Today in Media History: Remembering one of the 20th century’s great interviewers and listeners, Studs Terkel
On October 31, 2008, the media reported on the death of author and broadcaster Studs Terkel, one of the great interviewers and listeners of 20th century America.
Here is a story from the Associated Press:
“Louis Terkel arrived here as a child from New York City and in Chicago found not only a new name but a place that perfectly matched — in its energy, its swagger, its charms, its heart — his own personality. They made a perfect and enduring pair.
Author-radio host-actor-activist and Chicago symbol Louis ‘Studs’ Terkel died Friday afternoon in his home on the North Side. At his bedside was a copy of his latest book, ‘P.S. Further Thoughts From a Lifetime of Listening,’ scheduled for release this month. He was 96 years old.
‘Studs Terkel was part of a great Chicago literary tradition that stretched from Theodore Dreiser to Richard Wright to Nelson Algren to Mike Royko,’ Mayor Richard M. Daley said Friday. ‘In his many books, Studs captured the eloquence of the common men and women whose hard work and strong values built the America we enjoy today. He was also an excellent interviewer, and his WFMT radio show was an important part of Chicago’s cultural landscape for more than 40 years.’”
– “Studs Terkel dies”
Chicago Tribune, October 31, 2008
In 2001 C-SPAN interviewed Studs Terkel for its Book TV channel.
“Studs Terkel, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author whose searching interviews with ordinary Americans helped establish oral history as a serious genre, and who for decades was the voluble host of a popular radio show in Chicago, died Friday at his home there. He was 96.
….In his oral histories, which he called guerrilla journalism, Mr. Terkel relied on his enthusiastic but gentle interviewing style to elicit, in rich detail, the experiences and thoughts of his fellow citizens. Over the decades, he developed a continuous narrative of great historic moments sounded by an American chorus in the native vernacular.
….Mr. Terkel succeeded as an interviewer in part because he believed most people had something to say worth hearing. ‘The average American has an indigenous intelligence, a native wit,’ he said. ‘It’s only a question of piquing that intelligence.’”
— “Studs Terkel, Listener to Americans, Dies at 96”
New York Times, October 31, 2008
The following StoryCorps video is called, “The Human Voice.”
“The great oral historian Studs Terkel was an inspiration to StoryCorps, and he was also an early participant in the project. In this animated short, he speaks out on what has been lost in modern life and where he sees hope for our future.”