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.

Simone de Beauvoir (5/4/1960)

January 22, 2021

In 1960, Studs Terkel interviewed writer and artist Simone de Beauvoir at her home in Paris, France. They discussed her family history, artistic influences, and the creative commitment required to be a individualistic, successful writer.

Remembering Paul Robeson (1/28/1976)

January 29, 2021

Studs Terkel created tonight’s historic broadcast 45 years ago, in January 1976. It is a memorial to Paul B. Robeson, the larger-than-life, American singer, actor, athlete, author, and civil rights crusader.

Lanford Wilson (05/01/1980)

February 5, 2021

American playwright Lanford Wilson (1937-2011) wove flickers of hope into the challenges and dysfunctionalities of his characters’ lives. The author of seminal works such as Fifth of July, Hot L Baltimore, Balm in Gilead, and Burn This was Studs Terkel’s guest in 1980 during the production of his play, Talley’s Folly.

Barbara Hendricks (04/03/1978)

February 12, 2021

In the Spring of 1978, Studs Terkel spent a musical hour with African-American operatic soprano Barbara Hendricks. They spoke of her meteorically rising career, played some of her recordings of works by Schubert and Gershwin, and reminisced about her mentor, Jennie Tourel.

Grace Bumbry (11/1/1963)

February 19, 2021

Grace Bumbry’s illustrious, international career began in 1960 and spanned more than three decades. Born in St. Louis in 1937, and championed as a young singer by Lotte Lehmann and Wieland Wagner, this treasured performer spoke with Studs Terkel in 1963.

Mattiwilda Dobbs (03/14/1975)

February 26, 2021

The Best of Studs Terkel presents one of the great American voices of the past: coloratura soprano Mattiwilda Dobbs (1925-2015). She was born in Atlanta, and during her extensive career broke color barriers on opera stages around the world, from La Scala and Covent Garden to the Met. She was Studs Terkel’s guest in 1975.

Dr. Timothy Leary (12/1/1966)

March 5, 2021

In 1966, Dr. Timothy Leary (1920-1996) told Studs Terkel about his work with psychedelic drugs, and explained his signature phrase, “turn on, tune in, and drop out.”

Keith Jarrett (04/22/1995)

March 12, 2021

Studs Terkel described Keith Jarrett as a unique artist who spans two worlds as a highly respected musician in the world of jazz and that of classical music.  This program from 1995 took place shortly before the 50th birthday of the prolific and innovative American composer and pianist.

Hello, Spring! (3/20/1980)

March 19, 2021

With Spring at last at our doorstep, we recall how Studs Terkel once observed that there are more songs about this season of the year than any of the other three. And so tonight on the Best of Studs Terkel we return to 1980 and Studs’ nostalgic program about Spring.

William Warfield (7/11/1963)

March 26, 2021

Composer Virgil Thompson hailed the distinguished American baritone William Warfield (1920-2002) as “one of the most satisfying vocal artists of our time.” In 1963, while in Chicago to participate in a performance of ‘El Pessebre,’ an oratorio by Pablo Casals, Mr. Warfield was Studs Terkel’s guest on WFMT.