Extraordinary Stories of Ordinary Life
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The Working Tapes of Studs Terkel

Studs Terkel

For Labor Day, we’re bringing you a special, one hour episode of our series The Working Tapes of Studs Terkel.

In 1974, oral historian Studs Terkel published a book with an unwieldy title: “Working: People talk about what they do all day and how they feel about what they do.” This collective portrait of America was based on more than a hundred interviews Studs did around the country. And after “Working” came out, something surprising happened. It became a bestseller. It even inspired a Broadway musical. Something about ordinary people talking about their daily lives, struck a cord. Studs recorded all of his interviews on a reel-to-reel tape recorder, but after the book came out the tapes were packed away in boxes and few have ever been heard. On this episode of the podcast, we’re bringing you eleven stories from the book. There’s the telephone switchboard operator, the Chicago police officer, the private eye, the hotel piano player and many more.

 

The Working Tapes of Studs Terkel is a co-production of Radio Diaries and Project&. This series is a part of the larger initiative Working in America, which has an exhibit featuring images from Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Lynsey Addario traveling the country right now.
Find out more at working.org.

The Working Tapes is produced by Joe Richman, Jane M. Saks, Nellie Gilles, and Sarah Kate Kramer. The editors are Deborah George and Ben Shapiro. Thanks to the Studs Terkel Archive at WFMT, the Chicago History Museum, Sydney Lewis, NPR’s Franklyn Cater, Chris Turpin and Matt Ozug, and The New Press (where you can find all of Studs Terkel’s books.)

Support for this project comes from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Endowments for the Arts, the New York Council on the Arts, The Ford Foundation, and the Hitachi Foundation.

 

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