SUBSCRIBE to Capitol Fax      Advertise Here      Mobile Version     Exclusive Subscriber Content     Updated Posts    Contact
CapitolFax.com
To subscribe to Capitol Fax, click here.
John Callaway

Wednesday, Jun 24, 2009

* John Callaway was a mentor to me without him even knowing it. I had watched him for years on Chicago Tonight and always wanted to be there with him, talking about the issues of the day. I practically worshiped the man. So when the big call finally came during the 1998 gubernatorial campaign, I immediately hopped on a plane and flew to Chicago just to be on the set with the person whom I considered my journalistic idol.

Callaway died yesterday of a heart attack at the age of 72…

“It has been said that John Callaway, who has won more than 60 awards, including seven Chicago Emmys, is the best interviewer on television,” according to a 1994 Tribune article. “He can be tough, like when he told Sen. Paul Simon he hadn’t mastered his own campaign material. He can be sensitive, like when he delicately asked director Gordon Parks about the death of his son. He can elicit quotable sound bites. Mike Ditka, when he was Bears coach: ‘My motives are right, even if my methods stink.’ Rich Daley, when he was state’s attorney: ‘I could subpoena you overnight if you became my enemy.’ He made the Frugal Gourmet cry. When Johnny Carson asked William Buckley who was the best interviewer, Buckley answered, ‘That chubby fellow in Chicago.’ “

When it started in 1984, Callaway envisioned Chicago Tonight as “the second half of the news,” a program that provided a forum for a more reflective discussion of the news.

Speaking about the show around the time of his retirement in 1999, Callaway said: “We tried to be fair. We tried to view complexity as complexity, as opposed to trying to oversimplify it. And we had a lot of fun, too. But I think if you looked at that program for 15 years, you’d see a lot of the fabric and soul of the city.”

Callaway continued to work in the final months of his life, conducting interviews and mediating panels, his wife said. Most recently, he moderated a panel at an iron and steel industry conference in St. Louis in May, she said.

He can’t ever be replaced.

* Related…

* Ch. 11 broadcast legend John Callaway dies

* Legendary Chicago journalist John Callaway dies

* Chicago Journalist John Callaway Has Died

- Posted by Rich Miller        


22 Comments
  1. - Quinn T. Sential - Wednesday, Jun 24, 09 @ 5:08 am:

    I really enjoyed John Callway a lot. While I would not say that I idolized him in the way that you did, I also didn’t aspire to follow him in a common profession.

    I did respect him a great deal for his unique talent and skiil. He would get as close to the core of the soul of his interview subject as possible, and his success in doing so did not come simply just from their respect for his reputation.

    In deferrence to other Chicago journalists, Callaway’s Chicago Tonight format allowed him the opportunity for a more in depth interview, but given that same opportunity, very few other reporters could have replicated his success, which arose from his personal interviewing style.

    Callaway gained the trust of his interview subjects in part by asking thoughful and engaging questions, but in a way that did not portray the same cunning “gotcha” motivation that others with less air time seem compelled to deploy. Callaway approached the interview subject in the same way a lion might circle its prey, and the “gotcha” moment came usually when they let their guard down, and often came in the form of a follow up question.

    Watching him was almost like witnessing the questioning of a grand-father and teen aged grand-child. Interrogation from someone who had become wiser than simply just a parent over the years. He would listen patiently to the patronizing responses that most interview subjects were accustomed to giving, and then he would lean forward, get close to the person, stare directly into their eyes over the top of his glasses like a grandfather might, and then BAM! He would ask “the question” that would shake people to their foundation.

    Once that question was asked, and in that way, the interview subject immediately knew that there was no more wiggle room. For those that might have been purposefully or skillfully obfuscating, that question was the velvet hammer which meant, “look, quit with the BS, you don’t expect us to believe we’re getting the entire story or the whole truth here. This is your chance to come clean, and you better do it now because there is nowhere for you to go here.

    In the more sensitive interviews; like those referenced above, that one question compelled the interview subject to pull back the curtain and reveal more of their human emotion than they had up to that point, and perhaps more than they ever had with any other interviewer.

    For those less senstive types of interviews, when this one question was asked, and in the way it was posed, they knew for certain that this was their opportunity to come clean and be more forthcoming with their answer by revealing not just different, or more facts, but also their motivations on which their experience and opinions on the subject were grounded.

    Most often the interview subject took advantage of the opportunity to respond more fully to the question asked. Sometimes I think it was as much out of respect for Callaway as a person, as it was due to the simple effectiveness of his style. Other times his effectiveness came about when the subject finally sensed that there was nowhere else to turn.

    Those that did not take the opportunity to respond to “the question” in the way it had been elicited, and instead chose to continue to spin the answer in the same well rehearsed way that they did to all tough questions, were then slowly disected and exposed for what they were, and that was just unable to provide the truth, not just factually, but emotionally as well.

    This to me is why “he can’t ever be replaced”.

    John Callaway RIP


  2. - soccermom - Wednesday, Jun 24, 09 @ 6:25 am:

    Oh no. I just opened up my computer and saw this. How sad. We will miss him tremendously.


  3. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Jun 24, 09 @ 7:27 am:

    He always did his homework and could call his subjects on their contradictions, inconsistencies and evasions, not in a hostile way, but to cut through the fluff and talking points to get to the heart of the matter.

    Very rare today, especially on television. They trained them well at the old City News Bureau.


  4. - Cassandra - Wednesday, Jun 24, 09 @ 8:01 am:

    I really love Chicago Tonight, which I only started watching in the last year or so. I wish I’d found it sooner. He died way too young.


  5. - Amy - Wednesday, Jun 24, 09 @ 8:05 am:

    very sad loss for his family (love those singing daughters), for his viewers, and his journalist family. and you, Rich, the loss of a powerful figure in your life. so sorry for all of us. a huge hole in the thinking world of Chicagoland.


  6. - VanillaMan - Wednesday, Jun 24, 09 @ 8:49 am:

    He was an outstanding questioner. He listened. His follow ups were often better than ones you could come up with yourself. He was disarming. He looked like your favorite uncle.

    He was really, really good.

    No one gets out of this life alive, so all you have to hope for is a great ending. John Callway was a smashing success, wasn’t he?


  7. - Steve - Wednesday, Jun 24, 09 @ 8:51 am:

    This is a sad, sad loss for all of Chicago. He was a guy who knew how to ask questions. John Callaway knew how to do an interview.


  8. - Abe Froman - Wednesday, Jun 24, 09 @ 8:56 am:

    Never a hint of bias, never an attempt at “gotcha.” Informed, incisive and thorough. Losing John Callaway is a blunt reminder of how mediocre television journalism (particularly in covering politics) is today.


  9. - Luke - Wednesday, Jun 24, 09 @ 9:00 am:

    John was the best - he will be greatly missed…


  10. - Phineas J. Whoopee - Wednesday, Jun 24, 09 @ 9:06 am:

    Even though he can never be replaced, he mentored so many fine journalists and created a show that (I hope)will live on for as long as Chicago and Illinois politics needs it to. I honestly don’t know where Chicago politics would be without Chicago Tonight. It is the one consistent voice of integrity in a commercial television bordello.

    He gets to join Royko and a few others at the card table set aside for the Chicago guys who knew their biz and he may even be the dealer.


  11. - Levois - Wednesday, Jun 24, 09 @ 9:18 am:

    May he rest in peace. I really used to like his Chicago Stories segment. He was a great story teller. Who may take up his mantle now. And you’re right he will NEVER be replaced.


  12. - Chicago Cynic - Wednesday, Jun 24, 09 @ 9:20 am:

    Great interviewers are few and far between. Tom Russert was the nation’s. John Callaway was ours. It’s a great loss and I’m very sad.


  13. - Third Generation Chicago Native - Wednesday, Jun 24, 09 @ 9:29 am:

    John Callaway’s passing is a huge loss for Chicago, the County and the State.

    He gave us Chicago Tonight which is Chicago’s fair and balanced news. News topics were covered with people from all sides, with people involved in the story on the segments, and they were all given equal time to state their sides. News stories are given more time on Chicago tonight instead of the quick condensed evening news version. John Callaway gave us quality news.

    John Callaway’s Chicago stories, and Friday night interviews were high quality. He definately did his homework before interviewing someone, or covering a story.

    John Callaway is a newsman whom will be missed, he is responsible for showing many how to do responisble and quality news. I can only hope that future newspeople can look up John’s segments and learn from them.


  14. - Stones - Wednesday, Jun 24, 09 @ 9:42 am:

    Without a doubt one of the best interviewers I have ever heard. RIP


  15. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Jun 24, 09 @ 9:45 am:

    The more I think about it, the sadder I am.

    Compare and contrast Callaway’s work with the know-nothing yammerers currently holding sway on cable and radio. It’s thoroughly depressing, and show’s just how low the public discourse can go in search of ratings.

    Last year about this time it was Studs, whose oral histories will probably never be equaled.

    I encourage everyone while they can to tune into one of the last Chicago icons, Milt Rosenberg for Extension 720 on WGN radio, 9 p.m. to 11 p.m., Monday through Friday.

    Milt has a Hyde Park conservative point of view, but he’s civil and respectful of his guests and callers. Plus, he’s genuinely curious, and there’s no more erudite interviewer on the scene that I’m aware of.


  16. - A Springfield Veteran - Wednesday, Jun 24, 09 @ 9:54 am:

    For so many John Callaway was an intricate part of our intellectual evolution. Watching his nightly show, in a real fasion, reinforced our interest and passions for public affairs. Always serious and always probing for something called the truth; he was a credit to his profession.


  17. - Niles Township - Wednesday, Jun 24, 09 @ 10:04 am:

    One of the few journalists in Chicago who had the knowledge and history to be able to call out politicians when they spoke malarkey. May his family be comforted.


  18. - Six Degrees of Separation - Wednesday, Jun 24, 09 @ 10:08 am:

    He was every bit the equal of other, more nationally famous interviewers such as Tim Russert, Mike Wallace, and Barbara Walters…and probably better. Quinn T waxed eloquently and VM waxed succinctly on why.


  19. - Six Degrees of Separation - Wednesday, Jun 24, 09 @ 10:11 am:

    And Word, you are right about Milt Rosenburg. He is an oasis in the desert of talk radio,


  20. - Anonymous45 - Wednesday, Jun 24, 09 @ 10:15 am:

    A loss for anyone who is a fan of respectful and lively dialogue, lovers of great stories, and political junkies like myself…he and Studs Terkel were Chicago originals from a certain time and place that has sadly passed…rest in peace and my sympathies to his family…


  21. - Will County Woman - Wednesday, Jun 24, 09 @ 11:27 am:

    I agree that he can’t be replaced, and he will be missed.

    I find it very chilling that Sun-Times columinst Mary Mitchell was his last interview, of which I am aware. The two discussed her bout with breast cancer. Though she is cured, the issue was still death.

    At one point they discussed her decision to delay her annual exam because she thought that since she never had any health problems delaying her annual exam would not really hurt her. In a friendly way Callaway kinda chastised her for making that fateful decision. Had she delayed it any further it may have been too late, but fortunately for her the cancer was caught in time.

    so it made me wonder if he had his annual check-up when he was supposed to as well.

    on a lighter note…
    Channel 11 has been highlighting 25 years of Chicago Tonight, and occasionally the program in which Mr. Callaway hollers at John Stroger to in effect STOP FILERBUSTERING AND JUST ANSWER THE TOPIC QUESTION. It’s priceless! It is so funny to watch, even if only for the brief 30 seconds that it airs. Callaway always seemed liked one of the nicest guys and I’m sure it took a lot to annoy him to the point where he had to holler at a guest (and I don’t doubt that John Stroger deserved it).

    I’m sure Chicago Tonight/Channel 11 will do a nice tribute to him, and I can’t wait to see it.

    :-)


  22. - Michelle Minkoff - Wednesday, Jun 24, 09 @ 5:50 pm:

    I’m the web intern here at Chicago Tonight (a somber first week), and I wanted to take a moment to thank you for your kind words, both in the original post and in the comments regarding John and the overall show. I’ll pass a link on to the CT staff. I, too, watched John for years and as a new journalist, I looked up to him as a role model.

    As Will County Woman suggested, I wanted to confirm that we are planning a tribute for this evening, and will devote our entire hour from 7-8 pm to celebrating John’s life and work. On Friday, we will also devote the 7-8 pm hour to an additional tribute - all on Channel 11.

    The shows will be posted on wttw.com/chicagotonight by noon the day after they air.

    In addition, we would love for you to share your memories on our discussion board at www.wttw.com/johncallaway. At that site, you can also find written tributes from those at the station and videos of some of John’s past interviews.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


* House GOP candidate rents to a sex offender, blames Madigan for "trying to distract" voters
* Gonzales attends tax hike rally, says he's not done with politics
* Question of the day
* I'm just so done with this US Senate campaign
* AFSCME wants apology from IDOC for blaming workers in inmate assault
* *** UPDATED x1 *** Rauner claims he's spending "all my time" on reforms, not campaigns
* Daley whines about Emanuel, but poll results indicate he's wrong
* *** UPDATED x1 - White House responds *** Reporters focus on stroke angle, Dems hit race angle
* Maybe a phone call might help?
* *** UPDATED x1 *** Legislator wants to stop Pokémon Go from leading players to protected sites
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - New cable TV buys
* Another big budget hit coming?
* Yesterday's blog posts

Support CapitolFax.com
Visit our advertisers...

...............

...............

...............

...............

...............

...............
<


Search This Blog...

Search the 98th General Assembly By Bill Number
(example: HB0001)

Search the 98th General Assembly By Keyword

  
* LG V20 looks to keep its secondary display in latest leak
* Apple Stops Signing iOS 9.3.2 and iOS 9.3.3
* Samsung Launches Limited iOS Beta Program for Gear S2 Smart Watch
* OxygenOS Community Builds begin with version 3.5 for the OnePlus 3
* We thought the Samsung Gear S2 iOS beta wouldn’t happen, but it’s happening
* Google is opening up WiFi Assistant for all Nexus devices
* Weibo hits up the Le 2s Pro with a different design in mind

* Gonzalez throws successful bullpen Wednesday
* U.S. Cellular to become Guaranteed Rate Field
* White Sox take part in PLAY Campaign
* U.S. Cellular to become Guaranteed Rate Field
* White Sox roll past Phillies with Rodon at wheel
* Rodon unlocks backdoor in commanding win
* Rodon rolls on as White Sox pound Phillies

...............


Main Menu
Home
Illinois
YouTube
Pundit rankings
Obama
Subscriber Content
Durbin
Burris
Blagojevich Trial
Advertising
Updated Posts
Polls

Archives
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004

Blog*Spot Archives
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005

Syndication

RSS Feed 2.0
Comments RSS 2.0
WordPress

Loading


* Brown: Treasurer tackles insurance companies’ d.....
* Illinois passes tougher penalties on importing .....
* Bernard Schoenburg: Illinois an ‘outlier’ in pa.....
* Mining industry fights downturn in southern Ill.....
* Editorial: A chance for Guv to let voters have .....
* Who’s political now? An unvarnished look at the.....
* Smiddy introduces bill to cut perks for lawmakers..
* Illinois officials: Pension change could be 'de.....
* Editorial: A chance for Guv to let voters have .....
* Rauner Focuses on Fixing Illinois' Political Sy.....


* Hope Solo suspended from national team for 6 months
* White House: Sen. Kirk's 'drug dealer' comment 'outrageous'
* Prices up, choices down on Illinois health insurance market
* Chicago Board of Education OKs $5.4B budget amid protests
* Illinois 'Obamacare' health insurance rates up significantly
* Muggy weather in Illinois could yield bountiful harvest
* House explodes in central Illinois, sends couple into yard
* Police seeking vehicle connected to Illinois killings
* Police seeking vehicle connected to Illinois killings
* Prosecutor wants McCullough case perjury claim investigated

* Illinois 'Obamacare' health insurance rates up significantly
* Rauner's office warns teachers' pension change could be 'devastating'
* IDOT to analyze fairgrounds flood-control measures
* Rauner signs bill to punish trafficking guns into Illinois
* Rauner to sign bill to clamp down on gun trafficking
* Gov. Rauner signs bills to assist juvenile, other offenders
* Gov. Rauner signs package of criminal justice legislation
* Tax on feminine hygiene products repealed in Illinois
* Gay rights setback seen in Illinois Supreme Court ruling
* New Illinois law addresses financial exploitation of elderly

* FCB Chicago names Ogilvy's Liz Taylor chief creative officer
* Free 3-month digital trial of Crain's Chicago
* Chicago Board of Education OKs $5.4 billion budget
* MIT grads pick Chicago for hemp trading platform
* Here are the ways employers may be shortchanging your 401(k)


* Claire Blumenthal Miller dies; had bat mitzvah & wed in her 80s
* ERA leader Hendricks, Cubs rotation pit dominance vs. prudence
* CPS massive budget, borrowing pass despite giant ‘ifs’
* Man wounded in Chatham shooting
* Brown: Treasurer tackles insurance companies’ dirty little secret
* Bears pushing C Cornelius Edison to get his light-bulb moment
* Bears notes: Jay Cutler, Dowell Loggains didn’t panic after debut
* Fire: Man killed in fiery roll-over crash in Maywood
* Editorial: A chance for Guv to let voters have their say
* The Javy Dilemma: versatility value vs. Gold Glove D at one spot


* Who was the greatest Cubs catcher?
* Taxpayers hit again under Emanuel as CPS hikes property taxes
* About 12 injured after multiple tornadoes hit central Indiana
* Italy earthquake kills at least 159 as rescuers race to free survivors
* Lake County coroner appeals to Illinois Supreme Court to get on ballot
* Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly to allow 4 arrested players to play in opener
* Minnesota bridge collapse survivor accused of trying to join Islamic State after getting settlement
* Cubs offense on full display completing sweep of Padres with 6-3 victory
* Kirk accuses Duckworth of mocking stroke victims as Senate race heats up
* Hope Solo suspended from women's national soccer team for 6 months


The widget AQL4JYGHIY powered by Feed Informer does not exist.


* Esther Cepeda: One man's clutter could be another man's treasure
* Bernard Schoenburg: Illinois an 'outlier' in party appointments to legislative vacancies
* Scott Reeder: A case for tempering justice with mercy
* Illinois 'Obamacare' health insurance rates up significantly
* Eugene Robinson: Trump's 360-degree 'pivot'
* Rauner's office warns teachers' pension change could be 'devastating'
* IDOT to analyze fairgrounds flood-control measures
* Michael Gerson: Cheap populism helps no one
* E.J. Dionne: Trump's sour Virginia cocktail
* Michael LeRoy: Map case shows courts' flaws


* Chicago at the Virginia Theatre
* HS Golf: Centennial vs. Mahomet-Seymour 2016
* Coal executives: Industry has future, regulations stand in way
* Nichols will sit out until December
* Hill names Straughan starting QB for FAU
* Schnucks ban on solicitation at stores could affect Salvation Army bell ringing in Peoria and Pekin
* Schnucks' new policy could halt Salvation Army bell ringing at local stores
* Mercado on Fifth opens Friday in Moline's Floreciente neighborhood
* Illinois officials: Pension change could be 'devastating'
* PODCAST: SportsTalk 08-24-16


* A chance to honor Oldham by paying it forward
* Car enthusiasts check out Motors on Milwaukee
* Tolbert, Jones form quite a receiving package for Warren
* The Latest: Clinton calls AP report on donors 'absurd'
* Fernandez helps Marlins snap Royals' 9-game winning streak

* House lawmakers overcome hurdle on key tra...
* Rodney Davis talks funding with Bloomingto...
* The agency that fought Illiana gets a new ...
* Rep. Dold takes educational cruise down Ch...
* Lawmakers decry high turnover rate of VA h...
* CBD Oil, and politics
* Simon considering state Senate bid
* Killer Congressman Tom MacArthur trying to...
* Shutdown? State may not notice
* Rep. Bob Dold

* Police in Illinois to receive hundreds of ......

* White House: Sen. Kirk's 'Drug Dealer' Com......
* 2016 VOTE: Kirk fires back - WLS...
* Kirk accuses Duckworth of making fun of st......
* Tammy Duckworth slams Mark Kirk for racist......
* Kirk accuses Duckworth of mocking stroke v......

* EXTRA: “The Cell,” (2003-16)
* Representative Guzzardi responds to our posts about retired teachers who are too old to receive Medicare.
* University of Chicago: ” We hope all members of our community will take the time to look more deeply into the challenges and potential negative consequences of a union and participate in dialogue around these issues.”
* Cartoon of the Day - 8/23/16 Lochte
* Duckworth Slams Kirk During Economic Policy Talk, Outlines Fiscal Priorities
* Cartoon Of The Day
* Cartoon of the Day - 8/24/16 IL black unemployment rate
* Rauner Administration: Pension Adjustments Could Be 'Devastating'
* Are The Police Racist?
* IL Dept of Insurance warns of double digit health care increase in 2017


* Statement on Health Care Rate Filings
* Governor Opens Minority Entrepreneurship Program Applications
* Governor Rauner Signs Firearms Trafficking Bill to Help Protect Communities from Gun Violence
* Governor Rauner Takes Action towards Normalcy for Illinois Youth in Care
* State Announces September 1 Start of Low Income Energy Assistance Program Enrollment - LIHEAP, PIPP applications available for seniors, people with disabilities beginning September 1




      Hosted by MCS SUBSCRIBE to Capitol Fax Advertise Here Mobile Version Contact Rich Miller