cover image Voices of Our Time: Five Decades of Studs Terkel Interviews

Voices of Our Time: Five Decades of Studs Terkel Interviews

Studs Terkel. HighBridge Audio, $34.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-1-56511-287-2

Today, in the age of Charlie Rose and other TV interviewers, impromptu conversations with authors, actors and musicians are a common part of the cultural landscape. But back in the 1950s, when Chicago radio journalist Terkel was interviewing the likes of Pete Seeger, Dorothy Parker and James Baldwin, the practice was radically original. Excerpts from 48 interviews, first broadcast on Terkel's daily show on WFMT, are presented here, with one cassette devoted to each decade from the '50s to the '90s. Thanks to engineering wizardry, the fidelity of this archival material is so fine that there is a shock of immediacy in hearing these voices speak across time. That's also due to Terkel's freshness of attitude throughout, which translates beautifully into the contemporary moment. His style of questioning is disarmingly quiet: his whispery voice and self-effacing charm elicits unusually personal and considered responses. As a writer, Terkel is known for his use of oral history (The Good War, etc.); here he presents what he calls the ""taped history"" itself. Among the other luminaries included are Gore Vidal, Bertrand Russell, Eudora Welty, Woody Allen, Ralph Ellison and R. Buckminster Fuller. This is a beautifully packaged and sensitively edited program, a graceful and important audio-specific title. (June)