ROCKFORD — Zoe Chipalla was uncertain about her career path while taking classes at Illinois State University.
The Rockton native and Hononegah High School graduate was focusing on organizational leadership and school communications when an opportunity presented itself in the form of an internship offer at WIFR-TV.
“I had a different major at the time and was just trying out (newscast) because it was experience and I needed internship credit for college,” Chipalla said. “I really liked it and stuck with it because I was passionate about it and when the opportunity came I was like ‘Wow!'”
Chipalla, 23, was hired as a full-time multimedia reporter at WIFR in October 2020, where she was able to hone her reporting skills while covering breaking news, criminal justice stories, environmental issues and topics. of human interest.
A little over a year later, another opportunity presented itself.
WIFR evening news co-anchor Shannon Kelly left the TV industry and Chipalla was offered the job of anchoring the station’s 5, 6 and 10 p.m. newscasts. h alongside veteran broadcaster Mike Garrigan.
“It’s very special to be able to do this job at this age while sitting alongside Mike, who’s been there for years and has a ton of experience and knows so much about the community,” Chipalla said. . “Mike taught me a lot in my short time with him. He’s also very witty and his sarcasm reflects my sense of humor. So when it comes to teasing each other on air , I think it’s very natural.
“It was definitely not an easy decision”:WIFR-TV news anchor Shannon Kelly signs her signature
Chipalla is a driven reporter and is determined to connect with her station’s audience, according to Maggie Hradecky, WIFR’s news director.
“She’s an emotional writer,” Hradecky said. “We have to be balanced in many ways, but we also have to convey the emotion of the moment and she’s very good at conveying that. I think you can see that passion both in her writing but also just by knowing her.
Away from the anchor office, Chipalla enjoys hiking and kayaking at Rock Cut State Park.
She’s also a self-proclaimed “theater kid” who can sometimes be heard singing an Amy Winehouse tune on the karaoke stage.
As for Chipalla’s professional future?
“I’m not quite sure yet,” she said. “I thought I was going to progress as a TV news reporter and eventually go to Milwaukee and work there. It’s always an option but, for now, I’m trying to focus on how to improve as an anchor.
Ken DeCoster: firstname.lastname@example.org; @DeCosterKen