Jepsen ending ‘storied run’ as Illinois Entertainer media critic

Cara Jepsen, the talented and respected Chicago free-lance writer, is stepping down after 20 years as media critic of Illinois Entertainer, the free music and entertainment monthly. Her final column will appear in the March issue.

In addition to her work for numerous other publications (including the Chicago Reader, where she wrote the Days of the Week calendar for eight years), Jepsen specialized in reporting on the alternative media scene for Illinois Entertainer.  She was a strong advocate for female and minority voices on the air, and was a champion of Ira Glass and Gary Covino’s The Wild Room, the predecessor to This American Life.

Acknowledging that she’ll be leaving with “a heavy heart,” Jepsen said she plans to “pursue wholeheartedly the path of yoga.” A world-traveling and devoted teacher of yoga since 1998, she will continue to write for Yoga Chicago magazine.

“The media landscape has been completely reworked over the two decades; most of the publications I once wrote for are long gone, or are in bankruptcy, or were gobbled up by large corporations,” Jepsen wrote in an email to her bosses. “Yet IE has managed to thrive in this odd new media world — in no small part because it stayed true to its readers and never lost is focus. I've been lucky to work with you. But now it is time for me to move on.”

Janine Schaults, who succeeded Steve Forstneger as editor of Illinois Entertainer last July, praised Jepsen’s contribution and wished her well.

“Over the years as a reader, intern, contributor and now editor of Illinois Entertainer, I've long enjoyed and appreciated Cara's diligent efforts to highlight local stories that are often underrepresented in our overcrowded media landscape,” Schaults told me. “IE's readers have benefitted from Cara's adroit reporting and engaging writing for 20 years. It's been a storied run and while we're sad to retire her byline in these pages as media critic, we know she'll bring the same vigor to her next endeavor.”

The publication and website are expected to continue the monthly media column, but no decision has been made on a successor to Jepsen, Schaults said. Among those who've been mentioned for the job is media blogger, author, publisher and former Chicago radio producer Rick Kaempfer, who was profiled in Jepsen’s December column.

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