One More Time: The Best Of Mike Royko

This tape is a C-Span broadcast of an event launching One More Time: The Best of Mike Royko, a collection of columns by the late newspaper columnist. Several of Royko's friends and colleagues share stories about him, and most read one of their favorite Royko columns. The event M.C. is Studs Terkel, and speakers include: John Tryneski, editor for University of Chicago press, publisher of One More Time; Lois Wille, former Chicago Tribune Editorial page editor; Carol Marin, TV reporter; Rick Kogan, Chicago Tribune columnist; Mary Schmich, newspaper columnist; Ann Landers, newspaper columnist; Bill Kurtis, TV producer and former TV reporter; Ellen Warren, newspaper columnist; Tim Weigel, TV sports reporter; and Roger Ebert, film critic.

00:00Copy video clip URL Tape begins with John Tryneski being introduced. Tryneski reads off a proclamation from Mayor Richard M. Daley declaring that the following day after the event will officially be Mike Royko Day in Chicago. He then introduces Studs Terkel, who is the M.C. for the night.

02:07Copy video clip URL Terkel takes the podium and breaks the ice with a few jokes. He then begins to talk about Royko’s importance in the print world. “And I was thinking, school marms, old time school marms teach us about the three Rs: reading, writing, arithmetic. In Chicago it was the three Rs: Reading Royko as Ritual.” Terkel continues to talk about Royko’s importance and popularity in Chicago, and introduces speaker Lois Wille, former Editorial Page Editor at the Chicago Tribune.

05:15Copy video clip URL Wille discusses how she, a few other colleagues, and Royko’s wife Judy, compiled all of Royko’s best material for the new book. She states that the process of gathering up all of Royko’s best columns took nearly over a year to do.

11:55Copy video clip URL Terkel takes the microphone and begins to talk about Royko’s high standards in writing. He then introduces CBS Reporter Carol Marin. Marin talks about her family’s love for Royko and how they used to fight over “who gets Royko first.” She then talks about Royko’s controversial article about why he didn’t want to go to dinner at the White House. Marin then reads aloud a second column about his invitation to dinner at the White House. It is classic Royko: sarcastic, dry, and truly honest.

20:00Copy video clip URL Terkel introduces Rick Kogan, a Chicago Tribune columnist. He speaks very fondly of Kogan and states that he is part of a legacy in the Chicago media world.

21:11Copy video clip URL Kogan first begins to talk about the void in the Tribune offices since Royko passed away. He also speaks very highly of Royko’s new book. “It’s an astonishing word symphony–that piercing wit and rugged honest that reflect Chicago in all its two-fisted charm.” Kogan then reads aloud a few excerpts of Royko’s articles from the book: one about the evolution of bars and taverns in Chicago, one about the election of Jane Byrne into office as Mayor, another about the fashion industry, and a couple of others. The excerpts are rather amusing and thoughtful, and really showcase Royko’s talent. Kogan goes on to talk about about instance in which Royko consoled him after he heard news of the sudden passing of his father, Chicago journalist Herman Kogan. He then calls for the city of Chicago to “stop asking Mike. … Whether you knew him personally, or just in print, it’s time to just tell him, ‘Hey Mike! Thanks for everything.'”

32:47Copy video clip URL Terkel introduces Mary Schmich, a Metro columnist at the Chicago Tribune. Schmich takes the podium, briefly pauses, and begins a very thoughtful speech on Mike Royko significance in both the print world and her own life. “Royko died on my deadline. If I were talking about anybody else in the world I wouldn’t say that. About anybody else in the world, it would seem kind of rude. But Royko would’ve known exactly what I meant. He would’ve understood what a city columnist feels like when somebody who is so essential to a city dies. He would’ve understood that mix of obligation and opportunity, of privilege and panic, and in this case for me a certain sense of presumption.” She goes into detail about her feelings on Royko’s death and having to write a piece about it the next day. She recounts a conversation she had with Rita Grimsley Johnson, a columnist at the Atlanta Journal Constitution. She tells Grimsley’s story about seeing Royko in a coffee shop, but being too afraid to introduce herself to him. The story is quite amusing and really displays Royko’s dry sense of humor. Schimich also talks about the first and only conversation she ever had with Royko. In the conversation, Royko and Schmich talked about a variety of subjects, the most important of which seemed to be Royko’s newly acquired criticism from many of his readers. Royko had apparently opened up his heart a little bit to Schmich, who was in awe over merely talking to the man. Schmich ends by talking about the legacy Royko left behind. “But he left me and columnists all over this country an inheritance: simplify, clarify, don’t write down to your readers, talk to them as if you’re sitting side by side, trust in your common sense and theirs, tell their stories.” She then ends her speech by sharing with the audience an amusing line Royko said to her during their conversation.

44:09Copy video clip URL Terkel takes the podium and introduces Anne Landers, long time nationally syndicated Tribune columnist. Landers speaks of her time spent with Royko at the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Tribune. “But I knew Mike from the get-go, and I knew that that man was a genius. Mike wanted to come off like a slob, a Slats Grobnik, but the proof of the matter is, he was one of the most sophisticated writers of our time. … Most of Royko’s columns were hard-boiled and tough. But I can tell you, that the guy was a pussy cat.” Landers then talks about an instance in which Royko said to her, “You know I like your stuff, and you’re a good looking broad.”

48:48Copy video clip URL Terkel then introduces television producer and reporter, Bill Kurtis. Kurtis takes the podium and very articulately and thoughtfully talks of Royko’s work. He reads aloud one of Royko’s columns entitled, “How About Gun As Our Symbol?” Kurtis reads the piece with much exuberance and really brings Royko’s writing to life.

56:32Copy video clip URL Terkel then introduces Ellen Warren, Chicago Tribune columnist and one of Royko’s main legmen. Warren talks about being part of the group of legmen, or “leg Creatures,” that helped Royko with his column throughout his years at the Tribune and Sun-Times. She also talks about the selection process for the book and gives the audience a brief synopsis of how Royko and the “leg creatures” put his column together. “We’d sit outside Mike’s cubicle, or in his grander days outside his office, or in his yet grander days outside his corner office with a shared bathroom that overlooked Michigan Avenue. We’d sit there and we’d listen on the phone. We’d listen to heartbreaking stories, or absurd stories, or desperate stories, or people who were absolutely furious with Mike. Alderman Vito Marzullo once told me, ‘He has shit in his blood.’ We would listen to these idiotic stories sometimes of people who were in one way or another dispossessed. The leg man dutifully turned each one of these phone calls into a memo for Mike. You couldn’t, wouldn’t, didn’t omit a single call because you’d seen it happen. You had seen Mike take something that you as a twenty-two year old journalism graduate or a twenty-five years old veteran of a suburban weekly, you knew it had no value at all, and you would see Mike turn it in to eight hundred words of absolute, no bullshit truth.” Warren then goes on to talk about Royko as a boss and what he meant to her and her fellow “leggies.” She ends by saying, “I did see how long and how hard he worked, and once when I was writing a column I said, ‘Well, does it ever get easy?’ This was well after Mike’s thirty years in the business, and he said, ‘No it doesn’t.’ He might have made it look easy, but he said, ‘Blood drips out of my fingers every single time.’ So I want you to think of that as you read One More Time, this new collection and obviously you’ll conclude that there will never be another Royko. Mr. Big, you were the best.”

01:07:12Copy video clip URL Terkel takes the podium and introduces Tim Weigel, a CBS Chicago sports reporter. Weigel has put together a fairly comical speech made up of quotes from Royko. The quotes themselves are Royko’s opinions on the many speakers that paid tribute to him on this night. Weigel goes on to tell a few heartwarming stories about Royko and emphasizes his love for Royko as a person and his print work. The speech is very genuine and quite funny.

01:17:33Copy video clip URL Terkel takes the podium once again and introduces film critic Roger Ebert. Ebert begins his speech by saying, “You know, just thinking as I’ve been watching this wonderful program, thank God we still have Studs.” Ebert then walks over to Terkel and gives him a hug. It is a very tender moment. Ebert talks about one of his first occasions hanging out with Royko. It is a fairly amusing story. Ebert then reads one of Royko’s columns about Ebert ‘s delving into screenplay writing. The story provides the audience with a good laugh. Ebert goes on to talk about a screenplay his had written with Royko as well. He finishes with a reading of a goofy Royko column about the pigeons in Grant Park.

01:37:21Copy video clip URL Terkel then takes the podium and closes the night with his favorite Royko column. Terkel very articulately reads through Royko’s column about Jackie Robinson entitled, “Jackie’s Debut: A Unique Day.”

01:45:55Copy video clip URL Tape ends.



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