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.

Arlo Guthrie (10/31/1980)

October 18, 2019

Back in 1980, Arlo Guthrie shared music and reminiscences with Studs Terkel, a lifelong family friend.  The man Studs affectionately called “a tangential troubadour” returns to Chicago’s Old Town School in commemoration his seminal 1967 song, album, and movie, Alice’s Restaurant.

Armenian Musicians Ashot Durian and Armen Mandakounian (3/18/1983)

October 25, 2019

Studs Terkel’s musical tastes knew no boundaries, especially when he welcomed musicians from the far corners of the world. On a Spring morning in 1983, the musicians included Ashot Durian and Armen Mandakounian, two Armenians based in Chicago.

Penn Jillette (5/4/1989)

November 1, 2019

The magnificent and mysterious Penn & Teller perform at the Chicago Theater next week. In 1989, Penn Jillette spoke with Studs Terkel about the duo’s long collaboration and unique artistic vision.

Joan Baez (11/9/1989)

November 8, 2019

Folk legend Joan Baez shared traditional and topical songs in various languages when she visited Studs Terkel on November 9, 1989.

Rita Moreno (6/13/1962)

November 15, 2019

Actress Rita Moreno’s career spans seven decades. In this conversation from 1962, the venerated performer talks with Studs Terkel about her Puerto Rican ethnicity and how it relates to her role as Anita in the 1961 movie version of Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story.  Ms. Moreno appears in Steven Spielberg’s re-envisioned West Side Story, due out in December 2020.

Jan Peerce (5/15/1961)

November 22, 2019

The great American tenor, Jan Peerce, child of Jewish immigrants, was born in 1904 in New York City. He delighted audiences for more than 60 years, including three decades as a Metropolitan Opera favorite. In 1961, Jan Peerce spoke with Studs Terkel about Verdi, cantorial repertoire, and more.

Ladysmith Black Mambazo (5/12/1992)

November 29, 2019

Joseph Shabalala founded the South African vocal ensemble Ladysmith Black Mambazo in 1974.  Paul Simon invited the group to perform on his 1986  album Graceland, and they have continually toured the world ever since, recording more than 30 albums. In this 1992  Studs Terkel program, members of Ladysmith Black Mambazo tell their story and sing their glorious, characteristic harmonies.