CN January 17 2019


Ben Joravsky’s not on the radio any more. He lost his popular radio show on WCPT in, let’s just say, an abrupt fashion.

“About eight days before I was fired this fellow Pinsky called me in for a delicious breakfast, I might add, at Ellie’s on Milwaukee Avenue with pancakes and the omelette,” he explains.

So it looked as thought things were going well.

“So he called me in. He evaluated me. I didn’t even know I had an annual review. I didn’t have one the year before and he told me what a wonderful job I was doing, the revenue is up and they are really pleased.

“Then I went back to the studio and eight days later that same Pinsky called me into the office and said, “You’re hired to be fired, beat it.” Wow. To this day I think it was a set-up move. You’ve almost got to give him credit. You know what I mean? I was caught off guard. Yeah, it hurt really bad that first few days out of the box. Man did that hurt.”

“I mean there’s no way to escape the notion that this was a political hit job,” I suggest. “I mean you were fired because of what you were saying and here this is supposed to be the progressive radio station and all that.”

“Beware of progressives,” he responds. “They smile in your face, as the song says.”

But you have to be the right kind of progressive, right? I ask him.

“So it’s okay to be on progressive radio and bash Donald Trump,” he explains. “Everybody – Arne Duncan is bashing Donald Trump. You know what I’m saying? Rahm bashes Donald Trump. Get in the box and bash Rahm or bash a TIF deal or make fun of Toni Preckwinkle or J. B. Pritzker you know, we made fun of all these people. We had a lot of fun with it. Uh-uh – got to go. I learned my lesson.”

For Joravsky’s fans, it’s especially galling that he was fired just as the mayoral and aldermanic races were getting rolling.

“Could you imagine the field day I would have had with Toni Preckwinkle and Ed Burke and all that?” he muses.

Ben Joravsky still writes his weekly column in the Reader, and he tells us hat there are  some very promising efforts under way to get his voice back  in his listeners’ ears, hopefully before the election’s over.

We spend there rest of our time talking about the mayoral candidates. A few highlights:

Bill Daley: I do not believe he will try to implement any of these ideas that he is throwing out there. I think this is his way of trying to distance himself from that last name of his which is like an anchor dragging him down, the Daley name. Once in office it will be pretty much a continuation of Rahm and Richie in terms of how they divvy up the pie, how they finance downtown developments and developments around the area and just continue this overall planning policy.

Amara Enyia: I’m impressed with Amara as well. She’s a great guest on the radio and she’s got great ideas. Last night I saw her at a mayoral forum. It was a grassroots collaborative and she was I think probably the most popular person there. She’s so impressive and she got up and started speaking in Spanish. The place went…you know, the Spanish-speaking part of the audience went up for grabs.

Ken:             She speaks like six languages.

Ben J:  Yeah, six languages. So yeah, if it’s just being impressive she would probably make the runoff if it’s just based on being impressive. But you know Chicago politics is a little tougher than that.

Bob Fioretti: I liked him when he was the alderman. Bob Fioretti was alderman of the old second ward then they redistricted him out of existence to punish him for…

Ken:             Part of the reason that the second ward looks like it does today is because he was the second ward alderman.

Ben J:           For two reasons, one they wanted to punish him and two, follow me on this folks, they wanted to put all properties around the Chicago River into one ward where they could have one alderman that they could depend on to approve these huge humongous… Am I cynical?

We ask, are you talking about Lincoln Yards? Didn’t the Alderman there just stand up to the mayor and insist that the soccer stadium and big entertainment venues had to go?

Ben J:          Young Kenneth you’ve been around town long enough to know the game that is played. What you do is a developer comes in with everything. Follow me on this people. A developer puts absolutely everything on the table.

Ken:             We’re going to put 200-story buildings in our…

Ben J:           Listens to what people are clamoring against and says, “All right I will remove that.” And everybody goes, “Oh my God! Democracy works in the City of Chicago.” And meanwhile nobody is paying attention the fact that he’s just up from 800-million to 900-million. Nobody is talking about that. The TIF handout that they are going to get…

LaShawn Ford:  I like LaShawn. I don’t see his path to victory just from a horseracing analysis but I like him. He’s got some interesting ideas down through the years. He was one of the, he and John Kass were talking about bringing the National Guard to Chicago a few years back. He’s a gentleman and I like Lashawn Ford, but he’s a state rep from the west side, I don’t believe he’s going to make the runoff.

Lori Lightfoot:  I’m impressed with her too…she has that sort of a reassuring quality to the conservative cautious part of Chicago particularly on the lake front who are looking for a professional, somebody that is like them. She’s a well-regarded lawyer, went to the finest of law schools, worked for the feds.

Garry McCarthy:  If you are a Chicago Teachers Union member, and this is going to sound weird but he’s great on – he just came out with a re-endorsement of the Chicago Teachers Union…he had this press release, he said, “I know you’re not going to support me but I support you.” There’s a lot of teachers in the southwest and northwest sides who are either married to police officers or come from the same family as police officers. They want to know that whoever the next mayor is will look out for teachers. I too thought he would be a formidable foe in the pre-Rahm. When Rahm was still in the race.

Paul Vallas:  Paul Vallas for the younger people out there was tagged with Gery Chico back in the day. They were like, I don’t want to say Abbott and Costello type of thing, a pairing team, but Chico was the president of the board and Paul Vallas was the CEO of the public school system and when Mayor Daley took complete control that was the duo that Daley brought in to run the schools and they got magnificent reviews from the Tribune and the Sun Times, of everybody but me. And it was typical me. I was very critical of the way they ran the schools. I thought they were very autocratic, so Vallas and I didn’t get along back in those days and he didn’t have much tolerance for me back in those days. But you know 20 years later he came on my radio show and we dueled, so I enjoyed having him as a guest on the show. He’s very knowledgeable. He’s fun to talk to and it’s great he’s out there. I actually value the role he has played in the election, just putting out ideas.

Willie Wilson:   Well he’s a lot of fun to talk to because I like to give him a hard time about his supporting Rauner and Trump. I appreciate the fact that he would come on even though I was giving him a hard time about supporting Rauner and Trump. I will never understand why he did. I immediately pointed out to him that, I go, “Willy, Rauner threw you under the bus. You supported him and then as soon as you became unpopular with the giving away of money Rauner was like, ‘Oh I’m outraged by this.’”

Suzana Mendoza:   Susana’s roots are different than my roots politically speaking. She comes out the southwest side, Democratic organization. She was an ally, I never understand her love for Ed Burke. What’s with Ed Burke? I don’t get it, and also Michael Madigan. She’s an ally of Michael Madigan…I like the role that Susana Mendoza played in the last year or two of Rauner’s reign as state comptroller. And I do believe, how about this what I’m about to say, that people can actually evolve…So you know, it’s possible that people grow and change.

Toni Preckwinkle:  Now Toni Preckwinkle seems to be going in the opposite direction. She started off, her roots are similar to mine, liberal, reform, progressive, whatever the word was. Independent is what we called them in the old days, politics in Hyde Park.

And then she made her alliances with the machine.

I’ve been saying if I were putting money in Vegas I would bet on Toni Preckwinkle being the next mayor of the City of Chicago…and the conventional was the runoff between Toni Preckwinkle and Susana Mendoza. That’s the conventional wisdom.

Man, I’m looking forward to that. I hope to be back on the airwaves for what one, man.

And Ben’s guess who who will ultimately get his old radio job?

Rahm Emanuel.

You can watch this show by tapping the image above.

You can listen to the audio here.

You can really a full transcript of this show here: cn transcript jan 17 2019



About Ken

Ken's the host of Chicago Newsroom. A former news director, reporter and radio program host, he's also a past Vice President of the Chicago Headline Club.
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