This is part one of a 45-minute interview with Studs Terkel that showcases his time in early television and radio. Terkel also speaks of many other social and political issues of the time including: The Gulf War, military spending, George H.W. Bush, and a WWIII scenario.
00:00Copy video clip URL Tape begins with color bars. Studs Terkel and the interviewer can be heard having a conversation in the background.
00:20Copy video clip URL The interviewer asks Terkel about what he’s been up to in his life recently. Terkel responds, “Well, right now I’m surviving. Surviving the day.” He talks about some of the daily experiences he has at WFMT Chicago.
01:05Copy video clip URL The interviewer asks Terkel about his beginnings in writing. Terkel states that his writing profession came about accidentally and that his life is “an accretion of accidents.” He goes on to talk about his wasted days in law school and his early days in Chicago radio soap operas. He speaks in detail of the types of characters he played and the shows he had been involved with. He cites a specific show in which he worked with an actress by the name of Edie Davis who later went on to become the mother-in-law of Ronald Reagan. Terkel only found this out by watching Reagan’s acceptance speech on television and seeing Davis in the background. “And that’s when I was struck by an epiphanic feeling, you know, a revelation, that you can no longer tell where soap opera leaves off and life begins.”
04:01Copy video clip URL Terkel then begins to briefly talk about his time as a disc jockey in Chicago, then talks about his time in early Chicago television in great detail. He explains that television in Chicago had a particular style to it, and was mainly improvisational. Terkel also talks about his show Studs’ Place. He goes on to describe his spats with McCarthyism and blacklisting in the media world. Terkel eventually talks about getting a job at WFMT. After briefly speaking about WFMT, Terkel quickly changes gears and talks about how he came to be a writer. He speaks of his time in the Works Progress Administration during the Great Depression. While talking about this, Terkel gets a little off topic and shares his thoughts on the current state of politics in the country. He gets a little worked up during this part of the interview and makes many interesting observations about corruption within both the political and economic systems in the U.S. today.
10:45Copy video clip URL The interviewer asks Terkel how he thinks we can stop an impending recession. Terkel highlights the importance of having a historical awareness in making decisions for the country and emphasizes the need for less military spending. He talks about America’s sense of machismo and how it negatively affects many of the decisions that we make. He goes on to quote Albert Einstein. “Einstein said before he died, ‘Everything in the world has changed since we’ve split the smallest element in nature–the atom–except one thing: the way we think.’ We gotta think anew.” Terkel refers to America having a “national egocentricity.”
14:20Copy video clip URL The interviewer asks Terkel whether the U.S. will head into a third world war. Terkel pulls out a match to light his cigar and immediately responds, “Well if we do we should all be eliminated. We deserve to be liquidated.” Terkel then goes on to talk about the lunacy of entering into a WWIII scenario and states that if we were to, Sylvester Stallone should be president. He states that Saddam Hussein must be stopped, but in a “civilized way.” Terkel also states that he believes that Americans are an intelligent people, but also fairly ignorant because of the type of information that they are fed. Terkel also shares his thoughts on the fact that America is suffering from what he calls a “national Alzheimer’s disease.” He also touches on the Vietnam War and gives an analogy to the situation.
18:51Copy video clip URL The interviewer asks Terkel what his thoughts are on President Bush. Before Terkel responds, he lets out a snide laugh directed at the question. He then proceeds to rip into Bush Sr. and refers to him as a “teflon man.”
19:38Copy video clip URL Tape ends.