Fridays at 11:05 pm

For 45 years (1952-1997), WFMT was home to Pulitzer Prize-winning author Studs Terkel. Operating from a tiny room overstuffed with papers, books, and an antique typewriter, Studs’s  career – and everything cultural – unfolded before our eyes. Over the years, the guests on his daily radio show ranged from ordinary Chicagoans to international figures: political leaders, writers, performers, social activists, and labor organizers. Covering wide-ranging topics, Studs was remarkable in his depth of knowledge, and in his ability to get others to open up and talk. Most of all, he modeled a quality that became his job title at WFMT: Free Spirit.

See a schedule of recent and upcoming broadcasts below, and for more information visit the Studs Terkel Radio Archive.

Fri 6/17/16


Throughout 1959, Studs Terkel presented a series on WFMT he called “This is Our Story.”  In tonight’s rebroadcast, Studs invites us to “consider the birds, the high-flyers and the domestic foul and their part in American folklore and music.”  And so we shall. Through performances by John Jacob Niles, Win Stracke, Leadbelly and others, Studs uses his singular interweaving of prose and tunes to tell the tales of birds.


June 24, 2016

QUENTIN CRISP (10/21/1992)

This is one of Studs Terkel’s “portable tape recorder” programs. While visiting London in 1970, Studs spent some time with Quentin Crisp, author of many works about gays in Britain and the United States, and notably, about life as a homosexual in England in the 1930s. Their frank conversation reveals just how far we have come.


July 1, 2016

FOURTH OF JULY (7/3/1972)

Studs Terkel offered WFMT’s listeneners this Fourth of July program in 1972.


July 8, 2016


Back on July 6, 1974, Garrison Keillor presented his first broadcast of A Prairie Home Companion.  After more than four decades at the helm of this now iconic weekly American radio program, he will pass its stewardship to Chris Thiele. And so it is, with a glass raised in toast, that we bring you Studs Terkel’s 1985 conversation with Garrison Keillor.


July 15, 2016

OSCAR GHIGLIA (4/12/1993)

Studs Terkel welcomed the Italian classical guitarist Oscar Ghiglia to his program on April 12, 1993. During their conversation, he also included an excerpt from a 1978 Studs interview featuring another guitarist they both admired greatly: guitarist Andres Segovia.


July 22, 2016

MEL BROOKS (7/2/1968)

Tonight we wish Mel Brooks a very happy 90th birthday. The American comedic actor, writer, and filmaker was born on June 28, 1926. Shortly after the release of his 1967 directorial debut, The Producers, Studs Terkel spoke about the movie with various amusing men who, curiously enough, all sounded a lot like Mel Brooks.


July 29, 2016


In 1980, Studs Terkel spent about 3 weeks in the Peoples Republic of China as the guest of the Chinese Writers Association  because some portraits from Working had appeared in a Chinese literary magazine.  During that time, he traveled some fifteen hours by train from Beijing to the capital of Inner Mongolia, Hohhot. Of course he brought along his tape recorder, and the program tonight features music and musicians from three different areas of that region. Studs first presented this program on WFMT in 1981.


August 6, 2016


Tonight, an annual WFMT tradition dating back to August 1963. Studs Terkel created a number of radio plays in partnership with WFMT announcer and engineer Jim Unrath. This program is based on Normin Corwin’s prose poem, Overkill and Megalove, a response to the bombing of Hiroshima that deals with the madness of war that leads to the obliteration of the human species.



August 12, 2016


The American actor, songwriter, and singer Kris Kristofferson sat in with Studs Terkel in April 1971.



August 19, 2016

LYNN HARRELL (2/1/1982)

On February 1, 1982, Studs Terkel welcomed Lynn Harrell to the WFMT studios for an hour of music and conversation. You can catch the celebrated cellist in concert this weekend when Itzhak Perlman conducts an all-Tchaikovsky program honoring the 50th Anniversary of Lynn Harrell’s Ravinia and CSO debuts.


August 26, 2016

THIS TRAIN 1 (8/27/1963)

This Train commemorates the March on Washington led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This broadcast is WFMT’s annual remembrance of the train ride from Chicago to Washington in late August 1963, and that’s when this program was first broadcast.  Studs Terkel joined hundreds of Chicagoans on that train bound for Washington, DC, and tonight on the BEST OF STUDS TERKEL we bring you Part 1 of his 2-hour radio sound-scape through which he documented that historic journey.



September 2, 2016

THIS TRAIN 2 (8/27/1963)




September 9, 2016

WORKING (9/5/1960)

In Studs Terkel’s book WORKING, he celebrates everyday people in thier own words, and the way they make their living. And tonight on the BEST OF STUDS TERKEL we bring you this rebroadcast of Studs Terkel’s 1960 tribute to Labor Day.



September 16, 2016


Pianist Alfred Brendel is Studs Terkel’s guest on this BEST OF STUDS TERKEL broadcast. Their conversation was first heard on WFMT on May 6, 1986.