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: Liberty Claims Her Own!, Credit: Library of Congress
World War I was sometimes called "the war to end all wars." But one hundred years after the fighting began, it's become a war that's often forgotte...

  • Added: Aug 22, 2014
  • Length: 54:00
Caption: Liberty Claims Her Own!, Credit: Library of Congress
World War I was sometimes called "the war to end all wars." But one hundred years after the fighting began, it's become a war that's often forgotte...

  • Added: Aug 22, 2014
  • Length: 54:00
Caption: Liberty Claims Her Own!, Credit: Library of Congress
30-second promo for "The Great War: The Long Shadow of WWI," with a 5 second hole for station-specific time/date tag. Full episode posted 8/22/14.

  • Added: Aug 20, 2014
  • Length: :30
Caption: Depiction of the 1833 Leonid meteor storm, in Bible Readings for the Home Circle (1889).
On this episode of BackStory, we’re taking on space. From Cotton Mather’s list of every comet since the beginning of time (415, to be exact), to th...

  • Added: Aug 15, 2014
  • Length: 54:00
Caption: Depiction of the 1833 Leonid meteor storm. , Credit: Bible Readings for the Home Circle (1889).
Americans have had an ongoing fascination with the skies above us, so in this episode, we’re taking on space. How have people made sense of meteors...

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


  • Added: Aug 15, 2014
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 3
Caption: Depiction of the 1833 Leonid meteor storm, in Bible Readings for the Home Circle (1889).
30-second promo for "Starry-Eyed: A History of the Heavens," with a 5 second hole for station-specific time/date tag

Bought by 90.1 WFYI Public Radio


  • Added: Aug 12, 2014
  • Length: :30
  • Purchases: 1
Caption: Thomas Nast, "The Brains", Credit: Wikimedia Commons
It’s a worry as old as the Republic: Do politicians look out for the public good, or their own private interests? But what exactly Americans consid...

Bought by WEZU, KSVR Studios: Skagit Valley Radio, KBRP Community Radio, WRPI, WRIR and more


  • Added: Aug 08, 2014
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 6
Caption: Thomas Nast, "The Brains", Credit: Wikimedia Commons
It’s a worry as old as the Republic: Do politicians look out for the public good, or their own private interests? But what exactly Americans consid...

  • Added: Aug 08, 2014
  • Length: 54:00
Caption: Thomas Nast, "The Brains", Credit: Wikimedia Commons
30-second promo for BackStory episode, 'On the Take: Corruption in America,' with 5-second music bed at end for station-specific time/date tag. Ful...

Bought by 90.1 WFYI Public Radio


  • Added: Aug 05, 2014
  • Length: :30
  • Purchases: 1
Caption: Ansel Adams, Boulder Dam 1941, Credit: Wikimedia Commons
The Western U.S. is in the grip of a punishing drought. Reservoir levels are dropping, and farmers are struggling to ensure water access for their ...

  • Added: Aug 04, 2014
  • Length: 54:00
Caption: Ansel Adams, Boulder Dam 1941, Credit: Wikimedia Commons
The Western U.S. is in the grip of a punishing drought. Reservoir levels are dropping, and farmers are struggling to ensure water access for their ...

Bought by KSVR Studios: Skagit Valley Radio, Capital Public Radio, KBRP Community Radio, WRGY, KUOW and more


  • Added: Aug 01, 2014
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 6
Caption: Ansel Adams, Boulder Dam 1941, Credit: Wikimedia Commons
30-second promo for BackStory episode, 'Tapped Out: Thirsting For Fresh Water,' with 5-second music bed at end for station-specific time/date tag. ...

Bought by Capital Public Radio and 90.1 WFYI Public Radio


  • Added: Jul 30, 2014
  • Length: :30
  • Purchases: 2
Caption: Cover image of Vogue, 1942, Credit: Smithsonian Museum of American History
30-second promo for BackStory episode, 'States of Mind: Mental Illness in America' [rebroadcast] with 5-second music bed at end for station-specifi...

  • Added: Jul 25, 2014
  • Length: 54:02
Caption: Cover image of Vogue, 1942, Credit: Sm
Summer might mean taking off the layers, but what Americans wear reflects so much more than the weather. In this episode, we explore what our self-...

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


  • Added: Jul 25, 2014
  • Length: 54:02
  • Purchases: 5
Caption: Cover image of Vogue, 1942, Credit: Smithsonian Museum of American History
30-second promo for BackStory episode, 'American Apparel: A History of Fashion,' with 5-second music bed at end for station-specific time/date tag.

  • Added: Jul 22, 2014
  • Length: :30
Caption: A woman in a "state of hysteria.", Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Recent estimates suggest that more than 50% of Americans will suffer from a “mental disorder” at some point in their lifetime, making the once “abn...

Bought by WEZU, WXDU, KSVR Studios: Skagit Valley Radio, and WRIR


  • Added: Jul 18, 2014
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 4
Caption: Woman in hysteria, Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Recent estimates suggest that more than 50% of Americans will suffer from a “mental disorder” at some point in their lifetime, making the once “abn...

  • Added: Jul 18, 2014
  • Length: 54:00
Caption: Women in hysteria, Credit: Wikimedia Commons
30-second promo for BackStory episode, 'States of Mind: Mental Illness in America' [rebroadcast] with 5-second music bed at end for station-specifi...

  • Added: Jul 15, 2014
  • Length: :30
Piece image
Host Brian Balogh talks with sociologist Harry Edwards, founder of the Olympic Project for Human Rights, about the iconic moment at the 1968 Olympi...

Bought by KFAI and PRX Remix


  • Added: Jul 14, 2014
  • Length: 09:20
  • Purchases: 2
Piece image
Producer Bruce Wallace explains how ping-pong helped to thaw U.S.- China relations during the 1970s, while remaining a potent field for propaganda ...

Bought by KFAI and PRX Remix


  • Added: Jul 14, 2014
  • Length: 11:14
  • Purchases: 2