“It’s A Living” was the first locally produced portable videotape broadcast on Chicago television, airing May 9, 1975 on WTTW. More than a dozen video pioneers worked together with Studs Terkel to make an insightful television program about everyday people that was unlike anything that had been broadcast before.
“It’s A Living” was based on Terkel’s groundbreaking oral history book, Working. It features the stories of six different people at their jobs: two from Terkel’s book (“Wheelin’ Lovin'” Al Pommier, a parking lot attendant, and Yolanda Lief, a waitress) and four new people (a barber, a piano tuner, a model, and Terkel’s WFMT receptionist).
A highlight of the program is Terkel’s own working life as he did his daily one-hour eclectic radio broadcast, and his thoughts on fame, artistry, and his legacy.
Special features on the DVD include footage of Studs Terkel clowning around with his pal Nelson Algren as Algren was preparing to finally abandon Chicago, the city that ignored him for decades. Also included is a 30-minute documentary made as a follow-up to “It’s A Living,” “Paper Roses,” which gets a different perspective on working and retirement through the voices of senior citizens at the Chicago Housing Authority’s Clark-Irving Homes.