Cheril Lee

News Director

My broadcasting career began in the most unlikely of places…Okinawa, Japan.  I was interviewed one afternoon while I was in college and, on a lark, I asked if the TV station needed any volunteers.  They said they could use a weather person who would stick around for at least six months.  Two auditions and one meeting later, I was in front of the cameras Monday through Friday night, giving the weather forecast for the island. 

Did I mention that FEN was the ONLY American TV station on the island?  Well, let’s just say that I got to know what being a celebrity was like, really quickly.  Since I was the only civilian on an all-military newscast, I stood out just a little bit.  It was one of the best times of my life and I worked with eight different news anchors.  This taught me that every broadcaster has a different way of approaching the craft. 

After Japan, I made my way back across the ocean, by way of plane, to the great state of Mississippi.  While there, I anchored daily newscasts at a local station, Northland Cable News.  The station was located in Starkville, the home of Mississippi State University.  While there, I got to attend football games in the press box, which was quite cool until the day they tapped me on the shoulder and informed me that cheering was not allowed in the press box.  Oops.  Again, I learned a little something about retaining one’s professionalism in every situation. 

While in Mississippi, I also made appearances on other TV stations’ breakfast and lunch time shows, usually talking to the hosts about various plays I was appearing in onstage.

My next broadcasting gig was right here in Omaha at KVNO, Classical 90.7 where I became the News Director in 2000.  I remember that my first day was right in the middle of a fund drive.  The Program Director asked me if I wanted to jump in and pitch and I thought, “What the heck is pitching?”  I deferred, telling him I’d participate in the next one.  And participate I did.  While I was there, I did more than 20 fund drives.  Additionally, I anchored several daily newscasts, wrote, produced and delivered the Arts at 8:30 and at the end, hosted a two-hour on-air shift in addition to my other duties.  I learned a lot about classical composers, including the correct pronunciation of Dvorak.

After a decade at KVNO, I decided to pursue my Master’s Degree at UNO, so I left the station to take classes.  But it wasn’t long before the siren song of public radio lured me back.  I started working for KIOS in January of 2010 as a news anchor, reporter and on-air host.  The Saturday morning programs are among my favorites and I love talking with listeners who are as passionate about public radio as I am.

When I’m not talking on the airwaves, I love to act in community theatre productions, rock out to concerts and write.  Traveling has always been a passion of mine.  I’ve been to several countries, including Italy, Japan, Albania, Slovenia, England and my personal favorite, Ireland.  Up next, are the Dominican Republic, France and Scotland. 

Ever the optimist, you will usually hear a smile in my voice when I’m hosting.  It is my goal to be good company as you move through your day.  

Ways to Connect

The Malcolm X Birthday Celebration features three days of events this week.

Walter Brooks is the Administrative Director for the Malcolm X Memorial Foundation.  He says the festivities kick off Thursday night with a program called “Verbal Gumbo.” 

The evening features spoken word artists and live music at the House of Loom.  Brooks says that’s followed by a presentation from a dynamic African-American motivational speaker on Friday called “Mental Liberation.”  

The guest speaker Friday is Nationally-acclaimed poet and author Basheer Jones.

State Senator Gwen Howard and Douglas County Treasurer John Ewing are vying for the democratic nomination in the Second Congressional District race. 

The League of Women Voters of Greater Omaha is offering a non-partisan guide for metro area voters who want more information before they cast a ballot next Tuesday.  The voter’s guide has information on candidates running for races in Douglas County. 

Bev Traub, current president for the League of Women Voters of Greater Omaha, says the guide is meant to assist voters in gaining a more complete view of the candidates who are running for office.  She says not all candidates are equally familiar to the public.

The Douglas County Health Department’s Chief of Community Health and Nutrition Services is in Washington DC for the Weight of the Nation Conference.

Mary Balluff says the purpose of the conference is to figure out how we as a community are going to combat the obesity issue.  A recent article in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine predicts an increase in the percentage of obese and very obese Americans over the next twenty years.  

Balluff says Douglas County has done a number of things locally to try to stem the tide of obesity in the Omaha area.

The Salvation Army's annual D.J.’s Hero Awards Luncheon happens Monday, May 14th.

Steve George, Chairperson for the event, says there are three goals of the event. One is to raise money for the Salvation Army’s programs. Another is to award scholarships to high school seniors who have overcome hardships in their lives, and the third is to feature a dynamic speaker. This year’s luncheon will be held at the Century Link Center.  George says there will be two guest speakers, Bob and Lee Woodruff.

The Omaha Farmer’s Markets kick off this weekend.  The markets offer attendees a variety of items, including local produce, flowers, meat, and cheese.  Project Manager Heidi Walz says there are also local vendors with non-food items, including handcrafted jewelry and wooden toys. 

This year’s downtown Omaha Farmer’s Market will feature 110 vendors. The Farmer’s Market at Aksarben Village has expanded to 75 vendors.  Walz says the mission of the markets goes back to community, and that’s why they accept SNAP cards at all their locations.

Courtesy of Omaha Symphony

The Omaha Area Youth Orchestra will play popular pieces from Rimsky-Korsakov, Delius and Mendelssohn at its annual Side by Side program.

The Side by Side Concert takes place Sunday at 7:00 in the Holland Center.  OAYO Executive Director Aviva Segall says the program offers the Youth Symphony the chance to perform alongside Omaha Symphony musicians. 

She says Maestro Thomas Wilkins will conduct the majority of the concert.

Courtesy of Cheril Lee

There are approximately 1500 homeless veterans in Nebraska and around 200,000 nationwide.

A new partnership announced this morning would work to make Nebraska the first state to end veterans’ homelessness.  Mayor Jim Suttle and Mike Fornear of the Homeless Veterans Project, were joined by civic and business leaders to discuss the new project called “Vets Town.” 

The U.S. News & World Report 2012 Department of Finance ranked Creighton University’s college of business finance program 19th in the nation.

Anthony Hendrickson, Dean to the College of Business, says the program is up two points from last year.  He says Creighton boasts more Certified Financial Analyst charter holders on its faculty than any other institution in the world. 

Hendrickson says he thinks the visibility of the master’s in security analysis has attracted a lot of attention.

Heyday on May Day!

Apr 26, 2012

The number one priority on the City of Omaha’s Transportation Master Plan is the Market to Midtown Connector.

The connector would convert Harney Street, from midtown to the Old Market, into a street that supports multiple modes of transportation, including biking and walking.  

Courtesy of Cheril Lee

First Lady Michelle Obama gave the keynote address at the Lunch for the Girls this afternoon, telling young women to work hard and surround themselves with positive people.

Mrs. Obama thanked the parents, Girls, Inc. staff, volunteers and community for their support of the girls. The First Lady says girls being strong, smart and bold isn’t just about getting good grades, but also about being a good friend, taking care of your body by getting active and eating right, and giving back to the community.

Dr. Adi Pour, Director of the Douglas County Health Department, says they’ve known since 2004 that the rate of STD infections in Douglas County is at an epidemic level.

She says the health department wants to take every opportunity to keep young people healthy.  Dr. Pour says one of the ways to do so is to increase screening rates. 

She says often these types of infections are asymptomatic, so people may not know they are infected.

The federal deficit was on the minds of the GOP candidates for Nebraska’s Second Congressional District at a debate Friday. The Omaha Press Club and League of Women Voters sponsored the debate.

Incumbent Congressman Lee Terry has three challengers. One is financial advisor Brett Lindstrom. UNO mathematics professor Jack Heidel and former Douglas County Republican Party Chairman Glenn Freeman are also running for Congress. 

Donate Life Nebraska is inviting everyone to link hands on the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge on Saturday to celebrate national Donate Life Month.

Joey Hoffman, Spokesperson for Donate Life Nebraska, says in 18 people die in America each day due to a lack of donor organs.  She says Donate Life Nebraska is joining the national campaign to sign up 20 million organ donors in 2012.  Hoffman says becoming a donor because is one of the only opportunities you’ll have in your lifetime to save someone else’s life.

Herbert Karliner, Philip Freud, Hans Fisher and Sol Messinger will present a special lecture at the Durham Museum on Friday morning at 10:30.

The four men are survivors of the tragic 1939 voyage of the SS St. Louis.  After trying to dock in several countries, including the U.S., the ship was forced to return to Europe.  

Many passengers subsequently found themselves under Nazi rule, and many died as a result. The majority of the passengers that were granted refuge in Great Britain survived the ordeal.  Shawna Forsberg is Director of Marketing for the Durham.

Courtesy of Creighton University

In honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day Thursday, Creighton University in collaboration with the Omaha Jewish Community, will present the original docudrama, “The Trial of Franklin D. Roosevelt.” The docudrama is about the 1939 voyage of the SS St. Louis. 900 Jewish men, women and children were adrift at sea for 30 days and were denied entrance into the U.S.  

The passengers were told the United States had reached its immigrant quota, so they were sent back to Germany and other European countries, many of them occupied by Germany.  

Innovative Aging

Apr 17, 2012
Courtesy of

The Visiting Nurse Association is offering a series of lectures centering on the Age Explosion issue.

With the baby boomer generation growing by more than 50% in the next five years, VNA President and CEO Jamie Summerfelt says the VNA decided to create this educational series.  

He says the Innovative Aging series covers topics such as health, social connections and transportation issues related to

The executive director of the Nebraska Democratic Party says turnout for Saturday’s second presidential caucus was lower than expected, but still encouraging.

Jim Rogers attributes the lower turnout in part to the primary being non-contested. He says the red and white game and the storms that broke out across the Metro also affected turnout. 

Despite the challenges, he says North Omaha had the largest turnout with over 100 individuals caucusing there.  Rogers says a variety of issues were discussed during the caucus.

Nebraska Democratic Party holds second presidential nominating caucus

Apr 16, 2012
photo by Rob McLean/KIOS-FM

The executive director of the Nebraska Democratic Party says turnout for Saturday’s second presidential caucus was lower than expected, but still encouraging.

Jim Rogers attributes the lower turnout in part to the primary being non-contested. He says the red and white game, and the storms that broke out across the Metro, affected turnout.  Despite the challenges, he says North Omaha had the largest turnout with over 100 registered voters caucusing there.

Eight present and past outstanding Omaha area business leaders will be inducted into the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce’s Hall of Fame on April 24th.   

Chamber President and CEO David Brown says the honor is meant to recognize the work these business leaders have done in the community. 

He says it is also a nod to the volunteer and philanthropic work these individuals did while they were still running their businesses or, in some cases, continue to do today.

When UNO dropped its wrestling and football programs last year, students who were recruited were left without an opportunity to play, or take advantage of other scholarship opportunities. 

This morning, attorney Mike Degan of Husch Blackwell filed a lawsuit on behalf of 13 former UNO football players and recruits.  The lawsuit is being filed under Nebraska’s public records act. 

Degan says he filed the lawsuit after several unsuccessful attempts by the law firm to get UNO to share its documentation about the decision to terminate football and wrestling.

Increased productivity and decreased absenteeism are just two of the benefits for employers that create a culture of health and wellness.

Rebecca Vinton Dorn is Executive Director for Wellness Council of the Midlands.  WELCOM sponsors an annual awards lunch honoring metro area companies for their efforts in promoting worksite wellness.  This year’s lunch will honor eight companies. 

Courtesy of

April is National Child Abuse prevention month, and the Nebraska Internet Crimes Against Children task force is working to keep them safe. 

The ICAC task force is comprised of 50 federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, as well as prosecutors. The purpose of the task force is to investigate cases of child exploitation facilitated by the Internet or technology.  

Just put one foot in front of the other…it’s that easy to participate in the 6th Annual National Walk at Lunch Day.

Kathy Nellor is a wellness business consultant for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska.  She says Blue Cross Blue Shield hopes 25,000 Nebraskans will participate for 30 minutes on April 25th. 

Nellor says Blue Cross Blue Shield wants people to make walking a regular habit.   She says walking is an easy and inexpensive way to exercise that still yields great results.

Courtesy of

Girls Inc. of Omaha will hold its 12th Annual Lunch for the Girls on Tuesday, April 24th at the CenturyLink Center.

First Lady Michelle Obama will give the keynote address at this year’s event.  Roberta Wilhelm is the Executive Director for Girls, Inc.  

She says the girls will present a special video in support of Mrs. Obama’s Let’s Move! Initiative, which is dedicated to fighting childhood obesity.

The city’s largest ecological celebration takes place Saturday, April 21st in Elmwood Park from 11 to 6.  Dennis Bryars is the Chairperson for the event.  

He says they hope to show people ways they can live a greener, more sustainable lifestyle.  Bryars says there will be between 75 to 100 exhibitors taking part in Earth Day Omaha.

The Nebraska Department of Roads has posted a draft of Vision 2032, the state’s new long-range transportation plan.

The public is encouraged to review the plan and make comments through May 11th.  Spokesperson Mary Jo Oie says the department has been working on the plan for months. 

Experimental percussionist Tatsuya Nakatani performs at the Bemis Center Saturday, April 7th.

Joel Damon, Underground Curator, says Nakatani plays a traditional gong with a bow.  He says it creates an atmospheric sound that can be felt and experienced on multiple levels. 

Damon says Nakatani also plays singing bowls, and uses cymbals in new ways.  He says the Bemis is always interested in performers and artists who may not fit comfortably within traditional concert venues.

Last year, more than 2.4 million people visited the 12 Omaha Public Library branches.

Executive Director Gary Wasdin says the libraries continued to see every measurable aspect of use going up in 2011. 

Though people still use the libraries for books and reading, Wasdin says residents are often surprised to find out just how much more there is to find and do in the library.

April 2nd through the 6th is Severe Weather Awareness Week in Iowa. Lucinda Robertson is Public Information Officer for the Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. 

She’s encouraging all Iowans to be prepared for year-round emergencies by attention to local news and investing in a weather radio. Robertson says individuals should also make an emergency plan because a family may not be together when an emergency happens.  Finally, she says it’s important to create an emergency supply kit.