The Working Tapes

Series produced by Radio Diaries

Caption: Studs Terkel
Studs Terkel 

In the early 1970’s, author Studs Terkel went around the country with a reel-to-reel tape recorder interviewing people for his book "Working." But until now, few of these interviews have ever been heard before.

In the early 1970’s, author Studs Terkel went around the country with a reel-to-reel tape recorder interviewing people about their jobs. The result was a book, "Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do."

For decades, the tapes were packed away in Studs’ home office and until now, few of the interviews have ever been heard before. The book became a bestseller and even inspired a Broadway musical – something rare for an oral history collection. "Working" struck a nerve, because it elevated the stories of ordinary people and their daily lives. Studs celebrated the un-celebrated.

Radio Diaries and Project& were given exclusive access to those recordings for our new series, "The Working Tapes."


12 Pieces

Order by: Newest First | Oldest First
Piece image
Studs Terkel interviews a gravedigger in 1972 for his book "Working."

Bought by KBCS 91.3 FM Community Radio and PRX Remix


  • Added: May 04, 2017
  • Length: 03:20
  • Purchases: 2
Piece image
Studs Terkel interviews Al Pommier, aka 'One Swing Al', a parking lot attendant in Chicago, Illinois. This story aired as part of a week long serie...

Bought by KBCS 91.3 FM Community Radio and PRX Remix


  • Added: May 04, 2017
  • Length: 01:27
  • Purchases: 2
Caption: Lee Singer (1971)
In the 1970's, Studs Terkel interviewed Duke and Lee Singer at their auto repair shop in Geneva, Illinois. He was looking for a story about fixing ...

Bought by KBCS 91.3 FM Community Radio and PRX Remix


  • Added: May 09, 2017
  • Length: 06:27
  • Purchases: 2
Caption: Studs Terkel
Studs Terkel interviews a female advertising executive in the 1970's for his book "Working."

  • Added: May 04, 2017
  • Length: 03:19
Piece image
When he was first interviewed by Studs Terkel in 1971, jockey Eddie Arroyo had been racing for 6 years. He said it was the hardest and most dangero...

Bought by PRX Remix


  • Added: May 04, 2017
  • Length: 04:10
  • Purchases: 1
Piece image
In 1972, Studs Terkel interviewed hotel piano player Norman "Hots" Michels for his book "Working." Hots was the last live entertainment at the Sher...

Bought by KBCS 91.3 FM Community Radio and PRX Remix


  • Added: May 08, 2017
  • Length: 04:30
  • Purchases: 2
Caption: Studs Terkel
In 1974, author and oral historian Studs Terkel published his seminal book "Working," a portrait of America based on 130 interviews. The raw record...

Bought by New Hampshire Public Radio and PRX Remix


  • Added: May 09, 2017
  • Length: 05:05
  • Purchases: 2
Caption: Gary Bryner, Credit: Detroit Free Press
Gary Bryner tells Studs Terkel about being a union member and working in an auto factory for General Motors. Four decades later, he reflects on how...

Bought by KBCS 91.3 FM Community Radio, KICI, and PRX Remix


  • Added: May 09, 2017
  • Length: 04:17
  • Purchases: 3
Caption: Eddie Jaffee, Credit: Bettmann Archive/Getty Images
Eddie Jaffe was a press agent "legendary for his lost causes, chutzpah and angst," according to his obituary in the New York Times. He represented ...

Bought by PRX Remix


  • Added: May 09, 2017
  • Length: 01:43
  • Purchases: 1
Piece image
Renault Robinson was an officer in the Chicago Police Department in 1971 when he was first interviewed by radio host and oral historian Studs Terke...

Bought by KBCS 91.3 FM Community Radio, WORT, and PRX Remix


  • Added: May 08, 2017
  • Length: 05:42
  • Purchases: 3
Piece image
Sharon Griggins was 17 years old and working for Illinois Bell as a telephone operator when she was interviewed by Studs Terkel. For a job that req...

Bought by KBCS 91.3 FM Community Radio, PRX Remix, and New Hampshire Public Radio


  • Added: May 04, 2017
  • Length: 04:32
  • Purchases: 3
Piece image
In the early 1970’s, author Studs Terkel went around the country with a reel-to-reel tape recorder interviewing people about their jobs. The result...

Bought by WCAI / WNAN, WHCP-LP, South Dakota Public Broadcasting - Radio, KGNU, Boise State Public Radio and more


  • Added: Aug 13, 2017
  • Length: 54:59
  • Purchases: 53