Best of Studs Terkel

Fridays at 11:00 pm
Studs Terkel

Enjoy these rebroadcasts of the late great oral historian Studs Terkel’s longstanding interview program on WFMT.

For 45 years (1952-1997), WFMT was home to Pulitzer Prize-winning author Studs Terkel, who operated 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.

Learn more about the Studs Terkel Radio Archive by visiting its website.

Tennessee Williams (c. 1981)

October 27, 2017

In December 1961, Studs Terkel welcomed Thomas Lanier “Tennessee” Williams, one of our country’s greatest playwrights.  They spoke of the human frailty and personal determination found in many of Williams’ fictional characters, as well as his own life.  As Williams confided, “I’m a man who has the San Andreas Fault running through him.”

Josef Krips (c. 11/1964)

November 3, 2017

The Austrian conductor and violinist Josef Krips visited with Studs Terkel in November 1964. During their conversation, Krips shared stories about his life in music, his reverence of Mozart, and his unwavering conviction that  “art is an essential part of a human life.”

Veterans Day (11/11/1960)

November 10, 2017

Tonight we hear one of Studs Terkel’s favorite programs, one in which he wove together stories and remembrances of war as described through words and music. He first presented this commemoration of the American holiday originally called Armistice Day in November 1960. 

A Musical Mosaic

November 17, 2017

From time to time, Studs Terkel presented characteristically eclectic programs of recorded music.  And so it was, on August 18, 1994, tha tStuds crafted this spontaneous, multi-genre mosaic from various compact discs he happened to find in his office.

James Baldwin (9/29/1962)

November 24, 2017

It was in the Fall of 1962 that James Baldwin, the American novelist, essayist, playwright and civil rights activist, spoke with Studs Terkel about life, literature, boxing, and the signs of the changing times.

Happy 60th Anniversary, Old Town School of Folk Music (c. 1997)

December 1, 2017

Sixty years ago today, Dawn Greening hosted an informal music lesson in her living room. The seeds of welcome, collaboration and learning sewn that evening grew into one of Chicago’s greatest homes for the musical arts: The Old Town School of Folk Music.  On the occasion of the Old Town School’s 40th anniversary, in 1997, Studs Terkel welcomed inaugural teacher, ...

Remembering Rita Jacobs (6/12/1990)

December 8, 2017

December 13 is WFMT’s 66th anniversary.  In 1951, a young couple named Rita and Bernie Jacobs bought a small radio station where they could share the classical and arts programming they loved.  Studs Terkel joined them within the year and stayed for almost half a century.  When Rita died, in 1990, Studs presented this hour of her favorite music, and ...

Ursula Oppens (1/9/1994)

December 15, 2017

This hour of music and conversation from past Studs Terkel programs features American pianist Ursula Oppens.  First heard on WFMT in December 1990, the show opens with Ms. Oppens performing a piece by Tobias Pickler, and also includes compositions by Beethoven and Ravel.

Christmas Memories (c. 1961)

December 22, 2017

Tonight on the BEST OF STUDS TERKEL we bring you an annual tradition and WFMT favorite. Here is the rebroadcast of Studs Terkel’s compendium of voices, rememberances and music on the theme of the Christmas season.

Presenting the Last Picture Program of Recorded Music (12/18/1997)

December 29, 2017

From 1952 to 1997, Studs Terkel frequently filled his daily radio programs with a wide and wonderful variety of music.  On these occations he would select a range of recordings through which he told a story or conveyed whatever thematic ideas he had in mind. Tonight we bring you the very last of those shows from his long career at ...

Dizzy Gillespie (6/2/1982)

October 20, 2017

John Birks “Dizzy” Gillespie was born in Cheraw, South Carolina on October 21, 1917.  The ground-breaking Jazz trumpet player was Studs Terkel’s guest in this original WFMT program from June 1982.

John Eliot Gardiner (2/20/1989)

October 13, 2017

British conductor John Eliot Gardiner is a rather unique figure in the world of music. His interest is primarily Baroque music, and he founded the Montiverdi Choir and the English Baroque Soloists. A 1989 tour with these ensembles brought him to Chicago, and this conversation with Studs Terkel.

Interviewing the Interviewer (1/16/1967)

October 6, 2017

On January 16, 1967, two of Studs Terkel’s friends,  newspaperman and biographer Herman Kogan and author and journalist Mike Royko, surprised Studs by showing up in the WFMT studio as he was about to go on the air. Whatever Studs had planned for his program that day went by the wayside as the visiting pair of veteran writers interviewed him ...

Rosh Hashana (9/13/1977)

September 22, 2017

From the archives, here is Studs Terkel’s Rosh Hashanah commemoration from 1977.

Sir Peter Hall

September 15, 2017

Tonight the BEST OF STUDS TERKEL remembers Sir Peter Hall, whose career as a respected and ground-breaking director of theatre and opera spanned more than 50 years.  This program was recorded at WFMT in 2003 when directed Mozart’s the Marriage of Figaro for the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Early in the hour, Studs shares an excerpt from their first interview ...

Presenting The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Recorded c. June 1965)

June 30, 2017

Fifty years ago, in June 1967, the Beatles released their seminal album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Not long after, Studs wove together a program in his free-associative style. We’ll hear excerpts from the recording, Studs reciting some of the songs’ lyrics, and interviews with young people in Chicago. These may not all be directly related to the Beatles, but as Studs ...

A Summer Salad (Recorded June 22, 1988)

June 23, 2017

On June 22, 1988, Studs Terkel broadcast an hour of words and music he dubbed “a summer salad.” He began by recalling Joe Louis’ triumphant boxing win over Max Schmeling, and went on to include songs performed by Anita O’Day, Mahalia Jackson, Pearl Baily, Ethel Waters and Bessie Smith, as well as Paul Robson’s 1941 recording of “King Joe” by ...

Marilyn Horne and Henry Lewis (Recorded in 1966)

June 16, 2017

The great American mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne and her husband, conductor Henry Lewis, visited with Studs Terkel in June 1966.

Gwendolyn Brooks (Recorded July 21, 1964) and Janos Starker (Recorded c. 1965)

June 9, 2017

Gwendolyn Brooks: Born on June 7th a century ago and raised in Chicago, Gwendolyn Brooks was one of the most highly regarded, influential, and widely-read of American poets. In 1950, she became the first black author to win the Pulitzer Prize, and in 1985, the first black woman named as poetry consultant to the Library of Congress.  She also served ...

Rachel Barton Pine (Recorded March 18, 1997)

June 2, 2017

Rachel Barton Pine began playing the violin at the age of 3 ½ and debuted with the Chicago Symphony at age 10. She continues to perform and record prolifically, as an international orchestral soloist and chamber musician, and in a heavy metal rock band. Rachel has just released her latest album, Bel Canto Paganini 24 Caprices and other Works for Solo Violin.  ...

Michael Babatunde Olatunji (Recorded November 2, 1960)

May 26, 2017

One November morning in 1960, Studs Terkel’s guest was Michael Babatunde Olatunji of Nigeria. Olatunji brought along some of his drums, as well as some recordings. This lively hour from WFMT’s archives features the rhythms, music and lore of West Africa and the continent itself.

Mihalia Jackson at the Hotel Morrison (Recorded September 20,1957)

May 19, 2017

Tonight on Best of Studs Terkel, we bring you an archive favorite and one of the programs that Studs loved best. This broadcast took place in 1957 at the old Hotel Morrison on the near west side of Chicago, where WFMT’s studios were first located. We’re in the ballroom, which is filled to capacity. Studs is in his element, hosting ...

The World According to Studs

May 12, 2017

From Alan Hall of Falling Tree Productions comes this two-part audio mosaic built from many of Studs Terkel’s interviews. Crafted from Alan’s own conversations with Studs and excerpts from many of Studs’s WFMT programs, this beautiful free-form program explores the themes of liberty and creativity.  We bring it to you in  honor of WFMT’s resident Free Spirit; Studs was born on ...

Laurie Anderson (Recorded December 4, 1984)

May 5, 2017

Dateline: 1984. Multi-instrumentalist and Glen Ellyn native, Laurie Anderson, explained to Studs Terkel how her music expresses aspects of the human experience. She said it’s about “people who live with technology, people who have a lot of phones and computers and television sets and how do you stay human with all those machines.”  We bring you that conversation tonight on ...

FOURTH OF JULY (7/3/1972)

July 1, 2016

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

QUENTIN CRISP (10/21/1992)

June 24, 2016

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.

THIS IS OUR STORY: BIRDS IN FOLKLORE (12/8/1959)

June 17, 2016

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 ...

BIG BILL BROONZY (7/22/1953)

June 10, 2016

The Chicago Blues Festival begins this weekend, and so this evening the BEST OF STUDS TERKEL features the legendary American bluesman, William Lee Conley Broonzy – better known as Big Bill. First heard on WFMT on July 22, 1953, this musical conversation between Studs and Big Bill Broonzy is one of the very earliest Studs Terkel Program broadcasts in our ...

LICIA ALBANESE (2/27/1960)

June 3, 2016

Tonight on the BEST OF STUDS TERKEL we return to February 1960, and to Studs Terkel’s conversation with soprano Licia Albanese.

PETER, PAUL & MARY (4/12/1961)

May 27, 2016

Although it’s hard to believe now, there was a time when Peter, Paul & Mary, the ubiquitous American folk trio, was not a part of our national musical DNA. Peter Yarrow, Mary Travers and Paul Stookey met in late 1960 as the vibrant folk music revival scene blossomed in New York City’s Greenwich Village. Then on April 12, 1961, three ...