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May 2014
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Studs Terkel’s Day Job


Experience the inspiration and legacy of Studs Terkel like never before at Let’s Get Working, happening at the University of Chicago this weekend. The three-day festival hosts film screenings, readings, storytelling, workshops, and panel discussions celebrating Chicago’s homegrown folklorist, broadcaster, and Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Studs Terkel. WFMT will be out in force, sharing memories of our longtime colleague and friend.

View the festival schedule.Terkel  color






Preview: The Studs Terkel Radio Archive
Episode #1 explores how poetry enables people to channel the voices of others and features excerpts from Studs Terkel’s interviews with Elma Stuckey and John Ciardi more:



For decades it was the daily ritual of Studs Terkel to hop Bus #146 and pad into a cramped office at WFMT. Flanked by towers of books and newspapers—an antique typewriter at its epicenter—Studs would prepare for his radio guest who might be getting ready to march on City Hall or might be designing a library or singing in an opera. Each day the show aired, Studs effectively chronicled American culture, something he did at WFMT for 45 years. He was part of a team of immensely creative and resourceful people: Studs kept scoring big interviews, WFMT broadcast the first live concert in stereo—anywhere—the station put the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on the air, and hosted some of the greatest legends of folk music.

Those were heady times. How could the men and women who lived and worked around Studs have known that one day, the legacy of the man asking the questions would outsize some of the luminaries he interviewed?

Not that there was any lack of affection or appreciation for Studs Terkel: his official job title at WFMT was Free Spirit. But for the people who worked alongside him, from 1952 to 1997; for those who were there when Studs loved, laughed, ranted and raged, shared, and opined, he was more than a cultural icon. He was part of a family; he was a friend who happened to write books; who happened to win the Pulitzer Prize.


WFMT will be previewing The Studs Terkel Radio Archive, a multi-year undertaking headed by WFMT’s Tony Macaluso to digitize the thousands of hours of interviews logged during Studs’s time at WFMT. The Archive will be available for free online streaming, with the first programs available this year. Preview Archive offerings issued for National Poetry Month.

Preview: The Studs Terkel Radio Archive
Episode #2 takes listeners on several poetry journeys: to Africa with James Baldwin and on an interplanetary rocket-poem trip with Allen Ginsberg and other Beat poets more:

WFMT’s Steve Robinson, David Polk, Andrew Patner, Tony Macaluso, Andi Lamoreaux, and Louise Frank will be participating in the University of Chicago’s Studs Terkel festival, Let’s Get Working, as well as past colleagues Lois Baum, Sydney Lewis, and Tony Judge. The festival runs through Sunday, May 11.

Preview: The Studs Terkel Radio Archive
Episode #3 travels into the realm of memory as Howard Nemerov and Gwendolyn Brooks read poems about childhood and the fleeting nature of time more:

  • Martha Geouge Hill

    Kontras, you “rocked the contrast” in these two pieces, and love the folk elements in both! Dvorak is always wonderful, but really, really like the Visconti piece!