Writer's name misspelled for more than a decade

2013-04-02T09:00:00Z Writer's name misspelled for more than a decadeMcClatchy Tribune News Service Herald-Review.com
April 02, 2013 9:00 am  • 

CHICAGO - Studs Terkel's misspelled name at an exhibit in Chicago's Willis Tower has gone relatively unnoticed for about 14 years.

That is, until last week, when Jim Romenesko posted on his blog a photo of the egregious misspelling - "Turkel," in bold-faced letters a few inches long. Fortunately, the short paragraph that follows - detailing the Chicago storyteller's career in radio and other media - gets his name right.

Willis Tower's 103rd floor, from which tourists can look out onto the Chicago skyline while learning about famous Chicagoans from a featured wall exhibit, welcomes upward of 6,000 people a day during the high season - spring break and summer, according to one employee. Terkel, who died in 2008, is featured along with other Chicago writers; his section sits just under a tribute to Mike Royko.

So how did the typo go unnoticed for so long?

Kimberley Coyne, 45, had been scrutinizing the history exhibit to learn more about her adopted city. But she didn't notice the misspelling on first glance.

"I wasn't reading it that closely," she said, chuckling. Coyne brought over her sister-in-law, Irene Coyne, a 17-year advertising veteran, to take a look at the section in question and see if she noticed anything amiss.

Irene perused the blurbs on both Royko and Terkel before admitting she couldn't find anything out of the ordinary in the text.

"I feel like I was being put on the spot," she said, laughing, after surrounding family members informed her of the typo.

Irene Coyne, 37, now the vice president of media at Digitas Health, said that typos are "inevitable" whether on the printed page or in a landmark exhibit.

At least one visitor spotted the glitch on Wednesday afternoon. Ironically, it was non-native English speaker Sonja Breuch of Germany. The 31-year-old tourist had noticed the name spelled differently in the title and in the text, but "wasn't sure which was right," she said, since she hadn't heard of Terkel before.

Randy Stancik, the general manager at Skydeck Chicago, which oversees the exhibit, said he hadn't heard of the mistake until Wednesday, after the Tribune informed him.

"That wall has probably been there since 1999," Stancik said. He did not know who curated the exhibit, which was under different management at the time.

But one longtime Terkel observer, Tribune columnist Rick Kogan, said he thought the writer would find it amusing - and he'd be in good company with the often-misspelled Carl "Sandberg" - make that Sandburg.

"I think his reaction would be an inimitable laugh of his. . Studs was definitely aware that many people in this city have no real appreciation for its history."

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