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: The police in Gary, Ind., 1908, Credit: Library of Congress
For many Americans, the storyline that played out on August 9th in Ferguson, Mo. — when an unarmed black teenager was fatally shot by a white polic...

Bought by WRPI and WYAP


  • Added: Sep 19, 2014
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 2
Caption: The police in Gary, Ind., 1908, Credit: Library of Congress
For many Americans, the storyline that played out on August 9th in Ferguson, Mo. — when an unarmed black teenager was fatally shot by a white polic...

  • Added: Sep 19, 2014
  • Length: 54:00
Caption: The police in Gary, Ind., 1908, Credit: Library of Congress
30-second promo for BackStory episode, "Serve and Protect? A History of the Police” with 5-second music bed at end for station-specific time/date tag.

  • Added: Sep 16, 2014
  • Length: :30
Caption: The mountain pass, Sierra Nevada, Credit: Library of Congress
Writer Emma Marris and historian Paul Sutter join the Guys as they discuss the Wilderness Act of 1964, and how American ideas of wilderness and how...

Bought by PRX Remix


  • Added: Sep 15, 2014
  • Length: 10:43
  • Purchases: 1
Caption: The mountain pass, Sierra Nevada, Credit: Library of Congress
Producer Jesse Dukes has the story of some five hundred families who were made to leave their homes in an area supposedly “pristine and free of hum...

Bought by PRX Remix


  • Added: Sep 15, 2014
  • Length: 08:03
  • Purchases: 1
Caption: The mountain pass, Sierra Nevada, Credit: Library of Congress
In honor of the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, BackStory heads into the wilderness, exploring Americans’ fascination with, and fear of, wi...

  • Added: Sep 12, 2014
  • Length: 54:00
Caption: The mountain pass, Sierra Nevada, Credit: Library of Congress
In honor of the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, BackStory heads into the wilderness, exploring Americans’ fascination with, and fear of, wi...

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


  • Added: Sep 12, 2014
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 5
Caption: The mountain pass, Sierra Nevada, Credit: Library of Congress
30-second promo for BackStory episode, "Untrammeled: Americans in the Wilderness” with 5-second music bed at end for station-specific time/date tag.

Bought by 90.1 WFYI Public Radio


  • Added: Sep 08, 2014
  • Length: :30
  • Purchases: 1
Caption: Victory of the USS Constitution over the HMS Guerriere in the War of 1812, by Anton Otto Fischer, Credit: U.S. Navy - Naval Historical Center
Two hundred years ago this month, Francis Scott Key wrote "The Star-Spangled Banner" as the War of 1812 raged around him. But few Americans know mu...

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


  • Added: Sep 05, 2014
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 6
Caption: Victory of the USS Constitution over the HMS Guerriere in the War of 1812, by Anton Otto Fischer, Credit: U.S. Navy - Naval Historical Center
Two hundred years ago this month, Francis Scott Key wrote "The Star-Spangled Banner" as the War of 1812 raged around him. But few Americans know mu...

  • Added: Sep 05, 2014
  • Length: 54:00
Caption: The victory of the USS Constitution over the HMS Guerriere in the War of 1812 by Anton Otto, Credit: U.S. Navy - Naval Historical Center
30-second promo for BackStory episode, "The War of 1812: Which One Was That?” [rebroadcast] with 5-second music bed at end for station-specific tim...

Bought by WCAI / WNAN and 90.1 WFYI Public Radio


  • Added: Sep 03, 2014
  • Length: :30
  • Purchases: 2
Caption: Strikers from the Ladies Tailors Union, 1910 , Credit: Library of Congress
In his 2014 State of the Union address, President Obama called on Congress to increase the federal minimum wage to $10.10, and then signed an execu...

Bought by KREV-LP, KSRQ, KSVR Studios: Skagit Valley Radio, KBRP Community Radio, WRIR and more


  • Added: Aug 29, 2014
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 8
Caption: Strikers from the Ladies Tailors Union, 1910 , Credit: Library of Congress
With President Obama calling on Congress to raise the minimum wage, and several states debating statewide increases, this episode looks to the orig...

  • Added: Aug 29, 2014
  • Length: 54:00
Caption: Strikers from the Ladies Tailors Union, 1910 , Credit: (Library of Congress)
30-second promo for BackStory episode, "Fair Wages: A History of Getting Paid” with 5-second music bed at end for station-specific time/date tag.

Bought by 90.1 WFYI Public Radio


  • Added: Aug 25, 2014
  • Length: :30
  • Purchases: 1
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...

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


  • Added: Aug 22, 2014
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 7
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