Although Studs started broadcasting in the era of Mrs. Cleaver, he was always able to see beyond the limits our culture and media placed (and continues to place) on women. Certainly, he did interview more men than women—there were some cultural barriers he just couldn’t overcome—but when he speaks with women, he does so as a peer: with respect, with honesty, and with a genuine curiosity about their lives and work.

He spoke with famous women, women who were on their way to becoming famous, and women who were not and would never be famous. He spoke with writers, artists, thinkers, activists, teachers, wives, mothers, and young girls. Some of these conversations are intentionally about feminism and the women’s movement: Lady Dhanvanthi Rama Rau, Betty Friedan, and Gloria Steinem. Others are with women who are moving forward and changing the world around them without necessarily identifying themselves as feminists: Maya Angelou, female broadcasters at the BBC, and students and teachers at St. Mary’s Center for Learning.

Despite the fact that the “youngest” interview in this collection was broadcast in 1982, these conversations cover topics that still affect women—and men—today: equal rights in the workplace, education for women, the definition of a family and how our families shape our identities. They are a testament to Studs’s skill as an interviewer, but more importantly, they provide a unique snapshot of one of the most important global movements of the twentieth century.

Feminism Program Highlights

Click here for a list of programs with an emphasis on women and feminists.

Nora Ephron talks with Studs Terkel (1975/07/28)

The interview opens with Studs and Nora Ephron listening to a clip of Studs speaking with Dorothy Parker in the early 1960s. They go on to discuss Parker’s influence on Ephron, and Ephron’s new book Crazy Salad. She talks about the changes within the Women’s Movement, her changing relationship to the movement, and how she has struggled to be both a journalist and a feminist.

Listen to the full program.

Susan Catania, Clara Day and Margaret Klimkowski talk with Studs Terkel on WFMT (1978/11/01)

In 1978, Illinois was the only “northern, industrialized state” that had not ratified the ERA (Equal Rights Amendment). Illinois Representative Susan Catania, labor union spokesperson Clara Day (both members of the Illinois Commission on the Status of Women) and Margaret Klimkowski, president of Housewives for ERA, speak about this with Studs. The three share how they became involved in ERA activism, the personal and political struggles they’ve witnessed, and why they believe that ratification of the ERA is necessary.

Listen to the full program.

Lady Dhanvanthi Rama Rau talks with Studs Terkel on WFMT (1965/02/12)

The interview begins with an audio clip of actress Shanta Gandhi speaking about the 1943 Bengal famine. From there, Studs and Lady Rama Rau, founder and president of the Family Planning Association of India, discuss the global population explosion and its current and future effects. Lady Rama Rau speaks about the logistics of teaching about and providing birth control in villages, and other countries that have instituted successful contraceptive programs to lower population growth. Studs asks about religious differences among Christians, Hindus, and Muslims regarding contraceptives, and how this affects governmental family planning programs.

Listen to the full program.

Susan Brownell Anthony talks with Studs Terkel (1971/10/29)

Dr. Susan B. Anthony was the grand-niece of the suffragette activist of the same name. In this interview, she speaks with Studs about her memoir, The Ghost in My Life; the ghost, of course, referring to her namesake. The younger Dr. Anthony was an activist in her own right and the interview focuses primarily on this work: her “sincere interest in finishing up the job that Aunt Susan had begun.”

Listen to the full program.

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Studs Terkel: Conversations with America