The Studs Terkel Radio Archive, one of the world’s great spoken-word collections, consisting of more than 5,600 programs in various genres created at Terkel’s hometown fine arts radio station WFMT in Chicago between 1952 and 1997, will become available to the general public on what would have been Terkel’s 106th birthday, May 16, 2018.
The Studs Terkel Radio Archive (STRA) will be a unique resource for educators, journalists, artists, activists, media-makers, scholars and people from all walks of life seeking to connect the voices and ideas of 20th century luminaries with contemporary social issues. The project is managed by the Chicago History Museum and WFMT Radio Network, with major support from the Library of Congress and National Endowment for the Humanities plus supplemental support from numerous other organizations and individuals.
Terkel is a legendary figure in the worlds of radio and oral history. The scope of his work has few peers and ranges from his award-winning, best-selling books that helped establish oral history as a popular genre to his daily radio show in which he conducted free-flowing, humanities-inspired conversations with an astonishing range of people such as Martin Luther King, Simone de Beauvoir, Bob Dylan, Cesar Chavez and Toni Morrison and many others. The archive also has the voices of thousands of uncelebrated working people as well as documentary field recordings made during travels around the world including South Africa, the Soviet Union, China, Italy, England, France and elsewhere.
STRA has been more than 20 years in the making and is the result of a unique set of multi-disciplinary partnerships. They combine some of the best elements of public radio, audio archiving, journalism, the performing arts, curriculum development, and podcasting, that together result in a groundbreaking example of how the digital humanities are evolving in the 21st century. Above all STRA seeks to honor Terkel’s own distinct style and appetite for transcending categories embodied by his self-chosen epitaph: “Curiosity did not kill this cat!”
In any given week, Terkel might interview Civil Rights activists, poets, scientists, Chicago public school children, opera stars, Soviet dissidents, political philosophers, stand-up comedians and blues and gospel singers. His programs continue to be heard every Friday night on WFMT 98.7FM in The Best of Studs Terkel and his influence on today’s generation of radio and podcast producers is vast.
The STRA has five components:
The STRA team includes director Tony Macaluso and archivist Allison Schein Holmes, Chicago History Museum president Gary Johnson and an active STRA Advisory committee.
For more information on the Studs Terkel Radio Archives, and to access the archives on May 16, 2018 visit www.studsterkel.org.