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.

Celebrating Beethoven (12/16/1968)

December 13, 2019

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.”

Christmas Memories

December 20, 2019

Tonight’s “Christmas Memories” broadcast with Studs Terkel was first offered on WFMT in 1961, so this is our annual broadcast of that perennial favorite. Here then, voices and memories of childhood Christmases. (12/22/1961)


December 27, 2019

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”.   First aired: 12/5/1988

Born To Live

January 3, 2020

The Best of Studs Terkel on WFMT presents a long-time New Year’s 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 for radio ...

Anna Moffo (5/11/1978)

January 10, 2020

Anna Moffo was Studs Terkel’s guest in 1978.  During their time together, the distinguished American soprano shared her reflections on a life in music.

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (1/24/1986)

January 17, 2020

In 1986, around the time Henry Louis Gates, Jr. published his 1986 classic of cultural criticism, “Race,” Writing, and Difference, the educator, scholar, writer, and editor was Studs Terkel’s guest for a very interesting conversation. Don’t miss Henry Louis Gates, Jr. in the latest season of Finding Your Roots, airing now on WTTW11.

Robert Burns (December 1985)

January 24, 2020

This birthday tribute to Robert Burns is pure vintage Terkel. Studs first presented the program in January 1961 to commemorate the 202nd anniversary of the great Scottish poet’s birth.  Much of the text was culled from the biography The Wind that Shakes the Barley by John Barke.

Lynn Harrell (2/1/1982)

January 31, 2020

On February 1, 1982, Studs Terkel welcomed Lynn Harrell to the WFMT studios for an hour of music and conversation. The venerable American cellist was born on January 30, 1944 and we wish him a very happy 76th birthday.

John Gorka (11/29/1994)

February 7, 2020

Rolling Stone magazine called John Gorka “the preeminent male singer-songwriter of what has been dubbed the New Folk Movement.” Studs Terkel welcomed the prolific American singer songwriter and guitarist to WFMT in 1994.