Thursday, January 29, 2015 - 37°F
Louis "Studs" Terkel is known throughout the world as Chicago's "voice of conscience." A multi-faceted and unique Chicago character, Terkel is an award-winning broadcaster, interviewer, and author; and as he turns 90, he is still and always a feisty, outspoken individualist. This special Chicago Stories broadcast, "Studs Terkel on a Soapbox," takes audiences on a journey across time and inside the mind of one of the Chicago's most memorable and controversial figures.
Born in Chicago in 1912, Terkel grew up in his mother's boarding house at Wells and Grand. After graduating from law school in 1934, his career path took a great many unexpected turns: civil service employee, stage, radio and movie actor, playwright, jazz columnist, disc jockey, lecturer, film narrator and sportscaster. During his outstanding broadcasting career, which has spanned over 40 years, Terkel has interviewed thousands of famous and ordinary people. This intimate documentary begins with Terkel on his soap box at Bug House Square (where he plans to have his ashes scattered!), interspersed with archival footage at WFMT radio, and with some of his favorite Chicago characters, including Mike Royko and Nelson Algren. One segment features Terkel in 1951 on his national television show, "Studs' Place" - a program that helped define the "Chicago school" of broadcasting.
Incredibly, at age 57 (an age when many people start to think about retiring), Terkel began writing a remarkable series of books - based on interviews with people about such topics as work, the Great Depression, World War II, racism and old age. His books have been international best-sellers and have earned him the Pulitzer Prize, among many other honors. Many have described him as our nation's leading oral historian.
This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see the world from Terkel's singular, often acerbic and always candid perspective. The program was written and produced by noted independent video documentary artist Tom Weinberg, who has been working and talking with Terkel for the past quarter century. Some black and white archival segments with Weinberg and Terkel date to 1974.
Websites relating to Studs and his favorite topics
On Chicago History - The Chicago Historical Society
On World War II - The Museum of Tolerance Online history website
Oral histories of veterans and their contemporaries
On The Great Depression - The Library of Congress