Studs Terkel would have been 100 years old today. We go to the vault for interviews with Studs from many different periods in his life on Chicago Tonight at 7:00 pm.
Studs Terkel was a legendary Chicago author, actor, interviewer and agitator. He hosted a program on WFMT for 45 years. Longtime Chicago videomaker, Tom Weinberg, interviewed Studs dozens of times over the years. Chicago Tonight spoke with Weinberg about his relationship with Studs Terkel. Here’s what he had to say:
“I listened to him on the radio at WFMT for many years before I knew him. That was before he had written the book: Working. And I was starting to do things with real people and get what they had to say about their lives on video the same way he did it on audio.
We went to him in 1975 and we said we wanted to do a TV show about the same thing as the book, which was working, what people do all day and how they feel about it. So what we decided to do, with our group called Videopolis, is we got some money together and were able to do the show. And we wound up doing three of the people from the book and three other people who weren’t in the book.
Then we turned the camera on Studs to see what he did all day at WFMT, and how he felt about it and he told us. And after that, I got to be friends with him and did many more projects with him.”
The following video is raw footage of an interview for the program “Studs On A Soapbox” from 2000. Tom Weinberg interviews Studs Terkel on his back porch at his residence in Chicago. The two discuss a variety of subjects including but not limited to: Terkel's early days in Chicago, Terkel's driving work ethic, author Nelson Algren, and Terkel's current projects at the time.
In the following video from 1997, John Callaway interviews Studs Terkel on Chicago Tonight. In the Labor Day interview, the two talk about Terkel's impending retirement from radio, the importance of history, and the effects of the technological age on society.
The show Studs' Place was broadcast out of Chicago from 1949-51. It featured improvised comedy and some jazz performances. The following episode is entitled “The Opera.”
Tom Weinberg has an organization called Media Burn: Independent Video Archive that he says is “probably the largest collection of videos of Studs over many years.”
In June, they are putting together shows around the city that demonstrate different parts of Studs Terkel’s life. All events are free and open to the public. View the full schedule below.
2PM: Studs on a Soapbox (2000, Tom Weinberg, Chicago Stories,WTTW, 27m) + Studs Terkel: Listening to America (2009, Eric Simonson, HBO Films, 40m). Two insightful tributes to Studs featuring footage spanning several decades. Introduced by Tom Weinberg and Russell Lewis.
7PM: It's a Living (1975, Videopolis, 60m) plus rare Terkel shorts. Introduced by videomaker Judy Hoffman and archivist Sara Chapman.
2PM: Studs Terkel's Chicago (John McGreevy & Pat Ferns, CBC, 1979, 51m) + rare Terkel shorts. Terkel tours his city, from Uptown to the stockyards to the steel mills, telling colorful anecdotes along the way.
4PM: The Best of Studs. 90m of eclectic and rare Studs footage from several decades. From Terkel's early television work on "Studs' Place" and in industrials to footage of him with legendary friends like Mike Royko, Nelson Algren, and Bill Veeck, this screening will feature Studs in top form and in ways you've never seen him before.
6PM: Studs Terkel's Chicago (Mike Dibb, 1985, 60m) + Studs Terkel (Mike Dibb, 2002, 30m). In this BBC portrait, Terkel shows us his Chicago, from blues and jazz clubs to community organizers. Screening with Dibb's 2002 profile of Terkel. Filmed around the publication of “Will the Circle be Unbroken,” it contains a range of eloquent and vivid tributes from Andre Schiffrin, Sydney Lewis, Kurt Vonnegut, Quinn Brisben, Peggy Terry and others, as well as reflections on mortality from Studs himself; it is as a film about death that is all about life.