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Justin Bull

Podcast Producer

Justin is a digital and podcast producer. He started at WBEZ as an intern back in 2015, then went to Australia and worked as a producer for ABC Radio National.

Prior to all that, Justin served as a reporter for a pair of local newspapers in the Bay Area, a technical writer for the State of Illinois and a garbage man for a local junk-hauling franchise. He studied radio at the Transom Story Workshop.

Chicago artist Robert Earl Paige has 60 years worth of his art on display right now at the Hyde Park Art Center. He sat down with Rundown podcast host Erin Allen to talk about his childhood on the South Side in the 1930s and 40s, his early design work in both Chicago and Milan, Italy, why he’s dabbled in creating art on top of everything from T-shirts to rocks, and his key piece of advice for the next generation of artists. “The marketplace is very fickle,” Paige said on the Rundown podcast. “The stuff that you love, they hate. The stuff they hate, you love. It’s a mad thing. So my idea and what I tell most artists: Just do the damn thing. Get it out there.” “The United Colors of Robert Earl Paige” is on display at the Hyde Park Art Center through October 27, 2024.
THC-infused seltzer beverages – you know, the kind that get you high – are becoming more readily available in local grocery stores and even for on-site consumption at a few Chicago breweries. But, how is this legal? And should we expect a THC beverage boom in the near future? To answer those questions, the Rundown podcast visited Hopewell Brewing in Logan Square, whose hemp-based, THC-infused beverage called Choom became available in February. We talked with Hopewell owner Samantha Lee about why they decided to offer Choom. We also ask reporter Steve Hendershot – who covered the trend for WBEZ – to give the lemon-lime seltzer a taste and to explain the legal gray area where these kinds of beverages exist.
Maryam Taghavi’s exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art examines the things we cannot see and our own ability to perceive the things we can. It’s aptly titled “Nothing Is.” “When you stare at something, in a way, it stares back at you,” Taghavi said. “The lake, the water or the clouds, the sky or trees, or the street, all the texts on the street. So these things sort of speak back at you, and I’m really interested in that reciprocity that happens when you are staring at something.” In this episode of The Rundown podcast, Taghavi takes us on a tour of her exhibit at the MCA, which includes paintings, sculptures, poetry and calligraphy. We hear about her journey from Iran to Canada to the United States, and learn about her artistic influences and interests: Persian language and ancient texts, her childhood in war-torn Tehran and her immigration to Canada, and the nature of infinity.
Soup & Bread is an event at a bar in Chicago’s West Town neighborhood – The Hideout – where anyone who wanders in can get a free meal of soup and bread the first Wednesday of every month during Chicago’s chilly season. Organizer Martha Bayne said it’s not just about showing up and getting some free soup, but to invite people into a “classically third space, where people can come together outside of school or church or work and just share some quality time with each other.” “This is one of the great community events in Chicago,” one attendee told us, “like, period.” The Rundown went to check it out last month – to talk with the organizers, soup chefs and attendees – and to figure out how this event has made such a mark on its community over the last 15 years. Soup & Bread returns to The Hideout on March 6 and April 3 at 6 p.m.
A few months ago, Rundown producer Justin Bull brought you the story of some of Chicago’s feral cats, the people who care for them, and why both are so present among us here in Chicago. In the time since, he heard from a few folks who say it’s not all whiskers and catnip. This month for WBEZ’s Curious City, Justin went a little deeper, talking with more feral cat advocates and detractors, as well as a documentarian who knows how contentious this issue can get.
Emily and Tyler Nevius celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary in January, but they were too tired to throw a big party. In the past few months, years of hard work have culminated in the opening-slash-reopening of the Ramova Theatre. The historic movie theater in Bridgeport is now a concert venue, backed by the Neviuses, Chance the Rapper, Jennifer Hudson, Quincy Jones and dozens of other investors. Rundown podcast producer Justin Bull talks to the Neviuses about the years, tears and beers that went into restoring the Ramova to its former glory.
Berlin nightclub in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood closed permanently in November after four decades in business, amid stalled negotiations between the bar’s owners and its unionizing employees. In asking some of the people who worked there, danced there and made memories there, it’s obvious that Berlin was more than just a bar. “It felt like a secret almost,” said All The Way Kay, who DJed at Berlin for over 15 years. “It felt like something that you wanted to hold very, very close to you because spaces like that really don’t exist.” We talked with Kay, queer historian Owen Keehnen, DJ Greg Haus and several listeners who called to tell us what Berlin meant to them and what they hope for the future.
Jahmal Cole asked a question to the crowd of volunteers assembled in a church parking lot in the Chatham neighborhood on a recent Saturday. “How come there ain’t no holiday lights on the South Side of Chicago?” he said into the microphone. “I’ve seen it in Edgewater. I’ve seen it in Greek Town. How come it ain’t no holiday lights on the South Side of Chicago?” Cole is the founder of the community organization My Block My Hood City. For six years, they’ve decorated homes on Martin Luther King Drive with holiday lights, ornaments, inflatable Santas and other decorations. In this episode, we join the event – which is called “Be A Part Of The Light” – for the day, asking homeowners and volunteers why they decided to participate, and Cole why he thinks the simple act of putting up holiday lights can transform a community. “What we’re doing today is not just about putting up lights,” Cole said. “It’s about bringing light to an area that really needs it.”
You know Chicago is the country’s rattiest city – at least according to Orkin, who just gave us that distinction for the ninth straight year – but did you also know it’s one of the feral-cattiest? Chicago has thousands of outdoor cats, as well as thousands of humans who care for them. “Probably over 3,000 caretakers in the city taking care of I don’t even know how many cats, cats we don’t even know about,” said Cecilia Ocampo-Solis, community programs manager at Tree House Humane Society in the Rogers Park neighborhood. In this episode, we talk with one of these feral cat colony-minders about what it’s like to host a couple of wild fuzzballs. “I call them more like barn cats,” said Rob Crowder, who hosts two cats, Washington and Drake, in his backyard in Chicago’s Roscoe Village neighborhood. “Because they’re – they don’t live in a barn but they’re always just around, they’re easy to maintain, and they give back to us as well.” By “give back” Crowder means “deter rats.” But Ocampo-Solis also myth-busts a common misconception about Chicago’s feral cats and her organization’s “Cats at Work” program. “This program was built to offer quote unquote, a ‘second chance’ to unsocialized cats in high-volume shelters. They don’t have many options. Sometimes their options are humane euthanasia,” Ocampo-Solis said. “So it’s a harm reduction program.”
The Chicago City Council is meeting Friday to debate a resolution “condemning Hamas’ attack on Israel.” Emanuel “Chris” Welch says it’s unlikely Illinois lawmakers will consider additional funding for migrants in Chicago during their upcoming legislative session. There’s a new push for a law, known as “Karina’s Bill” that would require police to remove guns from the homes of accused domestic abusers.
Chicago residents are airing frustrations about ballooning water debt with no paths to dispute charges. Republicans in the Illinois legislature want to bar the use of campaign cash for a legal defense. The ACLU of Indiana is challenging a state law preventing inmates from receiving gender-affirming care.
Chicago police are still investigating how two women were shot during a White Sox game last Friday. City leaders are moving forward with a plan to purchase property meant to house newly-arriving migrants. The state health department is seeing evidence of Covid-19 in wastewater samples, but transmission rates are still low.
The Chicago Public Library turns 150 this year. And it’s no coincidence that just a couple years ago, the city celebrated the anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. “The period after the Great Fire in Chicago was a period of enormous development and innovation, and the library was definitely part of that story,” said Alison Cuddy, host of the podcast Library for the People: 150 years of Chicago Stories. The fire burned countless books in the city of Chicago, which did not have a public library at the time, but the system developed soon after. In this episode, we talk to Alison and CPL Commissioner Chris Brown about how the windy city got its public library system and its century-and-a-half of history since.
About 200 unionized staff at a hospital on the West Side have gone on strike over working conditions, primarily: their own safety. Every school district in Illinois will now be required to offer a full-day kindergarten program by fall 2027. Lollapalooza begins today, and if you’re venturing out, stay hydrated.
Clinics in Indiana stopped performing abortions ahead of the state’s near-total abortion ban officially taking effect. Northwestern officials said they hired former U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch to review its athletic department. Federal lawmakers announced $780,000 in funding for the CTA to explore reopening an Englewood Green Line station with modernized accessibility standards.