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City Cast Chicago

City Cast
38 episodes
Chicago’s daily news podcast, fresh every weekday at 6 a.m. Host Jacoby Cochran brings you timely conversations with news and culture makers; activists and artists; bus drivers and students; those who love and hate this place—all in 15 minutes a day. It’s a smart and delightful new way to connect with the city we share. Learn more and subscribe to our morning newsletter at citycast.fm/chicago

Disclaimer: the content and artwork of this podcast are the property of its owner and are not affiliated with nor endorsed by Audiotrails.

A Love Letter to Our Pandemic Refuge: The Parks

The pandemic has forced us to get creative in how we can socialize. That means: go outside. The Chicago Park District has more than 600 parks across the city with playgrounds, swimming pools, tennis courts, soccer fields and indoor activities at field houses. Even though playgrounds and pools were …

The Legacy of Helmut Jahn's Thompson Center

Less than one week after Gov. JB Pritzker announced the James R. Thompson Center was for sale, its architect was tragically killed in a biking accident. Helmut Jahn’s most famous building in Chicago has also been a source of controversy. It’s been derided for its retro colors, its inefficient heati…

A Tour of Pill Hill and a Teacher Surprise

We’ve been hearing all week from our guests about their favorite teachers. Today, host Jacoby Cochran introduces us to Dr. Denise Spells, principal at St. Ethelreda in Auburn Gresham, whom Jacoby calls “a second mom.” Plus, a tour of the Pill Hill neighborhood with Theresa Ferrell, who is Jacoby’s …

First Year, Worst Year? Becoming a Teacher in a Pandemic

Being a new teacher is already a tough job. It gets even tougher when you’re starting out during a pandemic. That’s one reason the Illinois State Board of Education teamed up with state teachers unions in the fall to create a mentorship program for first-year teachers. As we approach the end of the…

A First for Asian American History in Illinois

The Teaching Equitable Asian American Community History (TEAACH) Act would require public schools to include lessons about Asian American history, including the wrongful incarceration of Japanese Americans and the heroic service of Asian American military during World War II. The curriculum is base…

Another CPS Chief Resigns. Why?

Janice Jackson is resigning as CEO of Chicago Public Schools, effective June 30. She's been in the job nearly four years. Jackson joins other top CPS officials in leaving after a tumultuous year for the school district. WBEZ education reporter Sarah Karp breaks down Jackson’s legacy and what these …

How Should Journalists Cover Police Shootings?

It’s been over a month since Chicago Police shot and killed 13-year-old Adam Toledo. And Chicagoans are contending with yet another video of police shooting 22-year-old Anthony Alverez. The recent shootings are prompting journalists to re-think how they cover these stories. To help with that, City …

Indoor Dining is Back: How’s That Going?

Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Thursday that Chicago is easing more pandemic restrictions and increasing capacity for indoor venues. Chicago’s restaurants have been in Phase 4, which means indoor tables up to six people and outdoor seating up to 10 people. The return of indoor dining should be welc…

Why Our Political Maps Matter

Illinois is losing a seat in the U.S. House as a result of the 2020 Census. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to redistricting and political power. In addition to Congressional districts, officials are also redrawing state legislative districts and Chicago’s wards this year. Advo…

Could This Be the Year for the Chicago Sky?

Fans are hoping this is the year for a Chicago Sky championship. The team’s roster is stacked with veterans like two-time MVP forward Candace Parker and rookies like point guard Shyla Heal from Australia’s professional basketball league. Sportswriter Chris Pennant covers the WNBA. He gives us a pre…

How the Pandemic Changed Live Theater in Chicago

Chicago is a theater town, but live stage productions have been virtually wiped out for more than a year. Theater critic Kerry Reid breaks down the ways artists have adapted, how theaters are emerging from the pandemic, and how the city’s theater scene may be permanently affected. Guest: Kerry Reid…

Chicago Has Most Lead Pipes of Any City

Chicago has more lead water service lines than any other American city. Lori Lightfoot is the first mayor to promise to remove the pipes, but seven months after announcing a plan, WBEZ’s Monica Eng reports no progress has been made . Eng has been following problems with lead in the city’s water fo…

What's Happening With: Money in the Arts

This week, the city announced $60 million in grant funding to reignite Chicago’s arts scene after the pandemic. Chicago Tribune critic Chris Jones says it’s one of the largest infusions of cash from the city that he’s seen. Jones also broke the news this week that many laid-off staff at The Secon…

'Good Energy' at the Asian Pop-Up Cinema

The 12th season of Chicago’s Asian Pop-Up Cinema is underway. The fest is online and outdoors at the Lincoln Yards Drive-in. Unfortunately, the screenings of Oscar-nominee “Minari” are sold out. But there’s plenty left to see. We talk with founder Sophia Wong Boccio about which films she’s looking …

Chicagoans' Somber Reaction to the Chauvin Verdict

Jacoby heads to Chicago’s Loop after the jury in the Derek Chauvin murder trial delivers the guilty verdict. Local activists talk about what the verdict means and how significant this decision was. We also hear from Frank Chapman , who has spent decades fighting for police accountability; and Ario…

Chicago Chef Elevates Cannabis Cooking

There’s more to cannabis-infused food than just gummy bears and brownies. Manny Mendoza is a Culinary Institute of America-trained chef who runs Herbal Notes, a company that creates pop-up dining experiences in Chicago and California. His infused dishes run the gamut from brunch to tapas to a very …

What David Axelrod Loves About Chicago

David Axelrod may have been born in New York, but he very much identifies as a Chicagoan. After arriving at the University of Chicago as a student nearly 50 years ago, the long-time political strategist and one-time chief adviser to Barack Obama advisor is still here. Axelrod and Jacoby talk politi…

What's Happening With: Power in CPS

The teachers union has reached a deal with Chicago Public Schools for high schoolers to return to class Monday. It comes after tense negotiations this week. Meanwhile, the debate over creating an elected Chicago school board is heating up in Springfield, with competing proposals emerging. Jacoby br…

How the People Can Police the CPD

How can Chicagoans actually hold police accountable? That’s the question two coalitions are trying to tackle in their proposed “People’s Ordinance.” It would create a new civilian oversight body with broad policy-making powers. Frank Chapman has been working on this issue for decades. He tells Jaco…

Why 'Chicago History is World History'

Donald Lassere started this week as the new head of the Chicago History Museum. It's a homecoming for the native South Sider, who most recently led the Muhammed Ali Center in Louisville. Lassere reflects on his youth in Chicago, including being run out of Marquette Park because he was Black, and …

Dad Says In-Person Learning Is the Way

High school students in Chicago Public Schools are supposed to go back to in-person learning next week. The wave also includes the return of another group of K-8 students. Last week, we heard from a mom who’s choosing to keep her young kids in remote learning . Today, Jacoby talks to a dad who was…

Little Village Tries to Heal After Shooting

After Adam Toledo was shot and killed by Chicago Police, some city officials painted a picture of the 13 year old as lost, alone, and drawn to gang life out of desperation. Toledo’s mother pushed backed on that narrative, saying Adam lived with his family and was not alone. But the police shooting …

Wide Angle: Lightfoot vs. Pritzker

***We have a new segment, and we need your help! Read after the description for more details.*** Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Gov. JB Pritzker seem to be at odds lately. The two Democrats are going in different directions on reopening bars and restaurants. They’re clashing over education. They couldn’t…

Mom Not Ready to Send Kids Back to Class

It’s been about a month since K-8 students in Chicago Public Schools began returning to in-person learning on hybrid schedules. As CPS and the Chicago Teachers Union spar over the impending return of high schoolers, Jacoby talks with with one mom about why she’s keeping her young kids home, even th…

The Sight and Smell of the Southeast Side

A judge’s decision is expected any day now to determine the future of a metal scrapping facility on the Southeast Side. Neighborhood activists say it will increase pollution in an area already laden with industry. They’re asking the city to deny a final permit, calling it an example of environmenta…

COVID Confusion. Yes, Still.

Chicago is entering a third surge of coronavirus cases. But things had been looking up, with more businesses reopening and more people getting vaccinated. A year into a pandemic, and with what can feel like conflicting information, how do you help people make good public health decisions? Jacoby ta…

Chicago’s Monuments Don’t Tell Full History

Chicago’s public monuments have been a flashpoint in the fight against systemic racism. Last July, protesters tried to topple a statue of Christopher Columbus in Grant Park. Mayor Lori Lightfoot responded by unceremoniously removing the statue in the middle of the night. The city also created a com…

Wide Angle: Police Accountability and Reform

The Derek Chauvin trial got underway this week in Minneapolis. The former police officer has been charged with the murder of George Floyd last May. Floyd’s killing sparked worldwide rallies and protests calling for accountability for police abuse. That’s not new for Chicago. The police department h…

Opening Day! A Look Back at the Exciting (And Later, Crappy) Home Run Race of ’98

It’s opening day for baseball season! The White Sox start out on the road tonight against the LA Angels, while the Cubs take on the Pittsburgh Pirates at Wrigley Field. As baseball fans eagerly look ahead to a more “normal” season, we’re looking back at a pivotal moment in MLB history. Joan Niesen …

51 Women Were Killed. Where Are Their Stories?

Over the last two decades, 51 women, most of whom were Black, were killed in Chicago in similar ways. Most of their deaths have never been solved. And their stories have been underreported or incomplete. Samantha Latson is a student journalist who has been sharing some of the stories from these wom…