Best of Studs Terkel

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.

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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.


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 ...

MAURICE SENDAK (5/23/1905)

May 20, 2016

It was in 1970 that illustrator and children’s author Maurice Sendak visited with Studs Terkel in WFMT’s studios. The creator of Where the Wild Things Are, In the Night Kitchen, The Nutshell Library, and so many literary treasures of childhood, told Studs about his creative process and more.

MOMS MABLEY (6/13/1961)

May 13, 2016

African American comedy pioneer Moms Mabley was Studs Terkel’s guest on June 13, 1961. Loretta Mary Aiken was born in 1894 and became a trailblazing performer known for her warm yet raunchy stand-up routines and popular albums.

MOTHERS DAY (5/8/1981)

May 6, 2016

Thirty-five years ago this Mother’s Day, Studs Terkel presented this WFMT favorite: his music-based tribute to mothers, and fathers, too. 


April 29, 2016

Russian-born composer and pianist Alexander Tcherepnin visited with Studs Terkel in April 1965. A musical citizen of the world who was born to a cultured family, he is the son of composer Nikolai Tcherepnin.

PASSOVER (4/11/1960)

April 22, 2016

Studs Terkel begins this program about Passover with Heinrich Heine’s description of the Jewish holiday: “It thrills the heart as though one heard the lilt of some sweet lullaby.”