Biography

Born and raised and still living in Chicago, Rick Kogan has worked for the Chicago Daily News, Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Tribune, where he is currently a senior writer and columnist. Named Chicago's Best Reporter in 1999 and inducted into the Chicago Journalism Hall of Fame in 2003, he is the creator and host of WGN radio's "Sunday Papers with Rick Kogan" and the author of a dozen books, including "Everybody Pays: Two Men, One Murder and the Price of Truth" (with Maurice Possley), "America's Mom: The Life, Lesson and Legacy of Ann Landers," "A Chicago Tavern," the history of the Billy Goat, and "Sidewalks I" and "Sidewalks II," collections of his columns embellished by the work of photographer Charles Osgood.

Read full bio

Rick Kogan

Rick Kogan

Sidewalks

E-mail | Facebook
World of SEALs revealed in photo exhibit

World of SEALs revealed in photo exhibit

April 18, 2014

Many years ago, when she was relatively new to the world of photography — to the world, actually, since she was only 7 years old — Stephanie Freid-Perenchio went on a family vacation to Yosemite National Park and, oh, let's let her tell the story: "We would go there every June, and that year I brought my Brownie camera and just started shooting. I wound up with 10, or maybe it was 12, rolls of film, and after getting them developed, my father was so mad at me."

  • Too many questions left as 'Chicagoland' winds down

    April 16, 2014

    A headline in Monday's paper: "32 hurt, 4 killed in 36 hours."

  • Dennis Farina in 'Authors Anonymous,' one of his final films

    April 11, 2014

    The 86th Academy Awards were presented on March 2, and if you were among the estimated 43.7 million people watching the event on television you heard Jared Leto give an emotional speech accepting his best supporting actor Oscar and listened to John Travolta mangle the name of singer Idina Menzel.

  • In CNN's 'Chicagoland,' violence continues to dominate

    April 9, 2014

    It may be comforting to someone somewhere — though I'm hard-pressed to figure out who or where — to know that Riccardo Muti, the esteemed music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra since 2010, believes that Chicago is "the most elegant city in America."

  • Step inside Edward Gorey's weird, beautiful world

    April 4, 2014

    Poor Basil. He was assaulted by bears. And Kate? She was struck by an ax.

  • Long 'Chicagoland' series focuses on mayor to a fault

    April 2, 2014

    You will be stunned to learn, as Mayor Rahm Emanuel says in this week's fifth episode (of eight) of CNN's series "Chicagoland," that "The Second City is now known as the Startup City." That pronouncement — news to me — comes as he is talking to a bunch of techies here trying to sell their ideas for big money to investors.

  • Intoxicating mix of booze, written word long-lived

    March 28, 2014

    The relationship between taverns and writers (and other artists) has long been established and celebrated. It has also been derided, mostly by people who don't go to taverns.

  • CNN's 'Chicagoland' loses balance as it tip-toes through summer

    March 26, 2014

    Huh?

  • Folk singers Chris Vallillo and Bucky Halker team up

    March 21, 2014

    Windblown and happy-go-lucky as any two guys you're likely to meet, Chris Vallillo and Bucky Halker are folk singers.

  • CNN's 'Chicagoland' has real trauma, passion, in a real ER

    March 19, 2014

    Hot time, summer in the city, and the third episode of "Chicagoland" is filled with fireworks of all sorts.

  • Irish, Japanese musicians 'forge a new path'

    March 14, 2014

    It is very difficult to say "Happy St. Patrick's Day" in Japanese.

  • CNN's 'Chicagoland' balances Blackhawks joy with violence fears

    March 12, 2014

    "It's playoff time again in this sports-loving city," says narrator/co-writer Mark Konkol at the beginning of episode two of the eight-part CNN series "Chicagoland."

  • A new picture emerging for Newcity

    March 7, 2014

    "What's your favorite movie, Brian Hieggelke?"

  • CNN's 'Chicagoland' captures flashes of anger in first episode

    March 5, 2014

    And so it begins, with the voice of our mayor — "You want to see America you come to the heartland, and what is the capital of the heartland?" — and images of our city, the first of eight — that's right, eight — episodes of a very ambitious, alternately exciting and depressing CNN television series titled "Chicagoland."

  • Author retracing Nelson Algren's old haunts

    February 28, 2014

    If you believe in ghosts — and you would not be alone: a Harris poll late in 2013 reported some 42 percent of Americans do believe in ghosts — it would have been a good idea a couple of weeks ago for the ghost of Nelson Algren to have dropped into Stefani's 437, a restaurant/bar on the corner of Rush and Hubbard streets, in the shadow of buildings old (Wrigley) and new (Trump Tower).

  • Union League drafts exceptional artist in Theaster Gates

    February 14, 2014

    The formal arrival of Theaster Gates took place on the final day of January in the large and art-filled main dining room on the second floor of the Union League Club, where he was honored as a Distinguished Artist.

  • Eliot Ness: Man wasn't as untouchable as the Hollywood legend

    January 31, 2014

    When I think of General George Armstrong Custer, which admittedly I rarely do, I think Errol Flynn.

  • Film fest weds new tech, kids classics

    January 24, 2014

    It is not hard to know what American publisher, bookseller and editor Frederic Melcher had in mind when he proposed the creation of an annual award for the year's best children's book: "To encourage original creative work in the field of books for children. To emphasize to the public that contributions to the literature for children deserve similar recognition to poetry, plays, or novels. To give those librarians, who make it their life work to serve children's reading interests, an opportunity to encourage good writing in this field."

  • From billions to zero: Story of pigeon extinction

    January 17, 2014

    Three pigeons were sharing what was left of a piece of pizza that was lying on the sidewalk on East 53rd Street near Woodlawn Avenue on Tuesday morning, between the hours we human beings usually eat breakfast and lunch.

  • Once there were giants

    January 10, 2014

    Last Sunday, as you might remember since your brain is no longer frozen, was the nastiest of winter days. Still, a handful of people braved the snow and wind and cold and slick roads to make their way to the Museum of Science and Industry.

  • Lujack said his piece, then left at top of his game

    December 19, 2013

    Death usually brings tears. But Thursday was a day of shared smiles and laughter between friends of a certain age, and of pleasant memories exploding across the Internet and peppering local airwaves as a generation of Chicagoans reacted to the news that Larry Lujack had died Wednesday in New Mexico.

  • The holidays hold the power to unite us all

    December 13, 2013

    A few days ago, Bob Bowker was talking about the appeal of holiday music, saying, "It gives a sense of tradition. It also evokes memories and almost all of them are good ones. Most people are familiar with so many of these songs, know the lyrics, and like to sing them with other people. By doing that we are connecting to our own humanity."

  • Chicago artist working to make his art a part of the conversation

    November 22, 2013

    You enter the old building at 629 W. Cermak Road by means of a glass door on South Ford Avenue to the west, one of the shortest byways in the city. Just to the east the Chicago River flows, and, looking south, cars rumble on the Dan Ryan Expressway, elevated above the streets.

  • When Billy Corgan's wrestlers came to Fenger

    November 15, 2013

    Famous as he is in other city neighborhoods, suburbs and countries across the globe, Billy Corgan was just another tall, bald, white guy wearing a Bears jersey (No. 1), standing against the gymnasium wall at Christian Fenger Academy High School on the Far South Side and smiling as boys and girls hooted and hollered at a parade of professional wrestlers.

  • Podcast raises the level of conversation, not cash flow

    November 8, 2013

    There have been many voices — millions of them — pouring into the air during the long and zany, smart and silly, enlightening and brain-numbing history of radio, and a few weeks ago one of the relatively newer ones told me, "Radio gives me a chance to exercise my curiosity."

  • The end of a jolly good era in Lincoln Park

    October 25, 2013

    When the rain came, the old tavern was already well on its way to being dust and memories.

  • Bill Zehme, Johnny Carson's biographer, prepares next act

    October 18, 2013

    It's early evening and Twin Anchors, the venerable Old Town tavern and restaurant most famous for its ribs (and that Frank Sinatra ate them whenever he was in town), is not yet crowded, and Gina Manrique, who owns the place with her siblings Paul Tuzi and Mary Kay Cimarusti, is filling in an old friend about her children and school, and … in walks Bill Zehme.

  • Husband-and-wife team's artistry keeps Southport going

    September 27, 2013

    This is a number of great significance: 137.

  • Chicago folk singer Ed Holstein in good health, fine spirits

    September 20, 2013

    Ed Holstein is back in the family business, which is folk music, and that comes as welcome news to his friends and fans, who have been worried about him for a year.

  • Johnny Carson book by Bill Zehme to be miniseries

    September 19, 2013

    “Carson the Magnificent: An Intimate Portrait” is coming to bookstores and television sets near you. On Thursday NBC announced it is developing a miniseries biopic about Johnny Carson, the king of late night talk shows for nearly 30 years. It will be based on book the upcoming of the same name that Chicago author Bill Zehme has been working on for years.

  • Picture of a celebrity says a thousand words about the culture

    September 13, 2013

    Do you care where Mark Wahlberg, in town to film "Transformers 4," ate the other night? Or at what local restaurant members of the Cleveland Indians, here to play the White Sox over the weekend, wolfed down their steaks?

  • Life's a carnival for writer on road

    August 30, 2013

    All summer long they pop up, those neighborhood events known as carnivals. Though there are some pleasures to be had in that northern playground that is Great America and there's a bit of fun available at Navy Pier, nothing can match the rough-and-tumble treats of a carnival.

  • Violence blocks the routes that connect us to our history

    August 23, 2013

    There are many fine books that concern the joys of walking around the city, and I would enthusiastically recommend "Walking Chicago: 31 Tours of the Windy City's Classic Bars, Scandalous Sites, Historic Architecture, Dynamic Neighborhoods, and Famous Lakeshore" by Ryan Ver Berkmoes; "Chicago on Foot: Walking Tours of Chicago's Architecture" by Ira Bach, Susan Wolfson and James Cornelius; and "Norman Mark's Chicago: Walking, Bicycling, and Driving Tours of the City."

  • Petersen remains true to roots in Chicago theater

    August 17, 2013

    My colleague Chris Jones broke the news late in February, writing: "Famous for his work on 'CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,' (William) Petersen is generally a big box-office draw in Chicago, where he frequently has appeared onstage for 30 years."

  • Graceland, and restored chapel, a wonder to behold

    August 9, 2013

    Graceland Cemetery, which spreads majestically across 125 acres north and east from the corner of Clark Street and Irving Park Boulevard, is an easy place to spend an entire day, wandering among the more than 100,000 people spending eternity there.

  • Veteran actor attracted by material, not a big payday

    August 3, 2013

    There is a man on a train and in an office and on a farm in "The Man in the Silo," and moviegoers will recognize him immediately as Ernie Hudson, and recall his fine work in such movies as "Ghostbusters" and such television series as "Oz."

  • A night of (well) scripted (high) entertainment

    July 27, 2013

    It all began, Nate Herman says, with a party at Gary Houston's.

  • Finding common ground amid city blooms

    July 19, 2013

    Something is very wrong. How else to explain why dozens of otherwise sensible people, in this time of urban fears fueled by violence flashing across television sets and popping off the front pages of newspapers, are voluntarily opening their homes to strangers this weekend?

  • Bob Mamet feeling at home in Chicago

    June 28, 2013

     

  • Staging a theater fest in Michigan

    June 21, 2013

    Three Oaks is a town of 1,600-some people in southwestern Michigan, five miles inland from Lake Michigan and about 75 miles from downtown Chicago. It has a great tavern, Nelson's Saloon, where you can get terrific burgers; a legendary meat market, Drier's, where Carl Sandburg and Richard J. Daley once shopped; a fine old movie theater; and the ability to cast a spell on visitors.

  • Ragdale opens doors to artists, its art to public

    June 14, 2013

    Novelist Lise Haines is scheduled to arrive at O'Hare this afternoon. She will then spend the night with relatives, and Monday will make her way to north suburban Lake Forest and a place called Ragdale and begin a creative adventure.

  • In Fenger, art builds community

    June 7, 2013

    The urge to create is as old as the human race, as ancient as the day someone felt the urge to draw colorful lines across bodies and faces or, more permanently, paint on or carve into the walls of a cave. This sort of self-expression reaches a natural, if daunting, evolutionary step each art fair season, already in full swing.

  • Camp Douglas effort stirs ghosts of the Civil War

    May 31, 2013

    If you are among those who believe in ghosts, you've got it made. According to various surveys and studies, something in the neighborhood of 45 percent of adults in this country believe in ghosts. That number is almost certainly higher here, since we have such familiar spirits as Resurrection Mary, flagging down cars traveling Archer Avenue; the seven unfortunates gunned down in the St. Valentine's Day Massacre, prowling North Clark Street; and the innumerable young women murdered by H.H. Holmes, wandering the grounds of what was the World's Columbian Exposition.

  • In all seriousness, please go fly a kite

    May 25, 2013

    There was the day, four years ago, when the great jazz singer Kurt Elling and I, two people not light on self-confidence, decided that we would teach our 4-year-old daughters to fly kites.

  • John Wayne celebration a tribute to co-star Maureen O'Hara

    May 22, 2013

    You could be forgiven if you thought John Wayne was born in the back of a covered wagon headed west across the Plains or came into this world in a one-room thatched-roof house in a small Irish village.

  • Leslie Zemeckis sashays into the history of burlesque

    May 19, 2013

    During the shabby final days of the last of the burlesque houses that once dotted State Street near Congress Parkway, three of us — in possession of a few bucks and self-confidence fueled by fake IDs — entered the Follies Theater and saw a show that featured, among long-forgotten performers, a dancer named April Showers.

  • Children's Theatre and Redmoon present first autism-friendly show

    May 14, 2013

    Row, row, row your boat,

  • Chicago band Switchback keeping musical options open

    May 3, 2013

    Former Chicagoan Ron Pen holds a very lengthy and lofty title at the University of Kentucky in Lexington: Professor; Director, John Jacob Niles Center for American Music; Coordinator, Division of Musicology and Ethnomusicology.

  • 'Burger Land' and the Billy Goat

    April 26, 2013

    No one who met George Motz on the afternoon of April 19, 2003, as he bit into his first double cheeseburger in the subterranean Billy Goat Tavern on Hubbard Street — “It is incredible, everything I had heard it was. The taste is distinctive … a great burger,” he said — might have imagined that he would now be considered the nation's leading expert on cheeseburgers and the star/host of a new series on the Travel Channel titled, appropriately enough, “Burger Land.”

  • Chicago volunteer organizations spread literacy

    April 19, 2013

    More than five years ago, in a colorful classroom at Michael Faraday Elementary School in a harsh area on Chicago's West Side, three women and their three dogs were helping a group of second--graders learn to read. They were volunteers for an organization called Sit Stay Read! which for a decade has been bringing the joys of reading to little kids, using dogs as a tool.

  • Stephen Wade: A telling tale of making beautiful music

    April 5, 2013

    Stephen Wade's affection for the Chicago in which he grew up and that he left long ago is passionate and palpable in the introduction to his astonishing book, “The Beautiful Music All Around Us: Field Recordings and the American Experience.”

  • St. James Church gathers its faithful

    March 29, 2013

    An unforgiving icy wind blew across the three dozen — young and old, black and white, rich and poor — gathered on Palm Sunday in front of the ancient and shuttered St. James Catholic Church in Bronzeville.

  • John Landecker: One heck of a life

    March 22, 2013

    Being John Landecker might have been a great deal more fun decades ago than it is today, but if you had led the raucous and substance-abusing life that Landecker lived decades ago, you might not be around today. But here is Landecker, looking fit and trim and altogether alive, and saying, “You liked the book? It's all there, isn't it? Some life.”

  • Nicholas Tremulis book 'For the Baby Doll' celebrates life and love

    March 15, 2013

    It may not rank with literature's greatest opening lines — “Call me Ishmael”; “It was a pleasure to burn”; or “Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendia was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice”* — but the first sentences of Nicholas Tremulis' new 10-page memoir are undeniably arresting: “When I was 4 years old, I wanted to be music. Not play it. Be it.”

  • Love of Chicago history fuels Paul Durica

    March 8, 2013

    The first time I met Paul Durica, he was Ben Reitman.

  • Brown Sugar Bakery anchors Grand Crossing renaissance

    March 1, 2013

    Some neighborhoods have it all, and some neighborhoods have very little, but only one Chicago neighborhood, Greater Grand Crossing, has Stephanie Hart and her Brown Sugar Bakery.

  • 'Louder Than a Bomb' still crackles with young poets' ideas

    February 22, 2013

    Last week, in a valiant effort and one that deserves to be applauded, the mayor and NBA Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas took the point in an effort to raise money to expand the at-risk youth basketball program known as Windy City Hoops.

  • Holocaust Museum's message: Don't bully

    February 8, 2013

    The little girl is only 8, and so she does not yet read newspapers or watch or listen to the local news. But she knew of the death of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton — some of the older kids she knows had been talking about it. So last Sunday, some hours before the Super Bowl, she said, "Bullies should not ever have guns," and that was the reason that she and I drove to the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center in Skokie.

  • Forgotten Chicago keeps city's bygone parts alive

    February 1, 2013

    A building is not, of course, a living thing, and so, unless it's the one you work in, live in or visit with some regularity, you probably take most of the city's thousands of other buildings for granted.

  • Consummate outsider artist Fred Burkhart emerges from underground

    January 25, 2013

    As you begin to read this story about Fred Burkhart, Fred Burkhart may be dead.

  • For Mike Leonard, a new life begins, post-'Today' show

    January 11, 2013

    Like a lot of people in this battered economy, Mike Leonard is out of work. But the decision was his and his alone, and it says a great deal about the sort of person he is that he walked away from what most anyone would think is a dream job.

  • Thorne Rooms full of small wonders

    December 3, 2012

    Increasingly awash in holiday art and entertainment offerings, we struggle to find something special, something new.

  • Guitarist Kaki King's rightful place is among kings of the strings

    November 16, 2012

    Who is the greatest guitar player?

  • Forest Park's casket races highlight a vibrant downtown

    November 9, 2012

    Unless you were among the few hundred people lining the 400 block of Beloit Avenue in Forest Park on the chilly-crisp but sunny Saturday morning of Oct. 27, you missed one of the most colorful and creative gatherings of the season.

  • The Belushis: Funny is in their bones

    October 26, 2012

    Jim Belushi is sitting with his son Robert and mulling the matter of genetics.

  • A razor-sharp barber, keen on magic

    October 19, 2012

    Where exactly to start?

  • Teen poet thirsts for knowledge

    October 12, 2012

    Malcolm London is young, black and talented, and that is a guarantee of nothing these days. But he says, "I do not do what I do for money. I come from a place with no money and don't expect I will ever have a lot of it. But I think that being a teacher and poet can be a viable career."

  • Tension fills author's book, family

    October 5, 2012

    Scientists have yet to prove that there is a genetic predisposition to good writing, but as they continue the search they would do well to read "The Chocolate Money," the first novel by a former Chicagoan named Ashley Prentice Norton.

  • Danny Goldring's long Chicago acting career paying off with 'Boss'

    September 28, 2012

    Look at that face in the photo and try to tell me that is not a great neighborhood face. Aging handsomely and full of life, it is the face of actor Danny Goldring — even the name is neighborhood perfect, Danny — sitting in the barbershop that he has visited with regularity for the last 20 years.

  • Hit show 'Wild Chicago' may be heading to DVD

    September 21, 2012

    In January 1989, entertainer Ben Hollis and WTTW-Ch. 11 producer Jon Davies created a television show that they called "Wild Chicago." The reason they did this, said Hollis at the time, "was because there was nothing like it on TV."

  • Comedian Cynthia Levin takes one rather giant career step -- all the way to London

    September 14, 2012

    In a couple of weeks, Cynthia Levin will be leaving Chicago and moving to London.

  • Singer left her heart in classroom

    August 24, 2012

    It is possible, had things worked out a bit differently, that Katie Quick might be back in a Chicago Public Schools classroom doing what she loves to do, which is teach.

  • Redmoon harvest: A Harvard fellowship is letting a local theater artist take five

    August 10, 2012

    As you read this, Jim Lasko and his family, which includes his wife, two children and a dog named Beckett, are in a car heading east.

  • Family secrets live on in film

    August 5, 2012

    It is an arduous task to make a movie — how many of you are tired of waiting for "The Devil in the White City" to hit the big screen almost 10 years after the book's publication? — so it is not hard to understand why it took Wisconsin-based visual artist Genevieve Davis eight years to get "Secret Life, Secret Death" to the screen.

  • Englewood lends voice to history project

    May 25, 2012

    It has been four months since Matt Damon came to school, and though the buzz is gone the bell still rings. Thirty sophomores file into Room 324 at TEAM Englewood Community Academy in the heart of one of the city's most beleaguered neighborhoods. Many of these children know people who have been robbed or wounded by gunfire. A few have had a family member who was murdered.

  • Sexy in the city

    April 17, 2011

    Chicago has long had a thing for strippers and I do not mean the anything-but-subtle lap dancers who populate so-called gentlemen's' clubs.

  • Mom 'n' pop(corn)

    April 10, 2011

    I do not have to tell you about Garrett Popcorn Shops, do I?

  • Queens in green

    March 27, 2011

    A few days after the big parade, the reigning St. Patrick's Day parade queen, a pretty (it goes without saying) young woman named Sarah Gorecki (I will get to that name shortly), said, "Yes, there are no more parades, but this is a lot more than about parades. You are representing your Irish heritage. I visited a hospital yesterday and spent time with all these wonderful children."

  • Filling 'Big Bill's' britches

    March 21, 2011

    He was called "Big Bill" because he was.

  • 'Art Institute' — in stitches

    March 8, 2011

    The "Mona Lisa" is lying on the living room floor of a house in LaPorte, Ind.

  • Making sake sexy

    February 27, 2011

    If the three young men in Osgood's photo have anything to say about it, sake will be a hit.

CHICAGO

More