pay for further research into treatment and expand the use of a technique called low-dose computed tomography.