This post was written by one of our description interns, Bithiah Brown.

Studs Terkel was a radio talk show host for forty-five years with over 5,000 interviews in various topics. These interviews are conducted with people in professions, such as civil rights activists, actors, musicians, journalists, writers, and so much more. Diversity selection is at its best with Mr. Terkel’s interviews. There is so much wisdom to be obtained by listening to these records. I became an Archive Description Intern since August 2017. As an archive intern, I have worked primarily with digital recordings from the Studs Terkel interview collection. In this collection, there is an enormous amount of recordings, that can be difficult for an intern to navigate and choose a record that may need revision. To help ease this stress, our supervisor and the archivist for the collection, Allison Schein, sends all interns an Excel spreadsheet that details the records that require editing.

But how do we choose and begin editing a record? During the introduction to the internship, we were given mandatory tools to use for our position, such as, an Excel spreadsheet, Slack program, and Starchive. Slack is a messaging application for team members. There are four channels used within Slack, such as; “general” for announcements, “intern” for any questions regarding work related tasks, “programs” for interns to announce their chosen records, and “random” for any non-work related topic. Starchive contains the wide range of records of the digitized radio programs from the beloved Studs Terkel.

The most challenging task is selecting a record. The choices feels endless despite the provided spreadsheet. As an intern with no experience in the archive field, I felt overwhelmed at first. Eventually, I settled on a record with a musical opera performer.

Continue to Improve Your Skill

My first choice was the late opera singer, Licia Albanese, interviewed in 1960 discussing her childhood, opera performances, rehearsals, and advice to upcoming singers. An interesting interview enlighten on a profession unknown to me. Ms. Albanese expresses studying the musical performance rigorously especially expressed in Ms. Albanese shows. Upon beginning this task, I realized that interviews with musical performances can be the most difficult. When writing notes spelling the exact opera titles become a definite trial and error mission Spelling musical titles is frustrating in it’s own, but clarifying story facts and reviewing spell check over the web is another story. Archive records strongly depend on accurate data, therefore, research is a MUST. To learn in my first archive record that I had to spend a number of days browsing opera names titles, performances, and biography content surrounding a performer. Not just any performer, an opera singer.

However, Licia Albanese had intriguing advice for her upcoming artists. In any profession, there is always something you can do to become better in your talent and demonstrate it in your work. In this clip, she describes her experience with improving her performances and learning from the criticism of the professionals around her.

Initially, the ongoing strategy to exposure new talent into the entertainment industry is known through free performances. In this clip, Ms. Albanese goes on about how young singers should look into the art instead of the business. By doing this, people can get to know you and can help promote for a successful career.

Challenge Your Surroundings

The famous American harmonica player, Larry Adler, was also known for revolutionizing the mouth organ, another term for the harmonica. Studs Terkel had Mr. Adler briefly discuss how the change it was for him with his exposure to the harmonica, and a variation of collaborations with composers, film makers, and music performers in the entertainment industry.
In this clip, he discusses how he helped introduce the mouth organ into the concert hall. He mentioned how “he got tired of playing the blues” and began to play something new.

Unfortunately, due to his political view he was blacklisted in America. In these two clips, he mentioned how the blacklisted affected him and other musicians. Studs referred to it as a “waste of talent” when a lot of musicians did not come back from their blacklist. In the second clip, Mr. Adler goes on with how the blacklist caused the loss of a musical nomination for a film.

Take Away Message

Both performers provided solid advice for their listeners. These artists described how they improved their talent when they continually worked on their craft, accepted criticism, and allowed themselves to adapt to their environment. By doing so, it changed their career status and taught valuable skills. I am new to the archival domain; however, I can take this knowledge in both personally and professional settings. Despite a nervous introduction, I was provided a well-organized team. Studs Terkel Radio Archive has astonishing supportive group members prepared to guide you in the right direction. Each staff member sets aside their time to ensure every intern can become masters working with digital content. For me, this internship did not only present hands-on experience, but also granted me tools to discover myself in a new environment.

Bithiah Brown is attending San Jose State University online for her Master’s in Library and Information Science. In her current courses, she has taken an interest into furthering her knowledge and experience in the following career pathway areas: Archive and Preservation, Digital Services, and Digital Curation.
Bithiah plans to continue her interests in this field through hands-on experience in internships, projects, and workshops. In her professional background, she works in the education field as an Instructional Aide – Special Education for over three years in the K-12 school settings.