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Let Peter Sagal, host of NPR’s incredibly successful Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me!, tell you this: He hates the show’s name. He also hates the place where he creates that show. You’ll learn why as you listen to a podcast of my onstage interview with Sagal—part of the Wednesday Journal Conversations series—in which he talks about the show, his career, …
 
Marvel Comics icon Stan Lee so inspired a generation of readers and writers, a multiplicity of biographies was inevitable after his death in 2018. On the occasion of the publication of Oak Park, Ill., native Abraham Riesman’s entry, True Believer: The Rise and Fall of Stan Lee, the Chicago Public Square Podcast invited Riesman and A Marvelous Life:…
 
Marvel Comics icon Stan Lee so inspired a generation of readers and writers, a multiplicity of biographies was inevitable after his death in 2018. On the occasion of the publication of Oak Park, Ill., native Abraham Riesman’s entry, True Believer: The Rise and Fall of Stan Lee, the Chicago Public Square Podcast invited Riesman and A Marvelous Life:…
 
Of all the interviews I’ve conducted, none have influenced my career more than this 1996 sit-down with Aaron Barnhart, whose Late Show News newsletter pioneered the email news biz. Listen to us discuss his model for how, in my words, “a lot of us in this profession will … do our work in the future” and you’ll hear the siren call that two years late…
 
He’s Barack Obama’s first biographer. But journalist David Mendell doesn’t expect his award-winning 2007 book, Obama: From Promise to Power, to land a spot in Obama’s presidential library. Mendell and I were colleagues at the Chicago Tribune through much of the 2000s, but we barely exchanged hellos back then because he was so busy covering Obama’s …
 
Prepping to watch The Trial of the Chicago 7 on Netflix, I revisited my Sept. 16, 1994, interview with The 7’s defense lawyer, William Kunstler, who told me then that the trial “changed me totally. … “I never knew what it was to really fight until I watched Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, Dave Dellinger, Hayden and so on fight in a courtroom—do things …
 
This hasn’t happened much in my career, most of which I’ve devoted to profiling people far more interesting than I am. But, twice in less than two weeks, I was honored to be interviewed about journalism, politics, radio, the origins of Chicago Public Square and my personal journey: On Friday, I was a guest on Chicago Reader columnist Ben Joravsky’s…
 
Wanna know what terrible technology is headed your way in the years ahead? Journalist and science fiction author Cory Doctorow says it’s not hard: Take a look at what The Powers That Be are foisting on prisoners and students. Doctorow joined the Chicago Public Square Podcast for half an hour or so to talk about police brutality; controversial high-…
 
Something different for the Chicago Public Square Newscast (and Podcast) series this time: A visit with Food Network star and Chicago native Jeff Mauro. He joined the Wednesday Journal Conversations series May 15, 2018, to talk about his life and times—including that time he was performing improv comedy and a ticketholder died. And stick around to …
 
When President Obama’s former chief strategist—now University of Chicago Institute of Politics founder and CNN senior political commentator—David Axelrod agreed to return to his old suburban neighborhood to kick off the Wednesday Journal newspaper’s series of public conversations at Dominican University, I was honored by the request to moderate the…
 
Filmmaker Steve James’s work—including the Oscar-nominated Hoop Dreams and Abacus—has won him critical acclaim galore and goodwill in the town where he lives, Oak Park. But when he set out to create his 10-part documentary series America to Me—about Oak Park, its historic commitment to integration and its high school’s challenges in living up to a …
 
He’s Barack Obama’s first biographer. But journalist David Mendell doesn’t expect his award-winning 2007 book, Obama: From Promise to Power, to land a spot in Obama’s presidential library. Mendell and I were colleagues at the Chicago Tribune through much of the 2000s, but we barely exchanged hellos back then because he was so busy covering Obama’s …
 
You’d think if you’d met the creator of Star Trek, Gene Roddenberry, in the flesh you’d remember it. Especially if he told you the real reason he made Mr. Spock look a little … devilish (about 32:17 in). Well, I did meet him, and he told me that—and I confess that I forgot all about it. Only when a longtime friend and neighbor lent me a vintage ree…
 
Do you have a story, an issue, a company or a person you’d like to bring to the attention of Chicago radio and TV newsrooms? Stand by for news you can use. Ava Martin, Stephanie Tichenor, Justin Kaufmann, Stacey Baca, Charlie Meyerson (Photo: Maggie O'Keefe.)The Publicity Club of Chicago, once again taking advantage of my offer to moderate for food…
 
This is your Chicago Public Square Newscast. Listen here, or on Amazon’s Alexa-powered speakers*, iTunes or your favorite podcast player. Enjoying these newscasts? Keep them coming by joining The Legion of Chicago Public Squarians. * Even if you don’t have an Alexa smart speaker, you can turn iOS and Android phones into Alexa devices for free—a low…
 
Wanna know what terrible technology is headed your way in the years ahead? Journalist and science fiction author Cory Doctorow says it’s not hard: Take a look at what The Powers That Be are foisting on prisoners and students. Doctorow joined the Chicago Public Square Podcast for half an hour or so to talk about police brutality; controversial high-…
 
In his 1997 book A Country of Strangers: Blacks and Whites in America, Pulitzer Prize winner David K. Shipler documented a major split among Americans: "The divide between those who see racism and those who do not." And he sounded an alarm about what many then might not have perceived: "How much prejudice has gone underground since the civil rights…
 
(Updated on the occasion of Stan Lee's death, Nov. 12, 2018. Here’s Stan Lee, the man who created or co-created the core Marvel Comics universe, sitting down during C2E2 at age 94 for what his staff said was his last Chicago comics convention appearance. As you’ll hear, he had energy and enthusiasm to betray his age. His interviewers: Adrian F.E. a…
 
The death of Nobel Prize winner Leon Lederman took me back to 1997, when I interviewed the professor about his then- (and still-) revolutionary ideas on how to overhaul science education. Hear him talk about that—and much more—here … … or on iTunes or via your favorite podcast player. And while you’re at it, check out my other interviews with thoug…
 
How do you get the attention of newspaper editorial boards? How do you get them to see things your way? Are editorials as valuable as they used to be? Every once in a while, the Publicity Club of Chicago takes me up on my motto, “Will Moderate for Food,” and invites me to lead a panel discussion to address important questions like those. And so it …
 
Filmmaker Steve James’s work—including the Oscar-nominated Hoop Dreams and Abacus—has won him critical acclaim galore and goodwill in the town where he lives, Oak Park. But when he set out to create his 10-part documentary series America to Me—about Oak Park, its historic commitment to integration and its high school’s challenges in living up to a …
 
No one said explaining the president would be an easy job. No one said staying at an Airbnb or other shared home in Chicago would stay cheap. And no one told you you could call “almond milk” milk forever. This is your Chicago Public Square Newscast. Listen here, or on Amazon’s Alexa-powered speakers*, iTunes or your favorite podcast player. Enjoyin…
 
President Trump says he made a mistake. Mayor Emanuel’s not satisfied. And is Twitter a little less tweety lately? This is your Chicago Public Square Newscast. Listen here, or on Amazon’s Alexa-powered speakers*, iTunes or your favorite podcast player. Enjoying these newscasts? Keep them coming by joining The Legion of Chicago Public Squarians. * E…
 
Illinois has new gun protections. President Trump has fresh critics. And CVS says it’s sorry. This is your Chicago Public Square Newscast. Listen here, or on Amazon’s Alexa-powered speakers*, iTunes or your favorite podcast player. Enjoying these newscasts? Keep them coming by joining The Legion of Chicago Public Squarians. * Even if you don’t have…
 
The woman in the flag T-shirt speaks out. A Chicago cop is in trouble—again. And 24 more shoes drop in the Russia investigation. This is your Chicago Public Square Newscast. Listen here, or on Amazon’s Alexa-powered speakers*, iTunes or your favorite podcast player. Enjoying these newscasts? Keep them coming by joining The Legion of Chicago Public …
 
An FBI agent gets fiery. The mayor claims a win in China. And McDonald's and other fast-food giants are settling a multistate legal issue. This is your Chicago Public Square Newscast. Listen here, or on Amazon’s Alexa-powered speakers*, iTunes or your favorite podcast player. Enjoying these newscasts? Keep them coming by joining The Legion of Chica…
 
The battle lines are clear in the fight for the Supreme Court. A Facebook video leads to a politician’s apology. And an airline is swearing off an in-flight snack. This is your Chicago Public Square Newscast. Listen here, or on Amazon’s Alexa-powered speakers*, iTunes or your favorite podcast player. Enjoying these newscasts? Keep them coming by jo…
 
The CTA’s hyping its next new L station, but the city’s bike-sharing biz is suffering a setback. And Starbucks is swearing off plastic straws. This is your Chicago Public Square Newscast. Listen here, or on Amazon’s Alexa-powered speakers*, iTunes or your favorite podcast player. Enjoying these newscasts? Keep them coming by joining The Legion of C…
 
Chicago Public Square will take off the week of July 2. Be here again July 9. Meanwhile: Updates on Facebook and Twitter. The president says something at last about the massacre in Annapolis, a journalist shares his hateful voicemail, and how you can help the survivors and families of the victims of the Capital Gazette shooting. This is your Chicag…
 
A Supreme Court shocker. A City Council dodge. And, yes, a real tornado. This is your Chicago Public Square Newscast. Listen here, or on Amazon’s Alexa-powered speakers*, iTunes or your favorite podcast player. Enjoying these newscasts? Keep them coming by joining The Legion of Chicago Public Squarians. * Even if you don’t have an Alexa smart speak…
 
President Trump’s big Supreme Court win, Chicago aldermen’s street-renaming compromise, and Toys R Us’ final death knell. This is your Chicago Public Square Newscast. Listen here, or on Amazon’s Alexa-powered speakers*, iTunes or your favorite podcast player. Enjoying these newscasts? Keep them coming by joining The Legion of Chicago Public Squaria…
 
Photo: Daniel X. O'NeilFather Pfleger pflans a pfrotest, an alderman snubs the pope and a journalism prof encourages reporters to snub the president. This is your Chicago Public Square Newscast. Listen here, or on Amazon’s Alexa-powered speakers*, iTunes or your favorite podcast player. Enjoying these newscasts? Keep them coming by joining The Legi…
 
Karen Lewis is signing off, and Mayor Emanuel seems sad. Dick Durbin visits detained kids. The Navy makes immigrant detention plans. And Square readers click on a story bigtime. This is your Chicago Public Square Newscast. Listen here, or on Amazon’s Alexa-powered speakers*, iTunes or your favorite podcast player. Enjoying these newscasts? Keep the…
 
Cue the sad trombone for Corey Lewandowski. And for sales-tax breaks. And for dry weather in Chicago. Check out the latest Chicago Public Square Newscast. Listen here, or on Amazon’s Alexa-powered speakers*, iTunes or your favorite podcast player. Enjoying these newscasts? Keep them coming by joining The Legion of Chicago Public Squarians. * Even i…
 
(As the regular Chicago Public Square news update takes a break today, check out the latest Square Newscast. Follow Square on Facebook and Twitter. And be here Thursday.) A tearful plea in Congress. Chicago Police sued. And happy birthday, Divvy. This is your Chicago Public Square Newscast. Listen here, or on Amazon’s Alexa-powered speakers*, iTune…
 
Team Trump is digging in on immigration. Big changes atop newspaper companies. And wanna work at a company good for women? Check out the latest Chicago Public Square Newscast. Listen here, or on Amazon’s Alexa-powered speakers*, iTunes or your favorite podcast player. Enjoying these newscasts? Keep them coming by joining The Legion of Chicago Publi…
 
Image: The Boring Co.The dark side of that Boring Co. plan for tunnels connecting downtown Chicago and O’Hare International Airport. President Trump seems to have made a mistake. And, (don’t) praise the lord, we have a global religion gap. This is your Chicago Public Square Newscast. Listen here, or on Amazon’s Alexa-powered speakers*, iTunes or yo…
 
Uh, we're sinking. This is your Chicago Public Square Newscast. Listen here, or on Amazon’s Alexa-powered speakers*, iTunes or your favorite podcast player. Enjoying these newscasts? Keep them coming by joining The Legion of Chicago Public Squarians. * Even if you don’t have an Alexa smart speaker, you can turn iOS and Android phones into Alexa dev…
 
The losing side sees a Supreme Court ruling as a critical blow to voter turnout. This is your Chicago Public Square Newscast. Listen here, or on Amazon’s Alexa-powered speakers*, iTunes or your favorite podcast player. Enjoying these newscasts? Keep them coming by joining The Legion of Chicago Public Squarians. * Even if you don’t have an Alexa sma…
 
How much longer does the Chicago Sun-Times have? This is your Chicago Public Square Newscast. Listen here, or on Amazon’s Alexa-powered speakers*, iTunes or your favorite podcast player. [Correction: The following player has been updated to point to the right audio file.] Enjoying these newscasts? Keep them coming by joining The Legion of Chicago P…
 
Another oops from Facebook. This is your Chicago Public Square Newscast. Listen here, or on Amazon’s Alexa-powered speakers*, iTunes or your favorite podcast player. Enjoying these newscasts? Keep them coming by joining The Legion of Chicago Public Squarians. * Even if you don’t have an Alexa smart speaker, you can turn iOS and Android phones into …
 
Illinois Democrats’ #MeToo problems just don’t quit. This is your Chicago Public Square Newscast. Listen here, or on Amazon’s Alexa-powered speakers*, iTunes or your favorite podcast player. Enjoying these newscasts? Keep them coming by joining The Legion of Chicago Public Squarians. * Even if you don’t have an Alexa smart speaker, you can turn iOS…
 
Mayor Emanuel says he’s sorry. This is your Chicago Public Square Newscast. Listen here, or on Amazon’s Alexa-powered speakers*, iTunes or your favorite podcast player. Enjoying these newscasts? Keep them coming by joining The Legion of Chicago Public Squarians. * Even if you don’t have an Alexa smart speaker, you can turn iOS and Android phones in…
 
The Supreme Court’s 7-2 ruling in favor of the Colorado baker who refused to bake a cake for a gay couple’s wedding isn’t a decisive victory for those on his side. This is your Chicago Public Square Newscast. Listen here, or on Amazon’s Alexa-powered speakers*, iTunes or your favorite podcast player. Enjoying these newscasts? Keep them coming by jo…
 
The outrage arms race keeps escalating. Submitted for your consideration: Samantha Bee. This is your Chicago Public Square Newscast. Listen here, or on Amazon’s Alexa-powered speakers*, iTunes or your favorite podcast player. Enjoying these newscasts? Keep them coming by joining The Legion of Chicago Public Squarians. * Even if you don’t have an Al…
 
Something different for the Chicago Public Square Newscast (and Podcast) series this time: A visit with Food Network star and Chicago native Jeff Mauro. He joined the Wednesday Journal Conversations series May 15, 2018, to talk about his life and times—including that time he was performing improv comedy and a ticketholder died. And stick around to …
 
Approaching Mother’s Day 1993, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Anna Quindlen—who shaped a generation’s approach to parenthood—stopped by the WNUA-FM studios in Chicago to promote her then-new book, Thinking Out Loud. Check out this audio—recorded May 5, 1993—to learn why she objected to the name of a Chicago Tribune newspaper section. Listen to my…
 
In many ways, two-time presidential candidate Patrick Buchanan—former adviser to three Republican presidents (Nixon, Ford and Reagan)—set the stage for Donald Trump’s ascendance. When Buchanan made 2016’s “Politico 50,” the magazine pronounced Trump “Pat Buchanan with better timing.” How similar are they? Here’s 20-year-old, unheard-since-broadcast…
 
In 1998 Apple’s now-widely-forgotten CEO, Gil Amelio, sat down with me to discuss his relatively brief time atop what was then a struggling company—the subject of his book On the Firing Line: My 500 Days at Apple. As you’ll hear—and as Engadget noted in 2014—Amelio proved remarkably “accurate … regarding how Apple could get its groove back.” In at …
 
Netflix’s comedic biography of National Lampoon co-founder Douglas Kenney, A Futile and Stupid Gesture, sent me back to my conversation decades ago with one of the story’s key figures, who shared his recollection of developments that made their way into the movie. If you enjoyed A Futile and Stupid Gesture, you’ll get a kick out of this unedited Ap…
 
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