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Tuesday, May 22

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Events Sat May 12 2012

100 Years of Studs Terkel

Studs Terkel — author, historian, radio host and listener extraordinaire — may be gone, but his legacy of the importance of listening and the power of the human voice has inspired one heck of a party.

On Wednesday, May 16, the 100th anniversary of his birth, the Newberry Library (60 W. Walton St.) will host a birthday party to celebrate him, "one of the most prolific writers and cultural critics in the history of Chicago letters."

The event, which will be hosted by journalist Rick Kogan, will feature a bevy of memories from a variety of figures from Chicago's literary and radio scenes, such as author Alex Kotlowitz, Alison Cuddy, host of WBEZ's Eight Forty-Eight, and historian David Roediger.

"It is rare that a person is widely seen as the greatest raconteur in a big city and as its best listener," said Roediger, a professor at the University of Illinois. "Studs was remarkably both and his legacy leaves us pondering how the two are connected."

Inspired by his "spirit of aurality, storytelling, and memory," Heather Radke of the Hull House has established a "Studs Memory Hotline" of sorts, to continue the tradition of oral histories by creating a repository of how Studs has inspired others.

"I thought that both the medium and the content of recorded stories would be a nice tribute to Studs," Radke said. "He was a huge proponent of the power of the human voice. As a radio producer myself, I know how transporting it can be to hear someone telling their story rather than just reading it. With the help of some of my brilliant co-workers at the Hull-House Museum, I decided that it was also important to be able to participate in the project even if you have no particular affiliation or knowledge of Studs, which is why there are two questions: What does Studs mean to you? and When has listening closely changed the way you thought about the world?"

Some of these Studs-related stories, all of which will be archived by the Newberry, are available for your perusal online, and anyone can participate by calling 559-546-1661.

"For me," continued Radke, "Studs is the rare historical figure that is celebrated for his ability to midwife the voices of others, and whose work is as much about listening as it is about talking. I'm glad that others are excited about his legacy of dedication to the People's History, and I am excited to hear all of the jokes, anecdotes, memories, and thoughts on the phone line and at the event."

Bucky Halker and Jon Langford will provide music, and a special 'zine pairing anecdotes from Garry Wills, Sydney Lewis, and others with illustrations from Chicago artists will be distributed.

"Studs was a living link to the Chicago/America I never knew," said Langford. "His comments on WBEZ after 9/11 impressed me greatly, elevating him to level of all seeing oracle. Thanks to miracle of recorded sound people can go on listening to the man forever."


Wednesday, May 16
Newberry Library (60 W. Walton St.)
5:30pm reception; 6pm program

This program is free and open to the public; no reservations are required.

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