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:
Digital Platform – Featuring Terkel’s historic radio programs at the time of its launch the platform will continue to expand and will divided into more than sixty topic areas featuring transcripts and a range of innovative new technology such as such as the Hyperaudio Pad that will enable users to quickly and easily re-use and share audio excerpts.
Digital Bughouse – This proactive initiative will foster a wide-ranging partnerships with creative people and organizations who wish to license audio from the STRA for use in new ways. Partners who have already used the archive in this way include BBC, Carnegie Hall, Radio France, The Third Coast International Audio Festival, This American Life and dozens of others.
Terkel in the Classroom – STRA staff and several key education partners oversee various projects and explore ways of using STRA audio in educational contexts. Two pilot programs already in place at the time of the launch of the archive in May 2018 are a curriculum developed with the Great Books Foundation focused on Civil Rights that is being used by high schools in various cities throughout the United States and project-based curriculum developed for Chicago Public Library’s YouMedia
Bughouse Square (Podcast) – Premiering in August 2018, this podcast will be hosted by writer, scholar and artist Eve L. Ewing (eveewing.com) and produced by Katie Klocksin. Bughouse Square will seek to engage a younger audience who may be less familiar with Terkel and the type of radio he created and will provide listeners an audio time machine that intermingles the best techniques from various era of media history to resist the cultural and political amnesia in our society that Terkel so pugnaciously resisted in his own work.
Studs Terkel Radio Archive Live Events – A steady series of live, public events in Chicago and around the world will play an important role in raising awareness of the archive and fostering/showing creative use and partnerships. Among events already planned following the launch are happenings at the Chicago History Museum, American Writers Museum, The Hideout, the Library of Congress, and the British Library.
The STRA team includes director Tony Macaluso and archivist Allison Schein Holmes, Chicago History Museum president Gary Johnson and an active STRA Advisory committee.
WFMT, founded in 1951, is one of the nation’s most respected classical music radio stations, available on-air at 98.7WFMT, online, and via app on Apple and Android mobile devices. WFMT showcases superlative programs, concerts, and live events – broadcasts from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Grant Park Music Festival, the Metropolitan Opera, Ravinia Festival, and many more. WFMT is also a leading producer and syndicator of a diverse selection of outstanding musical series, including Exploring Music with Bill McGlaughlin, the Beethoven Network, and the Jazz Network.