Presented/produced by Alan Hall
Broadcast 24 December 2005, Resonance FM
28 January 2006, WBEZ Re:sound
24 June 2006, ABC Radio National Radio Eye
Studs Terkel, who died on the last day of October 2008, was America's pre-eminent oral historian, author of numerous books including Working and the Pullitzer Prize-winning The Good War and a great broadcaster. Generous, humane, cultured, politically engaged and great company, he was one of the best men of the 20th century.
In 2005 he graciously allowed me to visit him at home in Chicago, despite having only recently undergone heart surgery, and record over two hours of interview that touched on his work, his undiminished 'radical conservatism' and his much-missed wife of sixty years, Ida. A radio portrait, called Studs Terkel - The Last Touch, was broadcast on Resonance FM, Chicago Public Radio's Re:sound and ABC Radio National.
The following year, I visited Studs' place again, this time with Piers Plowright. He was more frail physically but as sharp as ever mentally, entertaining us with beautifully framed anecdotes, political and cultural insights and gin martinis elegantly served at eleven in the morning. His powers of recall and story-telling remained undiminished!
He'll be greatly missed. But happily we have The Last Touch, which you can listen to below. It intercuts the conversations we recorded with clips from Studs' Prix Italia-winning 1965 documentary Born To Live - Hiroshima (WFMT) and music by his beloved Mahalia Jackson.