Studs On A Soapbox

A study of colorful Chicago author, radio personality, and raconteur Studs Terkel. The program contains footage of Terkel from the 1950s through 2000, when he was 89 years old. Terkel expounds on various topics such as work, art, media, himself, his political views, his family, and his colleagues.

0:00Copy video clip URL Color bars, tone, slate.

1:04Copy video clip URL Chicago Stories opening.

1:49Copy video clip URL In an intro for Chicago Stories, John Callaway discusses how Terkel’s fervent passion for social justice hasn’t diminished with his age: “[Terkel] is still engaged; still enraged.”

3:47Copy video clip URL Studs on a Soapbox opening. Studs Terkel on a soapbox in Chicago’s Bughouse Square. He laments the way his beloved independent radio station, Chicago’s WFMT, his radio home for over 40 years, changed when it was sold to a large corporation: “[When WFMT was privately owned] my program…was totally unedited, and then [WFMT] was taken over…and it became something else. Once you lose your independence…your very nature changes.”

5:42Copy video clip URL Terkel in 1974 and 1988 discussing his preference for radio versus television: “Radio is the most intimate of all mediums.” He goes on to describe how radio allowed President Franklin Roosevelt to connect with “ordinary working people” despite his lofty, blue blooded manner of speaking. “When you’re on radio you’re not talking to millions, you’re talking to one person.”

8:00Copy video clip URL A clip from the 1975 program “It’s a Living”: Terkel in the storeroom at WFMT showing his large collection of recordings and talking about his admiration for the people who made them, including Big Bill Broonzy and Mahalia Jackson. “I admire artists, simple as that. I admire gifted people who are devoted to their art or their crafts…and I don’t admire slovenliness, simple as that.”

9:55Copy video clip URL Terkel revealing what drives him to record other people stories, and write his books: “That’s the drive: to find out what it’s like to be in the other guy’s shoes.”

12:00Copy video clip URL Terkel expanding on his reasons for writing: “(quoting Bertolt Brecht) ‘When the [Spanish] Armada sank…King Philip, of Spain, King Phillip wept… were there no other tears?'” “I’m interested in the history of those who shed those other tears… So in a sense, that is the drive that impels me.”

14:28Copy video clip URL Clips from the ’70s and the year 2000 are intercut to demonstrate how Studs has stuck to his story for decades. “I call myself a gold prospector… [after I interview someone] there’s transcripts, maybe 100 pages. That’s ore. There’s some gold in it. The prospector sifts. I may find eight pages. That is the gold.” Followed by a 1974 clip of Terkel at Riccardo’s.

17:38Copy video clip URL Terkel tells a story about a guy who marries a much younger woman. It doesn’t work out. When asked why, the man replies, “She didn’t know the songs.”

18:36Copy video clip URL Terkel reluctantly commenting on his late wife Ida, to whom he was married for 60 years. He says losing Ida has left “a void that will be there at all times.” He goes on to say that when he dies, he wants his ashes mixed with Ida’s, and then wants somebody to scatter the mixed ashes over Chicago’s Bughouse Square.

19:28Copy video clip URL Terkel briefly discusses his friendship with writer and newspaper columnist Mike Royko. We then see a 1990 clip of Terkel and Royko talking in Chicago’s Lawry’s Tavern (on Diversey).

21:49Copy video clip URL Terkel is discussing his 1940’s -1950’s TV show, “Studs’ Place.” We see clips from the show.

23:46Copy video clip URL Studs Terkel: “Regrets? I don’t know…[I have] too many regrets…letters I never answered…people I did not come through for…too many.”

24:39Copy video clip URL In 1975, Studs talks about his desire to be remembered.

26:28Copy video clip URL Show outro with John Callaway, who talks about the Terkel archives at the Chicago Historical Society (Chicago History Museum) and FITV (Media Burn).

27:05Copy video clip URL End credits.

28:24Copy video clip URL End of tape.



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