Joe Baker's career history

Veteran journalist Joe Baker started his long and distinguished career in Freeport, Ill., with an FM radio station owned by the Freeport Journal-Standard. He began as a janitor and moved on to become an announcer. He spent two or three years doing record shows, news, interviews and other programs.

His next job was in Canton, Ohio, for WAND Radio, “where I nearly starved to death, or so it seemed,” Baker recalled. He didn’t stay there long. From Canton, he moved to the small town of Ashland, Ohio, to another radio station. But this, too, was only temporary.

“My trek next led to Dayton, Ohio,” said Baker, “where I worked for two different radio stations. One of them played host to Arthur Godfrey’s talent auditions, in which he selected people to appear on his radio program in New York. It was in Dayton that I met the McGuire Sisters, who were winners of one audition.”

From there, he returned to Freeport, where he had graduated from Aquin High School in 1950. After going into the service, he came back and worked for Micro Switch as editor of their house publication for about a year to 18 months. Following that, he went back into radio in Peoria; after a year, he left to join the staff of WRRR, a new radio station in Rockford.

“I signed them on the air,” Baker recalls. “I started doing disk jockey work and then moved to news work.” He stayed at WRRR for 12 years and then spent two years at WREX-TV. WRRR has since become station WNTA.

The April 1990 issue of The North End Times (The Rock River Times’ predecessor) states, “His radio and TV experience was primarily in news, and his newspaper experience involved all major news beats: police, City Council, schools, county government, regional reporting and feature writing.

Baker later became familiar to Rockford residents as a staff writer at the Rockford Morning Star, now the Register Star. He was employed at the daily for 21 years.

“He also spent a year as a technical writer at J.I. Case in the ’50s and worked at stations in Wisconsin, Ohio and elsewhere in 1989. He retired from Rockford’s daily paper staff in 1989.”

After working at The North End Times for the Phelps family, he was asked by Frank Schier if he would like to continue on at the paper. Schier had bought the paper, and Baker accepted his offer. He took an editor’s position as detailed in the April 1990 edition. In 1993, the monthly newspaper changed to The Rock River Times, which became a weekly in December of that year.

From the Aug. 16-22, 2006, issue

Enjoy The Rock River Times? Help spread the word!