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WXXI News reporter Racquel Stephen expanding her beat to cover health, equity, and community

Racquel Stephen on assignment covering aquatics fitness class at the Westside Family YMCA in Gates.
Max Schulte
Racquel Stephen on assignment covering an aquatics fitness class at the Westside Family YMCA in Gates.

You know Racquel Stephen. During the pandemic, that was her voice coming out of your speakers or headphones, keeping you updated about the latest on COVID-19.

And lately, you've been hearing from her about new breast cancer screening guidelines, a new effort to promote awareness of domestic violence in the LGBTQ+ community, and a new sensory regulating space that was part of this year's Lilac Festival.

Racquel Stephen
Racquel Stephen

But recently Stephen approached her editors at WXXI News about expanding her beat.

"I wanted to tell more community-based stories that we don't hear often, whether it's the Black community, the LGBTQ+ community, marginalized communities," Stephen said during a recent interview with WXXI's Beth Adams. "And, you know, as a Black female reporter, I know a lot of things and I hear a lot of things that should be told."

Stephen's editors enthusiastically agreed, and after some discussions, she became WXXI's health, equity and community reporter.

"One of Racquel's many strengths is finding people with fascinating stories to tell," said WXXI News Executive Editor Denise Young. "She's definitely used that skill in her health reporting — and she'll continue telling those stories — and I can't wait to see who else she meets as she grows her beat.

"There are so many important stories to be told with a focus on equity and community, and Racquel is determined to find them and share them with our audiences," Young added.

You, our audience members, started to see this shift across platforms even before it was official.

Racquel Stephen interviews shoppers at Abundance Food Co-op in the South Wedge for her Tiny Mic series on Instagram.
Max Schulte
Racquel Stephen interviews shoppers at Abundance Food Co-op in the South Wedge for her Tiny Mic series on Instagram.

She wrote about a Rochester woman who was one of the first minority women to open a cannabis dispensary in New York. She also wrote about Rochester's Ballroom scene, a predominantly Black and Latino underground LGBTQ+ subculture.

And in the just-released June issue of CITY Magazine, she has a story about custom casket wrapping, a practice done primarily in the Black community.

Stephen was born in St. Lucia in the Caribbean, raised in St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands, and moved to Rochester in 2005, eventually graduating from the University of Rochester. She said she fell into broadcasting and after realizing she had a gift for it, she went to Syracuse University, where she got her master's degree in broadcasting from the prestigious Newhouse School of Public Communications.

She also hosts a radio show Saturdays and Sundays on WLGZ-HD2 The Beat 105.5 FM.

A self-described socialite and social butterfly, Stephen knows a lot of people.

"A lot of people know me, and a lot of people confide in me, so this is where I get my stories from," Stephen said. "And I wanted to tell more of the Rochester story."

Stephen said that because she is starting a new beat, she will need the community's help. She urges anyone who sees a story in their community that needs to be told to contact her at

"I am here to tell that story," Stephen said. "And I'm still doing health stories as well, so we're not going to forget my baby, my health reporter beat. But I feel like there's voices to be heard and I wanted to be that voice."

Jeremy Moule is a deputy editor with WXXI News. He also covers Monroe County.