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.

Bughouse Square with Eve Ewing: Sandra Cisneros & Studs, Erika L. Sánchez & Eve

March 29, 2019

Produced in partnership with WFMT’s Studs Terkel Radio Archives and the Chicago History Museum, Bughouse Square with Eve Ewing revisits historical figures and events once explored by Terkel—now unpacked for the 21st century. Each episode includes Studs’s archival interviews, plus Eve’s new exchanges with professors, authors and cultural critics.   This week: An early 1990’s conversation between Studs and author ...

Carlos Montoya (c. 1961)

April 5, 2019

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.

Lily Tomlin and Jane Wagner (10/20/1994)

April 12, 2019

Lily Tomlin and Jane Wagner have been partners in life and work for over forty years. The creative comedic collaborators visited with Studs Terkel in 1994, shortly after Jane helped Lily’s alter ego, the precocious,  6-year-old rocking chair philosopher, Edith Ann, write her memoir, “My Life So Far.”

Passover and Good Friday (4/13/1979)

April 19, 2019

Forty years ago, on an April morning in 1979, Studs Terkel presented this musical program commemorating Passover and Good Friday.

Molapatene Collins Ramusi (4/10/1989)

April 29, 2019

Apartheid was a system of institutionalized racial segregation that existed in South Africa from 1948 until April 27, 1994. In 1989, Molapatene Collins Ramusi told Studs Terkel about his experiences and struggles, and how his efforts helped bring an end to Apartheid’s brutally unjust policies.

Pete Seeger (11/12/1955)

May 3, 2019

We celebrate the centennial of American folk legend, Pete Seeger, with this joyful, musical rebroadcast of the Studs Terkel Program. This program originally aired on WFMT on November 12, 1955. Michael J. Miles brings his song-filled stage show, A Pete Seeger Centennial Celebration: 100 Years of Protest, to the Old Town School of Folk Music on Saturday, May 4, 2019 ...

Mother’s Day (5/8/1981)

May 10, 2019

Sunday, May 12 is Mother’s Day, and so we dedicate this 1981 episode of the Best of Studs Terkel to his mother, Anna Finkelin Terkel. The program includes a tribute to fathers as well.

Mahalia Jackson at the Hotel Morrison (9/20/1957)

May 17, 2019

Studs Terkel was born on May 16, 1912. As he often observed, that was the year “the Titanic went down, and I came up! Fate sings its own kind of poetry.” Tonight the Best of Studs Terkel presents an archive favorite, and one of the programs that Studs loved best. This broadcast took place in 1957 at the old Hotel ...

David Attenborough (2/8/1985)

May 24, 2019

In his 1984 book and subsequent BBC and PBS television series, Sir David Attenborough examined the forces that shape the Earth’s surface and how the living adapt. The author, broadcaster, and naturalist spoke with Studs Terkel at WFMT in 1985.

Alfred Brendel (4/28/1994)

May 31, 2019

The New Yorker dubbed pianist Alfred Brendel “The philosopher king of European pianists.”  A vital presence on the most prominent international stages for over half a century, Alfred Brendel was Studs Terkel’s guest in 1963.