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.

Howard Levy (01/11/1990)

July 30, 2021

Howard Levy is a multi-instrumentalist and harmonica virtuoso whose international career has spanned many decades and a polyphony of styles. The ingenious improviser, composer, and musical innovator was born July 31, 1951. In honor of his birthday, we bring you his 1990 conversation with Studs Terkel.

Hiroshima? Overkill and Megalove (08/20/1963)

August 6, 2021

Tonight, an annual WFMT tradition dating back to 1963. It’s one of the many radio plays Studs Terkel created in partnership with announcer and engineer Jim Unrath. They based the program on Norman Corwin’s prose poem, Overkill and Megalove, a response to the bombing of Hiroshima that deals with the madness of war that leads to the obliteration of the human ...

Agnes de Mille (05/11/1960)

August 13, 2021

In this rebroadcast of a conversation from 1960, the American dance visionary Agnes de Mille discusses her career as a dancer and choreographer.

That Time Studs Terkel Introduced Big Bill Broonzy and Pete Seeger (c. 1952)

August 20, 2021

Tonight we remember an auspicious beginning and the time Studs Terkel brought together two legendary American musicians: bluesman Big Bill Bronzy and folk icon Pete Seeger.  This historic broadcast is one of the earliest surviving programs Studs made for WFMT, when his then-weekly program, the Almanac, aired live on Sunday mornings.

This Train, Part 1 (c 1963)

August 27, 2021

This 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 3, 2021

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

Music of the Baroque (c. 1996)

September 10, 2021

As Chicago’s treasured Music of the Baroque celebrates its 50th season, we bring you this Studs Terkel interview from half a life-time ago. It was 1996, and the ensemble’s founder, Tom Wikman, spent a musical hour at WFMT.

Muhammad Ali (11/26/1975)

September 17, 2021

In November 1975, Studs Terkel used his portable tape recorder to capture an interview with one of the best-known and most indelible figures of the 20th century: boxing great Muhammad Ali. That conversation took place shortly after the publication of Ali’s autobiography, “The Greatest; My Own Story.” Studs aired the discussion in the first half of the hour, and then ...

Sharon Isbin, guitar (10/21/1992)

September 24, 2021

Internationally acclaimed American guitarist Sharon Isbin was Studs Terkel’s guest on WFMT in October 1992.