Tough, Kind, Creative: Beloved Editor Cate Cahan Leaves WBEZ After 20 Years

Cate Cahan
Cate Cahan spent two decades editing stories at WBEZ. She left the station on June 26, 2020. WBEZ / WBEZ
Cate Cahan
Cate Cahan spent two decades editing stories at WBEZ. She left the station on June 26, 2020. WBEZ / WBEZ

Tough, Kind, Creative: Beloved Editor Cate Cahan Leaves WBEZ After 20 Years

Listeners didn’t hear her voice very often on the radio, but from behind the scenes, WBEZ editor Cate Cahan had a monumental influence on two decades of sounds and stories heard on WBEZ’s airwaves.

Friday was Cahan’s last day at the station.

It would be hard to name another single journalist more influential in shaping WBEZ’s journalism and sound, and in developing younger journalists.

Cahan always emphasized voices and storytelling, and she was the force behind some of WBEZ’s most ambitious reporting projects, including Every Other Hour, Heat of the Moment, Heroin LLC, Race Out Loud, investigations into Illinois children dying from abuse or neglect, documentary work on education and poverty, family, black homeownership, and even a radio drama.

She edited StoryCorps Chicago every week. Her day-to-day editing of topics such as politics, education and race won award after award. She was always up for creativity and fun.

Cahan has been a mentor to dozens of reporters, producers and other editors. Many are still at WBEZ; others have gone on to work at public radio stations and news organizations across the country.

Here, a handful of colleagues past and present talk about what it was like to be edited by Cahan, and about her impact on Chicago’s public radio station.

Linda Lutton covers Chicago neighborhoods for WBEZ. Cate Cahan was her editor for nine years. Follow her @lindalutton.