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.

In his 45 years on WFMT radio, Studs Terkel talked to the 20th century’s most interesting people. Browse our growing archive of more than 1,200 programs in the Studs Terkel Radio Archive.

Ben Heppner (2/20/1997)

September 25, 2020

While in Chicago for the Lyric Opera’s 1997 production of Puccini’s Turandot, the esteemed Canadian tenor Ben Heppner visited with Studs Terkel for this WFMT encore broadcast.

George Nakashima (10/10/1977)

October 2, 2020

The Japanese-American master craftsman George Nakashima created some of the most beautiful and iconically organic furniture of the twentieth century.  The M.I.T.-trained architect and self-proclaimed druid spoke with Studs Terkel in 1977.

Sandra Cisneros (12/21/1992)

October 9, 2020

In December 1992, the brilliant and versatile author Sandra Cisneros spoke with Studs Terkel about growing up in Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood, and the inspirations behind her poems, short stories, and other writings.

Dmitri Hvorostovsky (02/29/1996)

October 16, 2020

Dmitri Hvorostovsky, one of the most-missed of operatic voices, was Studs Terkel’s guest in 1996. The Russian baritone died in 2017, aged 55. He was born in Siberia on October 16, 1962, and we present this rebroadcast to honor his memory.

Michael Smith (08/15/1988)

October 23, 2020

Back in August, we said goodbye to one of the greatest of American musical storytellers, Michael Smith. On a summer day in 1988, the composer, lyricist, and masterful songwriter spoke with Studs Terkel about his craft, and his role as the singing narrator in Frank Galati’s famed Steppenwolf production of John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath.

Old Fashioned Politics (03/16/1976)

October 30, 2020

Studs Terkel’s free-association examination of election day is a charming, acoustic potpourri from days of yore. This WFMT broadcast from 1976 depicts good old-fashioned politics as explored through his extensive collection of musical and spoken word recordings, complete as it is with the nostalgia and crackles of vintage vinyl.

Mark Ludwig (6/26/1991)

November 6, 2020

In 1991, Studs Terkel spoke with Mark Ludwig, then a violist with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and the founder of the Terezin Music Foundation. The hour includes music created and performed in the infamous holocaust concentration camp, with performances by Mr. Ludwig’s ensemble, the Hawthorne String Quartet.   The Foundation offers a special live stream presentation this November 9 at 7:30 ...

Mattiwilda Dobbs (03/14/1975)

November 13, 2020

The Best of Studs Terkel presents one of the great American voices of the past: coloratura soprano Mattiwilda Dobbs (1925-2015). She was born in Atlanta, and during her extensive career broke color barriers on opera stages around the world, from La Scala and Covent Garden to the Met. She was Studs Terkel’s guest in 1975.

David Amram (7/3/1986)

November 20, 2020

With his innumerable collaborations in classical, jazz, world and folk music, and more, it can be said that David Amram never met a musical language or instrument he didn’t like. The ebullient composer, multi-instrumentalist, and cultural polymath was born on November 17, 1930. In honor of his nonagintennial, we bring you his 1986 conversation with Studs Terkel, while sending him our very ...

Tony Bennett (05/10/1989)

November 27, 2020

In May 1989, the American popular singer Tony Bennett was Studs Terkel’s guest on WFMT.

Ustad Amjad Ali Khan (c 1980)

January 8, 2021

In 1980, Studs Terkel spent a most interesting and musical hour with Amjad Ali Khan. For more than 50 years now, his guest has been a highly esteemed master of the sarod, the stringed instrument essential to Hindustani and Indian classical music.