In 2005, promoting his memoir And They All Sang: Adventures of an Eclectic Disc Jockey, Terkel spoke with WOSU’s Christopher Purdy. Booked for ten minutes, the conversation lasted over an hour and a half. Here are four excerpts from their visit:
Part 1. (MP3. Length – 3:23)
Studs Terkel and Chicago.
“I was an asthmatic little boy when I was brought to live in Chicago in 1920. I was eight years old. The smell of the stockyards cured my asthma right away.”
Part 2. (MP3. Length – 5:45)
Studs Terkel and Radio.
“Every radio soap opera back in those days had three gangsters. The bright one, the middle one and the dumb one. I was always the dumb one. And I always died – just before the first commercial break…Later they wanted us all to wear tuxedos for the studio audience. You looked like a gangster going to his sister’s wedding. But I became a disc jockey before the term was invented.”
Part 3. (MP3. Length – 4:03)
Rosa Raisa and Enrico Caruso.
“Raisa! How does someone your age know Raisa? You are the first person your age to ask me about Rosa Raisa! What a great, magnificent voice. She was the greatest Norma ever….better than Callas. She loved to sing with Caruso. He invented the Gramophone you know. Any immigrant who could scrape together a quarter could buy a recording of Caruso singing ‘Celeste Aida.’”
Part 4. (MP3 – Length – 6:52)
Are you optimistic?
“People want to know how to survive with some dignity…remember I told you there was machinery that saved my life? And there’s machinery that can destroy us all. And this is our choice. We live in a world of sanity. There’s enough imagination in the human race to create this world that makes me, at ninety-three, live with a new kind of verve…”