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Arts

Studs Terkel’s Feeling Tone

Studs Terkel's Feeling Tone

Broadcast: Sunday June 10, 2018 at 4 p.m.

The Studs Terkel edge on the radio was, first of all, picking guests who would sound more interesting 50, 60 years later: Mahalia Jackson, Bucky Fuller, Toni Morrison, Bertrand Russell. Simone de Beauvoir on her Second Sex. Federico Fellini on La Dolce Vita. David Mamet on his Glengarry, Glen Ross. Aaron Copland, Dizzy Gillespie. James Baldwin from 1961, Woody Allen in his twenties. Janis Joplin, Tennessee Williams. John Cage. The other great mark of Studs Terkel radio was that these weren’t interviews – except when Marlon Brando wanted a second hour to interview Studs. They were conversations – emphasis not on facts or even opinions but rather “feeling tone,” emotion and experience.

Radio legend Studs Terkel was the all-American listener: ears tuned, mind open, tape recorder always on. The trick, he said, was something he’d heard – appropriately enough – from one of the uncelebrated citizens he loved interviewing.

That “feeling tone” is the thread of this radio hour as much as the late Studs himself. He was the voice of Chicago between Carl Sandburg a century ago – “hog butcher to the world,” and all that – and Chance the Rapper today. Studs Terkel compiled a best-selling vernacular oral history of city life — Division Street America — then classic social histories of the Depression and World War 2. Home base for more than 50 years was his daily radio hour on a privately owned fine-arts station in Chicago, WFMT. The news of Studs Terkel that we’re happy to share is that 5000 hours of that radio archive are open anew, being digitized and transcribed – an audio event on a par with the opening of King Tut’s tomb.

From: Open Source

Listen: Click here