Why do The Chicago WayTM podcast? Because I like it, that’s why

By John Kass

For a man who co-hosts the world-famous The Chicago Way podcast, I really don’t like the sound of my own voice. And if you’re like most people, you don’t much like the sound of your own voice either.

Politicians like the sound of their voices. Our president loves the sound of his so much that he says anything that comes to mind, the latest being “My butt’s just been wiped!”

A president shouldn’t put that image into the mind of the international community.

I’d rather have you think about The Chicago Way podcast that I host with my friend Jeff Carlin, where, happily, presidential body parts are, and will forever remain, taboo.

Why do I like doing The Chicago Way?

Because it’s fun, and I like talking to you, and to others. My friend Jeff, a master baker and master of sound, is an executive producer at WGN radio. He sometimes picks up story ideas, or perspectives that help in his work.

And I get column ideas. Careful listeners and readers may hear a podcast episode and then trace a thread from the discussion to the finished column. Jeff says the podcast brings readers behind the scenes of the column, to the roots of the thing. And I agree.

A few episodes ago, my brother Nick, a career American diplomat, was a guest. And this week, the guests are Paul Vallas, a career educator and budget expert who should have been elected governor and mayor, but the Chicago monied political class still sucking up to the Daley clan didn’t like the idea; and Pat Fitzmaurice, an old school guy who spent 45 years saving lives as a Chicago Fire Department paramedic chief on the city’s West Side.

If you care to listen, here’s a link:


When we recorded it, I was just writing a column for johnkassnews.com about Chicago, and violence and anarchy, fed by sub-standard government (public) schools. Even the old street gang structure of defined gangs on the corners is breaking down into anarchy. The column was well read and was picked up nationally by realclearpolitics.com.


Vallas and Fitzmaurice talked about the effect of bad policy on generations of Chicago kids, including shutting down the government schools last year under dictates from the powerful Chicago Teachers Union that bosses the Democrat office holders around from the governor to the mayor and city aldermen.

After City Hall rakes in revenue from Lollapalooza, with tens of thousands in Grant Park and spilling out into “the dump” every night, the political class will pretend they had nothing to with any virus spikes to come, and the usual suspects will shut down the city and the government (public) schools again.

Vallas and Fitzmaurice talked of the damage done to Chicago’s children by bad policy.

“The scary thing is that you look at all these kids, these young kids who’ve committed serious offenses—how many are back in school? How many will become career criminals? How many will become victims themselves?” Vallas asked. “It is frightening to contemplate. The damage that has been done by the arrogance of the Chicago Teachers union (for shutting down schools), and the total lack of consideration for the health and welfare of Chicago’s working families—overwhelming black and Latinos—is just unconscionable. And we’ll be paying the price for decades.”

Fitzmaurice talked of children seeing their parents covered in blood, but with no reaction on their faces; and children forbidden to play in the parks lest they are shot.

On the West Side, he said, “Six-year-olds hit the ground for cover like combat veterans, and when I hear what I think are gunshots, the kids don’t even move. Because they’re fireworks. They know the difference between gunshots and fireworks. You can’t tell suburban people from Naperville or Highland Park. They don’t know that kind of despair.”

Careful readers and listeners will see that threads of ideas often begin one place, like the podcast, and end up perhaps woven into words in a column. That’s how it works. But for a podcast, you record the discussion. And that brings me to two things most of us hate.

One is taking our shoes off in airports, because of security. And even worse than seeing your own feet is seeing the feet of others. You can’t unsee that. Ever.

And the second thing most of us hate is hearing our own voices. Co-hosting the podcast forced me to abandon a desperate, foolish fantasy:

That I have the voice of a nightingale, and sound like the late, urbane, and well-spoken Alistair Cooke on Masterpiece Theater.

But I don’t. And I don’t have an English accent. I sound exactly like who I am, an old school guy born at 52nd and Peoria Street who’s read a bit and still speaks Chicago. I refuse to change. I’m not going to scrub it off to do a radio show. No thanks. There are too many already out there with fake sounding showbiz names and smooth diphthongs who sound like they came from California and don’t have a clue about how things work around here. They worry about deep dish pizza.

Most of you probably hate the sound of your own voice, too.

“I sound like that?” said my wife when she heard her voice on a recording. “No way.”

Yes way.

Why do we not like the sound of our own voices? Because we’re not politicians.

For example, the president loves to tell us his stories, from his epic rumble with the villainous “Corn Pop” who may never have existed except as an outtake from “West Side Story,” to now insisting that drove big rig 18-wheeler trucks like a working man.


Lately though, he’s become famous for talking about his clean behind to reporters. And nobody even asked him about his behind.

“My butt’s been wiped!!!” President Joe Biden blurted out to reporters the other day. He said it. Just Google it.


It sounds like Biden said it. Some “independent fact checkers” (i.e., Democrats), can’t say that he didn’t say it. And you know they would if they could. The best they could do was suggest that President Biden’s declaration that “My butt’s been wiped!” is in the ears of the beholder.

Oh, please dear God no.

But enough of the president’s behind.

It’s taboo on the Chicago Way podcast. But you might see it mentioned in a column.

(Copyright 2021 John Kass)


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