Thomas Conner, a highly regarded editor and writer at the Chicago Sun-Times, has been named to succeed Jim DeRogatis as the paper's pop music critic.
DeRogatis announced his resignation last month to join the faculty of Columbia College Chicago and become a blogger for Vocalo.org. He continues as co-host of Chicago Public Radio's nationally syndicated "Sound Opinions" with Greg Kot of the Chicago Tribune. Asked to comment on his new role Tuesday, Conner said:
"I've been DeRo's editor for five years here, so I know the exact size of the large shoes I'm expected to fill. But I have a fairly well-traveled pair of my own. I've been writing music criticism for (yegods) almost 20 years now, and I'm eager to embrace it again as a full-time pursuit. Of all American cities to tune into, this is the most exciting and diverse. The Sun-Times has always had its ear pretty close to the ground, and I plan to get out there and explore some street-level sounds as well as whatever lumbers into Soldier Field."
Before joining the Sun-Times as assistant features editor in 2005, Conner, 39, was the pop music critic for the Tulsa World in his native Oklahoma for eight years. In addition to serving as music editor and editor of several entertainment sections for the Sun-Times, he most recently has been online features editor for suntimes.com. He held a yearlong fellowship with the National Arts Journalism Program at Columbia University and is an adjunct instructor at the University of Illinois/Chicago. Confirming Conner's appointment, Sun-Times Editor in Chief Don Hayner said:
"As you know, I love DeRo and was sorry to see him go, but change is our business. As for Thomas, as you also know, he's a clear thinker with a deep understanding of pop music and for that matter music in general. I know Thomas will bring a fresh eye to the local music scene and a sharp eye to the music scene in general."
DeRogatis wrapped up 15 years as pop music critic at the Sun-Times last week with a typically smart and insightful farewell in which he recalled the 15 best concerts he'd covered for the paper. (Here is the link.) He starts blogging here June 1.