John Kass

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John Kass (b. 1956) is an American newspaper columnist who is an Orthodox Christian of Greek heritage. He is the lead columnist for the Chicago Tribune newspaper, though, many of his columns are reprinted in newspapers throughout the States. His columns are mostly known for dealing with political topics, crime, and corruption, but sometimes his columns deal with things related to the Orthodox Church, family stories, and Greek culture. From 2012 until 2015, he was a radio show host on the WLS radio station in Chicago. He has received a number of awards for his writing, and was a finalist for a Pulitzer prize in 2008 in the "Commentary" category.


John Kass was born into a Greek family living on the South Side of Chicago. His parents were immigrants from Greece, and once in the United States, his father ran a grocery store. Kass spent part of his childhood living in Oak Lawn. Before becoming a film student at Columbia College in Chicago, Kass had worked jobs such as merchant marine sailor, ditch-digger, and waiter. At Columbia College, he began working at the student newspaper, eventually securing an internship with the Daily Calumet (a Chicago newspaper which ran from 1881-1987) in 1980. He continued to work there until 1983, when he was hired by the Chicago Tribune. Kass has been married for 30 years, and is the father of adult twin sons. As of 2016, his columns run four times a week.

Career at the Chicago Tribune

In 1992, Kass won the Chicago Tribune's "Beck Award" for writing. In 1997, after the death of famed Chicago Tribune lead columnist Mike Royko, Kass became lead columnist for the paper. In 2004, Kass was awarded the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi national award for general column writing, the Scripps Howard Foundation's National Journalism Award for commentary, the Press Club of Atlantic City's National Headliner Award for local interest column writing on a variety of subjects, and the Chicago Headline Club's Lisagor Award for best daily newspaper columnist. [1] In 2008, Kass was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in the category of "Commentary". [2]

Although Kass' columns are generally more commentary on the news rather than investigative, common topics that he visits include politics - both local and national, and crime, particularly cronyism and corruption. In contrast to most of the Chicago media, he has been vocally critical of both Chicago mayors Richard M. Daley and Rahm Emanuel (former White House Chief of Staff for President Barack Obama and personal aide to President Bill Clinton) for building on this corruption rather than trying to clear it out. Emanuel, as far back as his Clinton days, was known in some circles as "The Godfather", hearkening back to the 1970s-era films, and after Emanuel became mayor, Kass bestowed upon Emanuel the moniker "The Rahmfather". [3] This led to a fan of Kass', who is a professional graphic designer, to create a professional portrait of Mayor Emanuel in the style of a "Godfather" movie poster setting. Kass sent a photo of it to an aide of Emanuel's, and Emanuel was so impressed that Kass ended up giving Emanuel a second copy of the portrait as a gift for Hanakkuh, 2012. (Mayor Emanuel is Jewish.) In Kass' typical droll humor, Emanuel's copy had an engraved plaque attached with the saying "Beware of Greeks bearing gifts" etched in phonetic Greek. [4] Kass also frequently uses the phrase "The Chicago Way" to describe the way business and politics are done in Chicago, resulting in the series of podcasts he now does for the Chicago Tribune to carry this title. [5]

Being a columnist, though, allows Kass to touch on other subjects that aren't necessarily "news", and in these columns, he writes on varied topics, including things more personal to him including family stories or things relating to the Orthodox Church. While most is complimentary, he wrote many times about the scandal involving Fr. James Dokos, which many credit as the impetus for the Archdiocese of Chicago to put Dokos on administrative leave while the criminal investigation was underway. [6]

Radio Host

From September 2012 until February 2015, Kass worked as a radio talk-show host on Chicago's WLS radio station. [7]

A selection of Kass' columns touching on Orthodoxy


  1. Chicago Tribune biography
  2. 2008 Pulitzer Prize winners
  3. Rahm Emanuel Receives 'Godfather'-Style Portrait as Gift Burke, Patrick;; December 26, 2012
  4. The Rahmfather gets 'Rahmfather' portrait Kass, John; Chicago Tribune; 23 December 2012
  5. Podcasts: The Chicago Way with John Kass
  6. Priest put on leave, but congregations' wounds remain Kass, John; Chicago Tribune, June 22, 2014
  7. Kass & Cohn out at WLS Radio Feder, Roger;; February 26, 2015