Friday, October 31, 2008

RIP Studs

Posted By on 10.31.08 at 04:16 PM

The Trib reports that Studs Terkel has died. This is deeply saddening, although it's worth remembering how immensely long and full his life was; he was born in 1912, and as he put it, "the year the Titanic went down, I came up." I don't know whether they don't make them like Terkel anymore, or whether the Terkels out there don't get the same regard in a changed media environment. Either way, he's irreplaceable, and I regret that I never met him, although I did get to see him live at a Stop Smiling talk. It was a very young crowd, and it was clear he drew a lot of encouragement and energy being in front of audience of people less than a third his age.

(Update: This is a good idea: "I'll bet there's a vigil at Bughouse Square tonight. Everyone in Chicago media owes a debt to Studs.")

Studsterkel.org is obviously a great place to get a sense of his radio work. And I'm sure that WFMT, where Studs made his bones, will be rolling out hours of tribute; I hope they continue to rerun his shows on Saturday nights.

* Roger Ebert: "How Studs helps me lead my life."

* Edward Lifson remarked on Studs's life earlier this year on his birthday.

* Studs on the election, Saul Alinsky, and more, in what was almost certainly his last interview: "The idiots! They label Saul Alinksy - the great neighborhood organizer - as a subversive! He's been dead for 35 years and he was honored by the Catholic Church! He's no subversive. Neither is Bill Ayers! That Sarah Palin - you know, she's Joe McCarthy in drag!"

* Studs with WFMT's Andrew Patner

* Full interviews with Bob Dylan, Louis Armstrong, and Pete Seeger

* After the publication of Will the Circle Be Unbroken? on my favorite radio show, Speaking of Faith with Krista Tippett; really a great interview

* WBEZ's archive

Something that probably bears mentioning--if you're interested in Terkel's work, I really, really recommend the work of a similar, local, less-well-known oral historian, Timuel Black. He's much more strictly a historian, in the academic sense, but his Bridges of Memory series reminds me of Terkel and deserves to be spoken of in the same breath.

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