Studs Terkel in his Chicago office in 1985 after hearing he had won a Pulitzer Prize.
Studs Terkel in his Chicago office in 1985 after hearing he had won a Pulitzer Prize. Credit: Phil Velasquez/Chicago Sun-Times

Though he was born in New York city, Studs Terkel exemplified Chicago. His pioneering work in print, radio, and TV chronicled the history of this patchwork city and its residents. The late media legend would be 102 on Monday, and to celebrate, the U. of C. has organized the free, weekend-long celebration Let’s Get Working.

Terkel disciple Rick Kogan hosts the opening reception (Fri 5/9, 6 PM), which includes a tribute to Terkel’s longtime editor, the late André Schiffrin; audio from WFMT and StoryCorps; and a performance by the Old Town School of Folk Music’s Mark Dvorak. Following the reception, catch a screening of It’s a Living (8 PM), a 1975 documentary inspired by Terkel’s seminal oral history Working.

The daylong Book and Information Fair (Sat 5/10) features South Side Weekly, Street-Level Youth Media, Voice of Witness, and other local publications and publishers. From 10 AM to 4 PM Media Burn Archive screens a 90-minute compilation, “Best of Studs, 1946-2008,” that includes Terkel’s improv work on Studs’ Place as well as footage of him at his Uptown home and in conversation with luminaries like Nelson Algren and Bill Veeck. Bring your most provocative ideas to engage in the Soapbox Debates (Sat 5/10, noon-2 PM), inspired by Washington Square Park’s Bughouse Square Debates. During Craft Talk (Sat 5/10, 1 PM) writers including Dave Hoekstra and Pulitzer winner Mary Schmich discuss Terkel’s influence on journalism. Then the literary project Anthology of Chicago and the blog 1,001 Chicago Afternoons join forces for a series of readings set in Terkel’s adopted city (Sat 5/10, 2 PM).

For the fest’s most in-demand event, Reinventing the Radio: An Evening with Ira Glass (Sat 5/10, 7:30 PM), in which the NPR host narrates This American Life clips and discusses behind-the-scenes work on the show, organizers will distribute vouchers at other Let’s Get Working events.

Closing out the fest is a “live broadcast” of a new episode of Studs’ Place (Sun 10/11, 7 PM), the fourth in an ongoing revival by the tour and reenactment outfit Pocket Guide to Hell, at the Hideout. Afterward Bill Savage interviews Thomas Dyja and Justin Amolsch performs a set of Terkel’s favorite blues and jazz numbers.