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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

Friday, December 4, 2015

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. In the second half, Studs reads Grace Paley's short story, "Good-bye and Good Luck".

Friday, December 11, 2015


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."

Friday, December 18, 2015

FRANK ZAPPA (c. 1963)

Tonight on the BEST OF STUDS TERKEL, its back to 1970 and the time that Frank Zappa came in to discuss the Mothers of Invention, and other musical explorations.

Friday, December 25, 2015


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

Friday, January 1, 2016

BORN TO LIVE (7/6/1962)

Tonight the BEST OF STUDS TERKEL presents a WFMT favorite and long-time New Year's Day broadcast tradition. It's "Born to Live," a program of interviews, spoken word, and musical responses to the nuclear age that Studs produced in 1961 with colleague Jim Unrath. "Born to Live" won the Prix Italia, an award Studs described as "the equivalent of the Nobel Prize, you might say, for radio and TV documentaries and features." He was proud of that.

Friday, January 8, 2016