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Happy birthday, Studs and to the Studs Terkel Radio Archive!

May 16, 2021|by Allison Schein Holmes

While Studs would have been 109 today, the archive itself is three.  We are celebrating many things today. Our National Endowment of the Humanities grant has come to a close. Our friends at the Library of Congress have completed digitization of all radio holdings and one surprise at the end of this message.

Here are a few numbers for you. When we launched, we had over 1,000 programs available. Today, we have over 2,000, with more added as they work through the copyright check. We have over 350 interactive transcripts available, with more being corrected and added each week.  None of this would have been possible without the help of many archive assistants, transcriptionists, part-time staff, interns, and volunteers. If you are one of those reading this right now, thank you for everything you have done to make the archive what it is today.

The archive team, along with the Chicago History Museum, both past, and present have worked hard to make this a resource for the public, teachers, scholars, and those unfamiliar with the rich voices that gave us this incredible, sometimes very intimate, look into the 20th century. We are excited to continually add to the archive, to work with students of all ages to introduce them to the ideas, thoughts, grit, and life that Studs invited into the studio and in his travels. We hope that the words will ring true, inspire, and encourage curiosity.

I want to leave with you with a few things, the first two of my favorite programs that I hope everyone will listen to. The first is a 1970 conversation with Elsa Knight Thompson, a West Coast radio documentarian and broadcaster, where they talk process. It is an incredibly enlightening discussion on the art of conversation and listening.

Content warning, however, there is offensive language spoken in the conversation.

The second is a 1969 conversation with a high school congo band using their voices and their passion for music and art for change within their environment.  

The last thing I would like to announce is the release of an open-source speech-to-text application code that can assist cultural heritage organizations in extending the accessibility of their audio-visual materials. Generously funded by the Davee Foundation and developed in partnership with Hyperaudio, you can find the code here. For a bit of context, in April we ran 484.714 minutes (approx. 8 hours) transcoded to M4a and transcribed by AWS transcribe and realigned totaled $13.31/$22 with monthly AWS fees included, in March  $19.11 for 707.813 minutes with - monthly total cost with AWS fees $29. Your costs will vary and human intervention is necessary for correcting but we firmly believe this to a useful resource to the community.

We are looking forward to bringing more conversations, programming, and events to you. I often think back to our first big Studs Terkel Radio Archive meeting. I was one of many relative newbies in the room.  It was towards the end when the late great Andrew Partner spoke about protecting the archive and the legacy of Studs and noted all the new faces in the room.  His warning felt wise, and I wondered where I landed in the group. Both he and Studs are gone, in some ways. Wherever they are, I hope they would each feel that the team has done justice to both Studs and the voices he so beautifully gathered.