(EDITOR’S NOTE: Ask Richard Steele about being awarded the Studs Terkel Community Media Award and he will automatically tell you, “But I don’t think of myself as a journalist – not like these other journalists.” Funny. That’s exactly what Studs Terkel said. Steele has for decades brought important people together to tell their stories. And in the process, he’s introduced us to a variety of worlds, whether it’s in music, arts, media, politics or the city’s communities. Plus, he’s a reporter and storyteller in his own right. Retired? The man clearly does not know the definition. “The Barber Shop Show,” which he hosts on WBEZ, brings voices and stories to the airwaves that would not otherwise be there. During the current resurgence of the Civil Rights movement, he’s given the city’s Black community a strong voice on WBEZ. There is no doubt about Steele’s stripes as a journalist and a storyteller in the Terkel tradition. The Real Steele is the real deal and Chicago’s stories are richer because of him. ~ Susy Schultz)

Richard SteeleRichard-Steele

Richard Steele has been on Chicago radio since the early 1970s and although he officially retired in October –  after 27 years with Chicago Public Radio WBEZ-FM – he continues to be a community voice, hosting “The Barber Shop Show,” a weekly talk show he tapes at Carter’s Barber Shop, 3622 W. Cermak Rd., in the North Lawndale neighborhood.

Born in Brooklyn, New York, Steele came to Chicago as a young boy and graduated from Hirsch Metropolitan High School on Chicago’s South Side. While he’s worked in Roanoke, Virginia, he has also been all over Chicago’s radio dial at WJPC, WBMX, WVON, WGCI and WGRT, where he became known as “The Real Steele.”

Steele joined WBEZ as a part-time jazz host in 1987 and has anchored many of the station’s most popular music and talk programs. Steele has devoted much of his time to civic and community causes, particularly those that improve economic, political and cultural awareness within the African-American community. Here are some of our favorites:


“The Barber Shop Show: Raising black boys” (Feb. 2015)
Steele uncovers the truths and challenges of black fathers raising their sons.

“On Chicago’s West Side, mothers and children fight addiction side by side” (June 2014) 

In partnership with Bill Healy, Steele examines how 2.5 million people every year seek help for drug-and-alcohol-related addictions while raising their children.

“Cops and Neighborhoods: Explaining the divide between police and the community” (May 2011)

Richard Steele and Steve Edwards host a talk on the relationship between police
and the communities.

Richard Steele takes flight in fighter jet” (March 2010)
In this piece, Steele shows that connection with people is the root of any story. He profiles an aeronautic acrobatic instructor who has an impact.