This past Friday marked the sixth anniversary of Studs’s death and an occasion to reflect on his legacy as we work to assemble his radio and audio archive.  It’s heartening to know that within two years almost all of his radio programs (5,400+) should be on the site available for the world.

To get a sense of how much pride Studs took in his archive, watch a bit of this fascinating BBC television documentary made about Studs in 1985.  (Thanks to our friends at Media Burn for making this and other dozens of other Studs videos available.)


At about 9:25 in, you can see Studs browsing through his reel-to-reel tape collection talking about specific programs, a gleam in his eye as he surveys shelf upon shelf of his life’s work.  It’s a moment that has inspired us as we work to make all of those programs available.

Studs’s death on Halloween of 2008 at the age of 96 was a moment of great grief but also resonant in its timing.  Following the announcement of his death on Halloween, WFMT spent the weekend, including All Souls’ Day, playing tributes and highlights from his career; and then that Tuesday was the big presidential election that Studs was eager to witness.  It was a peculiar sequence of events.

To get a sense of how Studs’s life was presented at the time, take a look at the obituary written by the great Chicago journalist (and Studs’s friend) Rick Kogan.  It begins:

Louis Terkel arrived here as a child from New York City and in Chicago found not only a new name but a place that perfectly matched–in its energy, its swagger, its charms, its heart–his own personality.  They made a perfect and enduring pair. 

Author-radio host-actor-activist and Chicago symbol Louis “Studs” Terkel died Friday afternoon in his home on the North Side.  At his bedside was a copy of his latest book, P.S. Further Thoughts From a Lifetime of Listening, scheduled for release this month.  He was 96 years old.

“Studs Terkel was part of a great Chicago literary tradition that stretched from Theodore Dreiser to Richard Wright to Nelson Algren to Mike Royko,” Mayor Richard M. Daley said Friday.  “In his many books, Studs captured the eloquence of the common men and women whose hard work and strong values built the America we enjoy today.  He was also an excellent interviewer, and his WFMT radio show was an important part of Chicago’s cultural landscape for more than 40 years.”

It is hard to imagine a fuller life.

As we mark the sixth anniversary of the end of Studs’s physical life, we’re inspired and humbled at the prospect of helping keep his ideas and spirit alive and present through this archive.

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