Oh, That Voice

John Callaway died a year ago today.  To be honest, there’s a part of me that still finds it hard to believe he’s dead.  He had such a strong life force, his death still seems abstract, not completely real.  I know that others of us who worked with him and loved him feel the same.

So much has been said about him–his intelligence, his preparation, his talent as an interviewer, his commitment to stories that really mattered, his sense of fairness.

But what I miss most about John is probably his voice.  John was a tenor and, as you may know, he loved to sing.  In fact, if you gave him an opening, it would take nothing to get him to break into “Embraceable You.”  (His colleagues gave him such openings at their peril!)

And the lyrical quality in his singing voice was also a part of his speaking voice; it was supple, musical, expressive.  And, like any wonderful musical instrument, it had great range.  When I listen to his old taped pieces, I marvel at the inflection, the expression, and the drama in his voice.  As any good musician would, he used all facets of his instrument to connect with the viewer.  It was a compelling instrument and made you want to listen.  It conveyed empathy, warmth, intelligence, humor, wit–all qualities which made John so good at what he did.

John was probably the most important professional influence I’ve had; I really miss him.  And I consider myself lucky to be able to conjure up that unmistakable voice when I think about him.  To help you do the same, I invite you to go to our website where we have a great selection of John’s interviews and stories he narrated.  http://www.wttw.com/chicagotonight

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  • Bobbi slavin

    As a Chicago tonight listener I felt like I knew john. I do miss him. As you mentioned, his voice was wonderful to listen to.
    A great interviewer, I enjoyed how excited he got with some interviews.

  • Spot on, Phil. We all miss that voice and the instrument who played it. My fanhood goes back decades. And you, Phil Ponce, are a worthy successor! When the station tried Bob S, I stopped watching. There was just not the compassion, the same integrity, the preparation, the competence, the deep and clever humor, the joy of digging into a range of topics. Then they wised up and chose you! You have all those qualifications. Congratulations and thank you for carrying on John Callaway’s excellence!