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.

Learn more about the Studs Terkel Radio Archive by visiting its website.

This is Our Story: Love Songs (5/5/1959)

February 16, 2018

“This Is Our Story” is a series Studs Terkel presented on WFMT during the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. In each episode, Studs explored various topics and themes through a free-association assemblage of music and prose. This one, from 1959, is all about love.

Sir Geraint Evans (10/2/1974)

February 23, 2018

In October 1974, Studs Terkel welcomed the eminent  Welsh baritone, Sir Geraint Evans, for a program of music of conversation.

Pierre Bensusan (6/11/1979)

March 2, 2018

For over 40 years, the French-Algerian acoustic guitarist, singer, and composer Pierre Bensusan has toured the world performing his personal fusion of world, jazz, classical, and celtic music. In 1979 he was Studs Terkel’s guest on WFMT.

Carlos Montoya (c. 1961)

March 9, 2018

Carlos Montoya was one of the first Spanish guitarists to introduce flamenco music to a wider audience. Sr. Montoya and his wife Sally were Studs Terkel’s guests in 1961.

David Farber (5/16/1988)

March 16, 2018

Five decades have passed since the historic 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago. On the twentieth anniversary, in 1988, Studs Terkel interviewed author, professor, and historian David Farber about his recently published book, Chicago ’68.

Ella Jenkins (7/17/1993)

March 23, 2018

Ella Jenkins has been called the First Lady of Children’s Music. In a career spanning more than a half-century she has shared songs and instruments in preschools, festivals, and concert venues all over the world. Studs Terkel welcomed his friend for a program of music and conversation in July 1993.

Easter (3/24/1988)

March 30, 2018

With a mix of materials, both sacred and secular, Studs Terkel presented this Easter program on March, 24, 1988.

An Hour of Music (9/4/1980)

April 6, 2018

“Without music, everybody’d be downhearted.” So said a plumber Studs Terkel was fond of quoting. Tonight’s Best of Studs Terkel dates from 1980 and is one of those times Studs brought out his favorite vinyl LPs for an hour of recorded music.

Come In At The Door (2/20/1960)

April 13, 2018

Few mid-twentieth century authors portrayed the gritty spirit of American urban life as accurately or lovingly as Nelson Algren.  In 1958, Studs Terkel and Jim Unrath put together a dramatization of Algren’s writings, with a special nod to Chicago. Enacted by Herman Kogan, Studs Terkel, Helen Malone, Jamie Gilson and others, the program is called Come In At The Door.   ...

Gwendolyn Brooks & Carl Sandburg (c. 1964)

April 20, 2018

The Best of Studs Terkel returns to 1964 and to two different conversations, each with a great 20th Century American poet. The Gwendolyn Brooks (1917-2000) program opens as she recites her 1945 poem, Negro Hero. Studs gathered his discussion with Carl Sandburg (1878-1967) on his portable tape recorder, and their free form dialogue touched on Sandburg’s massive collection of folk ...

John Prine (C. 1970)

April 27, 2018

Today John Prine is known around the world for the human stories he portrays in song.  The country folk singer-songwriter visited with Studs Terkel in 1970, shortly before the release of his first album. They spoke of Prine’s time as a mailman in his home town of Maywood, coal mining, and music.  Prine also played his Martin guitar while performing ...

Queen Ida (9/1/1988)

February 9, 2018

The joyful dance rhythms of Zydeco were born in southern Louisiana from a fusion of Afro-Caribbean and French Arcadian traditions. This music has a great champion in accordion player, band leader, and Grammy-Award winner, and acclaimed chef, “Queen” Ida Guillory. When Queen Ida and Studs Terkel spoke in WFMT’s studios in 1988, they discussed the roots of this unique American ...

Lincoln Mayorga (5/30/1984)

February 2, 2018

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.

Billy Taylor (8/24/1977)

January 26, 2018

Dr. Billy Taylor, who lived from 1921 to 2010, was one of the giants of American Jazz. During the hour in 1977 when the pianist, composer, band leader, educator, and broadcaster spoke with Studs, they covered influences on his life as well as some of his own music. The program began with the song Blueberry Hill as performed by Taylor’s ...

Happy Birthday, Mozart (1/25/1974)

January 19, 2018

On January 27 Mozart lovers around the world will commemorate the 262nd anniversary of his birth. WFMT adds to the festivities with this program from 1974, and Studs Terkel’s evocation of the great composer through music and remembrances.

It’s Like A Dream To Me: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday Tribute (1/15/1970)

January 12, 2018

The BEST OF STUDS TERKEL presents “It’s Like A Dream to Me,” Studs Terkel’s 1970 birthday tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.    

Born To Live (7/6/1962)

January 5, 2018

The BEST OF STUDS TERKEL presents a WFMT favorite and 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, you ...

Presenting the Last Picture Program of Recorded Music (12/18/1997)

December 29, 2017

From 1952 to 1997, Studs Terkel frequently filled his daily radio programs with a wide and wonderful variety of music.  On these occations he would select a range of recordings through which he told a story or conveyed whatever thematic ideas he had in mind. Tonight we bring you the very last of those shows from his long career at ...

Christmas Memories (c. 1961)

December 22, 2017

Tonight on the BEST OF STUDS TERKEL we bring you an annual tradition and WFMT favorite. Here is the rebroadcast of Studs Terkel’s compendium of voices, rememberances and music on the theme of the Christmas season.

Ursula Oppens (1/9/1994)

December 15, 2017

This hour of music and conversation from past Studs Terkel programs features American pianist Ursula Oppens.  First heard on WFMT in December 1990, the show opens with Ms. Oppens performing a piece by Tobias Pickler, and also includes compositions by Beethoven and Ravel.

Remembering Rita Jacobs (6/12/1990)

December 8, 2017

December 13 is WFMT’s 66th anniversary.  In 1951, a young couple named Rita and Bernie Jacobs bought a small radio station where they could share the classical and arts programming they loved.  Studs Terkel joined them within the year and stayed for almost half a century.  When Rita died, in 1990, Studs presented this hour of her favorite music, and ...

Happy 60th Anniversary, Old Town School of Folk Music (c. 1997)

December 1, 2017

Sixty years ago today, Dawn Greening hosted an informal music lesson in her living room. The seeds of welcome, collaboration and learning sewn that evening grew into one of Chicago’s greatest homes for the musical arts: The Old Town School of Folk Music.  On the occasion of the Old Town School’s 40th anniversary, in 1997, Studs Terkel welcomed inaugural teacher, ...

James Baldwin (9/29/1962)

November 24, 2017

It was in the Fall of 1962 that James Baldwin, the American novelist, essayist, playwright and civil rights activist, spoke with Studs Terkel about life, literature, boxing, and the signs of the changing times.

A Musical Mosaic

November 17, 2017

From time to time, Studs Terkel presented characteristically eclectic programs of recorded music.  And so it was, on August 18, 1994, tha tStuds crafted this spontaneous, multi-genre mosaic from various compact discs he happened to find in his office.

Veterans Day (11/11/1960)

November 10, 2017

Tonight we hear one of Studs Terkel’s favorite programs, one in which he wove together stories and remembrances of war as described through words and music. He first presented this commemoration of the American holiday originally called Armistice Day in November 1960. 

Josef Krips (c. 11/1964)

November 3, 2017

The Austrian conductor and violinist Josef Krips visited with Studs Terkel in November 1964. During their conversation, Krips shared stories about his life in music, his reverence of Mozart, and his unwavering conviction that  “art is an essential part of a human life.”

Tennessee Williams (c. 1981)

October 27, 2017

In December 1961, Studs Terkel welcomed Thomas Lanier “Tennessee” Williams, one of our country’s greatest playwrights.  They spoke of the human frailty and personal determination found in many of Williams’ fictional characters, as well as his own life.  As Williams confided, “I’m a man who has the San Andreas Fault running through him.”

Dizzy Gillespie (6/2/1982)

October 20, 2017

John Birks “Dizzy” Gillespie was born in Cheraw, South Carolina on October 21, 1917.  The ground-breaking Jazz trumpet player was Studs Terkel’s guest in this original WFMT program from June 1982.

John Eliot Gardiner (2/20/1989)

October 13, 2017

British conductor John Eliot Gardiner is a rather unique figure in the world of music. His interest is primarily Baroque music, and he founded the Montiverdi Choir and the English Baroque Soloists. A 1989 tour with these ensembles brought him to Chicago, and this conversation with Studs Terkel.

Interviewing the Interviewer (1/16/1967)

October 6, 2017

On January 16, 1967, two of Studs Terkel’s friends,  newspaperman and biographer Herman Kogan and author and journalist Mike Royko, surprised Studs by showing up in the WFMT studio as he was about to go on the air. Whatever Studs had planned for his program that day went by the wayside as the visiting pair of veteran writers interviewed him ...

Rosh Hashana (9/13/1977)

September 22, 2017

From the archives, here is Studs Terkel’s Rosh Hashanah commemoration from 1977.