WFMT Press Room


For Immediate Release:

May 7, 2007

98.7WFMT Celebrates Studs Terkel’s 95th Birthday on May 16

Listeners are invited to join in the on-air festivities

Chicago, IL – Studs Terkel, Pulitzer-prize winning author, oral historian and 98.7WFMT’s resident free-spirit, will turn 95 on Wednesday, May 16. The staff at 98.7WFMT is marking the occasion with a day of special programming dedicated to all-things-Terkel from 6:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m.

Listeners will hear some of Terkel’s favorite musical selections, interview excerpts from his long and illustrious career at 98.7WFMT, and newly recorded comments, tributes and anecdotes from some well-known fans. The station is also seeking birthday greetings from its audience. Greetings can be phoned into the station by calling 773-279-2176 to record a message, or submitted via e-mail to: comments@wfmt.com. The phone line and e-mail address will open on Wednesday, May 9.

“Studs joined WFMT in 1952, shortly after the station went on the air. He came to do a single program, and ended up staying well into the 1990’s,” said Program Director Peter Whorf. “Along the way, he created the radio-interview-as-art form and established himself as one of America’s most significant broadcasters and authors. We welcome the chance to pay tribute to him, and to encourage our listeners to do the same,” he added.

98.7WFMT will also broadcast the Chicago History Museum’s birthday program and interview with Studs Terkel live, beginning at noon.

More information about 98.7WFMT and 98.7WFMT Streaming is available at www.wfmt.com. For more information about the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s 2006-07 season, please visit www.lyricopera.org.

About Studs Terkel:
Studs Terkel, prize-winning author and radio broadcast personality, was born Louis Terkel in New York on May 16, 1912. His father, Samuel, was a tailor and his mother, Anna (Finkel,) was a seamstress. He had three brothers. The family moved to Chicago in 1922 and opened a rooming house at Ashland and Flournoy on the near West side and later ran another, the Wells-Grand Hotel at Wells Street and Grand Avenue. Terkel credits his knowledge of the world to the tenants who gathered in the lobby of the hotel and the people who congregated in nearby Bughouse Square a meeting place for workers, labor organizers, dissidents, the unemployed and religious fanatics of many persuasions. In 1939 he married Ida Goldberg and had one son, Dan.

Terkel attended University of Chicago and received a law degree in 1934. He chose not to pursue a career in law. After a brief stint with the civil service in Washington D.C., he returned to Chicago and worked with the WPA Writers Project in the radio division. One day he was asked to read a script and soon found himself in radio soap operas, in other stage performances, and on a news show. After a year in the Air Force, he returned to writing radio shows and ads. He did a sports show on WBBM and then, in 1944, he created his own show on WENR (Wax Museum) that allowed him to express his own personality and play recordings ranging from folk music to opera, jazz, and blues. A year later he had his own television show called Stud's Place, and started asking people the kind of questions that marked his later work as an interviewer.

In 1952 Terkel began working for 98.7 WFMT, first with The Studs Terkel Almanac and The Studs Terkel Show, primarily playing music. The interviewing came along by accident and became the award-winning, The Studs Terkel Program.

His first book, Giants of Jazz, was published in 1956. Ten years later his first book of oral history interviews, Division Street: America, came out. It was followed by a succession of oral history books on the 1930s Depression, World War Two, race relations, working, the American dream, and aging. Terkel continues to interview people, work on his books, and make public appearances. 98.7WFMT has donated the original recordings of his work for the station to the Chicago History Museum, where he is the Distinguished Scholar-in-Residence.

About 98.7WFMT:
98.7WFMT, Chicago's Classical Experience, provides the best and broadest selection of classical music and fine arts programming heard in the country. A broadcasting force for more than 55 years, the station's appeal continues to widen. 98.7WFMT is currently serving the largest audience in its history.

WFMT Media Contact:
Holly H. Gilson
98.7WFMT and the WFMT Radio Network
(773) 509-5424