It’s a Living: a documentary inspired by Studs Terkel’s Working

It’s a Living

Produced through Videopolis by Skip Blumberg, Paul Challacombe, Joel Gold, Judy Hoffman, Anda Korsts, Jim Mayer, Jack McFadden, Tom Shea, Tom Weinberg, and Jim Wiseman


It’s A Living was the first locally produced independent 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.

You can watch the full documentary at Media Burn, or buy the brand new DVD. 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.



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