A Studs Terkel Radio Archive will soon be public

Author and historian Studs Terkel's long-running radio show The Studs Terkel Program will now be available in a public archive online.

This is one of the most incredible collections of oral history in existence.

This from Rick Kogan's report in the Chicago Tribune:

Wednesday would have been Terkel's 106th birthday.

He was born May 16, 1912 — "I came up the year the Titanic went down," he would often say — and when he was alive he often wondered, "What will happen to all my tapes?"

Good question, because those interviews that he conducted on WFMT-FM 98.7 from 1952 to 1997 comprised a captivating oral history of the last half of the 20th century. Some were collected in his best-selling books — "Division Street: America," "Working," "The Good War" and many more — but so many just floated through the air.

He talked to everybody in his free-flowing, inquisitive manner: the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. to Woody Allen, Ethel Merman to Bertrand Russell, Janis Joplin to James Baldwin, Cesar Chavez to Gwendolyn Brooks, Carol Channing to Pete Seeger. Some of his shows featured so-called "ordinary people" here and in such places as South Africa, the Soviet Union, China, Italy, England and France. There are documentaries, dramas. He would read poetry and short stories. In addition, the issues were there too: civil rights, gay rights, women's rights, prison reform, the environment and our wild local politics.

The radio programs were donated to the Chicago History Museum. Its president, the aforementioned Johnson, and executive vice president and chief historian, Russell Lewis, were inspired by Steve Robinson, then-general manager for WFMT and the WFMT Radio Network, to create the Terkel archive. Within a couple of years, the Library of Congress' Recorded Sound Division began to digitize the shows.

The man most responsible for this is Tony Macaluso who, as director of syndication of the WFMT Radio Network, was most intimately and energetically involved in making this archive come alive.

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