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WFMT Best of Studs Terkel

The Best of Studs Terkel

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.

The Library of Congress’s Recorded Sound Division is currently digitizing more than 5,000 of Studs Terkel’s original WFMT radio shows and interviews. This effort has enriched our weekly rebroadcasts of those historical programs, and has been instrumental in the creation of the Studs Terkel Radio Archive website,

Program Schedule

July 31, 2015

RAMSEY LEWIS (12/18/1989)

With some 80 albums, seven gold records and three Grammy Awards to his credit, Ramsey Lewis has been an iconic leader in contemporary jazz, pop and R&B for over 50 years, The Chicago native recently celebrated his 80th birthday and so we bring you his conversation with Studs Terkel from December 1989.

August 7, 2015

Hiroshima? Overkill and Megalove (8/20/1963)

Tonight, an annual WFMT tradition dating back to August 1963. 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. It is one of the many programs Studs Terkel created in partnership with WFMT announcer and engineer Jim Unrath.

August 14, 2015

Tribute to Cannonball Adderley (1975/08/08)

Jazz musician Julian Edwin "Cannonball" Adderley played the alto saxophone with his own band and with Miles Davis in the ‘50s and ‘60s. Critics and fans appreciated his upbeat, idiosyncratic sound and when he died on August 8, 1975, Studs Terkel aired this tribute on his WFMT radio broadcast.

August 21, 2015

MUSIC OF GERSHWIN (1979/02/06)

Our summer sojourn through many of Studs Terkel's best programs featuring American music makers brings us his great love of George Gershwin and this WFMT broadcast from February 1979.

August 28, 2015

THIS TRAIN 1 (8/27/1963)

This Train commemorates the March on Washington led by Martin Luther King. 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 4, 2015

THIS TRAIN 2 (8/27/1963)