‘Dueling Critics’ go at it again

Jonathan Abarbanel and Kelly Kleiman

Jonathan Abarbanel and Kelly Kleiman

Looking forward to “crackling on the airwaves once more,” Chicago theater reviewers Kelly Kleiman and Jonathan Abarbanel are returning to public radio.

Starting this weekend, their “Dueling Critics” segment will air every other week on “The Arts Section,” a new Sunday morning newsmagazine show on the College of DuPage’s WDCB FM 90.9. Gary Zidek will host the 30-minute show, airing at 8 a.m. Sundays.

Kleiman and Abarbanel have been off the air since last June when their appearances on Chicago Public Media WBEZ FM 91.5 were dropped after six years. Praising their “wonderfully acerbic, odd-couple theater-reviewing shtick,” the Reader’s Deanna Isaacs called their segments “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.”

In the interim, they’ve stayed together online through their lively blog and weekly podcasts at duelingcritics.net.

“We’re excited at the prospect of working with program host Gary Zidek and station manager Dan Bindert (themselves WBEZ alumni), and look forward to crackling on the airwaves once more,” Kleiman and Abarbanel wrote on their blog.

For now, they’ll alternate weeks on the show with Ian Simmons, who’ll review movies. Both segments are expected to air weekly once “The Arts Section” expands to a full hour.

Kleiman, a freelance writer on the arts, feminism, travel and social justice, also is editor and publisher of The Nonprofiteer, a ChicagoNow blog about charity, philanthropy and nonprofit management. Abarbanel, who teaches theatre at the University of Illinois at Chicago, is chair of the American Theatre Critics Association. He writes for Windy City Times, TheaterMania.com and Chicago Footlights.