Gapers Block has ceased publication.

Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Wednesday, February 1

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Event Mon Apr 08 2013

Legends and Luminaries Celebrate WVON's 50th Anniversary

A golden anniversary is a milestone--a reason to celebrate in grand fashion--and for WVON, Chicago's only black owned and operated radio station, the milestone was marked in a major way.


Held Saturday night at the Chicago Theatre and hosted by WVON personality Matt McGill ("The Matt McGill Morning Show") and actress Tracee Ellis Ross ("Girlfriends"), the event, dubbed "Impact 50," was feted by politicians, performers, and personalities from Chicago and beyond, all who came to pay tribute to the iconic radio station: Comedian and activist Dick Gregory, Rev. Al Sharpton, director George Lucas, Radio Hall of Fame inductee Herb Kent, filmmaker and Chicago native Robert Townsend, Chicago White Sox's Kenny Williams, TV and radio executive Cathy Hughes, and Governor Pat Quinn, were among them. For Quinn, the commemoration brought back childhood memories. "I can still remember the disc jockeys and Wesley South with his talk show, talking about the important issues in the 60s--civil rights," he said.

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LaShawn Williams

Radio Mon Apr 01 2013

WVON Turns 50: An Interview with Melody Spann-Cooper


When talking to Melody Spann-Cooper, it is clear that she has two loves: the City of Chicago and radio. With the latter a part of her DNA (her father is legendary Chicago music and media icon Pervis "The Blues Man" Spann), Spann-Cooper has become a legend in her own right as president and general manager of WVON-1690AM, Chicago's only black owned and operated radio station, and also as chair of its parent company, Midway Broadcasting Corporation.

Named one of the "most powerful women in Chicago journalism," Spann-Cooper remains steadfastly committed to the station's mission as "the voice of Black Chicago," serving as a main source of information, empowerment and activism for the city's black community. "My passion is to ignite our people to wake up and have a clear dialogue on who we are today," she said.

And it is this same passion that has paved the way for the history-making station's celebration of its 50th anniversary this weekend in Chicago. Here, Spann-Cooper talks about the state of the black talk radio format, the power of WVON and its listeners and the station's long-time community and cultural impact.

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LaShawn Williams

Event Thu May 10 2012

Chicago Live! Kicks Off Spring Season Tonight

Thumbnail image for Chicago LIve.jpgChicago Live!, the live news/radio show produced by the Chicago Tribune in partnership with The Second City, kicks off its spring 2012 season tonight at the UP Comedy Club on North Avenue.

Hosted by veteran Chicago reporter, author and radio/TV personality Rick Kogan, Chicago Live! is a weekly stage and radio show that gathers top news makers and guests from the arts and entertainment and pop culture worlds. The hour-long show features Chicago-centric news interviews as well as comedy sketches from The Second City.

Tonight's episode features guests like Lookingglass Theatre Company artistic director Andrew White, Chicago River Canoe & Kayak founder and director Ryan Chew, Forest Preserve District of Coook County superintendent Arnold Randall with River Trail Nature Center animal handler Ryan DePauw, members of the 2012 Chicago Tribune All-State Academic Team, and musical guests, The Blisters.

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Janna Dons

Art Wed Dec 15 2010

The Mystery is Solved, but Maybe Not for the Better


"Safety Star" by Victoria Fuller

Last summer a bunch of sculptures appeared (seemingly magically) along the boulevard on Franklin in East Garfield Park, between Sacramento and Central Park. Some are pretty cool, others are downright hideous. Most of the residents of the neighborhood are happy to see them out there, though, because they represent interest in the area-- something Garfield Park has been suffering from lack of since the housing bubble burst. But now that the mystery of who put the sculptures up and who the artists are is solved, the controversy has shifted from whether or not the sculptures are eyesores to what a bunch of sculptures by white guys are doing in a largely African American neighborhood. Also, why weren't the numerous artists who already live in Garfield Park not invited to participate? Why outsource?

WBEZ, a.k.a. Chicago Public Radio, posted an interesting feature story on their site about it last week. Check it out and share your thoughts.

Kelly Reaves

Radio Tue Oct 26 2010

A Super Sonic Weekend: Third Coast International Audio Festival Begins Oct. 28


Audiophiles, listen up: On Thursday the 10th annual Third Coast International Audio Festival will unite radio producers, writers, reporters and designers from around the world to share skills and swap tales for one eclectic, sonic Chicago weekend.

The bright, shiny slate of presenters includes Ira Glass, Scott Carrier, Gwen Macsai, Amy O'Leary, Claire Schoen, Gregory Warner and many more award-winning radio creators. Plus Andrew Bird and Jay Ryan close out the conference with a special collaboration.

Advance ticket sales have closed; tickets available at the door for the "super late rate" of $450. More info.

Lindsay Muscato

Radio Sun Mar 07 2010

An Evening at the Filmless Fest

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The Third Coast International Audio Festival's (TCIAF) Filmless Fest on March 6 was an all-day event at The Museum of Contemporary Art. I attended the final program of the day, Words on Sound: Celebrating Reality Radio, hosted by Gwen Macsai of "Re:Sound" on Chicago Public Radio. Macsai interviewed "public radio rockstars" Joe Richman, Davia Nelson and Nikki Silva of "The Kitchen Sisters," Ira Glass of "This American Life," as well as editors of the new book Reality Radio: Telling True Stories in Sound.

The buzzword of the night was "Launch:" Both "TAL" and TCIAF's new websites went live this week, Reality Radio hit shelves this month, and The Kitchen Sisters revealed their new project, "The Hidden World of Girls" that included a touching photographic slide show. All the presentations were moving and all the interviews were informative but the crowd didn't light up until the venerated idol of public radio storytelling, Ira Glass graced the stage. He recounted his climb to the top, even playing some embarrassing clips from his early days at National Public Radio. As on his celebrated radio show, Glass told captivating and poignant stories that had the crowd laughing and applauding.

The night concluded with all the guests squeezing into the onstage seating and interviewed by Macsai as a group. When asked if they enjoyed all the marketing and self-promotion that goes along with their radio careers, Glass propelled into an excited, emotional response that included an emphatic F-bomb, which, of course, sent the crowd into uproarious applause. This evening was the perfect nightcap to the day's celebration of audio documentary-making, storytelling and found sound.

Whitney Stoepel

Interview Tue Feb 02 2010

Interview with Johanna Zorn from the Third Coast International Audio Festival

On March 6, the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) will host the Third Coast Filmless Festival, an all-day event that will showcase a collection of audio documentaries, screenings and Q & A sessions with many accomplished radio producers including Gwen Macsai of "Re:Sound," Ira Glass of "This American Life," and The Kitchen Sisters. The full list of events and ticketing information can be found on the MCA's website. I interviewed Johanna Zorn, the founder and executive director of the Third Coast International Audio Festival.

Can you explain the relationship between "Re:Sound" and the Third Coast International Audio Festival?

Third Coast Audio Festival sounds like it's a one-time thing. But, it's actually a yearlong and ongoing project and then a lot of different things all around the curation of audio. [It is about] really encouraging a culture of listening. We are an independent organization now and among the things we do is we produce a weekly radio show called "Re:sound" that airs on WBEZ on Saturdays at 1 [pm] and Sundays at 9 [pm]. So that's our weekly radio show. And in addition to that, we host a challenge every year. We didn't do one this year because we were just going independent and we were mighty busy and trying to figure out how to do that but...what we do with the audio challenge is we invite people--anyone and everyone--to create a short audio piece based on a set of rules and every year we team up with a really interesting organization to collaborate on this set of rules and as an inspiration to the audio challenge.

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Whitney Stoepel

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Architecture Tue Nov 03 2015

Paul Goldberger Describes the "Pragmatism and Poetry" of Frank Gehry's Architecture in His New Book

By Nancy Bishop

Architecture critic Paul Goldberger talks about Frank Gehry's life and work in a new book.
Read this feature »

Steve at the Movies Fri Jan 01 2016

Best Feature Films & Documentaries of 2015

By Steve Prokopy

Read this column »


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