Fridays at 11:00 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.

November 4, 2016


In March 1976, Studs Terkel presented a free-association examination of Election Day and good-old fashioned politics as explored through his extensive collection of musical and spoken word recordings. And so, with four days until we elect our next president we revisit this program, complete as it is with the pops and crackles of vintage vinyl.

November 11, 2016

ARMISTICE DAY (11/11/1960)

Today being November 11, we bring you the words and music of Studs Terkel’s commemoration, from 1960, of the American holiday originally called Armistice Day.   Armistice Day — now known as Remembrance Day or Veterans Day — marks the armistice signed between the Allies of World War I and Germany. The truce took effect at eleven o’clock in the morning on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918.

November 18, 2016


Tonight, a double header… With the cold winds of November, we thought you’d like to visit a desert island where Studs Terkel has brought some of his very favorite recordings. This show was heard on WFMT in 1978. After that, we’ll tune our radio back to 1955 and a time that Studs sat down with the iconic American bluesman William Lee Conley Broonzy, better known as Big Bill.

November 25, 2016

BOB DYLAN (5/1/1963)

Studs Terkel’s 1963 interview with Bob Dylan is one of those shows that legends and bootleg tapes are made of. Who knew that 53 years later Bob Dylan would be named a laureate of the Nobel Prize in literature?

December 2, 2016


American organist Carlo Curley, a self-styled “Pavarotti of the organ,” was an entertaining figure with a phenomenal keyboard technique whose oversized personality drew large crowds. He was Studs Terkel’s guest in 1983.

December 9, 2016


On December 13, 1951, Bernie and Rita Jacobs flipped the “on” switch to broadcast WFMT for the first time. Studs Terkel found them within the year and he stayed for the better part of a half-century. It was in 1996 that Studs presented an aural journey of remembrance in honor of the station’s 45th anniversary.

December 16, 2016


Beethoven’s birthday has always been something of holiday around here at WFMT, and on December 16, 1968 Studs Terkel celebrated accordingly. Here is that radiophonic tribute, filled with what Studs described as “all of the variety and variations on the theme of Ludwig’s birthday.”

December 23, 2016


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

December 30, 2016

HANUKKAH (12/5/1988)

It was in December 1988 that Studs Terkel presented this musical tribute to Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of lights. The hour begins with songs of Martha Schlamme and Theo Bikel, and some klezmer music, too. Later in the hour, Studs reads Grace Paley’s short story, “Good-bye and Good Luck”.