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BackStory with the American History Guys

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BackStory is a weekly one-hour public radio show that provides a national broadcast audience with an enjoyable and accessible way of engaging challenging themes in American history and how they connect with today. The show is hosted by renowned historians Peter Onuf, Ed Ayers, and Brian Balogh. BackStory’s signature sound and spirit of inquiry emanates from the hearts and minds of its genial hosts, whose unscripted brilliance reflects a warmth and rapport that comes from their longtime friendship.

Please confirm carriage of BackStory with the American History Guys by contacting Melissa LaCasse at 207.776.4926 or lacassemelissa@gmail.com.

Moving from current headlines to drill down into U.S. history, each surprising BackStory episode features lively interviews with a diverse roster of scholars, experts, and ordinary citizens from around the country; listener calls; host discussions; and produced pieces. Topics are as diverse as college sports, reenactments, sugar, memorials, domestic terrorism, birthing, homeownership, the post office, philanthropy, protests, privacy, marriage, revivalism, and childhood—all in the context of American history.

Since BackStory first began as a monthly show in 2008, episodes have been broadcast by more than 130 primary stations in 39 states, 29 in the top 50 markets by population. Podcasts have been downloaded 1.4 million times.

BackStory is produced by VFH Radio at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. Major funding is provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities with additional corporate, foundation, institutional, and individual support.

Please visit our station landing page for upcoming episodes, promotional photos, and other information.

 


Pieces

Caption: New York Mayor Seth Low shown taming the Tammany Tiger on the cover of Puck Magazine, Credit: Library of Congress
30-second promo for "National Lampoon" with 5-second music bed at end for station-specific time/date tag.

  • Added: Aug 04, 2015
  • Length: :30
Caption: New York Mayor Seth Low shown taming the Tammany Tiger on the cover of Puck Magazine, Credit:  Library of Congress
30-second promo for "National Lampoon" with 5-second music bed at end for station-specific time/date tag. Full episode will be added Friday, August 7.

  • Added: Aug 04, 2015
  • Length: :00
Caption: The mountain pass, Sierra Nevada. , Credit: Library of Congress
Like millions of Americans this summer, BackStory is quitting the city and heading into the wild. In this episode, Brian, Ed, and Peter return to A...

  • Added: Jul 31, 2015
  • Length: 54:00
Caption: The mountain pass, Sierra Nevada. , Credit: Library of Congress
Like millions of Americans this summer, BackStory is quitting the city and heading into the wild. In this episode, Brian, Ed, and Peter return to A...

Bought by Georgia Public Broadcasting, WRGY, KBRP Community Radio, and WYAP


  • Added: Jul 31, 2015
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 4
Caption: The mountain pass, Sierra Nevada. , Credit: Library of Congress
30-second promo for "Untrammeled" with 5-second music bed at end for station-specific time/date tag.

Bought by WUIS


  • Added: Jul 28, 2015
  • Length: :30
  • Purchases: 1
Caption: John Adams, presented to King George III as the first American ambassador to the English court, Credit: Library of Congress
After grueling talks, the United States and its U.N. allies have reached a historic deal with Iran on the future of its nuclear program, and Cuba a...

Bought by KSVR Studios: Skagit Valley Radio, WRGY, WRIR, WYAP, WXDU and more


  • Added: Jul 25, 2015
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 7
Caption: John Adams, presented to King George III as the first American ambassador to the English court, Credit: Library of Congress
After grueling talks, the United States and its U.N. allies have reached a historic deal with Iran on the future of its nuclear program, and Cuba a...

  • Added: Jul 24, 2015
  • Length: 54:00
Caption: "The Happy Cottagers," by Clifford R. James, Credit: Library of Congress
Psychiatrist Robert Waldinger tells host Brian Balogh about a longitudinal study at Harvard that was meant to track professional success, but start...

Bought by KSVR Studios: Skagit Valley Radio and PRX Remix


  • Added: Jul 21, 2015
  • Length: 09:35
  • Purchases: 2
Caption: "The Happy Cottagers," by Clifford R. James, Credit: Library of Congress
Sociologist Zsuzsa Berend reconsiders the lives of 19th-century women who chose, rather than to marry, to be happy by being useful. This story come...

Bought by PRX Remix


  • Added: Jul 21, 2015
  • Length: 05:16
  • Purchases: 1
Caption: "The Happy Cottagers," by Clifford R. James, Credit: Library of Congress
Producer Bruce Wallace has the story of a peculiar craze in the 1920s, when recordings of people laughing broke the charts. This piece comes from t...

Bought by WABE and PRX Remix


  • Added: Jul 21, 2015
  • Length: 14:02
  • Purchases: 2
Caption: John Adams, presented to King George III as the first American ambassador to the English court, Credit: Library of Congress
30-second promo for "Let's Make Up" with 5-second music bed at end for station-specific time/date tag.

Bought by WUIS


  • Added: Jul 21, 2015
  • Length: :30
  • Purchases: 1
Caption: "The Happy Cottagers," by Clifford R. James, Credit: Library of Congress
Here’s a line you might have heard once or twice: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed b...

  • Added: Jul 17, 2015
  • Length: 54:00
Caption: "The Happy Cottagers," by Clifford R. James, Credit: Library of Congress
Here’s a line you might have heard once or twice: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed b...

Bought by WEZU, KSVR Studios: Skagit Valley Radio, KPIP-LP, WRGY, WRIR and more


  • Added: Jul 17, 2015
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 8
Caption: "Everybody’s friend. The happy little boy,” 1871 , Credit: Library of Congress
30-second promo for "The Pursuit" with 5-second music bed at end for station-specific time/date tag.

Bought by 90.1 WFYI Public Radio


  • Added: Jul 14, 2015
  • Length: :30
  • Purchases: 1
Caption: Strongman Eugene Sandow, c1893
It’s summer, the beach is calling, and so is the dreaded swimsuit! If it’s enough to make you want to hide out at home, then this week’s BackStory,...

  • Added: Jul 10, 2015
  • Length: 54:00
Caption: Strongman Eugene Sandow, c1893
It’s summer, the beach is calling, and so is the dreaded swimsuit! If it’s enough to make you want to hide out at home, then this week’s BackStory,...

Bought by KSVR Studios: Skagit Valley Radio, WYAP, WRGY, and KBRP Community Radio


  • Added: Jul 10, 2015
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 4
Caption: Strongman Eugene Sandow, c1893
30-second promo for "Beach Bodies" with 5-second music bed at end for station-specific time/date tag.

Bought by 90.1 WFYI Public Radio and WUIS


  • Added: Jul 07, 2015
  • Length: :30
  • Purchases: 2
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In the early days of our nation, July Fourth wasn’t an official holiday at all. In fact, it wasn’t until 1938 that it became a paid day-off. So how...

  • Added: Jul 03, 2015
  • Length: 54:00
Piece image
In the early days of our nation, July Fourth wasn’t an official holiday at all. In fact, it wasn’t until 1938 that it became a paid day-off. So how...

Bought by KSVR Studios: Skagit Valley Radio, WRGY, WRIR, WXDU, KPIP-LP and more


  • Added: Jul 03, 2015
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 7
Caption: "This is the enemy." Depiction of a Nazi officer, 1943, Credit: Library of Congress
Former Soviet spymaster Oleg Kalugin reminisces about his time recruiting Americans to spy for the USSR– and how the U.S. eventually became his hom...

Bought by PRX Remix


  • Added: Jul 01, 2015
  • Length: 06:19
  • Purchases: 1