A Self-Proclaimed Workaholic: Studs Terkel, born May 16th 1912

Studs Terkel was born in the Bronx on May 16, 1912, the third son of Samuel Terkel, a tailor, and the former Anna Finkel, who had emigrated from Bialystok, Poland. In 1923 the family moved to Chicago. In the late 1930s, while acting in the theater, Mr. Terkel dropped his given name, Louis, and adopted the name Studs. Studs Terkel, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author whose searching interviews with ordinary Americans helped establish oral history as a serious genre, and who for decades was the voluble host of a popular radio show in Chicago.

Louis Terkel arrived here as a child from New York City and in Chicago found not only a new name but a place that perfectly matched–in its energy, its swagger, its charms, its heart–his own personality. They made a perfect and enduring pair.

Studs captured the eloquence of the common men and women whose hard work and strong values built the America we enjoy today. He was also an excellent interviewer, and his WFMT radio show was an important part of Chicago’s cultural landscape for more than 40 years.

In his oral histories, which he called guerrilla journalism, Terkel relied on his enthusiastic but gentle interviewing style to elicit, in rich detail, the experiences and thoughts of his fellow citizens. Over the decades, he developed a continuous narrative of great historic moments sounded by an American chorus in the native vernacular.

The elfin, amiable Mr. Terkel was a gifted and seemingly tireless interviewer who elicited provocative insights and colorful, detailed personal histories from a broad mix of people. “The thing I’m able to do, I guess, is break down walls,” he once told an interviewer. “If they think you’re listening, they’ll talk. It’s more of a conversation than an interview.”

“Division Street: America,” published in 1967 to rave reviews and best-selling success. It told the stories, in their own words, of businessmen, prostitutes, Hispanics, blacks, ordinary working people who formed the unit of America and also the divisions in society, using Chicago’s Division Street as a prototype of America.

It was a theme that Terkel would explore again and again, in “Hard Times,” his Depression-era memoir in 1970; in “Working,” his saga of the lives of ordinary working people in 1974; in “American Dreams; Lost and Found” in 1980; and “The Good War,” remembrances of World War II, published in 1985 and the winner of the Pulitzer Prize.

Mr. Terkel succeeded as an interviewer in part because he believed most people had something to say worth hearing. “The average American has an indigenous intelligence, a native wit,” he said. “It’s only a question of piquing that intelligence.”

“It isn’t an inquisition; it’s an exploration, usually an exploration into the past,” he once said, explaining his approach. “So I think the gentlest question is the best one, and the gentlest is, ‘And what happened then?’ ”

It may be the one time in his life that Mr. Terkel’s ruling passion failed him. “I don’t have to stay curious, I am curious, about all of it, all the time,” he once said. “ ‘Curiosity never killed this cat’ — that’s what I’d like as my epitaph.”


Arist(s) Name,Track Name
Magical Tunes , Ukraine National Anthem – Choir Version
Brent Cobb , Down In The Gulley
Uncle Lucius , Keep The Wolves Away
Guitar Shorty , I’ve Been Working
William Clarke , My Mind Is Working Overtime
Bruce Springsteen , Factory
The Vines , Factory
Taj Mahal , Things Are Gonna Work Out Fine – Bonus Track
Champion Jack Dupree , Work House Blues
Fat Daddy Blues Band , Work Work Work
Chance & The Blues Daddies , You Gotta Work It
Expresso Blues Band , Work All Day
Howlin’ Wolf , Work For Your Money
Tommy Brown , Night Work
The Human Project , Hard Work Blues
The Paul Butterfield Blues Band , I Got My Mojo Working
Otis Rush , Working Man
Merle Haggard , Working Man Blues
Skyla Burrell Blues Band , Working Girl Blues
Dan F. Hill , Construction Worker Blues
Brett Ryan , Inside Worker Blues
Warren Zevon , The Factory
Flogging Molly; Lucinda Williams , Factory Girls
Tom Dickson , Labor Blues
The Devil Makes Three , Working Man’s Blues
Jimmy Reed , Big Boss Man
Dave Dudley , Six Days On The Road
Nick Dittmeier; The Sawdusters , Just My Job
Bad News Blues Band , Get a Job
Bobby McClure , I Need A Job
Johnny Drummer , Somebody Please Give Me a Job
Detroit Junior , Call My Job
The Paul Butterfield Blues Band , Shake Your Money-Maker
Southside Johnny And The Asbury Jukes , I’ve Been Working Too Hard
The Rolling Stones , Salt Of The Earth – Mono
Sammy Blue , Day Job
Bruce Springsteen , Working on the Highway

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