On this edition of “Two Way Street,” we pay tribute to the legendary radio broadcaster and writer of oral histories, Studs Terkel. He was one of the great chroniclers of 20th century American life. He died eight years ago on October 30, 2008.
Our guest is Alan Weider, who has written a new book called “Studs Terkel: Politics, Culture but Mostly Conversation.”
Studs was one of the great interviewers of his time although he despised that word. He preferred to call his interactions with guests on his radio show “conversations” because he thought of them as exchanges of ideas, not just a series of questions being posed to a guest. And he believed deeply that conversation and debate are essential elements to preserving our democracy.
We play short excerpts from some of Studs conversations on our broadcast today. But if you’ve never heard any of his shows in full, I strongly suggest you check out the archive that is a partnership between the Chicago History Museum and WFMT, the Chicago radio station that was Studs’ home base for 45 years.
As you’ll hear, I knew Studs back 50 years ago in Chicago. When he was working on his first oral history book “Division Street,” I was one of the Chicagoans he talked with. I was a suburban high school student at the time, and while I’m a little embarrassed by what I chose to discuss with him for my passage of the book, I share it with you toward the end of this episode.