Reader reporter Ben Joravsky throws a compliment to Substance and a plug for Chicago Newsroom, the cable TV show

A week after I appeared on Chicago Newsroom on Cable TV (with only one other person; apparently The New York Times won't allow its reporters to show up for the same talk shows as Substance), Reader reporter Ben Joravsky posted the column below on the Reader's "Bleader" blog. We don't usually go there (most of it is about food, and although we respect and even love foodies, it's not on our top search topics), but this column is worth a visit. It even drew a strange comment from a (typically) anonymous blogger. We left the comment in here, too.

Reader reporter and analyst Ben Joravsky (above right) and CTU President Karen Lewis share a moment on March 12, 2011, as Ben arrived to hear Diane Ravitch lecture on corporate school reform. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.Everything you need to know about Ken Davis and his show on CAN TV, Posted by Ben Joravsky on Fri, Sep 9, 2011 at 10:46 AM

On Thursday, I ride my bike to Greektown to do the Ken Davis Show, which is not a good idea. The biking part, I mean — love the Ken Davis show — cause by the time I get to the studio, I'm sweating like a horse....

Actually, it's not called the Ken Davis show. It's the Chicago Newsroom show. I just call it the Ken Davis show cause Ken's the guy who hosts it. Get it?

Of course, you know Ken — he's been around town even longer than I have, if that's possible. A former talk-show host at WBEZ, he's been hosting Chicago Newsroom on CAN TV for the last year or so.

It's a great show — everyone's so friendly. At the door, I'm met by a nice young woman who ushers me into the makeup room where they apply the pancake.

Oh, wait, wrong show. There is no makeup room, this being public access TV.

Instead, we go into the control room where they confiscate my cell phone.

Ken's got this thing about cell phones on his show. Probably cause he doesn't want them ringing while the show's being taped.

Confession time: I have a particularly strong affinity for my cell phone — I like to hold it at all times. This is not something I'm proud of — may need a therapist for this one.

More confession: Once I secretly kept my cell phone while I taped Ken's show. It's true. Had it in my pocket the whole time.

Please don't tell Ken....

On the show with me is Kate Grossman, who writes editorials for the Sun-Times. That's a pretty mainstream guest for Chicago Newsroom.

Ben Joravsky shared a moment with Diane Ravitch during the book signing that came before the lecture Ravitch delivered in Chicago on March 12, 2011. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.Unlike the other talk show hosts in Chicago, Ken's not afraid to bring on people from the fringes. Which is why he's had me on four times.

On one show, he even included George Schmidt — who edits Substance News and just might know more about the Chicago Public Schools than anyone else town. You'll hardly ever see George on mainstream TV cause, you know — you wouldn't want someone who actually knows something about the schools to be talking about them. At least, not on mainstream TV....

After confiscating our cell phones, they lead us to the set, cue the cameras and start the show. A balloon falls from the ceiling. Turns out, it's the first anniversary of Chicago Newsroom. Happy Birthday!

Don't worry, Ken says — the balloon's not filled with helium.

Kate and I blankly stare....

You know, Ken continues, cause of the world-wide helium shortage....

Outside, I'm like — oh, yes, the helium shortage. Ha, ha, ha....

Inside, I'm wondering: There's a world-wide shortage of helium? Who knew?

First question Ken asks me is about the TIFs. Thank goodness for TIFs. If it wasn't for TIFs, no one would ever have me on TV. Well, except for Ken, of course.

I launch into a learned recitation. By the time it's over, pretty much everyone in the control room is soundly sleeping.

Hey, TIF talk's not for everyone.

Then Ken asks Kate about the whole brouhaha over lengthening the school day.

Another confession. As nice as she is — and she's really, really nice — Kate and I don't see eye to eye on how Mayor Rahm's treating the public school teachers.

I'm like a little to the left of George Schmidt on these things.

Kate's from the two-handed school. Well, on one hand this, on the other hand that....

Which is big step up from the editorial writers over at the Tribune, whose attitude toward non-charter school public school teachers runs something like: Flog the fuckers!

When we're done talking about the schools, Ken asks — oh, just watch the show yourself.

After the taping, I hang around the control room with Ken and Greg Boozell, the show's producer, talking about this that and the other thing. Now, that's the good stuff. You wouldn't believe the outrageous shit we say when the camera's aren't running.

Anyway, congratulations on the anniversary, Ken. May there be many more to come....

Tags: Ken Davis, public access television, CAN TV, Kate Grossman, Chicago Sun Times, Chicago Tribune, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Chicago Public Schools, TIFs, George Schmidt, Substance newspaper, world-wide helium shortage

"Anyway, congratulations on the anniversary, Ken. May there be many more to come...."

Posted by MrJM on September 9, 2011 at 4:50 PM | Report this comment

"I'm like a little to the left of George Schmidt on these things."

That may be the case. But as I've told you before, it really makes sense to describe your position on these things as extreme conservative rather than extreme liberal. That isn't the way most people think of it. But if one used the words "conservative" and "liberal" in the traditional sense and not how perceptions and interests have distorted those words it would really make sense to describe your views on this issue as arch-conservative. In the case of urban public education, I tend to view a progressive or a liberal as someone who is willing to try things and make significant changes to the school system so that there is a possibility that the children in the system can have their lives improved. I view a conservative as someone who wants to keep the old ways of doing things and fights to prevent any changes at all (or even to push to reverse, as you have, the few changes that have occurred, such as the elimination of social promotion). You without a doubt are the latter. So if you are a little to the left of George Schmidt it may only be because you are not quite as conservative as him. "Kate's from the two-handed school. Well, on one hand this, on the other hand that...."

I agree that she was too much "on the one hand, on the other hand" in the interview. But I come from it, of course, from the opposite perspective as you. Grossman agreed that the teachers unions have been a major impediment over the years in the progress of improving education in Chicago. But she criticized Emanuel for using too harsh tactics and for not simply sitting down and working with the unions to achieve the goals that need to occur. But if the unions have not shown they are willing to agree to any significant changes then why would it work to use anything but harsh tactics? It hasn't worked before. And it doesn't work in other major cities, such as New York City as is evidenced here: .…

Posted by The original IAC on September 10, 2011 at 10:55 PM | Report this comment

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