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.

Susan Stephens

Northern Illinois University is working to increase its overall enrollment and provide more aid to disadvantaged groups.

University officials testified this week in front of the Illinois House Appropriations Higher Education Committee.  Provost Beth Ingram said the school’s goal is to stabilize NIU enrollment at 17 to 18,000 students, as part of a multiyear campus plan. She also said there’s been more diverse hiring over the past year.

“I’m pleased to report," she said, "that of the 30 new tenure-track faculty we hired, 50%, 15, were from underrepresented groups." 

It’s National Apprenticeship Week.

The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity is encouraging residents to consider apprenticeship programs if they’re searching for a new job. Julio Rodriguez is Deputy Director of the Office of Employment and Training.  He said apprenticeships are useful in getting direct work experience.

Northern Illinois University

Political conflict can be both helpful and harmful to local government. According to a new study, which it is depends on the nature of the conflict. 

A Northern Illinois University researcher surveyed city councils and other municipal bodies to examine two types of conflict. Political Science Chair Scot Schraufnagel said "policy conflict" is when lawmakers have differences of opinion on specific issues and laws.

Chase Cavanaugh

Northern Illinois was home to several German POW camps during World War II. A Hampshire man got to know one camp personally, in more ways than one.

In 1944, Hampshire was home to the J.B. Inderrieden cannery, which packed local peas and sweet corn. John Fenzel Jr., then a 12-year old paperboy, overheard the city mayor and farm managers discussing a labor shortage at one of the local restaurants.

Chase Cavanaugh

The Gaming Goat store in DeKalb hosted a 24-hour board gaming marathon for charity this weekend.

Kids and adults brought out old classics, like Stratego and Dungeons and Dragons, along with modern hobby games like Settlers of Catan. One group even livestreamed their gaming sessions.

Organizer George Jaros said this fundraiser is part of Extra Life. It's a yearly campaign that raises money for children’s hospitals. He said proceeds from the DeKalb event are headed to a hospital in Chicago.

Chase Cavanaugh

Ensuring safe drinking water is a complex process.

For modern water sources, there are two general options. The first is for a community to draw from a large surface source, such as a river or lake. But that’s not an option for DeKalb.

“In the summer times, sometimes there’s not even enough water flowing in the Kishwaukee River, so [it's] not really a reliable source of water for DeKalb," said Bryan Faivre, the director of utilities and transportation.

He says DeKalb makes use of nine wells spread across two different aquifers. Six of them are quite deep.

Chase Cavanaugh

Rockford’s Nordlof Center played host to a legal clinic recently to help people expunge their criminal records.

Illinois law allows for people under certain conditions to have past offenses expunged, or for their criminal records to be sealed. The Second Chances Summit lets people get free legal assistance with this process, along with educational and career resources.  Illinois State Senator Steve Stadelman said this is the second such summit he’s organized. He said it has a significant impact on participants.

Chase Cavanaugh

One of the snowiest Halloweens in northern Illinois marks the end of a very wet October.

The weather station at Northern Illinois University measured 1.4 inches of snowfall on Thursday, making it the snowiest Halloween since 1895. David Changnon is the chair of NIU’s Department of Geographic and Atmospheric Sciences.  He says October’s rainfall has been much higher than normal, and it’s much colder than expected.


Members of Alpha Phi Alpha at Northern Illinois University presided over a re-dedication ceremony for a bust representing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The bust was moved to a more prominent spot in the university’s MLK commons, next to a newly remodeled student center. NIU alumnus and Alpha member Maurice Thomas says several protests against racism were held on the Commons.

Demonstrations included burning campus newspapers due to the publication’s unfair representation of black students. Thomas urged the crowd to continue to use the space for civil rights.

A new member of a state task force fighting sexual abuse in schools says he has a strong personal interest in the issue. 

Chase Cavanaugh

Northern Illinois University will open up the remodeled first floor of its student center Saturday.

Construction focused on turning the first floor of Holmes Student Center into a hub for student activity. This includes greater views to the outside and more lounge space to sit or meet with others. Dean of Students Kelly Wesener-Michael says a major improvement is a shared workspace called the OASIS.


An Illinois legislator says the state’s new gambling expansion bill needs to be cleaned up.

The state’s recent gambling expansion authorized the construction of six new casinos and legalized practices like sports gambling. Illinois State Representative Jeff Keicher says the law is vague over how legalized sports betting will work, such as how people can bet on specific sports. He hopes the General Assembly can clear that up.

The American Lung Association is urging Illinois residents to get the flu vaccine.

Pulmonologist Meilan Han says vaccinations are important both to avoid getting the disease and to protect others.

“Influenza actually does cause respiratory inflammation, but in someone for instance with a chronic health condition, that inflammation can lead to pneumonia," she said. "People can get secondary bacterial infections, and this can ultimately lead to respiratory failure and death.”


October is Infant Safe Sleep Awareness Month.

It’s an annual campaign to inform parents how to protect their babies from suffocation. Deborah Lopez is a spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. She says parents should follow the “ABCs” of sleeping.

“The baby should be sleeping alone, always placed on their back, and should be sleeping in the crib with a firm mattress covered with a tightly fitted sheet, and that’s all,” she said. 

Chase Cavanaugh

Judges gathered at the federal courthouse in Rockford to celebrate the 35th anniversary of a full-time district judge for the region.

The local division of the U.S. District Court moved from Freeport to Rockford in the 1970s. But its district judge, Stanley Roszkowski, could only travel there once a month to hear cases while maintaining a full presence in Chicago. Roszkowski’s son John said that soon changed.

Lindsay Fox/Pixabay

Health departments representing nine counties in the northern Illinois/Rockford region released a joint statement regarding vaping.

The statement comes in the wake of injuries sustained by users of electronic cigarettes and vaping products. Spokeswoman Katherine O’Toole with the Winnebago County Health Department says the increasing prevalence of these symptoms prompts caution.

Connie Kuntz

389 species of birds in the U.S. could be threatened if global temperatures rise.

That number comes from the National Audubon Society’s most recent report on climate change. It says a changing climate could greatly reduce the range of these birds, and some might not survive the habitat loss. Jennifer Kuroda is the president of Sinnissippi Audubon. She’s trying to raise awareness at a local level through a series of bird murals in Rockford.

Western Illinois University

Bobcat season is approaching in Illinois. There is disagreement over how expanded hunting will impact the species long term.

Illinois resumed bobcat hunting just a few years ago. Rachel Torbert is a spokeswoman with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. She says IDNR asks hunters to report animals they encounter.

"Surveys that we’re working with have been conducted since the early 1990s and they show a steady increase in bobcat population in Illinois," she said.

Northern Illinois University

A Northern Illinois University administrator will chair the Illinois Innovation Network Council.

The Network is a collection of 15 hubs based at state universities. Each hub is a center of research, entrepreneurship, education, and workforce development; and the Council is a way to better coordinate their projects.  NIU's inaugural chairman is Vice President for Research and Innovation Partnerships Dr. Gerald Blazey. Blazey says all the hubs have a central connection to the Discovery Partners Institute in downtown Chicago.

Hard Rock International/City of Rockford

Last week, the Rockford City Council voted 11-to-1 (with one abstention) in favor of certifying Hard Rock’s plan to the Illinois Gaming Board. Hard Rock edged out two alternative casino proposals. 

The Gaming Board has up to a year from when it receives the proposal to decide whether to grant a casino license to Hard Rock. If they do, Mayor Tom McNamara says Hard Rock will first open a temporary casino site at Giovanni’s Restaurant and Convention Center.

"I would say you have about 90 to 180 days and you will have that temporary facility up and running," he said.


The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is providing three Illinois counties with an $11.3 million grant to remove lead paint from homes. Midwest Regional  Administrator Joseph Galvan says lead removal is essential, especially in the case of children.

“Those children who are affected by lead will not have the same advantage of using their God-given gifts to the best of their ability,” he said.

Illinois U.S. Senator Dick Durbin says he thinks the impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump should go forward. He said he joined his colleagues several weeks ago to say it was necessary.  

“I didn’t jump at this as a possibility," Durbin said.  "I waited until the evidence started to mount, and I believe, based on the documents released by the president, declassified by the president, and the whistleblower’s complaint, I believe the impeachment inquiry should go under way."

Chase Cavanaugh

Two senior U.S. Senators toured a federal prison in northwestern Illinois Tuesday.

The Administrative United States Penitentiary is based in Thomson, Illinois. Budget shortfalls meant the facility was sold to the Federal Bureau of Prisons in 2012.  Since then, staff and inmate numbers have gone up, but new employees are having difficulty finding nearby housing. Democratic Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois explains.

Chase Cavanaugh

The Kishwaukee Water Reclamation District is responsible for cleaning local sewage in DeKalb and at Northern Illinois University.  A more than $45 million project aims to modernize the plant.

Chase Cavanaugh

When we hear about purifying water in the news, it’s often about what comes out of the tap. But how do we clean it once it’s been used?

Whether it’s from a toilet, sink or bathtub, dirty water eventually makes its way into the local sewer lines.  And those lines, provided they’re in working order, make their way to a water treatment plant.  In the City of DeKalb, that responsibility falls on the Kishwaukee Water Reclamation District.

State officials are looking for help to address crowding at Starved Rock State Park.

More than two million people visit the popular park each year. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources and the Starved Rock Lodge turned to Northern Illinois University’s Center for Governmental Studies to study the problem.

The park nearly doubled in size thanks to a land purchase last year, but NIU researcher Mim Evans says managing the crowds is a complex issue.

The Illinois Student Assistance Commission is holding its fourth annual "College Changes Everything" month.

The campaign consists of workshops around the state covering college admissions and applying for financial aid. Lynne Baker is the communications director for the agency. She says the campaign is catching on.

“We have over 300 high schools and 215 towns and cities in Illinois that have scheduled either a college application and/or a FAFSA completion workshop this fall. More are being scheduled every week,” she said.

Martin Falbisoner CC by SA 3.0

Questions of precedent come forth as the U.S. House of Representatives conducts an impeachment investigation into President Donald Trump.

One concern among supporters of impeachment is that the U.S. Senate could halt further action if the House votes in favor of impeachment. Aurora University Assistant Professor Matthew Dabros says chamber rules require the Senate to take action, but members could vote to dismiss the charges.

Susan Stephens

Northern Illinois University wants to make the list of companies that it contracts with more inclusive. This year, its Diversity Vendor Networking Fair will focus on small businesses, as well as firms owned by women, minorities, people with disabilities, and veterans.

Judson University is hosting Caroline Kennedy as the keynote speaker for its World Leaders Forum this year.

Kennedy is the only surviving child of President John F. Kennedy, and was appointed as the first female U.S. Ambassador to Japan in 2013.  University President Gene Crume says Kennedy previously crossed paths with her interviewer at LaGuardia Airport.