March 16, 2012

À propos storytelling and reportage

Turns out that 2012 marks the centenary of the birth of Studs Terkel and that a retrospective of film, video and documentary programming spanning his television career will be among the highlights of a yearlong Chicago salute.

Of special interest to the media community will be the Studs Terkel Video and Film Festival, described by curator Tom Weinberg as “a free series of breakthrough events for people of all ages to see and enjoy both the remarkable man and his role as a TV pioneer.” Confirmed dates include June 2 at the Chicago History Museum and June 17 at the Claudia Cassidy Theater in the Chicago Cultural Center.

Weinberg, who was a close friend of Terkel and founder of the Media Burn Independent Video Archive, said the festival will include screenings of seven episodes of the landmark series Studs’ Place that have not been seen since 1951. Sixteen-millimeter kinescopes were discovered earlier this year in the basement of the Uptown home Terkel shared with his wife Ida, who died in 1999.

An essential component of the so-called Chicago School of Television, Studs’ Place was a network series produced here from 1949 to 1951 and noted for its ensemble cast and improvised dialogue. The unscripted drama ceased production after Terkel was blacklisted for his support of non-mainstream political and social causes.

“Studs’ determination to tell people’s stories never waned in 43 years on his daily WFMT radio show nor in the more than 20 oral history books he wrote in the last 40 years of his life,” Weinberg said. “Perhaps ironically, 35 years after Studs’ Place ended, he was awarded a Pulitzer Prize and was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters at the White House.”


  1. Dave Vogt on March 16th, 2012 at 9:16 pm

    To look at him I get the impression of someone who, when discussing some major historical figure, would describe said figure as a bum and have the context with which to do so.

  2. Sheila Ryan on March 16th, 2012 at 9:22 pm

    That was part of him, Dave. What was wonderful about living in Chicago when he was still alive was running into him everywhere. I must have had half a dozen conversations with him — in elevators and on the street. And this was after a friend who knew him well left Chicago just as I moved back there in 1991. Studs didn’t know me from Adam. You would just run into him and strike up a conversation.