Studs Terkel, Dead at 96

Chicago’s greatest broadcaster and one of America’s most distinguished storytellers, the Pulitzer Prize winner Studs Terkel, has died. He had interviewed 9,000 people in a lifetime of hosting his own radio show, and was as at home talking to ordinary Chicagoans as he was to celebrities. He viewed each person as unique and fascinating. “The principle is that ordinary people have extraordinary thoughts — I’ve always believed that — and that ordinary people can speak poetically. Also that no one else speaks like that and that there is no other person like that in the world,” he explained. Unlike his contemporaries who went into television, Terkel shunned fame and wealth, content to live with his wife, Ida, in a mobile home on the Illinois border with Indiana. His left-wing views attracted the attention of the House UnAmerican Activities Committee, a notoriety that ensured he remained working in radio rather than television. It was American radio’s gain, and television’s loss.