Among the achievements of four-time Emmy winner, video activist and documentarian Tom Weinberg is his massive Media Burn Independent Video Archive, which boasts the largest collection anywhere of Studs Terkel video.
Media Burn has been curating the Terkel Film and Video Festival, an ongoing series of screenings in celebration of the late author, actor and radio/TV host’s 100th birthday this year.
On Wednesday, Sept. 5, Media Burn, the Museum of Broadcast Communications and the Studs Terkel Centenary Committee will present a free screening of two episodes of Terkel’s half-hour, groundbreaking improv series, Studs Place, along with footage of a 1990 Q&A session with notables of the time.
The footage had been lost for 60 years until it was unearthed in the basement of Terkel’s Old Town home.
The screening and discussion will be presented by Tribune columnist and voiceover narrator Rick Kogan, a longtime Terkel family friend, and Weinberg. Included in the screening will be Weinberg’s 2000 PBS doc, Studs on a Soapbox.
The first major upgrade of Media Burn’s online video archive is now in beta. “Our first streaming video site was developed in 2005 and 2006” before YouTube, when there were stand
ard tools for online video, says Sara Chapman, Media Burn executive director.
“So it’s been a major project transitioning to current technologies, but one that’s making our collection so much more accessible than ever before.”
New site, launching Sept. 8, will be easy to use
When the new site launches Sept. 8, it will include a store, as well as a search function that will allow users to jump to specific points in a video clip based on indexed keywords.
“Because we have such detailed logs,” Chapman says, “people who are only interested in, let’s say, footage of Richard J. Daley giving a press conference in the middle of a video, can find exactly what they’re looking for, while people who want to watch long-form documentaries are also served.”
Media Burn will mark its September relaunch with a downtown celebration featuring “a balloon launch, live music, videos projected on adjacent skyscrapers, and some additional surprises,” Chapman says.
They’re also completing the digitization of 120 hours of footage from the 1992 presidential election as part of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s “Save America’s Treasures” project.
The archivists are also beginning work on digitizing 450 hours of footage from the Chicago Collection, featuring extensive material on the Cabrini Green housing project and late White Sox owner Bill Veeck, among numerous subjects.
Weinberg is the creator/producer of more than 500 TV programs, including Ch. 11’s long running Image Union. His working and personal relationship with Terkel spanned 40 years. He is currently producing the first doc ever made about 89-year old baseball legend Minnie Minoso.