Sound Opinions


“The world’s only rock and roll talk show.”

Take two nationally respected rock critics, the latest music news, personal commentary, and exclusive interviews and performances, add a huge pile of records old and new, and the result is “Sound Opinions”—“The world’s only rock and roll talk show.”

Based in Chicago, “Sound Opinions” is hosted by Jim DeRogatis and Greg Kot, two of the finest and best-recognized pop music writers in the nation. DeRogatis spent 15 years as the pop music critic at the Chicago Sun-Times, where he competed with Kot, the veteran rock critic of the Chicago Tribune. Between them, they also have written a dozen books about music—including one together, aptly titled The Beatles vs. the Rolling Stones: Sound Opinions on the Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Rivalry—and have contributed to most of the biggest music magazines in the U.S. and the U.K.

Every week, “Sound Opinions” fires up smart and spirited discussions about a wide range of popular music, from indie rock to classic rock, hip-hop to R&B, techno to soul, and every genre under the sun. Its consistently informed, engaging, and controversial dialogue makes it a unique and essential source for the top stories, albums, and trends in popular music. This is cutting-edge criticism and journalism presented in the great tradition of Siskel and Ebert, and the discussion is as indispensible to the hardcore music fan as it is to the casual music fan who feels out of touch.

Originating at WBEZ/Chicago Public Radio (which also gave birth to “This American Life”) and distributed to more than 100 public radio stations nationally via PRX, “Sound Opinions” has built a thriving and loyal community of inquisitive and engaged fans hungry for smart conversation and new sounds. It also is available via a hugely popular podcast at

“Sound Opinions” Speaking Topics

Here is a quick overview of four of the most popular programs that Jim and Greg have presented live on stage, also with a healthy amount of audience participation encouraged!

“The Future of Music”
Fans aren’t just consumers anymore, but tastemakers, music distributors and even collaborators with artists. How does this impact artists’ careers? Will anyone get paid for making music anymore? How does this up the ante for concerts and festivals? Is touring and playing out 200 times a year the future of music? Is there enough passion for live music to sustain thousands of music careers? Are festivals a growth industry or are there already too many fighting over the same bands and leaving everyone else out in the cold? And, perhaps most importantly, how can we, the overwhelmed music lovers, make sense of all of this? This talk is Jim and Greg’s most popular, and it’s been well-received in Philadelphia, Columbia, Mo., Seattle, and elsewhere.

“The Greatest Rock Movies of All Time”
Jim and Greg choose several of their favorites, show a key scene from each, and discuss what it made their lists—as well as what, in general, makes a great rock ‘n’ roll movie. This program was a big hit when the boys delivered it at the Pabst Theatre in Milwaukee and an event sponsored by the Current in Minneapolis, and it’s the logical way to bring their popular “Sound Opinions at the Movies” nights in Chicago out on the road.

“Rock as Literature, Literature as Rock ’n’ Roll”
When do lyrics qualify as poetry? When does poetry work as rock ’n’ roll? And can writing about music ever succeed as literature or as art as powerful as the music itself? Drawing far and wide, from Oscar Wilde’s “The Critic as Artist” to Patti Smith’s poems, and from Bob Dylan’s prose to Public Enemy’s lyrics, this far-ranging discussion originated as a program at the Rose O’Neil Literary House at Washington College in Maryland and has been a big hit every other time Jim and Greg have brought it to an audience.

“The Beatles vs. the Rolling Stones”
Nearly 50 years after they first hit the world stage, the Beatles and the Stones continue to bring people together—and tear them apart. It’s easy to paint the two bands with broad brushes: The Beatles are melodic, clean-cut, pot smokers; the Stones are bluesy, rough and tumble, heroin users. But that’s the surface. Dig deeper and you’ll find endless debates about who was better and why. The back and forth is a lot of fun in Jim and Greg’s first book together, The Beatles vs. The Rolling Stones: Sound Opinions on the Great Rock ‘n Roll Rivalry. But it’s even more exciting on stage when they’re able to bring the audience into the battle royale!