Doug McGray started out as a magazine writer, which meant that he mostly knew other magazine writers and editors. Then about five years ago, he did a story for This American Life on NPR and met another breed of journalists: radio people! He discovered that he and the radio people had a great deal in common, but they never got to talk and share ideas because they had no common space to meet. What if, he thought, he could bring them together in one special event?
Thus was born Pop-Up Magazine, a stage show in which writers, photographers, broadcasters, artists, and documentary filmmakers would tell stories from previously unpublished reporting. It expanded rapidly to add sports, music, and food. (Ironically, it also expanded into print: the California Sunday Magazine.)
Naturally, an event this successful had to go on tour. After visits to both coasts, it’s finally making its debut in Chicago. Presenters include documentary filmmaker Sam Green, magician and crossword puzzle creator David Kwong, author Laurel Braitman, the Magik*Magik Orchestra, and, for Chicago only, WBEZ education reporter Linda Lutton.
“She has a great story,” promises the show’s senior editor Pat Walters. “It involves kids and a rivalry between a gym teacher and someone trying to help the kids get out of swimming class.”
After the show, instead of a traditional Q&A, the presenters will be hanging out in the bar to mingle with the audience. “Very few events bring all these different communities together,” Walters says. “Very interesting conversations start happening between people who may never have had the opportunity to bump into each other.”