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.

Yehudi Menuhin, Part 2 (3/4/1986)

August 19, 2022

Here is second half of Studs Terkel’s two-part conversation with violinist, conductor, and musical mentor, Yehudi Menuhin. Menuhin and author Karen Shaffer spoke with Studs in March 1986, when Menuhin performed a concert in tribute to the early twentieth century American violinist Maud Powell.

This Train, Part 1 (c. 1963)

August 26, 2022

Here is part one of “This Train,” WFMT’s annual remembrance of the 1963 civil rights March on Washington.  Studs joined hundreds of Chicagoans on a train bound for Washington, D.C.  He recorded their thoughts and experiences on his portable tape recorder and wove those historic voices into this award-winning documentary.

This Train, Part 2 (c. 1963)

September 2, 2022

This episode of the Best of Studs Terkel is devoted to the second and final part of the award-winning documentary called “This Train.”  Studs wove this sound-scape commemoration of the 1963 March on Washington from voices he recorded on a train bound for Washington, and at the event itself.

Sandra Cisneros (12/21/1992)

September 9, 2022

In December 1992, the brilliant and versatile Mexican American author Sandra Cisneros spoke with Studs Terkel. She recounted growing up in Chicago’s Humbolt Park neighborhood, and recited excerpts from her poems, short stories, and other writings.

Chavez Mexican Folk Ensemble (8/12/1959)

September 19, 2022

On August 12, 1959, Studs Terkel welcomed members of the Chavez Mexican Folk Ensemble for a live performance on WFMT. We rebroadcast this musical gem in honor of the Mexican national holiday El Grito de la Independencia.

Lincoln Mayorga (05/30/1984)

September 23, 2022

American pianist, recording artist, and composer, Lincoln Mayorga, has spent his long career in the fluid borderlands between classical and American popular music. He was Studs Terkel’s guest in WFMT’s studios in 1984, discussing and performing compositions by Louis Moreau Gottschalk, Scott Joplin, Debussy, and more.

Yom Kippur (10/11/1978)

September 30, 2022

Studs Terkel honors the High Holy Days with this 1978 program featuring cantorial and secular music pertaining to Yom Kippur, the Jewish day of atonement.

James Baldwin (11/22/1985)

October 7, 2022

In this hour from 1985, Studs Terkel welcomes James Baldwin (1924-1987) as the distinguished American author discusses his book, The Evidence of Things Not Seen.

Steve Goodman (7/27/1993)

October 14, 2022

Chicagoan Steve Goodman (1948-1984) was a virtuosic guitarist, prolific writer and singer of songs, and frequent performer on WFMT. In 1976, he and Studs Terkel discussed Big Bill Broonzy, inspiration, and Steve’s recent album, Words We Can Dance To.

Emerson String Quartet (08/31/1989)

October 21, 2022

For four decades, the Emerson String Quartet has maintained its stature as one of the world’s premier chamber music ensembles. In 1989, violinists Eugene Drucker and Philip Setzer, violist Lawrence Dutton, and cellist David Finckel dropped by WFMT’s studios to talk with Studs Terkel about Beethoven, Bartok, commissions, and the ensemble’s mastery of such broad repertoire.