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.

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 ...


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.”


April 15, 2016

The first shots of the Revolutionary War were fired at Lexington and Concord in Massachessets on April 19, 1775. In the 1970’s, Studs Terkel wove the tale in his customary, impressionisitic fashion. Words and music on the American Revolution… tonight on the BEST OF STUDS TERKEL.

COME IN AT THE DOOR (2/20/1960)

April 8, 2016

Come In At The Door is a radio program that James Unrath and Studs Terkel put together back in 1958. It’s a dramatized compendium of Nelson Algren’s writings, and a loving portrait of urban life in a mid-century American city: Chicago. It’s enacted by Herman Kogan, Studs Terkel, Helen Malone, Jamie Gilson and others.


April 1, 2016

In 1984, the self-proclaimed, world-reknowned musicalologist, Professor Peter Schickele, spoke with Studs Terkel about previously unknown works by PDQ Bach, the last, and the most odd, son of Johann Sebastian Bach.