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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: Cartograph by Ruth Taylor White, for the Hawaii Tourist Bureau, circa 1930. , Credit: Via the University of Oregon’s Knight Library.
Scholar and chef Ben Davison helps the Guys answer a burning question: What’s the origin of Thousand Island dressing, anyway? This piece comes from...

  • Added: Mar 25, 2015
  • Length: 08:44
Caption: Cartograph by Ruth Taylor White, for the Hawaii Tourist Bureau, circa 1930. , Credit: Via the University of Oregon’s Knight Library.
Chinese immigrants held on San Francisco's Angel Island in the early 20th century carved poetry deep into the walls that confined them. Judy Yung w...

Bought by PRX Remix


  • Added: Mar 25, 2015
  • Length: 09:21
  • Purchases: 1
Caption: Cartograph by Ruth Taylor White, for the Hawaii Tourist Bureau, circa 1930. , Credit: Via the University of Oregon’s Knight Library.
BackStory producer Andrew Parsons brings us the story of James Strang, a Mormon leader who moved his followers to Michigan’s Beaver Island -- where...

Bought by PRX Remix


  • Added: Mar 25, 2015
  • Length: 11:02
  • Purchases: 1
Caption: Cartograph by Ruth Taylor White, for the Hawaii Tourist Bureau, circa 1930. , Credit: University of Oregon
BackStory producer Nina Earnest recounts the extremes to which Puerto Rican nationalist Pedro Albizu Campos and his followers fought for independen...

Bought by PRX Remix


  • Added: Mar 25, 2015
  • Length: 10:59
  • Purchases: 1
Caption: Ansel Adams' photograph of Boulder Dam, 1941, Credit: National Archives
30-second promo for "Tapped Out," with 5-second music bed at end for station-specific time/date tag.

  • Added: Mar 24, 2015
  • Length: :30
Caption: Ansel Adams' photograph of Boulder Dam, 1941, Credit: National Archives
30-second promo for "Tapped Out," with 5-second music bed at end for station-specific time/date tag. Full episode uploaded Friday, March 27.

  • Added: Mar 24, 2015
  • Length: :00
Caption: Cartograph by Ruth Taylor White, for the Hawaii Tourist Bureau, circa 1930. , Credit: Via the University of Oregon’s Knight Library.
On this episode, BackStory goes search of islands. Our stories this week explore the special qualities of these special places … as havens or point...

  • Added: Mar 20, 2015
  • Length: 54:00
Caption: Cartograph by Ruth Taylor White, for the Hawaii Tourist Bureau, circa 1930. , Credit: Via the University of Oregon’s Knight Library.
On this episode, BackStory goes search of islands. Our stories this week explore the special qualities of these special places … as havens or point...

Bought by WYAP, WXDU, WRGY, and KBRP Community Radio


  • Added: Mar 20, 2015
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 4
Caption: Cartograph by Ruth Taylor White, for the Hawaii Tourist Bureau, circa 1930. , Credit: Via the University of Oregon’s Knight Library.
30-second promo for "Island Hopping" with 5-second music bed at end for station-specific time/date tag.

  • Added: Mar 17, 2015
  • Length: :30
Caption: Shades of Green, Credit: Wikimedia Commons
With St. Patrick’s Day approaching, the color green seems to be everywhere we look. So BackStory sets out to celebrate the holiday with an offbeat,...

Bought by WYAP, WRGY, RadioFreePalmer, and KBRP Community Radio


  • Added: Mar 13, 2015
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 4
Caption: Shades of Green, Credit: Wikimedia Commons
With St. Patrick’s Day approaching, the color green seems to be everywhere we look. So BackStory sets out to celebrate the holiday with an offbeat,...

  • Added: Mar 13, 2015
  • Length: 54:00
Caption: Shades of Green, Credit: Wikimedia Commons
30-second promo for "The Green Show," with 5-second music bed at end for station-specific time/date tag.

Bought by 90.1 WFYI Public Radio


  • Added: Mar 10, 2015
  • Length: :30
  • Purchases: 1
Piece image
As we switch the clocks to "spring forward" this week, we're taking a look at time itself in American history. In this episode, we look at the chan...

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


  • Added: Mar 06, 2015
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 7
Piece image
As we switch the clocks to "spring forward" this week, we're taking a look at time itself in American history. In this episode, we look at the chan...

  • Added: Mar 06, 2015
  • Length: 54:00
Piece image
30-second promo for "On the Clock: A (Brief) History of Time," with 5-second music bed at end for station-specific time/date tag.

Bought by WABE and 90.1 WFYI Public Radio


  • Added: Mar 03, 2015
  • Length: :30
  • Purchases: 2
Caption: Tony Dow, Barbara Billingsley and Jerry Mathers star in Leave it to Beaver, 1958. , Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
In his State of the Union address, the president defined “middle-class economics” as “the idea that this country does best when everyone gets their...

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


  • Added: Feb 27, 2015
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 6
Caption: Tony Dow, Barbara Billingsley and Jerry Mathers star in Leave it to Beaver, 1958. , Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
In his State of the Union address, the president defined “middle-class economics” as “the idea that this country does best when everyone gets their...

  • Added: Feb 27, 2015
  • Length: 54:00
Caption: Tony Dow, Barbara Billingsley and Jerry Mathers star in Leave it to Beaver, 1958. , Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
30-second promo for "The Middling Sort: Visions of the Middle Class," with 5-second music bed at end for station-specific time/date tag

Bought by 90.1 WFYI Public Radio


  • Added: Feb 24, 2015
  • Length: :30
  • Purchases: 1
Caption: Crowd lining street under the marquee of the Pantages Theatre at the 31st Academy Awards in 1959. , Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
History is hot right now — in movies like Selma and American Sniper, on TV shows like The Knick and Sleepy Hollow, even in video games like Assassi...

Bought by KSVR Studios: Skagit Valley Radio, WRPI, WRGY, WJFF, WYAP and more


  • Added: Feb 20, 2015
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 6
Caption: Crowd lining street under the marquee of the Pantages Theatre at the 31st Academy Awards in 1959. , Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
History is hot right now — in movies like Selma and American Sniper, on TV shows like The Knick and Sleepy Hollow, even in video games like Assassi...

  • Added: Feb 20, 2015
  • Length: 53:00