Friday, May 27, 2016


Share Your Memories of John Callaway

post comment

Share Your Memories or Thoughts


Author Message


Posted on Sunday, November 22, 2009 - 10:49 am:

As a former Benton Fellow, my thoughts are of course with John's wife and family.
An incredible man, many fantastic memories.
We were once asked as a class to say who we wanted to interview, dead or alive. Many, of course, said Jesus.
I said: "The Duke of Windsor and Wallis Simpson." How John mocked me. "Of all the people in all the world ... you choose a love story!" Oh, how all the Fellows laughed.
Next day, John said he'd slept on it and thought it was the best choice. He also said that to my fellow Fellows. Such is the measure of the man.
God Bless, John. And thanks for helping me fall in love with Chicago. Apart from Glasgow, it's the greatest city on earth!

Craig Huber

Posted on Sunday, August 16, 2009 - 11:16 am:

My family wishes to extend our sympathies to the Callaway family. Mr. Callaway was always a gentleman and fair, something that is missing from today's media.
Mr. Callaway was Chicago, just as much as Chicago pizza, the Cubs, or Marshall Fields. He made Chicago a better place. Thank you for sharing him with us.

Marti Page Belluschi

Posted on Friday, July 10, 2009 - 11:35 am:

In 1987, I had the distinct privilege of participating in John Callaway's show, Chicago Tonight, as he presented information about a .08 BAC law for impaired drivers. He was way ahead of other journalists in wanting to inform viewers of the facts about various blood alcohol levels. Just being on his show added tremendous credibility to our efforts to pass this life-saving legislation and certainly elevated my reputation as an advocate. The .08 illegal limit finally became law in Illinois in 1997, a full ten years after Mr. Callaway's interviews helped present the issue to the public and create awareness of the dangers of impaired driving.

So, in addition to educating, enlightening and entertaining his viewers, Mr. Callaway surely helped to save lives with this and many other shows.

I join many other advocates in expressing our sadness at his sudden passing and our appreciation for his extraordinary contributions to our lives.

Marti Page Belluschi
DUI Crash Victim
Former Director of MADD-Illinois

sandra Gallego

Posted on Wednesday, July 08, 2009 - 12:22 pm:

I will miss you my dear friend, and I will keep all the memories of you alive. You were a smart nice friend to me.
Hoping you are in a better place.
and whereever you are don't for get of your aonly colombian friend.

Nan O'Connor
Unregistered guest

Posted on Sunday, July 05, 2009 - 02:11 pm:

I was watching WTTW early in the morning yesterday, and happened upon a rebroadcast of John Calloway interviewing Oprah Winfrey from 1984. As I watched their vibrant repartee, I realized just how much I will miss seeing him on television on Friday nights. He had such insight into human behavior and the human condition. I liked the way he would challenge the person he interviewed, with respect, wit, and a depth of intelligence. One of my favorite interviews was with the actor John Mahoney. There was something extraordinary about that exchange, especially when Mr. Mahoney talked about the impact of his growing up years. I always
felt that the person John Calloway interviewed came away with a better understanding of who they were----something that we, the viewers, also felt.

I send my condolonces to his family, friends, and colleagues. He will be greatly missed.

Ed Morrison
Unregistered guest

Posted on Monday, June 29, 2009 - 08:08 pm:

I would just like to express my condolences to the family of John Callaway and the WTTW staff. I met John back in 1988 when you were adding the addition on your building. I installed the temperature control system and was in the building studios. I got to know many of the cameramen and maintenance guys Finn if I remember correctly was the chief. I first met John in the hallway one day and found him to be a friendly inquisitive person that you felt was just a regular guy. I will always remember my conversations with him and subsequent meetings that always found him in a pleasant and friendly mood. He will be missed.

George M Hiles

Posted on Monday, June 29, 2009 - 03:30 pm:

In the mid 90's John Callaway was the featured speaker at the annual meeting of the Illinois Safety Council. John joined us for the reception prior to the meeting, making a point of greeting everyone in his direct and sincere manner.

Typical of John's preparation for a talk, he wanted to know about workplace safety issues, how they have been improved over the years, new issues and OSHA's effect in the prevention of accidents.

Over 400 attended the meeting, including the Officers and Board of Directors, and we greatly appreciated his interest and enthusiam in our goal of preventing workplace accidents. He related stories he covered over the years and the importance of investigation which it vital in a workplace accident investigation.

As we mourn the loss of John this week, I am sure many will remember their personal contact with him that evening,
George M Hiles
Past President of the Illinois Safety Council

Joy Clough, RSM
Unregistered guest

Posted on Monday, June 29, 2009 - 12:34 pm:

I was shocked to return to Chicago this weekend and learn of John's death. I met him twice, when he came to Saint Xavier University (Chicago) as a lecturer. I watched him interact so personably with students, staff, and faculty. His genuine interest in people and his curiosity were gifts that drew out others, that made them feel special and helped them see their own possibilities. No doubt, these same qualities were part of what made him such a great interviewer. My sympathy goes out to his wife, daughters, and many colleagues. He was indeed a Renaissance man. I am sad that he is gone and know that his verve and humor, insight and passion for quality will be missed by many. May he be rejoicing in God...and embarking on an endless round of heavenly interviews that may go on forever!

William E "Mr. Bill" Lilliquist

Posted on Sunday, June 28, 2009 - 11:46 pm:

For a half-dozen or so years, my love and significant other for 31 years, Mary Crisanti ("MaryC")was John Callaway's Researchist for the Chicago Tonight show. It was through Mary that I met John, the show's many other capable support staff, and through Christmas Shows, Summer Picnics, etc., the greater WTTW family and friends. Mary died of pancreatic cancer last year, but I find solace for her, John, John's family and friends, and me in imagining their lively reunion beyond the pearly gates these coming days and years. Ed McMahon will now have three "JCs" to introduce each evening.

I attended some show productions and taped musical concerts at WTTW's Studios, John's one-man show, "John Callaway Tonight" at the Pegasus Theatre, and a number of Ann Hampton Callaway's musical club engagements whenever she would come to town, and I met also John's wife, Sandy. Being the same age, John and I shared such sports dinosaur moves as the 2-step dropkick, the two-hand set shot, the one-hand push shot, and a love for jazz and music from our developing and impressionable years in the 1950s.

As has already been evidenced here so eloquently and heartfelt by others, John was not only the best and a Chicago favorite, but simultaneously a national treasure and a good personal friend, as well. The Chicago Tonight Memorial Show this week was wonderful and right on target, as was today's beautiful Memorial Service celebrated with family and friends. To cherish, embrace and honor the many memories and stories of John is to how we continue to love and praise him for all his good works and deeds of many kinds.

I still have my embroidered SuperBowl XX patch he brought me from New Orleans, and I cherish the mock sports card that Mary had made up with his picture, stats, and achievements. Here's loving you, John. May you enjoy your coming days with my Mary and with all others you've known who predeceased you. I hear Heaven's got a hellova band and a pretty good crop of song stylists, so you'll fit right in. But down here, you will be sadly missed, but in a happy, smiling kinda way full of good memories and warm feelings. "Mr. Bill"

Diego R. Rodriguez

Posted on Sunday, June 28, 2009 - 08:56 pm:

I do not have the words to express my deepest sadness of one of America's journalist giants. I rememember, for many and many years, that when John was on air, I was glued to the his conversations. He had an incredible style of engaging with the public. He was part of my American cultural upbringing. My condolences to his wife, daughters, and extended family. Johh, I will always hold your memories very close.

Lisa Englander
Unregistered guest

Posted on Sunday, June 28, 2009 - 08:11 pm:

We, at the Racine Art Museum, were proud to claim John as one of our own. When he attended our exhibitions, spoke our parties, shopped in our store it was as though a fresh sweet breeze blew into the room. His wit, vitality and verve will be missed by all his friends in Racine.
Your friends in the art world miss you.

John Davies

Posted on Sunday, June 28, 2009 - 08:02 pm:

I was a crew guy on the road with Callaway back in the late 70's/early 80's for a series of interviews with iconic Americans. We were staying in a dreadful hotel in NYC run by the Executive Producer's Uncle which meant it was cost effective. Callaway couldn't believe how bad the room looked where we planned to interview former NYC Mayor John Lindsay. He suggested we hang a red bedspread on the wall in a futile attempt to improve the background. Just then Lindsay poked his head in the door, looked around disapprovingly, fixed on Callaway and cracked, "where's the body?" Callaway lost it and so did we. I had a chance to remind him of that incident a few months ago and he fondly remembered our many adventures on that trip including great interviews with Ed Koch, Felix Rohatyn, a frail Howard Cosell and a sexy Leontyne Price who instantly christened him "Mr. C". I remember every detail of those interviews because John was just that amazing and while the aforementioned didn't know him well at the beginning of their interview, you could see on their faces they would NEVER forget him...nor will I.

Richard Wells

Posted on Sunday, June 28, 2009 - 06:50 pm:

Only today, have I learned of the passing of John. Chicago, indeed the country as well, has lost an icon in journalism that transcends your typical hard-hitting, fact finding reporter. Always fair and impartial, John managed to maintain a neutral posture even in this current climate when a lack of partiality and thus journalistic integrity seems to be in vogue. I will truely miss him John Callaway.

Brian Killeen

Posted on Sunday, June 28, 2009 - 10:32 am:

My brother, Marty Killeen, worked for John in Chicago beginning in the 1960's. Marty passed away in 2002 and John was kind enough to fly to D.C. to speak at his memorial service. My brother also had the distiction of winning a Peabody Award as well as Emmys and it was from John that he learned his craft. I know Marty considered him not only a great mentor but a wonderful friend.

Robert L. Smoot

Posted on Sunday, June 28, 2009 - 01:44 am:

The news of the death of John Callaway was a shock to me, because a great legend of Chicago broadcast journalism was gone. The first time I met Mr. Callaway was Feb 25, 2004 at the Pritzker Military Library presents Front & Center "The Future of U.S. Intelligence in the War on Terror". From that presentation to the many others that I was able to attend research and information gathering were formost because I wanted to be prepared due to the respect I had for John Callaway. There were several times when my questions needed just a little more sustance and Mr. Callaway would give his personal thoughts, perspective and knowledge to the rescue.
I will always hold in deep regard when he thanked me for the questions I asked. My condolences to the Callaway Family he will be missed but his excellence in broadcasting will always remain especially in Chicago.

G. Evenson

Posted on Saturday, June 27, 2009 - 02:23 pm:

Many thanks to John Callaway for having the guts to promote quality journalism in a time when many are caving in to demands of trends, trash and ad revenues. I have enjoyed "Chicago Tonight" since its beginning, and look to it as one of the more intelligent, stimulating and balanced news options for what goes on in my city. Mr. Callaway will be greatly missed.

Mitch Pravatiner

Posted on Saturday, June 27, 2009 - 10:41 am:

The rapid succession of celebrity deaths that occurred this week got me thinking: Which show would most Chicagoans have preferred to see Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson appear as guests on? Johnny Carson's Tonight Show, featuring Ed McMahon, or John Callaway's Friday Night Program? I don't know about the majority, but my vote definitely goes to Callaway. Show business figures--and perhaps especially they--are as deserving of an incisive questioner as anyone.

Sophia Bondarew
Unregistered guest

Posted on Saturday, June 27, 2009 - 10:12 am:

I've watched Chicago Tonight and John Callaway faithfully since 1985.

But for the past few years I've enjoyed my Friday night dates with John Callaway and his guest, who ever it was. John had the gift of getting to the heart of his guest and drawing on what touched them the most.

Yep, John Callaway was my Friday night date. My dates with him were interesting, exciting and serious too. I grew to love him and respect him for his honesty and getting to the truth. I will surely miss him.

Markham Baker

Posted on Saturday, June 27, 2009 - 01:36 am:

I am surprised there has been no mention here of John's lovely 1994 book, THE THING OF IT IS, which captures his personal and family history as well as covering a range of fascinating subjects.

Rhoda Joy Meyerson
Unregistered guest

Posted on Friday, June 26, 2009 - 11:24 pm:

The Channel 11 crew gave tributes to John Callaway that were on the "mark." As a long-time viewer of John Callaway,I found the interview he had with Elaine Strich(about a year ago)especially entertaining. John Callaway was an insightful newsman and his stage presence, his diction,his melodic tone helped make him extra special. Definitely a hard act to follow!

John B
Unregistered guest

Posted on Friday, June 26, 2009 - 09:50 pm:

Boatdrinks my friend

Unregistered guest

Posted on Friday, June 26, 2009 - 08:33 pm:

My sorrow at the death of a journalist with the integrity of Mr Calloway is great. I only hope his wonderful legacy will be a lesson to the young people we have to watch that assume the tile of journalist. I;m not sure we will se the likes of him again in the Art of Journalism. My condolences to all that had the pleasure of his company. I will miss his kind face on TV always.

Denise Kozel

Posted on Friday, June 26, 2009 - 04:37 pm:

The picture etched in my mind is John performing a duet with Ann at the Unity Temple in Oak Park a few years ago. I was lucky to get the last 3 tickets to see Ann perform and to our delight,(we noticed him in the audience) Ann asked him up to sing with her. It was a precious performance-their love and their voices bathed us like sunshine. He was truly gifted in so many ways and I can't imagine WTTW without him. We've lost another icon.

Unregistered guest

Posted on Friday, June 26, 2009 - 02:38 pm:

I watched John Callaway a number of times interview authors at the Pritzker Military Library as well as noteworthy celebs on WTTW. He brought so much energy to the table that he was often more interesting to listen to than his guests. He will always be one of the BEST!!!

Mary Lanigan

Alex Mitchell
Unregistered guest

Posted on Friday, June 26, 2009 - 12:35 pm:

I admire the way you are all carrying on after John Callaway's demise. I know that he was truly devoted to Chicago Tonight and its original concept. I have always enjoyed his interviews with a variety of guests. I think he deserves as much remembrance as Kup for providing Chicagoans with insights into people in the news at any particular time. His interview style was truly insightful and always respectful. I admired that and also, I considered him a consummate journalist; he always did his homework. I will truly miss him in your broadcasts.

Tim Navabi

Posted on Friday, June 26, 2009 - 12:19 pm:

I always enjoyed John Callaway's interviews. I thought he was an excellent journalist and a good person. Thank you WTTW. I'll miss him.

Therese B. Sabo
Unregistered guest

Posted on Friday, June 26, 2009 - 12:05 pm:

Our condolences to Mr. Calloway's family and to everyone at WTTW. His high standards for interviewing were unmatched. His interviews kept me on the edge of my seat just waiting to hear how his subject would respond and impatient to hear the next question that would reveal some new insight or shed light on some characteristic or quality that helped the audience understand the subject better. Always respectful, protective of the person's dignity and privacy, and at the same time not hesitating to call the person to account whose position/office affected the viewing audience be it the arts, religion, politics. He was an extraordinary "Everyman" who broadened all of our horizons in rich and memorable ways through his professionalism, integrity and real passion for his work. John Calloway truly was a window to the world.

Therese Sabo

Donna Leff
Unregistered guest

Posted on Friday, June 26, 2009 - 11:15 am:

Some of the most stimulating experiences to be had were sitting around after the show finishing the conversation...he was never finished and I can't imagine him finished now. He actually gave me my start in television...that is in speaking about media issues contemporaneously on camera. After being on his show a few times, I was never nervous, even years later when I did some interviews on MSNBC live. He always made guests feel both smart and welcome, and although he did put you on the spot (that is, ask hard questions), he didn't make you feel stupid if you didn't see the world his way…When I think of Channel 11, I think of John and Joel and I can't imagine the station without both.


Posted on Friday, June 26, 2009 - 10:43 am:

Every Friday evening, I hear that unmistakable jazz intro and I know it's Johnny. John Calloway was the other John at nightime who made interviewing an art form. It's no wonder he was in the acting gig for a little bit, his bellowing voice rang like a tuned trumpet. Classic elegant man, staunch researcher and journalist, I wish I knew the name of that jazz tune that opens and closed his show. I'd like to put it on my i-pod so I can play it every Friday to remember him.

Mei Wu
Unregistered guest

Posted on Friday, June 26, 2009 - 09:01 am:

When I heard John Callaway's pass, I felt like I lost a dear friend, although I had only known him from WTTW programs. It was always a heart-warming experience to watch his Friday night Interview. He showed such great interest and compassion to every of his guests, and his knowledge about the guest was just amazing. He was not just a great journalist, but a great inspiring human being.
Mr. Calloway, thank you for your great work and may you rest in peace.

Noreen Schmitt

Posted on Friday, June 26, 2009 - 07:00 am:

A couple of days ago when you announced the passing of John Calloway, and all of you gathered to speak of him, was perfectly wonderful. Everything you spoke about, and showing him singing with his daughter, and what a beloved Father he was was,was so touching. He certainly was smiling down from heaven with great approval and thanks.

Robert W. O'Brien

Posted on Thursday, June 25, 2009 - 08:16 pm:

About 1974, John Callaway visited my office at the Illinois Central Gulf Railroad's old Central Station in Chicago while we were gradually vacating our headquarters and, ultimately, would demolish the building. Passengers no longer used Central Station, Amtrak having consolidated all its passenger train operations at Union Station.

One of the passenger-related items still in use in the abandoned public portion of the depot was the large green "neon" EXIT sign above the main doors leading to the driveway and cab stand. This sign had been in place for at least 70 years.

After John and I had concluded our business, he turned to me and asked if he could have the big old EXIT sign. He said he wanted a unique memento of the literally millions of people who had walked through the station's portals and beneath the sign. I was only too glad to accommodate John's request. With our management's approval the sign was taken down and shipped to John.

He was thrilled to have the historic sign from Central Station. To my knowledge -- some 35 years later, John still had that on e-of-a-kind sign on display in his home. What fun.

Robert W. O'Brien
former Director of Corporate Relations
Illinois Central Gulf Railroad

Mary Gulley
Unregistered guest

Posted on Thursday, June 25, 2009 - 07:37 pm:

We have lost a real gentleman of the highest caliber. A sincere man, true to himself and having given us the best he had to give... His programs were interesting, insightful, and easy to watch and learn..
Thanks John Calloway, may others study you and learn from you... God Bless your family and see them thru this loss.

Thomas Druffel

Posted on Thursday, June 25, 2009 - 06:12 pm:

My wife, Susan, and I always enjoyed watching John. He was an excellent host of the original Chicago Tonight--always probing for the truth. To pick a favorite broadcast or Friday Night interview would be extremely difficult, but I have to admit that when John interviewed his oldest daughter, it was a true delight to watch the interaction. WTTW's Chicago Tonight tribute to John Callaway was truly hard to watch given the circumstances, and all involved with its production should be congratulated on putting on such a wonderful tribute to a man whom many would consider a dear friend even if the acquaintance was only over the air waves. Our sincerest sympathy to the family and to WTTW.

Miguel Delgado

Posted on Thursday, June 25, 2009 - 05:49 pm:

I had the pleasure of seeing John Callaway on May 21,2009 during the Spring Lecture Series,held at Harold Washington College.His topic was Paradox Lost or Paradox Found:John Callaway's Reflections on Aging & Agism.I was amazed of his funny stories, as well as his personal insights on life in general.He was a true intellectual at heart.I always admired his interviewing style that could have been comparable to Charlie Rose,Bill Moyers,Tim Russert and Phil Donahue.I am glad I got a chance to see him in person.He was a wonderful human being.

Carol Henrichs

Posted on Thursday, June 25, 2009 - 03:39 pm:

I had the privilage to meet John Callaway as a guest on "Chicago Tonight" March 11, 1999 to talk about Chicago's 3rd Airport near Peotone. I was impressed with John's knowledge on the subject, the questions he posed, and the understanding he held for the victims who still live with the uncertainty of this 20-year old project.

John's calm demeanor was capped by his keen sense of the politics involved, which was a hallmark of his stature as a journalist. Chicago has lost one of its brightest and best.

Karen Morgan

Posted on Thursday, June 25, 2009 - 02:29 pm:

Like so many Chicagoans, I've watched John almost as long as I've been an adult. He ended each program with a glint in his eye that said silently "I have the greatest job in the world, don't I?" To maintain this level of enthusiasm over so many years is inspiring to those of us that still have many years left to work.

Ed & Carla Bickel

Posted on Thursday, June 25, 2009 - 02:14 pm:

I had the pleasure of meeting John a few times in the 1980's when I worked downtown. I was in a little cafe in the building I worked in and I had a couple of seats open at mt table. He asked if he could sit with me since I was enjoying a working break. He was very kind we laughed at all the work a project manager was doing on his break. I told him I enjoyed his work and always will. Blessings to His family and the WTTW family.. Ed & Carla Bickel

Laurene Lambertino-Urquizo

Posted on Thursday, June 25, 2009 - 01:21 pm:

I was working at the University of Chicago in 1991, and one day as I went for lunch in the little cafe in the basement of the Business School, there was John Calloway sitting alone at one of the tables, eating lunch and reading a book. At his feet lay a ten dollar bill. I picked it up and told him I thought he might have dropped it. He took it and thanked me and I remember thinking, "Wow! This is John Calloway." I was a little star struck as I had often watched him on TV and thought he was a very intelligent and articulate newsperson (in comparison to many others). That's my memory of him--nothing spectacular--but it meant something to me. He was one of the good guys and one of our own, here in Chicago.

Unregistered guest

Posted on Thursday, June 25, 2009 - 01:08 pm:

In 1990, I became a Harris Intern at WTTW and worked as a production assistant on Chicago Tonight; what a time it was. John was a wonderful mentor. I was always amazed to see in our morning meetings that he'd had folders of research as thick as an unabridged dictionary just for THAT night's program. He'd read all of it. To this young producer he also shared a great story about going to meet a VIP on the tarmack at O'Hare and being so excited to interview the man, he prepared every question he wanted to ask...but then forgot the VIP's responses. Listening, he told me, was the MOST important part of any interview. I've NEVER forgotten that. A complex man -- funny, intense, private, ever-knowledgable -- but ALWAYS sincere and gracious. (I have this fantasy that MaryC has a year's worth of research awaiting him up there somewhere, just like old times.)

Yevette Lewis Brown
Unregistered guest

Posted on Thursday, June 25, 2009 - 12:16 pm:

I have SO many favorite memories of John. He was my first real broadcasting mentor. I was an assistant producer on the "Chicago Feedback" and "Chicago Tonight" programs when they were first launched. John was generous, kind and patient, especially with a beginner's questions and mistakes. We worked on the "Mayor Harold Washington," program together. It was an exciting time and John was so proud of landing this big interview with Chicago's first African American mayor. I was so surprised when he turned to me in the pre-production meeting and asked this "newbies" opinion. He was always respectful of the thoughts of others. I'm proud to have learned so much from him. He was an amazing interviewer, who set the bar high for all who followed. I know everyone will miss his laugh, funny stories and lovely singing. Like his talented daughters, he had an amazing voice. Now, he has landed the greatest interview of them all. May God welcome him and comfort his family during this difficult time.

Nicole K. Reid

Posted on Thursday, June 25, 2009 - 12:00 pm:

John was a gracious man. My husband, Bill Reid and I were blessed to call him our friend and to have him officiate our wedding. We knew it would be great, but he still managed to exceed our expectations, filling it with so much meaning, personal insight and a touch of humor. We extend our love and support to his wife, Sandy.

Marcia Danits
Unregistered guest

Posted on Thursday, June 25, 2009 - 10:31 am:

John and I worked together at WBBM. I was a courtroom artist at the station.
My favorite recollection of John was when we were both sent to do a story on the Amtrak train to New York. It was around the late 1980's during an oil crisis. John interviewed the passengers and personel and I drew their pictures. It was one of my most interesting and strange assignments! We both never forgot that experience. In fact when I last saw him two months ago, we laughed about it again. My deepest condolences to his family. My thanks to those who presented that wonderful program.

Edith Anderson

Posted on Thursday, June 25, 2009 - 10:05 am:

I never met John Callaway but knew his work. And when 20 years ago I worked for a law firm in the same building as WTTW's I'd come down one morning to the lobby to get a can of Coke. At the same time I'd become really absorbed in a book called The Guardian Within and read it with great concentration going down the elevator. I was wearing a good suit and when I got back on the elevator I put the open can of Coke in a suit pocket to better hold my book and read and John Callaway stepped into the elevator looked at the Coke and me reading and chuckled. I felt we were on the same page.

Terrence Delaney
Unregistered guest

Posted on Thursday, June 25, 2009 - 09:59 am:

Like most of us I was and continue to be a fan of John Callaway going back to the Chicago Tonight days decades ago, and felt the same sucker-punch of grief upon hearing of his passing that I bet most of us felt.

His TV interviews never failed to illuminate and always revealed more of the person than the topic.
However, it was at a live event at a Northwestern University auditorium where I saw an added dimension of his work not readily apparent on the screen. He was a showman. He combined great journalism with the ineffable quality of really knowing how to work a crowd into an engaged audience. I'm not surprised to hear that he had an early trajectory towards theater.

Maybe the feeling is similar in other cities, but this is Chicago, and we feel for our own, and the feeling for me today is how I imagine my mother's Uncle Bert felt. He lost his arm in a farm accident, but would say, years later, how his arm, the missing arm, would ache. Chicago journalism has lost an arm; we feel it, but it's no longer there.

It aches, and will always ache from time to time.

Rick Roberts

Posted on Thursday, June 25, 2009 - 09:45 am:

The special tribute program that Phil Ponce hosted in honor of the late John Callaway was extraordinary. It was a thoughtful, provocative and objective portrayal of a journalistic giant. One, I might add, I had the privilege of being interviewed by on a Chicago Tonight program some years ago.

John hosted a panel of three that included a City Commissioner, a homeless advocate, and myself, in a discussion that erupted into a heated debate on the role of government as it relates to the private sector in dealing with social welfare concerns. John never lost focus or control during this interview and allowed for a free exchange of ideas that dripped with passion and occasionally cynicism that all three guests provided.

This remarkable man certainly will be missed by your viewers, but also by the wider public who might never have realized his contributions to society at large.


Rick Roberts
Senior Director of Strategy, Chicago Christian Industrial League


Executive Producer & Principal, Horizons Communications Group

Salim Muwakkil

Posted on Thursday, June 25, 2009 - 09:31 am:

John was a good friend and was so full of life and intellectual curiosity it seemed he would go on forever; alas, he was a mere mortal after all. But what a mortal he was! John elevated the journalistic interview to an art form. Through a unique combination of intellectual rigor and conversational rapport he could mine interesting insights from a stone. His style spawned many mimics but none could match the inimitable John Callaway. He will be deeply missed.

Chicago Daily Observer
Unregistered guest

Posted on Thursday, June 25, 2009 - 09:12 am:

John Callaway was a true gentleman and brilliant interrogator of Chicago. He was instrumental in the formation of ours news site and was a great proponent for using journalism to inform society.

Our obituary is here,34371

John Callaway will be remembered as one of the finest journalists in Chicago History.

Barbara Posner
Unregistered guest

Posted on Thursday, June 25, 2009 - 09:03 am:

I met John nearly 30 years ago when I was doing freelance writing to try to transition from teaching to the business world. He generously offered to read and critique my writing to help me along. I was, and remain, awed by this magnanimous gesture to a total stranger. That was the kind of man he was. The next time I saw John was last summer at the Pritzker Military Library. He was so surrounded by well-wishers after the program, that I decided to wait to thank him for his kindness until "next time." Unfortunately, there was never a next time, and I will always regret not having taken the opportunity to repay his thoughtfulness.

Bonnie Walker

Posted on Thursday, June 25, 2009 - 08:42 am:

John Calloway- A gentleman of great, great depth and stature! He had the gift of enabling us to become acquainted with his interviewee's innermost being without ever once asking questions that were insulting or incongruous. He will be sorely missed!

Unregistered guest

Posted on Thursday, June 25, 2009 - 06:23 am:

What a moving tribute to John on Wed night!! The way it ended brought tears to my eyes, when his daughter sang with him. I have two wonderful girls myself, and I had never heard the phrase " if pride is a sin, I am going to hell" I will remember to use that when the moment arises.

Karen Casey
Unregistered guest

Posted on Thursday, June 25, 2009 - 05:24 am:

John Callaway had a soft touch. With that deceptively laid back voice and friendly references to your little secrets he looked for the little known eccentricities of guests that made them interesting and human.

All this, of course, before he set them up for the questions that made them squirm.

He enjoyed interviewing complicated and enduring bad boys like Steve Dahl and Garry Meier as well as ambitious political big boys like Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama.

He always gave them the same respect and looked them square in the eye when he thought they were yanking his chain.

In this day of dying newspapers and generic news coverage by the major news houses - we will still have local color and comments with "Chicago Tonight".

I had no idea he was so insecure about his educational background. It never showed. The education was important, not the school. He gave many people who did not have a educational or industry resume a start and boosted their careers.

C Nykaza

Posted on Thursday, June 25, 2009 - 01:22 am:

When I started watching Chicago Tonight from the beginning, Mr. Callaway always made every episode so interesting. The interviews that he did were so genuine, you could always tell that he was prepared and most importantly, enjoyed who ever it was that he was interviewing. His eyes always lit up with enthusiasm. I especially enjoyed his reports, his voice was so comforting and sometimes, heart wrenching. Thank you.

Good-night, sweet prince; And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest

Roy Bernard
Unregistered guest

Posted on Thursday, June 25, 2009 - 01:00 am:

My wife and I met John Callaway when he was named the Illinois Journalist of the Year at Northern Illinois University. Prior to the dinner, we introduced ourselves and we talked for about 15 minutes. He sincerely was interested in everything we said. He would ask questions and so would we, and he would provide his own insights about journalism and the media. He made us so comfortable to talk with him, and he gave no impression of being bored or wanting to be somewhere else. He was kind, funny, straightforward and an absolute joy to talk to. I have his autograph, and it's something I will always treasure.

Antoinette Temelis
Unregistered guest

Posted on Thursday, June 25, 2009 - 12:59 am:

I met John 20 years ago. He was such a kind and humble man. He was the best interviewer on TV.

Joe Poremba
Unregistered guest

Posted on Wednesday, June 24, 2009 - 10:59 pm:

I ran into John many times in and around the old SUN-TIMES building. John was the same person on and off the camera. John would sometimes ask me, a blue collar guy, what my opions were about some current news event. John wanted to know what everyone was thinking. Rest in peace John.

David Spearman

Posted on Wednesday, June 24, 2009 - 09:56 pm:

Shoes that will never be filled!
A giant of journalism has passed.

Paul Cady

Posted on Wednesday, June 24, 2009 - 09:08 pm:

I felt compelled to write this. after watching the hour-long tribute to John Callaway this evening on WTTW Channel 11.

John's sudden death last evening, at the age of 72, dashed my hopes, dreams, and anticipation of seeing John Callaway next March 4th at the Harris Theater in Millennium Park, as he was to moderate a conversation with Stephen Sondheim, a scant 18 days before Sondheim's 80th Birthday Celebration at the Palladium Theatre in London, on March 22nd, 2010.

The tribute to John. that closed with his reflections on the musical accomplishments of his daughters Liz and Ann, was particularly moving. As John said, "If pride is a sin, I am going to Hell." This meant so much to me, as I reflect on Liz Callaway's performance as a guest artist during the Lea Salonga concert on November 7th, 2005 at Carnegie Hall, my son Scott’s first performance as a piano accompanist in that revered concert venue.

Until this evening, I never knew that John Callaway could sing. But his performance with his daughter Ann Hampton Callaway, as they scatted the song Embraceable You, during a public performance, gave me another insight into the man who was, and in our memories remains, John Callaway.

I will miss him.

Patricia Clair

Posted on Wednesday, June 24, 2009 - 09:06 pm:

Thank you very much for the retrospective on the life of John Calloway tonight. I wish to express my sympathy to all of you and to his family. I have always enjoyed "Chicago Tonight". I have continued to enjoy John's Friday night interviews. It must be a terrible loss for all of you, but you have the knowledge that you were able to share his valuable input to the show and you were able to share yourselves with him. We have all benefited from that. Thank you. God bless John Calloway. We will miss him. Keep up his legacy by continuing to produce shows that we all need.

Patricia Clair


Posted on Wednesday, June 24, 2009 - 08:54 pm:

I have been watching his shows since they started and enjoyed the way he interviewed people. He was down to earth and asked the important questions. He kept me informed with what was going on today with his guests and open ended questions. At least now you wont have to be told to go on a diet and exercise. You are at peace now. I will miss him on the Friday night show. How you replace him with someone just as good as him.

Charles Schlaudraff

Posted on Wednesday, June 24, 2009 - 08:47 pm:

I met and had lunch with John Callaway about 12 years ago when he married Sandy Steele. I remember being in awe of John, but he was as down to earth as you'd hope when meeting a celebrity. From then on, whenever I've watched John on Chicago Tonight, I recalled how lucky I was to have talked with him for a few minutes. He will be greatly missed.

Mary Ann O'Rourke
Unregistered guest

Posted on Wednesday, June 24, 2009 - 08:35 pm:

What made Chicago Tonight so interesting is John Callaway's ability to drill down into the heart and soul of his guests -- not out of any sense of voyerism or sensationalism, but because he was genuinely curious about what makes people tick. He peeled away layers of posturing by simple, motive-bearing questions that cut to the heart of issues. I don't know of any other Chicago journalist who could combine diligent fact-finding homework with an inate sensitivity to circumstance and character.

Joseph Kivlin
Unregistered guest

Posted on Wednesday, June 24, 2009 - 08:32 pm:

I am a lawyer who used to be the Municipal Judge of the Village of Wind Point, just North of Racine, WI.
One evening in December, when I was visiting residents to obtain signatures on my nomination papers so that I could run for reelection, I stopped at John's house. He lived only half mile away. His wife Sandy answered the door and signed. John came to the door somewhat reluctantly because he had been watching a football game in which Navy was playing.
Somewhat testily, he informed me that he couldn't sign a petition because he is a journalist.
Later, I hosted him at lunch at the Racine Yacht Club, and later he and Sandy accepted our invitation to a "farewell to winter" party at the yacht club just before we left for Florida for several months.
This year, after returning from Florida I called him after watching his program on Friday night. I wanted to suggest that he do a program on the subject of addiction, which is my passion. I spoke of this into his answering machine, and heard nothing for some time.
Later, he returned my call, complaining of a sore back; he explained that he had recently done such a program.
I was pleased that he took the time to respond, and promised I would buy him lunch again some day.
I'm sorry that is not to be, and I regret his passing.


Posted on Wednesday, June 24, 2009 - 08:27 pm:

As a young politico arriving in Chicago many years ago, one of the first journalists I became aware of was John Callaway. Although I was not a native Chicagoan, I appreciated early on in my residence here how he would get to the heart of the story, or of the subject he was interviewing. In particular I have always enjoyed how John could be a steely journalist one moment, and your favorite uncle the next. He truly knew how to put you at ease at his table.

Many years later as I began to develop my own interviewing style, I looked first to Callaway. In building a manner of sitting down and talking to people for stories or features, he set the standard. I am sad that despite the very narrow degrees of separation between our colleagues and he and I, we never met. I will always consider him to be the model for the person and journalist I wish to become.

Scott Foval

Pat rick J. Carroll

Posted on Wednesday, June 24, 2009 - 08:25 pm:

I was having dinner at O'Hare prior to departing on a trip to meet my son in Dublin,Ireland. John and Sandra were sitting next to me. We began conversing and at one point, I told John, I watched him often. John was gracious and began asking about me. The thing I noticed most was John's warmth and his voracious curiosity. He was so interested in my trip, my son, my son's studies abroad and what he planned for his future. He talked about his daughters, his years in England and many other things. I felt I knew John for years yet, we had just met and spoke over dinner. The World is a much better place because of the Best-of-Men like John Callaway. Patrick J Carroll

Thad Kochanny

Posted on Wednesday, June 24, 2009 - 08:18 pm:

Thank you! Your tribute to John Calloway's life was magnificent. I saw him briefly when he interviewed guests at the Pritzker Military Library. His knack for bringing a human touch to connect with a wide variety of personalities was always with him. Your panel did a wonderful service to the Chicago community by remembering him in so many beautiful ways.

Kampwirth Family

Posted on Wednesday, June 24, 2009 - 08:15 pm:

I have to agree with so many. We always had a dinner guest in John Callaway
every evening as we watched him on Channel 11 on Chicago Tonight during
dinner time. He was the most candid,interested, and interesting journalist that has graced the TV in a very long time. He was a polite and poignant speaker/interviewer. You could always tell the interviewee was enjoying spending time with John. He will be so missed by so many. Our condolences
to Mr. Callaway's family.

Nancy Newgren

Posted on Wednesday, June 24, 2009 - 08:11 pm:

I was so moved by the tribute WTTW provided tonight on Chicago Tonight. Since I've moved back to Chicago from Toronto in 1999, I haven't missed a Friday night with John. No one in any news outlet has provided the interesting and far ranging interiview John has. I will miss his 7:30-8:00 (Chicago time) deeply.
The tribute tonight was truly moving and all-encompassing, and I couldn't help but think John's example of a terrific interview inspired the cast to show the incredibly humane qualities that John Callaway demonstrated over many years in journalism.
What a tremendos loss to our country and to journalism! At such a young age. I want to thank WTTW and Chicago Tonight for putting together in such short notice such a wonderful memorial that really keyed in on the incredible nature of John Calloway's contribution to meaningful journalism.
The loss to all of us is immeasurable!
Nancy Newgren

Lin Campbell
Unregistered guest

Posted on Wednesday, June 24, 2009 - 08:11 pm:

What a wonderful way to say good-bye to John. The the panel and his daughters especially showed how much he was loved and admired by friends and family alike. He was fortunate, to have evoked such love,admiration and respect from his children. What a great mutual admiration society.

Wylie Rogers

Posted on Wednesday, June 24, 2009 - 08:09 pm:

I wish to commend the Chicago Tonight news staff for a wonderful, heartfelt, and deeply sincere appreciation of John Callaway. Their recollections and commentaries brought home to me the impact John Callaway had on me through his interviews and commentary. His is a great loss to journalism and the public.

Bayo F. Obilade
Unregistered guest

Posted on Wednesday, June 24, 2009 - 08:08 pm:

We lost a lot with John Callaway's passing. We lost a "Journalist".

Fran Spencer

Posted on Wednesday, June 24, 2009 - 08:03 pm:

The human soul of Chicago is gone with the passing of John Callaway. A hole has been left in our civic heart which will never be filled -- he was truly a special person in every way, personally and professionally. We have lost our "good voice." His body of work, enthusiasm and love of documenting the human spirit will be missed. "Embrace" him, God -- he is a worthy son

M Senner
Unregistered guest

Posted on Wednesday, June 24, 2009 - 08:01 pm:

Mr. Callaway was the real deal. He will be missed

Linda Morton

Posted on Wednesday, June 24, 2009 - 07:52 pm:

John Callaway was a real artist of life, which is why I believe he was such a fine journalist. With so many channels of nothingness on TV, WTTW and John Callaway gave real substance to TV and to my life. I will find his book to keep his great spirit in my life.

thomas g. yanul

Posted on Wednesday, June 24, 2009 - 07:51 pm:

As an old City News Bureau kid, John and I shared some laughs about the old Bureau and Mulay and others. Glad I photographed him at the City News Bureau 100th Anniversary - John and his daughters and other notables. He liked it very much.

Blythe Steele
Unregistered guest

Posted on Wednesday, June 24, 2009 - 07:46 pm:

John Callaway as a stepfather was a tremendous influence in my life. I will always remember what he and I referred to as "our famous long walk" we took about 10 years ago along Lake Michigan in which he helped me deconstruct a rather complicated phase in my life.

John was a very warm, loving, caring, special man. I will always be grateful for how respectful and loving he was to my mom during their life together. He will be missed.

Robert Kirsch
Unregistered guest

Posted on Wednesday, June 24, 2009 - 06:38 pm:

John Callaway is my favorite interviewer because he actually read the book and tried to give the viewer unique insights into the author. He will be missed by everyone, librarians, teachers, politicians; anyone who values quality and insightfullness.

Robert Zamora

Posted on Wednesday, June 24, 2009 - 05:03 pm:

A member of my family has passed. My supper time was dictated by the Chicago tonight time slot to see the early adventures of Mr. Callaway & his sidekick Bruce Dumont. They were the dynamic duo of "get your hands dirty" Chicago journalism. I cheered, jeered, snickered and at times cried with his interviews. His interview with Mr. Kissinger was insightful and helped me somewhat understand and tolerate foreign affairs. His interview with Jim Harbough was touching and made me appreciate the quarterback who's purpose in life was "bigger" than football. Mr. Callaway's book showed me that he was an all too normal guy who really "made his bones" So many "masks" were stripped by our interviewer that the fight should have been called and yet he also had that ability to get people to reveal themselves with soft words.
I loved his formality, that sneer, the over the glasses look, but mostly his compassion for people and his coworkers. His Chicago Stories are magnificent and unmatched.
Mr. Ponce, Ms. Marin, Ms. Brackett, Mr. Samuels, Mr. Arruza, you guys have done him proud. Keep his standards alive.
Rest in Peace, Mr. Callaway. Job excellently done!!!
(P.S. How I would love to hear your interview with the man upstairs!)

Ed Clark
Unregistered guest

Posted on Wednesday, June 24, 2009 - 03:40 pm:

In the mid 1970's I was chair of a faculty committee to invite John to be a visiting lecturer at George Williams College in Downers Grove. IL Before his time at GWC was completed, he had become a popular fixture on campus -spending long evenings in the dorms with students, speaking to faculty classes and spending two full days at a faculty retreat on Lake Geneva, WI. He did this because he became interested in what was happening with the college - it's events and it's people - even to showing up at graduation just to say "hello." As his host during these visits, I felt I got to be good friends with John. His caring interest in the college and it's people (and me) and activities was striking. Even though I saw him only once following those weeks, I came to consider him to be a personl friend and now I find myself deeply moved by his passing.

Rebecca Lockard
Unregistered guest

Posted on Wednesday, June 24, 2009 - 03:11 pm:

This is a sad day for Chicago. I appreciated his style and wit during his interviews on Chicago Tonight. Several of them were so touching that they brought tears to my eyes.

Thank You, John for enriching our lives.

Bladimir Hernandez
Unregistered guest

Posted on Wednesday, June 24, 2009 - 02:51 pm:

I had the pleasure to meet John a few days ago and he went beyond his professionalism, he was a person that made you feel like you were his friend no matter what. Rest in Peace!

Ann Keeton
Unregistered guest

Posted on Wednesday, June 24, 2009 - 12:58 pm:

John was quick to get to the heart of any interview, not only mastering subject matter, but hosting lively round table discussions with diverse personalities. My husband Maxwell Sroge enjoyed participating in business discussions on Chicago Tonight, and we were privilaged to attend John Callaway's retirement broadcast. His retirement came too soon, and so did his passing.

Barbara Hamlin
Unregistered guest

Posted on Wednesday, June 24, 2009 - 11:11 am:

We'll all miss him; he's left quite a legacy to Chicago's news scene, and from all accounts personally too.

Joan Flanagan

Posted on Wednesday, June 24, 2009 - 11:04 am:

John Callaway was THE best interviewer. He did an interview of me for The Grass Roots Fundraising Book, which came out when I was 30 in 1977. I was green as a gourd and scared to death, but he got the best interview I ever did. Good enough to rerun like Betty Ford's! He had actually read the whole book (unlike most TV guys who pick it up and say, "So, Joan, what is your book about?") I will feel like an orphan at 7 pm tonight...

Unregistered guest

Posted on Wednesday, June 24, 2009 - 09:10 am:

RIP, john callaway. he did an outstanding job.
i'd love to see sirott back on chicago tonight in any capacity.

Tom Puzas
Unregistered guest

Posted on Wednesday, June 24, 2009 - 09:01 am:

Thank You John Callaway, What a class act! None better!

Marie Z

Posted on Wednesday, June 24, 2009 - 08:37 am:

An unbelievable loss for Chicago and the city's journalism community. I hope that Chicago Tonight does a real search and not settle for Bob Sirott again.

Larry Schmidt

Posted on Wednesday, June 24, 2009 - 08:10 am:

Just heard of the untimely death of John Callaway.
His interviews set the standard for all others to emulate. He was always prepared and if the guest had written a recent book, John had already read it. John and his great work will be really missed.
The question is, who can replace him? My vote would be Bob Sirrott, but knowing WTTW's management, that cannot happen.

Back to top

Post Message

User Name*


Email Address

This is a public posting area. Enter your username and password if you have an account. Otherwise, enter your full name as your username and leave the password blank. Your e-mail address is optional.

Enter the code shown*
*Required Field

Post Message



The John Callaway Excellence in Online Journalism Fellowship

John Callaway: In Memoriam