If you watch Out of the Past Records, a vinyl destination, a seven-minute film that was produced last year about a West side couple who own an Austin neighborhood shop, you will quickly get a sense of the type of stories Dave Hoekstra likes to spin: authentic, rich in detail, first-person accounts.
Writing has always come easy to the travel writer, columnist and Chicago Sun-Times staff writer. But modeling his stories after Studs takes work that is fueled by a genuine curiosity for place and what drives its’ people.
Hoekstra said journalism was a path that was clearly laid out for him in high school, thanks in part to a teacher-mentor and his school newspaper. Born and bred in Chicagoland he revels in continually learning and writing about the Windy City. He may have extensive experience writing about cities and places from a global perspective; but he has an ease of showcasing diverse and complex stories about the place he calls home, and celebrates the need for grassroots reporting.
The Out of the Past Records video, which won a Sarah Brown Boyden Award for best in online journalism for a story and video by the Chicago Journalist’s Association last year, doesn’t just peek into the record store; it allows viewers to understand the passion Charlie Joe and Marie Henderson share for music and the history behind the neighborhood staple.
Like Studs, Hoekstra has often been drawn to report on real people and enjoys providing a space for them to share stories. Hoekstra remembers his dream being providing that space by working downtown, even as a kid, “As part of the school paper, we’d go to where the Sun-Times was and we’d take tours of the daily Sun-Times building and I’d say, ‘I’d like to work here.’”
Having studied at the University of Chicago, Hoekstra has contributed pieces to Chicago Magazine, the Chicago Reader and Playboy magazine. He has written a number of books about travel, music, baseball and the Farm Aid movement and keeps a blog with behind-the-scenes tidbits about his reporting efforts.
Hoekstra believes capturing and documenting cultural stories stems from a belief that the best reporting is done from the root up. “I like to find out how something started and what the genesis of it was,” Hoekstra said. “If you learn about the very basis of a community, what makes the community tick from the bottom, it opens a lot of doors,” Hoekstra said.
Hoekstra said Terkels’ books are a major influence for his own feature writing, “I use Studs as an imprint in a lot of the work I do,” Hoekstra mentioned. “I try to be a good listener and certainly try to gather oral histories.”
Follow the links below to read some of Dave’s award-winning work: