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.

Learn more about the Studs Terkel Radio Archive by visiting its website.

This is Our Story: Love Songs (5/5/1959)

February 16, 2018

“This Is Our Story” is a series Studs Terkel presented on WFMT during the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. In each episode, Studs explored various topics and themes through a free-association assemblage of music and prose. This one, from 1959, is all about love.

Sir Geraint Evans (10/2/1974)

February 23, 2018

In October 1974, Studs Terkel welcomed the eminent  Welsh baritone, Sir Geraint Evans, for a program of music of conversation.

Pierre Bensusan (6/11/1979)

March 2, 2018

For over 40 years, the French-Algerian acoustic guitarist, singer, and composer Pierre Bensusan has toured the world performing his personal fusion of world, jazz, classical, and celtic music. In 1979 he was Studs Terkel’s guest on WFMT.

Carlos Montoya (c. 1961)

March 9, 2018

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.

David Farber (5/16/1988)

March 16, 2018

Five decades have passed since the historic 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago. On the twentieth anniversary, in 1988, Studs Terkel interviewed author, professor, and historian David Farber about his recently published book, Chicago ’68.

Ella Jenkins (7/17/1993)

March 23, 2018

Ella Jenkins has been called the First Lady of Children’s Music. In a career spanning more than a half-century she has shared songs and instruments in preschools, festivals, and concert venues all over the world. Studs Terkel welcomed his friend for a program of music and conversation in July 1993.

Easter (3/24/1988)

March 30, 2018

With a mix of materials, both sacred and secular, Studs Terkel presented this Easter program on March, 24, 1988.

An Hour of Music (9/4/1980)

April 6, 2018

“Without music, everybody’d be downhearted.” So said a plumber Studs Terkel was fond of quoting. Tonight’s Best of Studs Terkel dates from 1980 and is one of those times Studs brought out his favorite vinyl LPs for an hour of recorded music.

Come In At The Door (2/20/1960)

April 13, 2018

Few mid-twentieth century authors portrayed the gritty spirit of American urban life as accurately or lovingly as Nelson Algren.  In 1958, Studs Terkel and Jim Unrath put together a dramatization of Algren’s writings, with a special nod to Chicago. Enacted by Herman Kogan, Studs Terkel, Helen Malone, Jamie Gilson and others, the program is called Come In At The Door.   ...

Gwendolyn Brooks & Carl Sandburg (c. 1964)

April 20, 2018

The Best of Studs Terkel returns to 1964 and to two different conversations, each with a great 20th Century American poet. The Gwendolyn Brooks (1917-2000) program opens as she recites her 1945 poem, Negro Hero. Studs gathered his discussion with Carl Sandburg (1878-1967) on his portable tape recorder, and their free form dialogue touched on Sandburg’s massive collection of folk ...

John Prine (C. 1970)

April 27, 2018

Today John Prine is known around the world for the human stories he portrays in song.  The country folk singer-songwriter visited with Studs Terkel in 1970, shortly before the release of his first album. They spoke of Prine’s time as a mailman in his home town of Maywood, coal mining, and music.  Prine also played his Martin guitar while performing ...

PASSOVER (4/11/1960)

April 22, 2016

Studs Terkel begins this program about Passover with Heinrich Heine’s description of the Jewish holiday: “It thrills the heart as though one heard the lilt of some sweet lullaby.”


April 15, 2016

The first shots of the Revolutionary War were fired at Lexington and Concord in Massachessets on April 19, 1775. In the 1970’s, Studs Terkel wove the tale in his customary, impressionisitic fashion. Words and music on the American Revolution… tonight on the BEST OF STUDS TERKEL.

COME IN AT THE DOOR (2/20/1960)

April 8, 2016

Come In At The Door is a radio program that James Unrath and Studs Terkel put together back in 1958. It’s a dramatized compendium of Nelson Algren’s writings, and a loving portrait of urban life in a mid-century American city: Chicago. It’s enacted by Herman Kogan, Studs Terkel, Helen Malone, Jamie Gilson and others.


April 1, 2016

In 1984, the self-proclaimed, world-reknowned musicalologist, Professor Peter Schickele, spoke with Studs Terkel about previously unknown works by PDQ Bach, the last, and the most odd, son of Johann Sebastian Bach.