Studs’s Feeling Tone + Help Wanted at OS!

Illustration by Susan Coyne

This Week — a radio treat: 5000 hours of Studs Terkel in one radio hour. Or almost. Listen today at 2pm on WBUR or anytime on our website.

MM: This one was a gas, and apart from Studs himself and our own radio host, of course, Zach Goldhammer gets a giant amount of credit. Zach has done his own research on Studs Terkel, and once our good friend the photographer Michael Lutch alerted us to the news of the opening of the Studs Terkel archive last week, Zach jumped into action. He found our guests — archivist Tony Macaluso, biographer Alan Weider, Chicago journalist Rick Kogan and poet Kevin Coval, and then he led us into an incredible treasure trove of history and radio fun. We’re all about feeling tones now!

Photograph by Michael Lutch in Lawrence, MA

What Studs taught me is there is no such thing as an ordinary person. And I think anybody who listens to most of his interviews will sense that. After his wife died, he told me — people were worried that he’d soon go too, but he lived for quite some time after that — “Rick, when I check out (he never used the word die or death because he was a hotel kid he grew up in a hotel, a rooming house, and he wrote his own epitaph), He said “you got to put this in the paper when I check out.” (And of course I wrote his obituary). I go, “what is it? I don’t want to talk about this; I don’t want to hear about it, but what is it?” He says, “ OK this is it: curiosity did not kill this cat.” — Rick Kogan, Chicago journalist and Studs’ good friend.

Studs Terkel

We listened to loads of hours from this archive that didn’t make it onto the show. Here’s some excerpts from some of our favorites, but you can explore the whole archive here.

And here are some bonus Studs’ quotes and bits of writing we love:

On finding a voice

I’m playing this tape recorder for this woman, very poor, … and these little kids running around want to hear their mama’s voice on this new machine. And so, I’m playing it back, and she’s hearing her voice for the first time in her life, and suddenly she says, “Oh, my god!” And I say, “What is it?” She said, “I never thought I felt that way before.” Well, that’s an astonishing moment for her and for me…So that’s the exciting stuff. She discovers that she does have a voice, that she counts. The key word, by the way, in all of these people is they must feel they “count.”

On the 2007 domestic spying revelations and “the wiretape this time”

I have observed and written about American life for some time. In truth, nothing much surprises me anymore. But I always feel uplifted by this: Given the facts and an opportunity to act, the body politic generally does the right thing. By revealing the truth in a public forum, the American people will have the facts to play their historic, heroic role in putting our nation back on the path toward freedom. That is why we deserve our day in court.

On Obama’s 2008 campaign

I’d ask Obama, do you plan to follow up on the program of the New Deal of FDR? I’d tell him, ‘don’t fool around on a few issues, such as health care. We’ve got bigger work to do! Read FDR’s second inaugural address!’

The free market has to be regulated. And the New Deal did that and they provided jobs. The government has to. The WPA provided jobs. We have got to get back to that. We need more reg-u-la-tion.

I was just watching Alan Greenspan, he’s an idiot, and by the way so was Ayn Rand! Community organizers like Obama know what’s going on. If they remember. The important thing is memory. You know in this country, we all have Alzheimer’s. Obama has got to remember his days as an organizer. It all comes back to the neighborhood. Well I hope the election is a landslide for Obama.

We should also mention that Zach will soon be leaving OS to begin an American Studies PhD program at BU, where he plans to study Studs as well as other left-wing radio producers in greater depth. That means we’ll soon have an opening for a new producer position at Open Source. Here’s the draft of our job posting—feel free to send it far and wide to anyone who might be interested!

Open Source, a weekly public radio show covering arts, ideas, and politics that airs on WBUR in Boston (also the very first podcast ), is looking for a new producer.

It’s a dream job for an insatiably curious person, who still reads books (yes, even fiction), listens to podcasts, and has some experience as a researcher or is just really good at digging for information. We’re looking for another team member to help us plan shows, find guests, help edit interviews, curate our archives, manage our social media feeds and help with writing on our website and in our newsletter.

Requirements include passion and interests of all kinds, specially in arts, culture, politics and ideas; energy (we work long hours), and a positive attitude (the world is gloomy enough). Whether it’s Trump or Sanders; Cuba or China; Van Morrison or Otis Redding; Transcendentalism or Afrofuturism; Marxism or Surveillance Capitalism — if it’s interesting, we’ll talk about it.

You’ll also be encouraged to find your own projects to help expand the show’s reach (we know there’s more people like us out there). Others have worked on video documentaries, interview trailers, live events, cross-platform collaborations with online publications, and other side projects.

Radio chops are a bonus, but not required. This is mostly an editorial producer position.

If you or someone you know is interested in the job, send a cover letter and CV to:

Til next week,

The OS Producers

An American conversation with global attitude, on the arts, humanities, and global affairs, hosted by Christopher Lydon.