WBAY at 70: Elizabeth Ries

From Wisconsin to the Twin Cities
Updated: Mar. 15, 2023 at 6:00 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - We are celebrating 70 years on the air at WBAY-TV 2. Leading up to the anniversary on March 17, we’re highlighting important people who are a part of WBAY’s legacy. One of those journalists, Elizabeth Ries, reported on a disappearance and murder trial that got national attention.

It’s been about 15 years since Elizabeth Ries left Green Bay, but the experience is what has shaped her successful career in television.

“I remember going to the meetings and being very nervous, because I had to pitch ideas and they had to be good ideas -- you couldn’t just show up and go, ‘Oh, maybe we should cover this.’ There was a lot of expectation. There was always conversations after stories aired about how they needed to be better and how things always could be better,” Elizabeth recalls.

Her dad, a Wisconsin native, was ecstatic she landed a job in Green Bay.

“It was like this huge deal. My dad was like, ‘This is it. You will never take another job after this, because you need to be in Green Bay forever,’ so that was pretty fun.”

She spent about three years in Northeast Wisconsin, from 2005 to 2008. Elizabeth says that time set high standards in her work alongside seasoned reporters and anchors -- and it was tough.

“And I loved that,” she says. “It was amazing preparation for me, for moving on in my career, because I really think that of all the places that I’ve worked WBAY really setting that high standard was something that was ingrained in me.”

In October 2005, one of the biggest stories to hit Northeast Wisconsin broke. Elizabeth vividly remembers covering the 2005 disappearance of Calumet County native and freelance photographer Teresa Halbach.

“We were out in the fields of rural Wisconsin searching for her, and then the search continuing, and then Steven Avery being charged, and the shocking -- I will never forget reading that criminal complaint for the first time.”

She remembers the months she spent covering Halbach’s death and the trial of her killer, Steven Avery.

“That was by far the most difficult thing to cover, just from a logistics standpoint, from an emotional standpoint, and the graphic nature of what was involved, was the most difficult thing I have covered in my entire career.”

But it prepared her when she landed a job at KSTP in the Twin Cities, where she now lives with her husband and three kids, working in the newsroom a bit, and then shifting gears, taking on a lifestyle show ever since.

“My day job is Twin Cities Live. It’s a lifestyle entertainment show we air from 3 to 4:30 in the afternoons, and I’ve been doing that show for almost 14 years. It will celebrate 15 years on the air in April.”

She’s in enemy territory, but as a Packers fan Elizabeth makes her way back to the Frozen Tundra because the community and dedication to the Green and Gold, she says, is infectious.

“I just love that small town feel with also the passion and pride for something big and the way that people in Green Bay do the NFL. They do the NFL their own way. They don’t let any other team or any other franchise influence the way they do it. And it just makes me really proud to be part of it.”

Taking all she learned to Minneapolis, Elizabeth says she’s grateful for the experience, the mentors, and the opportunity to work for WBAY-TV.

“It’s a place of high standards and a major commitment to the community, and you don’t find that everywhere and certainly don’t find that at every station. It was tough as nails. There were days where I was like, ‘Am I going to make it through this job? This is a hard job.’

“I did, and I came out on the other side, and I think it really laid the groundwork for what has continued to be a successful career in television that I’m really proud of and I’m really grateful for.”