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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

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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
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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...

Bought by KPIP-LP, KBRP Community Radio, and WYAP


  • Added: Jul 03, 2015
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 3
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
Caption: "This is the enemy." Depiction of a Nazi officer, 1943, Credit: Library of Congress
Scholar Maura Farrelly and host Brian Balogh discuss the pervasive bias against American Catholics that endured for much of U.S. history, which occ...

Bought by PRX Remix


  • Added: Jul 01, 2015
  • Length: 10:17
  • Purchases: 1
Caption: "This is the enemy." Depiction of a Nazi officer, 1943, Credit: Library of Congress
Historian Ben Irvin talks about how tarring and feathering became a way to publicly brand your neighbor a Loyalist and an enemy in Revolutionary Am...

Bought by PRX Remix


  • Added: Jul 01, 2015
  • Length: 06:30
  • Purchases: 1
Caption: Female personification of the Bill of Rights, 1941, Credit: Library of Congress
At the height of World War II, Jehovah’s Witnesses fought for the right not to pledge allegiance to the flag. Historian Sarah Barringer Gordon has ...

Bought by KBRP Community Radio and PRX Remix


  • Added: Jul 01, 2015
  • Length: 08:44
  • Purchases: 2
Caption: Female personification of the Bill of Rights, 1941, Credit: Library of Congress
Host Brian Balogh chats with legal historian Sophia Lee, about how both Big Tobacco and the anti-smoking lobby have breathed the language of civil ...

Bought by PRX Remix


  • Added: Jul 01, 2015
  • Length: 07:37
  • Purchases: 1
Caption: Female personification of the Bill of Rights, 1941, Credit: Library of Congress
English professor Jeannine DeLombard talks with host Ed Ayers about the paradox some slaves faced when they sued their owners for the right to be f...

Bought by PRX Remix


  • Added: Jul 01, 2015
  • Length: 06:41
  • Purchases: 1
Caption: Female personification of the Bill of Rights, 1941, Credit: Library of Congress
Historian Sophia Lee has the story of how Hollywood powerhouse Cecil B. DeMille fought labor unions in the 1940s, and championed the “right to work...

Bought by PRX Remix


  • Added: Jul 01, 2015
  • Length: 08:16
  • Purchases: 1
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30-second promo for "Independence Daze" with a 5-second music bed for station specific dates/tags.

Bought by 90.1 WFYI Public Radio and MPR News Stations


  • Added: Jun 30, 2015
  • Length: :30
  • Purchases: 2
Caption: "This is the enemy." Depiction of a Nazi officer, 1943, Credit: Library of Congress
Across generations, Americans have seen foes turn to friends and allies to enemies. So, as negotiations for a nuclear deal with Iran and resuming f...

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


  • Added: Jun 26, 2015
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 5
Caption: “This Is the Enemy” — stereotype of a Nazi officer., Credit: Library of Congress.
Across generations, Americans have seen foes turn to friends and allies to enemies. So, as negotiations for a nuclear deal with Iran and resuming f...

  • Added: Jun 26, 2015
  • Length: 54:00
Caption: “This Is the Enemy” — stereotype of a Nazi officer, 1943 , Credit: Library of Congress
30-second promo for "Enemies" with a 5-second music bed for station specific dates/tags.

Bought by 90.1 WFYI Public Radio


  • Added: Jun 23, 2015
  • Length: :30
  • Purchases: 1
Caption: Female personification of the Bill of Rights, 1941, Credit: Library of Congress
With the Supreme Court ready to rule any day now on gay marriage rights, Brian, Ed and Peter wade into America’s long history of struggles over rig...

  • Added: Jun 20, 2015
  • Length: 54:00
Caption: Female personification of the Bill of Rights, 1941, Credit: Library of Congress
With the Supreme Court ready to rule any day now on gay marriage rights, Brian, Ed and Peter wade into America’s long history of struggles over rig...

Bought by KBYS 88.3 FM, Moab Public Radio, KPCC, WRIR, WRGY and more


  • Added: Jun 19, 2015
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 7
Caption: Female personification of the Bill of Rights, 1941, Credit: Library of Congress
30-second promo for "Balancing Acts" with a 5-second music bed for station specific dates/tags.

Bought by 90.1 WFYI Public Radio


  • Added: Jun 16, 2015
  • Length: :30
  • Purchases: 1
Caption: Sister Mary Abdi talking over homework assignments with Rohymah Toulas and Lanya Abdul-jabbar at the Islamic School in Seattle, Washington, Credit: Library of Congress
The fastest growing major religion in the world today, Islam has some 1.6 billion followers practicing a wide array of religious traditions and spe...

Bought by KBYS 88.3 FM, WRIR, WYAP, KBRP Community Radio, 90.1 WFYI Public Radio and more


  • Added: Jun 12, 2015
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 7
Caption: Classroom in the Islamic School in Seattle, Washington, 1982. , Credit: Library of Congress
The fastest growing major religion in the world today, Islam has some 1.6 billion followers practicing a wide array of religious traditions and spe...

  • Added: Jun 12, 2015
  • Length: 54:00
Caption: Classroom in the Islamic School in Seattle, Washington, 1982. , Credit: Library of Congress
30-second promo for "Islam & the United States(rebroadcast)," with 5-second music bed at end for station-specific time/date tag.

Bought by 90.1 WFYI Public Radio


  • Added: Jun 09, 2015
  • Length: :30
  • Purchases: 1
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Host Ed Ayers talks to historian Christopher Jones about the 1870s skirmish between John D. Rockefeller and the upstart competitors who built the c...

  • Added: Jun 08, 2015
  • Length: 10:26