CHICAGO (September 5, 2023) – Today Chicago Public Media announced plans to significantly increase its arts and culture coverage to better serve Chicago and the region, with expanded reporting and programming from WBEZ Chicago, the Chicago Sun-Times and Vocalo.
“Chicago has a rich history in the arts and an even richer creative community today,” said Tracy Brown, chief content officer at Chicago Public Media. “We hear from our community that they are hungry for deeper coverage of Chicago’s vibrant arts and culture scene, and so we are expanding our resources, reporting and programming to meet that need and help local residents get the most out of our region.”
Readers and listeners will be able to experience Chicago Public Media’s arts and culture reporting and storytelling across multiple platforms, including on air on WBEZ and Vocalo, in print in the Sun-Times, and on digital platforms. This marks the most significant editorial collaboration across Chicago Public Media since the Chicago Sun-Times joined in 2022 to form the largest local nonprofit news organization in the country.
Fourteen journalists, content creators and producers will cover arts and culture as part of this effort. This includes current staff from WBEZ, the Sun-Times and Vocalo who already cover arts and culture-related topics, as well as additional freelancers. Chicago Public Media will appoint a director of arts and culture to lead the coordination of this coverage, and WBEZ plans to hire a senior editor for arts & culture, theater reporter and digital producer.
Altogether, expanded arts and culture content will include stories, reviews and criticism on a wide range of topics such as fine arts, entertainment, theater and performing arts, music, movies, books, television, pop culture and food & dining and community engagement.
For example, WBEZ Chicago, the Sun-Times and Vocalo will create seasonal and topical guides to arts and culture in the region, building on a history of projects like WBEZ’s Summer 250 guide released last month, the annual Sun-Times summer guide, and the Sun-Times weekly Murals and Mosaics feature. In late August, a special “Creative Chicago” edition of the Sun-Times showcased the non-traditional, undercovered and under-the-radar artistic endeavors of Chicagoans.
Vocalo will lead music coverage, audio storytelling and some arts criticism. For 15 years, Vocalo has served as a platform for artists and creatives from a variety of cultural backgrounds, and through this expanded initiative, Chicago Public Media will continue to elevate the artistic innovation of Chicagoans and amplify the Chicago sound.
With expanded coverage, the teams will also help readers navigate Chicago’s vibrant arts & culture scene through curated content delivered to inboxes and mobile devices. For example, WBEZ will soon launch a new fine arts newsletter to complement existing arts and culture newsletters like the Sun-Times’ entertainment newsletters with the best things to do each weekend, as well as Vocalo’s weekly newsletter, The Goods, an essential discovery guide to Chicago’s local music, arts and culture scene serving more than 50,000 readers each week.
“This collaboration is a powerful example of what we can do as a combined organization when we bring together our resources and the expertise of our journalists from WBEZ, the Sun-Times and Vocalo,” said Matt Moog, CEO of Chicago Public Media. “We will reach millions of Chicagoans each week with arts and culture coverage – across broadcast, print, digital and visual platforms – to showcase the creativity and vibrancy of Chicago.”
Chicago Public Media’s expansion of arts and culture coverage is made possible with generous philanthropic funding from the Joyce Foundation and the Pritzker Foundation.
“The arts are at the heart of healthy, vibrant communities,” said Hugh Dellios, the Joyce Foundation’s senior program officer for journalism. “Chicago’s artists and arts organizations have contributed to a diversity of unique and significant cultural expressions that deepen connections between communities and the arts. Chicago Public Media’s expanded coverage will shine a light on the rich mosaic that is the city’s full arts scene.”
“Art in any form can connect people. Chicago is home to a thriving creative community, and we are proud to support Chicago Public Media as it expands its arts and culture coverage so residents can discover and participate in all that our region has to offer,” said Penny Pritzker, Trustee, Pritzker Foundation.
About Chicago Public Media
Chicago Public Media is the largest local non-profit news organization in the country, home to WBEZ Chicago, the Chicago Sun-Times, and urban alternative music station, Vocalo. Chicago Public Media serves more than 2 million people weekly across broadcast, print, and digital platforms. As a mission-driven organization, we aspire to become the essential and most trusted news source that Chicago turns to each day for understanding the people, events, and ideas that shape our community.