WFMT Building Terkel Archive

Chicago-based public radio station WFMT(FM) has a long-term project ahead of it — transferring and transcribing 45 years-worth of Studs Terkel from his various radio programs. Terkel aired on WFMT from 1952–1997. He passed away in 2008 at 92 years of age.

The Studs Terkel Radio Archive will be based on more than 9,000 hours of radio and book interviews and over 5,600 interviews, according to WFMT. Partnering in the endeavor is the Studs Terkel Center for Oral History at the Chicago History Museum along with others such as the Library of Congress’ National Audiovisual Conservation Center.

It will be a massive job. Since a journey of a thousand miles starts with a first step, a press release said, “To introduce Terkel to a new generation of listeners, historians, journalists, and activists, a Kickstarter campaign launching today will support the audio archiving, transcription, and uploading of 1,000 of Terkel’s most notable interviews, which were originally recorded on reel-to-reel tapes and which have been largely inaccessible to the public until now.”

A release explained, “Ultimately, the online archiving initiative will bring all of Terkel’s WFMT radio programs to the Internet, where they will be available for listening, creative reuse, licensing, and educational purposes. The digital archive will offer a collection of primary source material for students, teachers, and researchers, while providing artists, journalists, and authors with inspiration and raw material for new works.”

Heading up the project will be WFMT General Manager Steve Robinson. Robinson said, “Studs was always one step ahead of everyone else both in introducing audiences to the leaders and uncelebrated people who were changing the world and the arts, as well in pushing the boundaries of modern broadcasting.”


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