Jim DeRogatis leaves Sun-Times on a solid note

April 19, 2010

Jim DeRogatis, co-host of Chicago Public Radio's nationally syndicated "Sound Opinions" and one of America's premier authorities on everything that rocks, resigned Monday as pop music critic at the Sun-Times to join the faculty of Columbia College Chicago and become a blogger for Vocalo.org.


Jim DeRogatis (photo by Marty Perez)

In a note to Sun-Times editor in chief Don Hayner, DeRogatis wrote: "Many of the best things that have happened in my career and in my life I attribute to the Sun-Times -- the institution, but most of all the people, with you at the top of that list." Except for a three-year break in the mid-'90s (part of which he spent as deputy music editor at Rolling Stone), DeRogatis has been the newspaper's rock and pop guru since 1992.

DeRogatis, 45, will join the Columbia College faculty this fall as a full-time instructor in the English Department of the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences. He is expected to continue teaching the "Reviewing the Arts" course he has taught for the last two semesters there. In a statement released through the college, he said:

"Journalism and cultural criticism are in a period of radical reinvention, and their futures will be shaped in part by the students in Columbia's desks right now. After 15 years at Chicago's best daily newspaper, I am thrilled to have been offered the opportunity and the challenge to help guide those students, whose diverse interests, rampant love of the arts, and pervasive enthusiasm has been unmatched at any other school I've ever visited."

Welcome aboard, Jim: DeRogatis also will be joining the expanding online community right here at Vocalo.org. Starting June 1, his daily "PopNStuff" blog will feature exclusive coverage of the pop music beat with what he calls "special emphasis on the incredibly vibrant Chicago music scene." He joins a roster of writers including former Sun-Times architecture critic Lee Bey, WLS-Channel 7 food/lifestyle reporter Steve Dolinsky, author Amy Krouse Rosenthal and yours truly.

"We have always wanted a blogger to cover music for blogs.vocalo.org," said Justin Kaufmann, senior content developer for Chicago Public Radio. "Jim is arguably the best music writer in Chicago, if not the nation. We couldn't be happier. He is going to take our blogs to a whole new level."

Fans will still be able to hear DeRogatis on "Sound Opinions," billed as "the world's only rock 'n' roll talk show," which he co-hosts with Tribune rock critic Greg Kot. Loosely modeled after "Siskel & Ebert," it's been on in one form or another since 1993. Produced by Chicago Public Radio since 2005 and syndicated by American Public Media, the show currently is carried on 90 stations in 84 markets nationwide. In Chicago, it airs at 8 p.m. Fridays and 11 a.m. Saturdays on WBEZ-FM (91.5).

During his combined 15-year run at the Sun-Times, DeRogatis has been more than a respected critic and diligent chronicler of the popular music scene who covered the rise of artists ranging from the Flaming Lips to Kanye West, and from Nirvana to Kid Sister. He's also been an outstanding investigative reporter whose disclosure of a controversial video led to R&B superstar R. Kelly's indictment on child pornography charges. (The singer was acquitted in 2008.) More recently, DeRogatis has been in the forefront of reporting on the monopolistic merger of Live Nation, the giant national concert promoter, and ticket brokers Ticketmaster.

A prolific author, DeRogatis recently edited and wrote the central essay for The Velvet Underground: An Illustrated History of a Walk on the Wild Side. His new book (co-written with Kot), The Beatles vs. the Rolling Stones: Sound Opinions on the Great Rock 'n' Roll Rivalry, will be published this fall.

Among his other books are Staring at Sound: The True Story of Oklahoma's Fabulous Flaming Lips; Let It Blurt: The Life and Times of Lester Bangs, America's Greatest Rock Critic; Milk It! Collected Musings on the Alternative Music Explosion of the '90s; Turn On Your Mind: Four Decades of Great Psychedelic Rock; Kill Your Idols: A New Generation of Rock Writers Reconsiders the Classics (co-edited with his wife, Carmél Carrillo DeRogatis), and Sheperd Paine: The Life and Work of a Master Modeler and Military Historian.

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