Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers episode #28. With Brandon Johnson.

My brother was back at the microphone in the little radio booth at Co-Prosperity Sphere Friday morning.

He had missed the week before because of a health scare. It was good to have him back across the table.

He told us that the doctors were going to keep him under body surveillance.

No biggy. The government has been doing that for years.

Joining us in studio was our friend, Brandon Johnson, Chicago Teacher Union political organizer.

If Brandon’s voice sounds familiar it is because he is all over the radio dial with programs of his own on Chicago’s WCPT  and Chicago’s historic Black radio station, WVON.

A one hour weekly radio show is crazy when you have been having news weeks like we have ben having.

You know things are moving fast when the news that Steve Bannon got pushed or jumped ship was announced while we were on the air.

We simply don’t have enough time.

Here’s the podcast.


Our catalog of Hitting Left.

Our conversation with Jay Rehak and John Dillon on the Illinois and Chicago pension battle can be found here.

Our talk with State Senator Daniel Biss is here.

Bridgeport’s John Daley and Niketa Brar and Elisabeth Greer about school closings and New Teachers’ Academy.

Jose “Cha-Cha” Jimenez. (founder and chairman of the Young Lords Organization and Stan McKinney former Black Panther Party member talk with Mike here.

Alderman Ameya Pawar is here.

Clem Balanoff and Ken Franklin of the ATU Local 308. Also, a remembrance of Joan Kramer, who passed away that week.

Talking intersex with Pidgeon Pagonis.

Mike and Jamie were joined by Stacy Davis Gates from the CTU and Chris Baehrend from ChiACTS to discuss charter schools, vouchers, and the pernicious takeover of public space by private entities.

In this episode Ed Marszewski popped in to talk about Bridgeport, social activism and blimp-based gigawatt wifi internet.

On this episode Pastor Tom Gaulke and Rabbi Brant Rosen talked about morality in politics and the efficacy of direct action. Sima Cunningham from OHMME stopped by and played a few tunes.

We talked with 45th Ward Chicago Alderman John Arena who has been waging a good fight to build affordable housing in a neighborhood on Chicago’s north west side.

This episode were are joined by our guest Jerry Harris, national secretary of the Global Studies Association.

We were joined on this episode by Susan Klonsky and co-author Professor Timuel Black’s memoir, Sacred Ground. The Great Migration. Black Chicago.

Alderman Scott Waguespack and political strategist Anne Emerson.

In studio guest, Curtis Black on Chicago police, Ray Guavara, John Burge and police torture.

Dr. Eve Ewing joined us on this episode.

Our old friends Larry Miller and Jose Rico.

All podcast downloads can be found here.

Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers episode #27. The threat of nuclear war and the fight for pensions.


We have planned to have Jay C. Rehak, John Dillon and Glen Brown on this episode for a while.

Live radio is a funny thing. As CTU President Karen Lewis once reminded me, “Tell God your plans and he laughs.”

First, Glen had a death in the family and, of course, had to attend to that.

My brother was feeling under the weather, so I had to fly solo as host.

And were we really going to just talk about pensions and budgets when DT started talking about being “locked and loaded” and “fire and fury?”

But Jay and John were terrific guests. Jay is a veteran teacher at Whitney Young High School in Chicago and elected representative on the Chicago Teachers Retirement Fund board of trustees. He also serves as president of the board

John is a retired teacher from the western suburbs and, along with Glen are pension warriors and bloggers. They were christened “Roamin’ Dudes,” by State Senator Daniel Biss back in the day when they visited nearly three dozen Illinois legislators inquiring about how the legislators viewed pension reform.

Don’t miss John’s hilarious stories about these encounters.

Jamie is back as producer and joined in the conversation with his usual insightful observations.

Moving from talking about the threat of nuclear war to pensions may seem like a tough road to travel.

But we did it.

Next Friday’s episode includes the Chicago Teachers Union’s political organizer, Brandon Johnson.

Two hours of Hitting Left. Live! Lumpenradio’s Labor Day Bash. Be there or be square.


Two hours of live Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers. Who knows? You might be a guest on the air. We will be broadcasting live from Lumpen Radio’s Labor Day Bash, Monday, September 4th from Lumpen Radio’s home base in the always sunny Bridgeport neighborhood of Bridgeport.

A benefit for Lumpen Radio community broadcasting.

Noon to 7PM.

Co-Prosperity Sphere.

3219 S Morgan St, Chicago, Illinois 60608

  • BBQ prepared by Tony B of Kimski!  I love this place.
  • Beverages by Marz Community Brewing! I love this beer.
  • Lumpen Radio DJs spinning! (TBA)
  • LIVE Broadcasts on Lumpen Radio by The Klonsky Brothers’ Hitting Left and News From the Service Entrance with Mario Smith. Mario’s show is great. And we will be featuring past guests and good friends on our two hours, yes two hours, of live Hitting Left with the Klonsky bros. Jamie Trecker will be producing if he hasn’t quit again!
  • Plus much more TBA!

Go the the event notice on Facebook and RSVP. 

Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers episode #26.

Our 26th episode of Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers. Neil, our producer this week, heads back to school next week. Senator Dan Biss joined us for a animated conversation about his race for Illinois Governor.

Today’s radio show and podcast marks six months since we first started this gig.

Today we were joined in studio by State Senator Daniel Biss. He is running for governor in the Democratic Primary to decide who defeats Bruce Rauner in the general election.

Senator Dan Biss and I have a history.

He was the voice of pension theft in the state senate.

Representative Elaine Nekritz was the leader of pension theft in the state house. She is retiring, thank goodness.

Senator Biss says he made a mistake about his role in passing an unconstitutional pension bill.

He seems now to have staked out a position on the left on the spectrum of those running for the Democratic Party nomination. That’s fine.

But I believe in something called Movement electoral politics.  That means that my experience has taught me that no matter what a candidate says, their role in an election as a progressive should be to help build a Movement that remains after the election is over and done. That should be true if they win or if they lose.

As I pointed out to Senator Biss, the two best examples of that kind of electoral campaign – both negative and positive – are Trump (and the despicables) on the Right and the Bernie Movement on the Left.

So, while Senator Biss and I can agree on issues more than we disagree, I keep asking how all this is connected to a building a Movement.

And I’m still asking.

I thank him for joining the conversation on our show.


Hitting left with the Klonsky Brothers episode #25.

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“Can I do the opening this time?” I asked my brother.

It’s pretty simple. You announce the station identification. Our producer, Jamie Trecker, hits the Steve Earle audio of Satellite Radio. One of our guests (this week John Daley) says who they are and that you are listening to Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers. After Steve Earle I’m supposed say a brief thing about how we’re broadcasting from the always sunny neighborhood of Bridgeport on Chicago’s south side.

Easy enough, right?

My brother Mike always does it.

And I get to bring us in from the half break and I do thanks at the end over the great Linda Boyle singing, “Which Side Are You On?”

But I have never done the opening and I have been gone on a trip for two weeks. I thought it would be fun to do the opening.

Y’know. Just once.

My brother said it was fine. I asked if he was sure. He said he was sure it was okay.

And I screwed it up.

You can’t tell because our producer, Jamie Trecker, works magic. But trust me. I screwed it up.

Our guests this week are John Daley of the Bridgeport Daleys and Niketa Brar and Elizabeth Greer who talks with us about school closings and National Teachers’ Academy.

We were guests on John Daley’s Lumpen Radio show a couple of weeks ago and he agreed to join us on our show to talk about his neighborhood and a little bit about Trump and Democratic Party politics.

For some reason which, for the life of me I don’t understand, CPS wants to close a high- performing elementary school, the National Teachers Academy, which serves mainly African American kids on Chicago’s south side.

Parents, teachers and the community found out about the closing for the first time reading about it in a DNAinfo article

Oh, wait a minute.

Maybe I do understand.

I mean, this is being done by the Mayor of Chicago who has closed more public schools attended by African Americans than anybody in all of American history.

What’s one more?

This is an important show.

Next week, Senator Dan Biss.

Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers. Episode #24. The show must go on.


As my brother correctly pointed out, I am letting him do the heavy lifting this week, along with Susan Klonsky.

I am 3,000 miles away in the middle of the Atlantic on the Azores, an autonomous region of Portugal.

Created by volcanos, the islands sits on two different oceanic shelfs: the North American shelf and the Azorean shelf. They are a bounty of beautiful views, plants and birds.

Meanwhile back home, Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers aired live on Monday with guests Jose Cha Cha Jimenez of the Young Lords Party, Stan Mckinney formerly of the Black Panther Party and Amy Bennington.


Mike, Susan, Cha Cha and Stan were all in Chicago back in the day, fifty years ago at a different time in the Movement.

Mike and Susan recall arriving in Chicago in 1968, just married and with their first child, the streets on fire and meeting the Chairman of the Illinois Black Panther Party, Fred Hampton.

Chairman Fred was assassinated by the government in 1969. Both Cha Cha and Stan share their memories of Fred Hampton and stories from their activism.

The show will be rebroadcast on Friday on Lumpen Radio, 105.5fm at our regular time, 11AM and is available now for download here.

I’m back from my travels and will join brother Mike on July 28th with our second gubernatorial candidate Bob Diaber and Radio Free Bridgeport’s John Daly.

Then on August 4th our third show with a candidate in the Democratic Primary will be Senator Dan Biss.

On August 11th we will be talking public employee pensions and the recent actions of the Illinois state legislature with Jay Rehak of the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund and some of my blogger retirees cohorts. They are currently fighting over who gets to join us on the show. Best of three rounds.

Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers. Episode #23.


The task for my brother and me was to help folks get a clear picture of the coming primary for governor of Illinois.

Let’s see.

There are JB and Kennedy. Biss. Scott Drury. Bob Daiber. Tio Hardiman and Alex Paterakis.

And Chicago Alderman Ameya Pawar.

Hardiman has become one of those perpetual candidates. Alex Paterakis. Sorry. I have no idea.

Daiber is a school superintendent from down state.

Drury is a Democrat except that when you don’t know that and you are talking to him and then he tells you he’s a Democrat and you go, “Really?”

We have asked Daniel Biss to be on our show and he has agreed. We are working on a date.

I like Dan except for the fact that he led the legislative battle to steal public pensions. But he lost that fight and we won and I am a generous winner.

JB and Kennedy are welcome on our show anytime.

Today we had Alderman Pawar.

On policy, he sounds pretty good.

I am concerned that he seems to want to avoid being part of a progressive electoral movement. “I’m my own guy,” he told my brother and me.

He says he wasn’t a Sanders guy. And he wasn’t.

He’s not part of the Aldermanic Progressive Caucus.

He’s definitely his own guy.

The thing is that without a progressive movement tied to a progressive electoral candidate, what do you have – win or lose – when the election is over?

That’s what I’m looking for.

The podcast download is here.

Tell me what you think.

Best. Show. Ever.


Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers episode #22.


I was still feeling low this morning about the death Thursday from cancer of my old friend Joan Kramer.

There was no question that I was going to talk about her on the show. I decided to read a blog post she had written. It was all about her cancer and Peoples Park in the 60s and health care now and terrorism and gentrification and racism.

It was so Joan.

I heard my voice crack when I finished. I can’t tell if you can tell.

Having Clem Balanoff and the union brothers and sisters from the Amalgamated Transit Workers was a good antidote for the blues.

The Balanoff family’s involvement in Chicago and Illinois progressive politics goes back 100 years.

Between the Klonsky family and the Balanoff family, we are well trained for getting in a word or two even in the most animated conversations.

Which we had today.

And the topping was Ken Franklin, President of the ATU Local who joined us at Lumpen Radio to talk about bargaining issues they have been discussing with their CTA bosses for 18 months.

Yesterday they took a strike readiness vote.

97% of the members voted that they were willing to strike.

That’s called power.

Best. Show. Ever.

Next Friday: Alderman and candidate for governor Ameya Pawar.

Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers episode #21.


I’m back with my brother to co-host this week’s Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers, episode #21.

The guys at Bridgeport coffee noticed I was gone and it’s always nice to be noticed as missing.

We were joined on the show by intersex activist, educator and film maker, Pidgeon Pagonis.

Pidgeon’s own personal story brings to life the oppressive position of intersex folks who are as common in the general population as red heads.

They are born with a mix and a range of male and female components which has historically been treated as something to be fixed by the medical profession.

The fix consists of surgical interventions including genital mutilation.

But intersex requires no medical procedure and is nothing to fix.

While some may view the practice of genital mutilation as something done by others, in other countries and other cultures, Pidgeon points out that as an unnecessary medical procedure, genital mutilation was invented here.

Of course, we got into a discussion of the he/she they/them pronoun, which Pidgeon treats with a combination of good humor and seriousness.

Control of the language, the labels and how those with little or no power define and name themselves is power indeed.

Here is the podcast for listening or downloading.

Best. Show. Ever.