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More Tribune staff take buyout, including Greg Kot

Thursday, Feb 6, 2020

* Robert Feder

Greg Kot, the nationally renowned authority on popular music for the Chicago Tribune, is leaving the newspaper after 40 years — including the last 30 as music critic.

Kot, 62, is the highest-profile personality so far to announce his departure from the Tribune under a voluntary buyout plan offered to employees of Tribune Publishing newspapers. His last day will be Friday.

“It’s bittersweet,” Kot told me Wednesday. “I received a lot of latitude from the Trib to define my job and cover the music beat the way I wanted to, and I considered it a privilege. It was an honor. And I wanted to do that job 100 percent to the best of my ability at all times. […]

Along with former Sun-Times rock critic Jim DeRogatis, Kot also will continue to co-host “Sound Opinions,” the nationally syndicated rock ‘n’ roll talk show produced by Chicago Public Media WBEZ 91.5-FM. “Sound Opinions” airs at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

* Anders Lindall is the AFSCME Council 31 spokesperson, but he was also a music writer for the Sun-Times

Greg Kot’s departure says a lot about the state of the Tribune, the newspaper business, our economy. But in the days since I heard he was leaving, I’ve been thinking a lot about all his writing has meant, personally, to me.

As a high school student and a nutty music fan, there were a handful of people who made me want to be a writer. There was Lester Bangs and Hunter Thompson, but they were both wild, crazy, and in Lester’s case, dead. Around that time, though, I remember reading a piece about a live performance by Bob Mould and Sugar that was so vivid, so evocative, you could tell exactly how the music sounded, and more importantly, how that sound made you FEEL. That piece was by Greg Kot. He was working, writing, right then, for the Chicago Tribune. I realized this was a thing you could actually DO.

It wasn’t long after that I sent a letter to the editor of the City Pages, the Minneapolis underground weekly, taking issue with an album review. They gave me an internship.

Within a few years I wound up here in Chicago, and was lucky enough to be taken in as a research assistant by Jim DeRogatis. Soon I was contributing to the Sun-Times, even covering the same shows as Kot. I was a kid, fortunate to be his aspiring peer. He was, and has ever remained, unfailingly friendly, generous and kind. While Jim became a priceless mentor and dear friend, of the twosome, it was always Greg whose critical voice and measured manner more closely matched my own. I absolutely tried to do myself what he’d done in that Sugar piece–make the reader understand how the music sounded, and how that sound made you feel.

I’ve read Greg’s writing on music, in the Trib and his deeply researched books, religiously for 25 years. I’m gonna miss those columns and live reviews. I’m gonna miss running into him on the street after a show, or in the heat of the ballfield at the Pitchfork Festival. I hope it means we all get a lot more radio shows and books.

Thanks, Mr. Kot, for everything. Here’s to your next chapter.

* Back to Robert Feder

In addition to the departure of music critic Greg Kot reported here Wednesday, the list of Chicago Tribune employees leaving under the company’s voluntary buyout offer includes: editorial writer Andrea Hanis, criminal justice editor Matt O’Connor, higher education reporter Dawn Rhodes, and Design and Production Studio directors Liz Fitzgerald and Jordan Dziura. Previously reported were buyouts for sports editor Tim Bannon and senior arts and entertainment editor Carmél Carrillo. “I grew up living for the arrival of the nice thick Sunday Tribune every week, and it was a thrill to work here. It’s a room where it feels like everyone is either a legend or a legend-in-the-making, whether the public knows their names or not,” said Hanis, whose last day is Friday.

Dawn Rhodes is the goods. Sorry to see her leave. She said goodbye on Twitter


- Posted by Rich Miller        

10 Comments
  1. - benniefly2 - Thursday, Feb 6, 20 @ 10:24 am:

    And the Tribune wonders why they can’t get my subscription money when they force out people like useful reporters like Kot but appear to want to keep editorial people like Kass.


  2. - Skeptic - Thursday, Feb 6, 20 @ 10:27 am:

    Seems like their business plan to save money is analogous to McDonald’s saving money by not serving hamburgers.


  3. - Anyone Remember - Thursday, Feb 6, 20 @ 10:40 am:

    Any word on Hurricane?


  4. - Senator Clay Davis - Thursday, Feb 6, 20 @ 10:43 am:

    Kot and Derogotis continue to do great work on Sound Opinions. The radio/podcast format is better suited to music criticism IMO than print.

    Still, sad to see him go. Another nail in the coffin of print media…


  5. - Amalia - Thursday, Feb 6, 20 @ 11:24 am:

    very worrying about the Chicago newspaper scene.


  6. - Annon3 - Thursday, Feb 6, 20 @ 11:41 am:

    Kass must be inexpensive as he never goes away.


  7. - Silent Budgeteer - Thursday, Feb 6, 20 @ 12:27 pm:

    The same has been happening at my hometown newspaper (Orlando Sentinel), also part of the Tribune organization. Several long-time columnists (Hal Bodekder, for one) and reporters have taken the buyout. I worry about what will become of the news scene there, as well as the possible loss of updates on the culture and other happenings.


  8. - Wensicia - Thursday, Feb 6, 20 @ 12:31 pm:

    Nobody writes about music better than Greg Kot. Nobody.


  9. - Precinct Captain - Thursday, Feb 6, 20 @ 12:45 pm:

    This lyrics from Tom Waits really fits the last 10-15 years of the Tribune and Sun-Times:

    Who are the ones that we kept in charge?
    Killers, thieves, and lawyers


  10. - @misterjayem - Thursday, Feb 6, 20 @ 2:54 pm:

    I can still remember first reading this article while sitting on a stack of pallets, eating my lunch in the warehouse. It was my introduction to what would soon become one of my very favorite bands: https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-xpm-1993-11-15-9311150164-story.html

    To this day, I remain amazed that anyone could use mere human language to perfectly convey the howling, gritty, glorious apocalypse of The Jesus Lizard.

    And later Kot went on to write an unbelievably fantastic biography of Mavis Staples.

    Lots of people care about popular music, but Kot can explain why you should care about popular music.

    Greg Kot has been a pillar of the Chicago music scene for as long as I’ve lived here, but don’t take my word for it. You can ask just about anyone who’s put their blood, sweat and tears into performing, recording or promoting rock’n'roll in Chicago in the last 30 years.

    The Chicago Tribune will not — cannot — be the same without him.

    – MrJM


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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