Richard Nixon and the Mad Men

It comes as no surprise to most voters that candidates are vetted, groomed, and closely instructed on what to say and how to say it.  In the television age a candidate’s image plays a vital role in the campaign, from the first Kennedy-Nixon debates in 1960,

to the relatively new conversations on how a female candidate is expected to appear and behave.

But how often does the voting public consider the fact that a candidate may be advertised and sold, just like, to use Studs’ simile, a can of Right Guard?

Author Joe McGinniss went behind the scenes with Richard Nixon’s “image advisers” during the 1968 campaign to find out just exactly what they did and why.  (McGinniss makes it clear that Nixon was not the only candidate with a PR team, just the only candidate who would allow him to observe.)  The book that resulted from McGinniss’s observations was The Selling of the President 1968. Continue reading →

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George Wald, Nobel Laureate

In 1967, George Wald, along with Ragnar Granit and Haldan Keffer Hartline won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine “for their discoveries concerning the primary physiological and chemical visual processes in the eye.”

Dr. Wald, 1967

Dr. Wald, 1967

In 1970, Studs invited Dr. Wald (of Harvard University) to speak on his show.  In the meantime, Dr. Wald had given a talk at an MIT anti-war teach-in: “A Generation in Search of a Future” (read it here).

Perhaps not surprising to Studs’ regular listeners, the two men do not discuss the primary physiological and chemical visual processes in the eye.  Instead, they talk about Dr. Wald’s speech, student unrest, destruction of the environment, and the possibility of nuclear war.  Dr. Wald tells Studs, “We’ve reached a time, the like of which has not appeared in human history in which the whole human enterprise is threatened, all over the world.  The future of humanity is at stake.”

From here, the conversation moves on to the difference between science and technology, and the ethical imperatives of our fast-paced technological world.  Dr. Wald admonishes us to “only do those things that seem right and good to you.”  The relationship between technology and humanity is one Studs returns to consistently; but maybe that’s not unexpected for a man who uses technology as a medium to collect and convey human stories.  In 1962, he spoke to French filmmaker Jacques Tati about much the same thing (although from a more humorous perspective).  Listen here.

Photo: Author unknown, public domain,

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Pride Month Celebration — Week 5: Jonathan Katz

This post was written by our summer intern Megan, who is a MLIS student at Dominican University.

It’s the last day of June, which means it is the last day of Pride Month! This week we are listening to Studs’ 1977 interview with American historian and author Jonathan Katz. Katz is a historian of human sexuality, and in this interview he and Studs discuss his work Gay American History: Lesbians and Gay Men in the United States. In this pioneering work, Katz chronicles a collection of documents and letters concerning homosexuality from the 15th century onward in America.


Jonathan Ned Katz

Katz’s work brings to light the suffering LGBT people have endured throughout American history. Without Katz’s hard work, much of this history would never have been discovered. He explores a wide variety of historical accounts of gay American history, ranging from that of Henry Haye, a communist and gay man who founded the first homosexual emancipation organization, to a love letter written to Emma Goldman by a woman in the early 20th century, to Walt Whitman as a forefather of the homosexual emancipation movement.

These varieties of stories and documents expose the horrendous suffering that gay and lesbian Americans have endured: they were treated as silent and invisible, considered sinners, and their existence was denied by the majority of society. When they were recognized, they were often considered deviants and abnormal, and even subjected to medical “treatments”. In his work, Katz describes documentation of aversion therapy, the use of nausea-inducing drugs, shock treatments, castration, lobotomies, vasectomies, hysterectomies, and other barbaric procedures.

At the time Gay American History: Lesbians and Gay Men in the United States was written, the gay community had not been historically explored; it was pushed into the darkness and forgotten. Katz explains that this time is over, and that in order to move forward, we must recognize the historical injustices that the LGBT community has suffered in America. Although there is still a lot of work to be done, Katz’s work certainly played an important role in recovering and revealing gay and lesbian American history. We thank Katz for his hard work and honor the LGBT community on the last day of Pride Month 2016.


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Jill Johnston & Lesbian Nation: The Feminist Solution

“The class of men oppresses the class of women, and the institution through which they do that is the heterosexual institution.”
– Jill Johnston

This post was written by Meghan, an MLIS student from Dominican University.

To continue our celebration of Pride month, we are highlighting a 1973 interview with feminist author, Jill Johnston.  The main topic of discussion is her book, Lesbian Nation: The Feminist Solution, which outlines some of her views of feminism and how she became an activist in the “lesbian feminist” movement.  Johnston was a long-time writer for The Village Voice in New York, and after having married, given birth to two children, and divorced realized that not only was she a lesbian sexually, but politically as well.  She explains, “My book is a story of growing up as a conditioned person who was instinctively at odds with the social forces around me, and not knowing that, you see, I was just a naturally acculturated female.”

In Lesbian Nation, she advocates for all women to recognize and embrace their identities as lesbians, explaining:

“I have a political definition of lesbianism and, what it really means is self-commitment, and we know that we have a feminist movement because women have been denied self-commitment and we’re just updating feminism by calling it ‘lesbianism,’ because we feel that total commitment to ourselves would include every phase of our activities…a bonding of women.”

To her mind, revising the current heterosexual norms in society is the only way to succeed in creating a better world.  Toward the end of the interview, she tells Studs, “In the end, you’ll see that we’re right – that this is the really broad approach to the world’s problems.”

Jill Johnston’s views may not have been shared by many at the time, and certainly, over forty years later, we know that her vision has not become a reality, however, it is the tireless work of women like her that has set the precedent for the feminist movements that still exist today.


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Pride Month Celebration – Week 3: Leonard Matlovich

“They gave me a medal for killing two men, and a dishonorable discharge for loving one.”

-Leonard Matlovich

This post was written by our summer intern Megan, a MLIS student at Dominican University.

All month we’ve been posting in honor of Pride month, and this week we will hear Studs’ 1975 interview with Leonard Matlovich, a former member of the United States Air Force who was discharged because he was gay.

Leonard Matlovich had a long and established history with the United States Air Force. His father was in the Air Force, and Matlovich himself was born on an Air Force base, graduated from an Air Force high school, and achieved most of his higher education through the Air Force. Furthermore, Matlovich was awarded a Purple Heart and the Bronze Star for his superior service. Despite his dedicated service for the United States, when Matlovich informed his superior officer that he was gay, he was immediately processed to be discharged from the Air Force. In this interview with Studs, Matlovich explains that he wanted to stop this kind of discrimination and oppression of gay people.

Gravesite of Leonard Matlovich

Matlovich’s gravestone at the Congressional Cemetery. Matlovich’s gravesite functions as a memorial site for LGBT activists.

Much of Studs’ interview with Matlovich focuses on the pain that comes from having to hide who one is. Throughout most of his time in the Air Force, Matlovich had to hide his true identity, and this terrible pain turned into hatred towards other groups of people. After admitting to himself that he was gay and finally coming out, Matlovich’s hatred toward others was eradicated, and he was finally able to love himself. He explains to Studs, “You can’t love others until you love yourself, and as long as you hate yourself, you’re going to hate others.”

Ultimately, Leonard fought his discharge, and attended a military hearing regarding his status. Approximately twenty witnesses came to Matlovich’s aid. In September of 1975, base commander Alton J. Thogersen suggested that Matlovich’s discharge be upgraded to an “Honorable” status. In October of the same year, his discharge was officially upgraded to an Honorable Discharge.

Matlovich explains in his interview with Studs that anything less than equality and justice is not tolerated in this country. The theme of this interview is freedom–the freedom to be who you want and love who you want. Unfortunately, Leonard Matlovich passed away from HIV-related complications in 1988 at the age of 44. The Studs Terkel Radio Archive honors Leonard Matlovich, the LGBT community, and those who have lost their lives due to HIV/AIDS.

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Pride Month Celebration – Week Two: Quentin Crisp

This post was written by Meghan, an MLIS student from Dominican University.

“Oh no.  I don’t think homosexuals are really happy.  I wouldn’t say this. I think they’re madly gay, and this itself is a dead giveaway, isn’t it?” 

  • Quentin Crisp in conversation with Studs Terkel
Quentin Crisp by Ella Guru - Oil on Canvas

Quentin Crisp by Ella Guru – Oil on Canvas

Studs Terkel speaks to Quentin Crisp in his one-room flat in a boarding house in London’s Chelsea neighborhood, where, at the time of the interview, Mr. Crisp had lived for thirty years.  Although Mr. Crisp was 61 when he was interviewed, and ultimately lived to be 90 years old, he remarked to Studs Terkel, “I don’t expect anything new from my life now.”  As a “self-confessed homosexual,” Quentin Crisp suffered a great deal during his early adulthood, as he was subjected to verbal, emotional, and physical abuse from friends, family, and strangers.  However, he came to the realization that the best way to cope with this treatment was simply to accept it.

By the time of the interview, although a sexual revolution had taken place and Crisp was then living in a much more “permissive” society, he still claimed that the best way to live was to accept one’s chains, rather than trying to break them, saying, “when you can’t sink any lower, then you’re absolutely free.”

Quentin Crisp NYC 1992 Ross Bennett Lewis

Quentin Crisp NYC 1992 photo by Ross Bennett Lewis

Mr. Crisp was an actor, writer, a well-known public figure, and the subject of films and interviews.  He nonetheless felt that he was “always at the losing end.”  Were he alive today to see that the struggles he endured during his life have paved the way for others, perhaps his outlook might have changed.

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Kicking off Pride month with Lily Tomlin

All month long, we’ll be posting about programs that feature guests from the LGBTQ community.  This week, we’re featuring a 1988 interview with Lily Tomlin.


It’s really just our common humanity that means anything.

~Lily Tomlin

Studs didn’t choose his guests based on gender identification or sexual orientation, just as he didn’t choose them based on race, religion, profession, or any other form of identity.  He was interested in all of those things, but he saw them as connections and potential bridges between people, not as walls to erect out of fear and hate.

That being said, the LGBTQ experience is rarely spoken of directly in the archive.  (Although you’ll be hearing this month from one of the exceptions, Quentin Crisp, who speaks very candidly about his experience as a gay man.)  During the 80’s, Studs did speak to a PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) chapter, and in the 80’s and 90’s, he did five programs on HIV/AIDS.  But out of 9000 hours of audio, this isn’t much.

This small number isn’t surprising, considering the years in which he was broadcasting.  Homosexuality was a topic that was rarely discussed, let alone broadcast on the radio.  Even if he couldn’t ask directly about the LGBTQ experience, the way he could ask women about disparity in the workplace, or African Americans about civil rights protests, this didn’t stop him from bringing talented and interesting members of the LGBTQ community into his studio on a regular basis.  And if you listen between the lines, it’s quite clear that he is offering his guests an opportunity to speak indirectly about their experiences, such as in his conversation with James Baldwin about Another Country.   Continue reading →


Eugene McCarthy talks politics

It’s primary election day in Illinois (and Florida, Missouri, North Carolina, and Ohio), and we’re continuing our theme of interviews with and about presidential candidates

In March of 1975, former Minnesota senator Eugene McCarthy joined Studs in the studio to talk about his planned presidential candidacy for 1976.  He ran as an independent candidate for the Committee for a Constitutional Presidency, but withdrew from the election before the primaries.  Jimmy Carter would go on to win the election.

Studs doesn’t speak too much in this interview.  He asks some thoughtful questions and agrees with McCarthy now and again, but most of the program is McCarthy.   Continue reading →

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Presidents and a farewell

A belated happy Super Tuesday to you, readers.

When we vote, who do we vote for?  How can we really know what a candidate is all about?  We visit their websites, look over the literature we get in the mail, but most of our understanding of what a candidate stands for comes through print media, radio, and TV.

Lincoln Douglas debates commemorative stamp, 1958

For this post, we bring you two interviews with writers talking about their presidential subjects.  We start with Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward talking to Studs shortly after the publication of All the President’s Men. They give Studs the details of some of the more exciting and suspenseful moments of their work, and even if you’ve seen the movie or read the book, it’s a jolt to hear it in their own unrehearsed voices.

Next up is Doris Kearns Goodwin talking about her book Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream.  She talks a great deal about how Johnson’s personal life and childhood experiences affected his professional and political life, and how, in her observation, as the world changed he struggled to change with it.  Through her eyes, he becomes a very human figure: “All we saw was this extraordinary powerful character… What I found underneath was an incredibly vulnerable, sad, interesting, terrified man.”

Looking for more?  Check out the post featuring Hunter S. Thompson talking about his book Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72.

Earlier this week, we learned of the death of Chicago doctor Quentin Young.  In addition to his important work at Michael Reese Hospital and Cook County Hospital, Dr. Young was a fervent activist.  He joined Martin Luther King, Jr. on his march from Selma to Montgomery (and also treated him when he was in Chicago), registered black voters in Mississippi, and in 2001, at 77, he participated in a 167-mile march for universal healthcare.  Dr. Young was both friend and doctor to Studs.

Dr. Young at a rally in San Francisco for single-payer healthcare, 2007.

Dr. Young at a rally in San Francisco for single-payer healthcare, 2007.

At the time of this interview, Dr. Young (who appeared on the show sixteen times!) was Director of Medicine at Cook County Hospital, and he had recently released a memo banning the prescription of sleep aids and other potentially addicting drugs by clinic doctors.  He and Studs talk about the factors that led to this decision, including the financially-driven relationship between pharmaceutical companies and doctors, and the fact that doctors were giving out prescriptions as a substitute for spending time with patients.  Does this sound familiar?  It was 1974.

Photo credits: Lincoln/Douglas: By US Post Office [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.  Quentin Young: Flickr user rstephemi CC BY-SA 2.0.

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Sidney Poitier and Studs Terkel in 1959

We are in the thick of awards season – the Golden Globe and SAG ceremonies are recently behind us, and the Oscars are just a few weeks away.  This year we are again facing what has become an all-too-familiar issue – the lack of diversity in the nominations.

Sidney Poitier made history in 1964 as the first African American to win an Academy Award for Best Actor (the next African American man to win the award would be Denzel Washington in 2001); and in 1968 (the year In the Heat of the Night won Best Picture and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner won Best Original Screenplay) he, among others, refused to attend the ceremony if it was not moved from its planned date of April 8 – the night before Martin Luther King Jr.’s funeral.  The ceremony was moved to April 10.

Five years earlier, in 1959, The Defiant Ones won Best Cinematography and Best Screenplay.  (One of the writers, Nedrick Young, had been blacklisted, and the Oscar was awarded to his pseudonym, Nathan E. Douglas.  In 1993, the credit was restored to his proper name.)  The film was also nominated for Best Picture and Best Director, and four members of the cast were nominated, including Sidney Poitier.

Tony Curtis and Sidney Poitier in The Defiant Ones.

Tony Curtis and Sidney Poitier in The Defiant Ones

Later that year, Poitier joined Studs in the studio.  Although their conversation took place only five years before Poitier’s historic win, in terms of Civil Rights setbacks and triumphs, those years covered a lot of ground: the SNCC was founded, the Freedom Rides began, Dr. King made his “I Have a Dream” speech, and Medgar Evers, President Kennedy, and Dr. King were all killed.

But before all that happened, Poitier was talking about his experiences in the West Indies and in Hollywood, and his hopes for future African American stars.

Photo credit: By trailer screenshot (United Artists) (The Defiant Ones trailer) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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