Disability Pride 2017

This Saturday is Chicago’s Disability Pride parade, to celebrate Disability Awareness Month.

“Disability” used to have a very limited application and although not everyone is aware of it, the definition has widened to include people with chronic physical illnesses or conditions, learning disabilities, cognitive disorders or delays, mental illnesses, and autism spectrum disorders.

We’ve hunted through the archive to find three recordings that demonstrate the broad mindset of the disability community, and that remind listeners, then and now, that being different is nothing to be ashamed of. Continue reading →

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Remembering Japanese-American internment

Japanese-Americans in front of poster of internment orders.

In 1942, after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, nearly 120,000 Japanese-Americans were taken to internment camps scattered throughout the western United States.

John Tateishi was three years old when he was brought to Manzanar with his parents.  In 1984, his book And Justice For All: An Oral History of the Japanese American Detention Camps was published, and he joined Studs to talk about it. Continue reading →


Planned Parenthood, 1965

Most Americans probably believe that Planned Parenthood is a quintessentially American organization, especially since we have been seeing it in the news so frequently lately.

Third International Conference of Family Planning Association, India, 1952. Lady Rama Rau is seated second from left.

But in fact, the Planned Parenthood Federation of America is a part of an umbrella organization, International Planned Parenthood FederationLady Dhavanthi Rama Rau served as president and then president emeritus of IPPF, and spoke with Studs in 1965, two years into her presidency.

In 1965, Indira Gandhi, Golda Meir, and Margaret Thatcher were yet to be elected Prime Minister of their respective countries; Roe v. Wade had not been heard in the U.S. Supreme Court; and it was still legal in the U.S. to fire a woman because she was pregnant.  Lady Rama Rau’s work was groundbreaking both for women and in terms of considering the future of our planet and our population. Continue reading →


Happy Birthday Gwendolyn!

We in Chicago are very proud of our hometown star, Gwendolyn Brooks.  She was poet laureate in Illinois and the first African-American writer to win the Pulitzer Prize.  Often her works, such as In The Mecca and A Street in Bronzeville, brought readers from around the world into the living rooms and front stoops of Chicago.  The Poetry Foundation describes her work as “express[ing] the poet’s commitment to her people’s awareness of themselves as a political and cultural entity.”

Ms. Brooks joined Studs in the studio in 1961, 1967, and 1975.  He introduces her to the listening audience by saying “through the poetry of Gwendolyn Brooks, we learn more of the dreams, the hopes, the visions of the Black people of Chicago better than through any other form, I feel.”

Continue reading →


Volunteers Needed!

Do you love Studs?

Do you love history, science, literature, or music?

Do you love learning new things?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you’d make a great transcription volunteer!

This is a great opportunity for students, teachers, retired adults, and anyone who is curious about Studs or his guests.  Requirements and application information is below, or can be viewed and printed by clicking this link: Studs Terkel Radio Archive Transcription Volunteer

Studs Terkel Radio Archive Transcription Volunteer

Transcription is a vital element in how we share Studs Terkel’s radio legacy. The transcription volunteer will use cutting edge browser-based text-to-speech technology to correct automatic transcripts via Trint. Completed transcripts are an important part of rounding out the archival record.  This requires critical listening skills and attention to detail. Volunteers are expected to actively transcribe and conduct related research for four hours each week.

The transcription volunteer will be exposed to a primary source collection that documents the second half of the twentieth century in the United States like no other and will improve critical listening and research skills.

General Information

  • Studs Terkel was a Pulitzer Prize winning author, and spent nearly fifty years broadcasting a daily radio show out of WFMT in Chicago. He interviewed well-known guests, such as Muhammad Ali, Oliver Sacks, Nora Ephron, and Mahalia Jackson; as well as people his audience may never have heard of, including teachers, activists, union leaders, taxi drivers, and doctors.  Studs was very interested in social justice movements, such as Civil Rights, migrant workers’ rights, and LGBT+ community rights, and he used his show as a platform to document and share those movements.
  • Candidates must be able to commit to listening and transcribing at least four hours per week.
  • Volunteers should stay for the length of a summer or a semester.
  • Eligible candidates must hold an undergraduate degree, or have equivalent knowledge in a relevant topic: humanities, social science, natural science.
  • Fluency in additional languages is welcome.


The ideal candidate must be comfortable working in a digital/online environment, and must have strong research skills.  Must critically listen and pay close attention to detail.  Must be able to manage time and tasks; this is a self-directed position.  The volunteer(s) will work with the Archivist and Digital Content Librarian to establish priorities.


  • Listening critically and transcribing programs using the STRA style guide.
  • Researching topics, names, titles, places, etc. that appear in the program to ensure accurate spelling.

Application Process

Interested persons should email their resume and cover letter expressing their qualifications and interest to Allison Schein at aschein@wfmt.com. Please reference “STRA TRANSCRIPTION internship” in the subject line of all correspondence to ensure proper routing.

Questions may also be sent to Allison Schein at aschein@wfmt.com.

Photo by Takashi Hososhima from Tokyo, Japan – A typewriter, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=40587152

Memorial Day 2017

In memory of those we’ve lost, we’ve put together this special collection of voices.  The first two are stories from those who fought alongside soldiers who were killed; the last is the recollection of a man who saw the aftermath of Kristallnacht as a child.  All of us at STRA are grateful for the sacrifices made by those in the armed forces and their families.

David Schoenbrun was a foreign correspondent for CBS, and according to Studs’ introduction, “took part in the liberation of certain French cities after World War II.”  He joined Studs in 1980 to talk about his book Soldiers of the Night: The Story of the French Resistance.  Here he tells Studs about Marie-Madeleine Foucarde, the leader of a resistant intelligence network.

Ron Kovic is best-known for his book Born on the Fourth of July.  He talked with Studs in 1977 about the emotional difficulties he encountered while writing the book and what inspired him to finish it.

Werner Burkhardt was a German jazz critic and the author of The Story of Jazz: From New Orleans Jazz to Rock Jazz.  He and Studs got together in 1967 to talk about jazz but also about Werner’s growing up in Germany as a teenager during World War II.  Here he tells Studs about his experience the morning after Kristallnacht.


Photo by Tony Hisgett, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=21113089

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TBT: The Pentagon Papers

Map of Communist positions in South Vietnam, 1964

In 1971, analyst Daniel Ellsberg gave parts of a Department of Defense study on American involvement in Vietnam to a New York Times reporter, Neil Sheehan.  This DOD study, officially known as the “Report of the Office of the Secretary of Defense Task Force” came to be known in common parlance as the Pentagon Papers.  The Pentagon Papers revealed to the American people that they had been misled about American actions in Vietnam for nearly a decade.

The following year, Neil Sheehan and his wife Susan (also a writer) joined Studs in the studio.  They are forbidden to discuss the legal matters surrounding the Papers’ publication (there had been a Supreme Court case over the publication, which was decided in favor of the Times), but they do discuss the relationship between journalism and truth (or, as we think of it these days, “alternative facts”), the expected and assumed honesty of people in power, leaks to the media, phone tapping, and FBI investigations.

Interview Highlights

Here, Neil talks about his career as a journalist and why he writes what he does.

In this clip Neil talks about how a “dissatisfaction of conveyance of truth” has started to change journalism.  Susan picks up the thread and points out that “They’ll always cover what President Nixon says in a press conference, but it’s much harder to get into the papers why what he’s saying is untrue.”  Neil goes on to talk about government using the media to manipulate, rather than inform, the public.

As an example of this manipulation, Neil talks about how information about North Vietnamese infiltration was leaked to the press in order to influence public feeling about the war in Vietnam.  He implicates Assistant Secretary of State William Bundy, Secretary of State Dean Rusk, and General Maxwell Taylor, a diplomat in Saigon.

Finally, Neil and Susan tell Studs how their lives have changed since the Pentagon Papers were published.  They had become the subject of an FBI investigation, and as a result their bank statements were subpoenaed, friends and relatives were questioned, and investigators even tried to get photographs of the Sheehan’s children.

Neil Sheehan has continued to write.  His ebook The Battle of Ap Bac came out in 2014.  His 1986 book A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam won the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction and the National Book Award for Nonfiction.  Susan Sheehan has also continued to write, including articles for Architectural Digest through 2010 and The New Yorker through 2006.  She was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction in 1983 for Is There No Place on Earth for Me?

Photo credit: United States Military Academy (http://ehistory.osu.edu/vietnam/maps/0005.cfm) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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Meyer Weinberg on desegregation

May is Teacher Appreciation Month and today we’re featuring an interview with Dr. Meyer Weinberg.  Dr. Weinberg taught at Wright Community College (then Wright Junior College) in Chicago, and was a co-founder of Teachers for Integrated Schools.  He also edited the journal Integrated Education.

In 1971, the Swann v Charlotte-Mecklenberg Board of Education case was decided by the Supreme Court, allowing busing to be used to desegregate schools.  This was a controversial decision for a variety of reasons, from students not wanting to leave their neighborhoods, to Richard Nixon’s awareness of George Wallace’s impending presidential campaign.

Dr. Weinberg spoke with Studs in 1975, and is a voice strongly in favor for busing as a method to desegregate schools.

In this first clip, he talks about how the media covers the schools where busing has led to protest and violence, instead of those schools where it hasn’t; and about the success of desegregation in the South.

Here, Dr. Weinberg replies to Studs question about the relationship between educational success and desegregation, saying, “The whole society is stacked against the education of minority kids.”

Finally, Dr. Weinberg compares the desegregation experience in Pontiac, MI and Kalamazoo, MI, saying, “You can’t just analyze a specific problem with generalities.”

Over 40 years later, we can see that desegregating schools requires a far more complex solution than busing students across city lines, but this interview is a valuable snapshot of another facet in the work for civil rights.

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