Saturday, June 27, 2009

Getting away from Michael Jackson for a minute with apologies to the late John Callaway

This week we lost three prominent entertainers and probably lost in that shuffle was more of a local legend, John Callaway. He was a journalist who worked mostly at Channel 11, but he was around either at WBBM 780 or for a brief time WBBM-TV when Carol Marin was an anchor there. I watched retrospectives both last night and on the day (or perhaps the day after) he had passed away from a heart attack.

Personally, I noted from him his ability to tell stories. In fact one recent segment on Chicago Tonight, a Chicago Stories segment that was about the attempted murder of a former Cubs player Ed Waitkus by an obsessed 19 year old girl who was a fan, had me spooked. Of course I won't attribute that to Callaway's story telling, but to the re-enactments where if we saw anything of the principled we saw nothing by their hands, legs, arms, and feet. The only head I recall seeing was hers but we never saw her face which was shielded by her long hair worn as the women of the period would have worn their hair. It almost reminded me of this episode of Hollywood Mysteries and Scandal, except perhaps the re-enactments were probably more dramatic!

Anyway the journalists who was on the retrospectives of Callaway's career always lauded his interviewing abilities. If I got anything from them he wasn't intellectually lazy, he tried to get as many details as possible during his preparation. Many of them considered him tough and at times he got an emotional response from his subjects. He apparently had this ability to really get his guests to open up.

I forgot to mention that he was an inaugural host for Chicago Tonight ending his role back in 1999. I was too young to pay attention to those early programs and even when I got interesting in politics my focus was on watching either C-Span or any national news programming. It was only recently when I took an interest in state/local politics.

When Rich Miller posted onto his blog that Callaway had passed away I commented that I really admired his ability to tell stories. I couldn't comment on his interviewing, but I did say while someone can take up his mantle, he may never be replaced.

I want to show you two vids, the first was about the election of the first female mayor of Chicago, Jane Byrne. Race played a role in that election as the black community wasn't served very well by then incumbent Michael Bilandic. It's an interesting story worth watching and I was surprised to see that Mayor Byrne sat for an interview back in 2004! Duration is about 11 minutes.
The next vid features the first black mayor of Chicago, Harold Washington. Essentially the first female mayor would be succeeded by the first black mayor. The year before this interview took place (April 24, 1984) Washington had defeated in the Democratic primary in 1983, then incumbent Mayor Byrne and current Mayor Richard M. Daley and had clear runnings to become Mayor of Chicago. This interview on the inaugural edition of Chicago Tonight with John Callaway showed Mayor Washington discussing the new concept of Tax Increment Financing. Duration is about 29 minutes!
May he rest in peace!

You can also watch some of his work here as well!

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