Studs Terkel Interviews Bob Dylan, Shel Silverstein, Maya Angelou & More in New Audio Trove

The recent­ly-launched dig­i­ti­za­tion project Pop­Up Archive hosts a great selec­tion of Studs Terkel audio. The site’s archive of inter­views comes from Terkel’s 1952–1997 radio show, “The Studs Terkel Pro­gram,” on the Chica­go sta­tion WFMT.

While Terkel is famous for inter­view­ing every­day peo­ple for his oral his­to­ries of the Depres­sion, work, and World War II, and his radio show fea­tured its fair share of stu­dents, domes­tic work­ers, and vet­er­ans, this par­tic­u­lar archive is full of big names: Actress and come­di­an Lily Tom­lin. Lit­er­ary the­o­rist Edward Said. Actor and activist Sid­ney Poiti­er.

A short trip into the inter­views reveals Shel Sil­ver­stein telling Terkel the sto­ry of his as-yet-unpub­lished book Laf­ca­dio, The Lion Who Shot Back, in a rapid-fire Chica­go accent. Terkel inter­views the pho­tog­ra­ph­er Diane Arbus about the Depres­sion, try­ing in vain to elic­it any mem­o­ries at all per­tain­ing to finan­cial stress. (Even Terkel couldn’t win them all.) And an inter­view with James Bald­win is punc­tu­at­ed by the unmis­tak­able sound of a Zip­po lighter in use.

Cur­rent­ly, there are about twen­ty audio files avail­able, and the archive promis­es more to come, pend­ing dig­i­ti­za­tion and the clear­ing of rights. (Let’s hope they hur­ry up! Some of the place­hold­er entries for not-yet-avail­able interviews—Buckminster Fuller, Mar­garet Mead, Arthur C. Clarke—are most tan­ta­liz­ing.)

The one down­side to this archive is that you can’t down­load the interviews—a poten­tial draw­back for addict­ed pod­cast fans. How­ev­er, if you have a smart­phone and a good data con­nec­tion, it’s sim­ple enough to lis­ten to the files straight from your phone’s Chrome brows­er.

Above you can lis­ten to Terkel inter­view a young Bob Dylan in 1963. The remain­ing parts of the inter­view can be found here. Note: The Dylan inter­view isn’t actu­al­ly in the Pop Up archive. But it is anoth­er one of Terkel’s leg­endary inter­views. So we want­ed to add it to the mix.

Rebec­ca Onion is a writer and aca­d­e­m­ic liv­ing in Philadel­phia. She runs’s his­to­ry blog, The Vault. Fol­low her on Twit­ter: @rebeccaonion.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Studs Terkel Reads Poem “Blessed Be The Nation”

Voic­es from the Depres­sion: Studs Terkel Inter­views

Two Leg­ends Togeth­er: A Young Bob Dylan Talks and Plays on the Studs Terkel Pro­gram, 1963

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