Louis “Studs” Terkel was a Pulitzer Prize winning author, a ground-breaking oral historian, and the host of a radio show on Chicago’s WFMT for nearly 50 years. He was a Chicago icon, a man of the world, and a man ahead of his time. To keep his legacy alive and growing – and to help new generations engage with Studs and explore the themes he celebrated – we founded the Studs Terkel Radio Archive at www.studsterkel.org. There are thousands of amazing interviews waiting to be added to the Archive, and we need your support now to add these interviews to our free online collection.
Studs spoke honestly, listened respectfully, and responded without judgment. In his words, we hear his commitment to equality, human rights, and education. Through his guests, we learn about art and music, science and philosophy, feminism and civil rights, and the great varieties of human experience. These conversations are as relevant today as they were fifty years ago, as we continue to explore what it means to be a good American and a good person. We invite you to join us in bringing his words and his attitudes to life, and in introducing him to new generations of listeners, journalists, researchers, and audio artists.
In partnership with the Chicago History Museum, we aim to create an online repository of all 5600 hours of Studs Terkel’s WFMT radio programs. The repository will be free, and the programs will be available for listening, creative reuse and transformation, classroom and educational purposes, and licensing. The goal of this campaign is to upload recordings and transcriptions for 1000 programs (about 20% of the entire collection), with an expected completion date of December 2017. Click here to see a tiny sample of the interviews waiting to be added, along with a handy interactive filter for the topics covered in these shows. You can also hear a program every Friday night on WFMT’s “Best of Studs Terkel.”
In addition, your support of this project will:
- ensure proper curation and preservation of the Archive by allowing us to hire an Archive Manager and Archive Assistant for six months.
- help us to strengthen our technology partnerships by funding our collaborations with PopUp Archive, an online searchable and indexed transcription service; Hyperaudio, a browser-based audio remixing tool; Trint, a text-powered toolkit for searching, editing, and sharing media online; Vamonde‘s hyperlocal storytelling; and Starchive, a file management tool for use with digital archives. It is through these partnerships that we are able to keep the interviews alive and thriving in the digital world where they can be explored and creatively transformed. (You can learn more about our technology partners here).
- cover the production and shipping costs for contribution incentives.
The Studs Terkel Radio Archive works in partnership with the Chicago History Museum, and theLibrary of Congress is funding the digitization of the program tapes. Over the past two years, we have also received grant funding from Hive Chicago and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Although these partnerships and grants gave us the opportunity to begin building the Archive, they cannot entirely fund the Archive’s work. That is why we are turning to you for help.
What makes the Archive so vibrant, so relevant, and so exciting are the people Studs Terkel spoke with on his programs. As of this writing, we have over 400 programs digitized andavailable online, including conversations with Toni Morrison, Dr. Oliver Sacks, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Betty Friedan, and Big Bill Broonzy. Studs’s guests weren’t always celebrities. He was interested in hearing and sharing the stories of “regular” people in their daily lives – members of a PFLAG group; a survivor of the Hiroshima bombing; female producers at the BBC (when that was very unusual); and schoolchildren at the unveiling of Chicago’s Picasso sculpture.
For students, teachers, and researchers, these programs are a powerful and unique collection of primary source material. For artists, journalists, and authors, the interviews can serve as inspiration and raw material for new and remixed works. (You can see some examples of thathere.)
Most importantly, this collection of conversations offers a rare glimpse into the personal worlds of all kinds of people – from those who shaped the 20th century to those who shaped their communities. We at the Studs Terkel Radio Archive believe in this project because it embodies so much of what Studs believed in – education, creativity, journalistic freedom and integrity, and the opportunity to try something new. Please join us in embracing those values and bringing this collection into the 21st century.
A note on the sponsorship rewards (categories and programs): We do our best to retain programs in their entirety, however programs featuring readings or performances of copyrighted works may be edited and content may be removed. Generally, if an artist is reading or performing his or her work live on the show, this will be retained. If Studs plays a recording of a reading or performance, that generally must be edited out. Programs featuring readings and/or performances will be uploaded later than other programs because they must be vetted for copyrighted material and possibly edited.
Rewards for the program sponsorship at level 2 will be given on a first come, first served basis.
For category sponsors: Your name will be featured on the acknowledgments page of our website as (one of) the sponsor(s) of this category. Your contribution will also be noted on the category page once it has been created. You may choose to sponsor in honor or in memory of someone, in which case that name will be featured.
Project photograph credit: Chicago History Museum, ICHi-25638; Stephen Deutch, photographer.
Archival video footage of Studs Terkel courtesy of mediaburn.org.
Risks and challenges
To upload programs containing recorded music or spoken word, we will need to either obtain permission, or more likely, edit out the recorded portion. This may delay their posting date.
Although we do not foresee this possibility, interviewees or their estates may object to the publication, dissemination, and/or remix of their interviews, even though they do not hold the copyright to the program. If this situation were to arise, Studs Terkel Radio Archive, in conjunction with Chicago History Museum, would work closely with the interviewee/estate to try to reach a compromise that satisfies both parties. Studs Terkel Radio Archive has access to a copyright lawyer who is able to assist us in these matters.
It is going to take at least 10,000 person hours to upload 1000 recordings and perfect the transcripts. Currently, Studs Terkel Radio Archive is relying on teams of graduate student interns from a local library & information science graduate program to support us in this work. If our campaign is successful, it is possible that we will not have enough students working on the project to complete it in time. As a preventive step, Studs Terkel Radio Archive may reach out to other LIS programs and offer transcription/metadata work as an internship opportunity. We may also train select community volunteers on the transcription process.
External tech partners:
Although we have close relationships with our web developers and audio hosting sites, it is always possible that one of these partners may encounter their own difficulties, considering that we are using new and beta technologies. We have not yet encountered anything that has put our project on hold for a long period of time; if that were to happen, we would collaborate with the partner to find an alternate solution, and be candid with our donors about the situation.