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.

Isaac Stern (01/20/1989)

July 17, 2020

When Isaac Stern came to Chicago for a recital in 1989, he visited with Studs Terkel and shared many stories from his fascinating life in music. The seminal violinist, educator, and arts advocate was born July 21, 1920 and isaacsternlegacy.org is a great place to join in the centennial celebrations.  

Gloria Steinem (06/17/1982)

July 24, 2020

Gloria Steinem – writer, lecturer, political activist, and feminist organizer – spoke with Studs Terkel in June 1982. The occasion was the tenth anniversary of Ms. Magazine, which she founded.

Gwendolyn Brooks (c. 1964) & Marian Anderson (c. 1960)

July 31, 2020

The Best of Studs Terkel brings you a mid-century double-header with two trailblazing cultural icons. Raised in Chicago in the 1920’s and 30’s, Gwendolyn Brooks stands among the most influential and best known American writers of the 20th-century.  When she was Studs Terkel’s guest in 1964, they took turns reciting her intense, iconic prose. Contralto Marian Anderson was the first ...

Hiroshima? Overkill and Megalove (08/20/1963)

August 7, 2020

Tonight, an annual WFMT tradition dating back many decades, and one of the many radio plays Studs Terkel created in partnership with Jim Unrath. Based on Norman Corwin’s prose poem Overkill and Megalove, the program responds to the bombing of Hiroshima and explores the madness of war that leads to the obliteration of the human species.

Dorothy Parker (c. 1959) & Mahalia Jackson (c. 1955)

August 14, 2020

The Best of Studs Terkel brings you a mid-century double-header with two trailblazing cultural icons. Dorothy Parker – the American writer, satirist, and member of  the legendary ” Vicious Circle” of the Algonquin Round Table – was Studs Terkel’s guest in February 1959. Mahalia Jackson reigned as a pioneer interpreter of American gospel, using her uplifting music to inspire social ...

Sister Helen Prejean (04/13/1994)

August 21, 2020

Sister Helen Prejean spoke with Studs Terkel in 1994, shortly after the publication of Dead Man Walking, her eyewitness account of the death penalty in America. Her steadfast commitment and spiritual journey through the justice system has influenced our nation’s view of capital punishment.

Isabel Allende (03/15/1991)

August 28, 2020

In 1991, Studs Terkel interviewed the Chilean writer Isabel Allende about her short stories and novels, and the source of her creativity.

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.

Ustad Amjad Ali Khan (c 1980)

October 9, 2020

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.