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.

Mahalia Jackson Live at the Hotel Morrison (09/20/1957)

May 14, 2021

As Studs Terkel often observed, 1912 was the year “the Titanic went down, and I came up! Fate sings its own kind of poetry.” He was born on May 16 and in honor of his birthday, we bring you an archive favorite and one of the shows that Studs loved best. This broadcast took place in 1957 at the old ...

Bob Dylan (05/01/1963)

May 21, 2021

On May 24, 1941, Robert Allen Zimmerman was born in Duluth, Minnesota. Almost 22 years later, Bob Dylan visited Chicago where he was Studs Terkel’s guest on WFMT.

Ursula Oppens (01/09/1994)

May 28, 2021

This hour of music and conversation from the  Studs Terkel archives features American pianist Ursula Oppens. First heard on WFMT in 1994, the show includes Ms. Oppens performing compositions by Tobias Picker, Beethoven, and Ravel. A stalwart champion of 20th- and 21st-century American music, this Grammy-nominated artist released her latest album, Fantasy: Oppens Plays Kaminsky, in April 2021.

Ursula K. Le Guin (6/30/1991)

June 4, 2021

Ursula K. Le Guin (1929–2018) was one of the United States’ most honored and respected authors.  Much loved for her science fiction and fantasy, Ms. Le Guin discussed her book Searoad when she was Studs Terkel’s guest in June 1991.

Theodore Bikel (03/22/1989)

June 11, 2021

Born in Austria, raised in Palestine, and a naturalized American citizen, Theodore Bikel (1924 – 2015) was a prolific actor, musician, and political activist whose international career spanned over sixty years. When he was Studs Terkel’s guest in 1989, he brought his guitar, told stories, and sang songs.  

Merce Cunningham & John Cage (01/14/1971)

June 18, 2021

Merce Cunningham remains one of the most visionary and influential choreographers the world has known. In 1974, he and his life partner and creative collaborator, the avant-garde composer John Cage, spent an hour with Studs Terkel.

Music of the Baroque with Tom Wikman (04/22/1976)

June 25, 2021

With Chicago’s treasured Music of the Baroque celebrates its 50th Anniversary this year. With that happy occasion in mind, we bring you this 1976 Studs Terkel interview with the ensemble’s founder, Tom Wikman.