Playlist Culture


Willard Motley. Photo: Carl Van Vechten/Library of Congress

The First Bud Billiken

Willard Motley wrote stories for children in the Chicago Defender as the first "Bud Billiken" while he was a teen, then went on to write hardboiled novels about Chicago's down-and-out. But he was criticized for writing about white instead of Black characters.
Ernest Hemingway's 1923 passport photo. Image: Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston

Ernest Hemingway's Youth in Oak Park and Chicago

Hemingway was born in Oak Park but left as soon as he could and began framing himself in opposition to what he considered the middle-class values of the suburb. A sojourn in Chicago helped introduce him to a literary world and sent him on his way to Paris.
PBS's new chief programming executive, Sylvia Bugg

'Yes to PBS': PBS's New Head of Programming on Her Plans

"Being from a rural area, it was so important to have PBS and a public media presence,” says Sylvia Bugg, PBS's new head of programming. She discusses her vision and plans for PBS as she takes the helm in its 50th anniversary year. 
Lanterns for Lunar New Year on Argyle Street. Photo: Courtesy Uptown United

A Reduced But Still Joyous Lunar New Year in Chicago

Neither Chinatown nor Asia on Argyle are hosting parades for the Lunar New Year on February 12, but they will still host COVID-19-safe celebrations. Learn about those and some Lunar New Year traditions here.
Marian Anderson singing at her concert at the Lincoln Memorial, April 9, 1939. Photo: Everett Collection Historical / Alamy Stock Photo

What to Watch in February

Celebrate stories of African American resilience, resistance, and culture, with documentaries about Marian Anderson, the Black church, a groundbreaking public television show, and more.
First Church of Deliverance in Chicago. Photo: Lee Bey

The Bold Architecture of Chicago's Black Churches

Discover some of Chicago's most architecturally extraordinary Black churches. "I think there's a conscious push to embrace the new," says architectural photographer and writer Lee Bey, "of throwing off the chains of the past."
Host, Henry Louis Gates, Jr. at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago. Photo: McGee Media

Celebrate Black History Month with WTTW in 2021

This February, celebrate Black History Month with a variety of WTTW programming over air and online that explores African American history, stories in the larger African diaspora, and Black culture in America. 
Ebony Scott

Five Ideas That Can Change the Conversation about Poverty

WTTW’s new digital series, FIRSTHAND: Living in Poverty, follows five people experiencing intergenerational poverty. As part of the FIRSTHAND Talks series, five experts offer their take on issues related to poverty. Here are some takeaways.
Protective fencing in front of the US Capitol. Photo: Ian Hutchinson on Unsplash

'Frontline' on America's Crisis of Democracy

Frontline aims to make sense of a calamitous moment in American democracy, focusing on the rise of conspiracy and Donald Trump's takeover of the Republican Party, while also examining Joe Biden's life to better understand how he will respond.
The Wrigley Building and Tribune Tower in Chicago Photo: Sawyer Bengtson on Unsplash

As Blair Kamin Leaves the 'Chicago Tribune,' Revisit His Favorite Place in Chicago

Blair Kamin has announced he is leaving the Chicago Tribune after 33 years, 28 as its architecture critic. A frequent guest on Chicago Tonight, he once shared his favorite place in Chicago and a story about his first review. Revisit it now.
Rappler CEO and journalist Maria Ressa. Image: Frontline

How Democracy Dies by 'A Thousand Cuts'

“I felt like we were just going back to a dark time and regressing, and I just wondered, ‘What is going on in that country?’” says the native Filipino filmmaker of A Thousand Cuts, which follows journalist Maria Ressa as she faces intimidation from the government of the Philippines.
Last Tango in Halifax season 5

Our Most Popular Recaps, Recipes, Histories, and More in 2020

Enjoy Playlist's top ten stories published this year, from drama and mystery recaps to features on Polish food and comedy, as well as some bonus popular stories from 2020.
Image: Heard & Moseley, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. (reproduction no. LC-DIG-ppmsca-10980)

Why Black Americans Celebrate Watch Night on New Year's Eve

On December 31, 1862, free Blacks and Black slaves gathered to await the enactment of the Emancipation Proclamation on New Year's Day. The Black community has continued to celebrate Watch Night or Freedom's Eve ever since.
Aliana Alexis of Haiti stands on the concrete slab of what is left of her home after destruction from Hurricane Dorian in an area called "The Mud" at Marsh Harbour in Great Abaco Island, Bahamas on Thursday, September 5, 2019. Photo: Al Diaz/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service

What to Watch in January

A series exploring the response to natural disasters, a self-portrait of America, a new British mystery as well as a remake of a classic, more Finding Your Roots, and more.
A protest at San Francisco State University in 1968

A 2020 Round-Up with WTTW

To make sense of this remarkable year, WTTW sought to address some of the most important issues of our time with our content, while educating and entertaining children and families. Our Vice President of Community Engagement shares some of his favorites.
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