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Radio Diaries

The Working Tapes of Studs Terkel (Hour Special)

For Labor Day, we’re bringing you a special, one hour episode of our series The Working Tapes of Studs Terkel.

In 1974, oral historian Studs Terkel published a book with an unwieldy title: “Working: People talk about what they do all day and how they feel about what they do.” This collective portrait of America was based on more than a hundred interviews Studs did around the country. And after “Working” came out, something surprising happened. It became a bestseller. It even inspired a Broadway musical. Something about ordinary people talking about their daily lives, struck a cord. Studs recorded all of his interviews on a reel-to-reel tape recorder, but after the book came out the tapes were packed away in boxes and few have ever been heard. On this episode of the podcast, we’re bringing you eleven stories from the book. There’s the telephone switchboard operator, the Chicago police officer, the private eye, the hotel piano player and many more.

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