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Rockford

WREX Anchor Jeannie Hayes Dies Two Days After Leukemia Diagnosis

Jeannie Hayes, an anchor at Rockford NBC affiliate WREX, died Thursday from complications of leukemia. She was 29.

Hayes was diagnosed with advanced leukemia on Tuesday, according to WREX. “So so much pain. Everything hurts. Add nausea & more pain, and that about covers it,” Hayes wrote on Twitter Monday.

According to NewsBlues, Hayes was diagnosed with a bladder infection when she sought medical treatment Monday. She called 911 on Tuesday after her condition had worsened. Doctors diagnosed her with leukemia and performed emergency surgery on Wednesday, as a result of which she fell into a coma.

Hayes, who joined WREX in 2005, anchored the noon newscast. The station will air tributes to her on Friday’s evening newscasts. “The pictures, stories and memories are endless, so we will try to compile the best in the way that we know Jeannie would want us to,” a statement on the WREX website reads.

Anchor Alex Wehrley Joins KSBI From WREX

Alex Wehrley is leaving her post as the morning anchor at WREX in Rockford for a job at KSBI in Oklahoma City, according to the Rockford Register Star.

Wehrley begins October 8 as the host of “Oklahoma Live!,” an early afternoon interview show on the MyNetworkTV affiliate in Oklahoma City.

She will sign off from WREX on October 5. News director Mike Costello told the Register Star that the search for her replacement is underway and the station hopes to debut a new morning anchor in mid to late October.

WTVO-WQRF Names Scott Picken News Director

Scott Picken has been named news director for WTVO-WQRF in Rockford, IL, according to Rick Gevers & Associates.

Early in his career, Scott worked as news director with current WTVO general manager Jon Skorburg.  Picken succeeds Kent Harrell who recently left the Nexstar-owned Rockford station for the media group’s Green Bay station, WFRV.

Until May, Picken was news director for KGAN-KFXA in Cedar Rapids, IA.  The veteran new director has also worked in Omaha, NE, Boise, ID, Green Bay, WI, Kansas City, MO and Honolulu, HI.

Read more

WTVO-WQRF Loses News Director, Managing Editor

The news director and managing editor at WTVO-WQRF in Rockford are both leaving the stations, according to the Rockford Register Star.

News director Kent Harrell, who has worked at WTVO-WQRF since 2007, will sign off from the stations on Friday. Harrell is expected to be named news director at WFRV, the CBS affiliate in Green Bay, next week. The move is a reunion with general manager Joe Denk, who left WTVO-WQRF for WFRV last year.

Bob Schaper (pictured) is also leaving the stations after just three months as evening anchor and managing editor. He is a former print reporter who told the Register-Star that he plans to return to writing full-time. Read more

Anchor Bob Schaper Joins WTVO in Rockford

Bob Schaper has joined WTVO, the ABC-affiliate in Rockford, IL, as anchor and managing editor, according to the Rockford Register Star.

Schaper has previously been a reporter at rival WREX and at the Register Star. He began this week at WTVO, co-anchoring the 5 p.m. newscast with Mimi Murphy.

“Our viewers will notice the investigative edge Bob will bring to our newscasts,” news director Kent Harrell said.

Sabrina Santucci Joins WTVO-WQRF in Rockford

Sabrina Santucci has joined WTVO-WQRF in Rockford, IL.

Santucci will be a weekend anchor and weekday reporter at WTVO, the ABC-affiliate. She comes from WCIA, the CBS-affiliate in Champaign, IL, where she was the producer of the morning newscast.

Santucci is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She started at WTVO-WQRF last month.

Rockford Stations Evacuated Amid Concerns of Tower Collapse

WTVO-WQRF in Rockford, IL was forced off the air on Friday and staff evacuated the building as heavy snow and low altitude winds caused guy wires on the stations’ tower to whip around wildly.

“Seeing the wires behave that way, in all the years that I’ve been here I’ve never seen them like that,” chief engineer Mike Real said.  “They could actually start shaking the tower down, or cause damage to the tower which is what we wanted to check on.”

In addition to the evacuation at WTVO-WQRF, 12 homes near the tower were evacuated Friday night. Read more

WREX Anchor Dani Maxwell Joining WKOW

Dani Maxwell, the evening anchor and assistant news director at WREX in Rockford, is leaving the station for an anchor position at WKOW in Madison.

Maxwell, who co-anchored the 5 and 6 p.m. newscasts with Eric Wilson, signed off from WREX last week after 10 years. Starting today, 10 p.m. anchor Katie Nilsson will add the 5 and 6 p.m. newscasts to her duties.

Starting January 18, Maxwell will be an anchor and reporter at WKOW. Both WKOW and WREX are owned by Quincy Newspapers.

“We’re sorry to see Dani go, but at least she is staying with the company,” WREX vice president and general manager John Chadwick told the Rockford-Register Star.

‘Tired of Reporting on the Problems,’ Longtime WTVO Anchor Enters Senate Race

Longtime WTVO anchor Steve Stadelman is now running for a seat in the Illinois state senate.

Stadelman, who has been covering news and politics in the Rockford area for 25 years, filed paperwork this week to run as a Democrat in Illinois’s 34th district. As a result, he is stepping away from the WTVO anchor desk.

After announcing his bid, Stadelman sat down for an interview with WTVO’s Mimi Murphy and described the decision as “bittersweet.”

“I’ve been doing this for a long time,” Stadelman told Murphy about covering the news for WTVO. “And it’s something I enjoyed doing everyday.” Read more

Rockford Morning Anchor Laura Gibbs Moving from TV to Radio

Anchor Laura Gibbs is leaving morning TV for morning radio.

Gibbs is set to depart her post as morning anchor for WREX in Rockford, IL to become a co-host of area radio station WGFB’s morning show.

Her last day with WREX, an NBC-affiliate, will be next week.  John Chadwick, WREX’s vice president and general manager, told the Rockford Register Star that the station is busy searching for her replacement.

Gibbs joined WREX in 2007, first working as an evening anchor before moving to the station’s morning newscast two years ago.

A Rockford native, Gibbs is happy to be working in the town she grew up in.  “I love what I do and love that I’m in a place where so many great people and fantastic memories are always present,” she said recently.

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