Jonathan Abarbanel
  • Windy City Media Group
  • Jonathan Abarbanel

Now that Chicago Public Media’s WBEZ is casting around for what it should be after parting ways with longtime station manager and CEO Torey Malatia last month, maybe it’ll bring back some of the good stuff that got jettisoned in the twilight of Malatia’s reign.

Like the Dueling Critics—Kelly Kleiman and Jonathan Abarbanel’s wonderfully acerbic, odd-couple theater-reviewing shtick. Unlike a lot of what’s been on ‘BEZ lately, their weekly segments were fast-moving, smart, homegrown, packed with useful information, and totally appropriate for this great theater town. And they were always fun: Kleiman and Abarbanel know everything, including how not to take themselves too seriously.

Sacked in June, they went online with a blog and podcast at And last month Abarbanel, who also reviews in print, writes a column, and teaches at UIC, was elected chair of the American Theatre Critic’s Association, a national organization of about 250 critics that, among other things, recommends the annual regional Tony award winner. Kleiman, a consultant to nonprofits as well as a critic, is reviewing for Huffington Post.

So don’t wait too long, ‘BEZ. They might be busy.