Long before podcasts wormed their way into popular culture, Pulitzer Prize-winning oral historian and broadcast journalist Studs Terkel used the radio to tell the stories of thousands of newsmakers. During his 45 years at Chicago’s WFMT, he recorded 9,000 hours of interviews with everyone from Martin Luther King Jr. to Muhammad Ali to James Baldwin to early members of Parents Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, employing his platform to tell in-depth, sensitive stories that illuminate the finer points of dozens of still-relevant topics, including the fight for civil and labor rights in America.
Terkel, who was White, died in 2008, leaving behind an example of how allies can amplify the voices and causes of those who spend their lives in the struggle. In honor of his legacy, WFMT just launched a Kickstarter campaign to digitize and upload 1,000 of his 5,600+ interviews to create an online Studs Terkel Radio Archive.
“Studs was always one step ahead of everyone else both in introducing audiences to the leaders and uncelebrated people who were changing the world and the arts, as well in pushing the boundaries of modern broadcasting,” Steve Robinson, general manager of WFMT said in a press release sent to Colorlines. “We cannot afford to lose the priceless history, insight, and intelligence that Studs Terkel captured from his studio in Chicago over the course of nearly 50 momentous and turbulent years.”
In celebration of Terkel’s legacy, Colorlines has obtained exclusive audio of his interview with Charles V. Hamilton, who co-authored “Black Power: The Politics of Liberation” with Kwame Ture (formerly known as Stokely Carmichael). The landmark book explores the concept of “Black Power,” defining it as “a call for Black people in this country to unite, to recognize their heritage, to build a sense of community. It is a call for Black people to begin to define their own goals, to lead their own organizations and to support those organizations. It is a call to reject the racist institutions and values of this society.”
Originally recorded on reel-to-reel, the conversation has been rarely heard since it aired in 1967. Listen in below.