On October 27, 2016, UNESCO and the Coordinating Council of Audiovisual Archives Associations is celebrating World Day for Audiovisual Heritage.
For this year’s theme, “It’s Your Story – Don’t Lose It”, we’re featuring a collection of American voices from the Studs Terkel Radio Archive. This collection showcases the struggles and triumphs of Americans of all stripes, from students to activists to Nobel Prize winner, Bob Dylan.
Studs cherished all stories; the experience of a taxi driver was as relevant and worthy of respect to him as that of a newspaper editor, politician, or celebrity. During the nearly fifty years he broadcast out of WFMT in Chicago, he heard and shared stories that together create a compelling and vital picture of our nation through the second half of the twentieth century.
1963: Bob Dylan was in Chicago for a show and spent an hour speaking with Studs about songwriting and folk music. Looking at the archive with historical perspective, we can see that Studs often spoke with people early in their careers who would go on to be American cultural leaders. This is one such time.
1965: Studs traveled to Montgomery, Alabama for the culmination for the march from Selma to Montgomery. He recorded nine programs worth of interviews while he was there and we’re featuring two here. He talks with both African-American and white citizens of Montgomery, and in the second program speaks with a woman who was raised in Nazi Germany and came to the United States as an adult.
1967: On Mother’s Day 1967 a “Be-In” was held in Chicago’s Lincoln Park. Studs stopped by with his recorder and spoke to fellow participants. This program is in two parts.
1970: Students from Chicago’s Metro High School talk about their experience at this unique school in which Chicago itself serves as the classroom.
1973: Author Hunter S. Thompson talks about his time on the Nixon campaign and the resulting book, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72. About halfway through the interview, they play a recording of a disabled Vietnam veteran, Ron Kovic, protesting the campaign (courtesy of Pacifica Radio Archives). Kovic is unknown in 1973, but he would go on to write Born on the Fourth of July.
1974: Ed Sadlowski has just won an upset victory in the election for director of the largest district of the International Steel Workers Union. Ed and his wife Marlene join Studs to talk about labor history, their families, and why Ed saw a need for change in his union. This program includes the original advertisements from the broadcast.
1992: Astronomer Carl Sagan and his wife, science writer Ann Druyan, talk with Studs about humankind and what makes us who we are – the subject of their book Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors.
1996: Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert joins Studs for a two hour conversation on Roger Ebert’s Book of Film: From Tolstoy to Tarantino.