Chicago Live! 2012 continued
GSU was picked as a Chicago Live! site largely through the efforts of university President Elaine P. Maimon and Tribune Associate Editor Joyce Winnecke, said James Janega, manager of Trib Nation, the newspaper unit overseeing the show.
Janega said Dr. Maimon and Winnecke share a common vision about the role in the community of important institutions like newspapers and universities. “They share the sense that both the Tribune and GSU each act as a town square,” he said. “That’s a common thread for both of us.” Winnecke is a member of the President’s Advisory Board at GSU.
It was the first time Chicago Live! was presented outside the city limits. Host Rick Kogan, a veteran Tribune reporter and columnist, said GSU Center is, to date, the biggest theater to host the show. More than 40 Chicago Live! performances have taken place in the last two years, all in smaller venues. Kogan called GSU’s theater one of the Midwest’s top performance spaces. Over years, Kogan said he’s come to GSU to see stars like comedian Tom Dreesen and singer Dennis DeYoung, and recently brought his young daughter to a performance of Eric Carle classics like “Hungry, Hungry Caterpillar.”
Thursday’s show was an unqualified success, with Second City improv artists providing very funny vignettes between interviews. Undergraduate student Audrey Cher, winner of the “GSU’s Got Talent” competition, gave a soaring rendition of her original song “Love You,” with stellar music also coming from hip-hop singer Psalm One and harmonica virtuoso Sugar Blue and his band.
In his Chicago Live! Almanac, Kogan focused on events in 1969, which included both the first manned moon landing, Woodstock, and GSU’s founding. Entertainers like Dreesen and DeYoung, he said, are products of a Chicago Southland fueled by steel mills and heavy industry. GSU was established so future generations would be able to learn necessary skills for an ever-changing world. Kogan said steel is still an important part of GSU’s landscape, most notably at Nathan Manilow Sculpture Park, which he called “one of the most amazing outdoor gardens on earth.”
Interviews were a major feature of Chicago Live! at GSU. President Maimon described some of the exciting developments at GSU, including the university’s first freshman class and student housing in 2014. Kogan and Editorial Page Editor Bruce Dold discussed the Tribune’s endorsement of President Barack Obama – which garnered a loud round of applause from the audience. Music critic Howard Reich interviewed Sugar Blue and Tribune travel and beer writer Josh Noel talked about craft brews with Barnaby Struve, vice president of Three Floyds Brewing Co. in Munster, IN. Kogan discussed the election and issues in the African-American community with Tribune columnist Dawn Turner Trice and Cliff Kelley, former Chicago alderman and current WVON-AM talk show host.
At a reception prior to the show, Tribune Editor Gerould Kern said newspapers are changing and events like Chicago Live! demonstrate a new commitment to readers. “We need to come out into the community to show what we do,” he said. “We are not just purveyors of news. We believe that we are part of the community and it is our place to be here.”
Kern said it was his first trip to GSU. “I am very impressed by GSU’s mission and all the initiatives that are taking place,” he said.