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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 Andrew Parsons at (434) 982-2955 or andrewparsons@virginia.edu.

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: Proposed Mothers' Memorial by John Geddes, 1922-30, Credit: (Library of Congress).
This is a country awash in monuments. They adorn traffic circles, street corners and, of course, the National Mall. In this special Memorial Day ep...

Bought by KSVR Studios: Skagit Valley Radio, RadioFreePalmer, WYAP, KTXK, WRFA-LP and more


  • Added: May 24, 2013
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 53
Caption: Proposed Mothers’ Memorial , Credit:  John Geddes, 1922-30 (LOC)
30-second promo for "Monumental Disagreements: Memorials in America" with 5 second hole for station-specific time/date tag.

Bought by Georgia Public Broadcasting and KUMD


  • Added: May 22, 2013
  • Length: :30
  • Purchases: 2
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Host Brian Balough chats with Law professor Chris Sprigman about the intellectual property debates surrounding standup comedy – no joke!

Bought by WABE, PRX Remix, WEZU, Radio Newark, KHNS and more


  • Added: May 20, 2013
  • Length: 10:32
  • Purchases: 6
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BackStory hears from Kembrew McLeod – journalist, professor, and intellectual property “prankster” – on how a system meant to encourage innovation ...

Bought by Louisville Public Media, Radio Newark, and KBRP Community Radio


  • Added: May 20, 2013
  • Length: 02:39
  • Purchases: 3
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Media and legal scholar Siva Vaidhyanathan talks with Host Brian Balough about the expansion of copyright protections.

Bought by Radio Newark and KHNS


  • Added: May 20, 2013
  • Length: 08:30
  • Purchases: 2
Caption: 1814 wood engraving of two types of locking mechanisms., Credit: (Library of Congress).
Can genes be patented? Are downloaders inhibiting musical creativity – or enhancing it? This week’s BackStory explores how Americans have viewed “i...

Bought by XRAY.fm, WSKG, KUOW, WRPI, KBRP Community Radio and more


  • Added: May 17, 2013
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 11
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30-second promo for: Patent Pending: A History of Intellectual Property with 5 second hole for station-specific time/date tag.

Bought by Troy Public Radio


  • Added: May 14, 2013
  • Length: :30
  • Purchases: 1
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The American History Guys riff on citizenship. Does being born on American soil guarantee American citizenship?

Bought by Radio Newark, KFAI, KHNS, and PRX Remix


  • Added: May 13, 2013
  • Length: 07:07
  • Purchases: 4
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Host Peter Onuf talks to religion scholar Peggy Bendroth about “Day of Doom” by Michael Wigglesworth, a poem in which dead babies talk to us from b...

Bought by KSVR Studios: Skagit Valley Radio, Radio Newark, KBRP Community Radio, and PRX Remix


  • Added: May 13, 2013
  • Length: 07:13
  • Purchases: 4
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Laurel Thatcher Ulrich talks to Host Ed Ayers about the movement away from midwifery and towards hospital births.

Bought by Radio Newark, KHNS, KBRP Community Radio, and PRX Remix


  • Added: May 13, 2013
  • Length: 09:03
  • Purchases: 4
Caption: Migrant cotton picker and her baby, Buckeye, AZ, 1940, Credit: (National Archives).
It’s BackStory’s birthday! To celebrate one year as a weekly show, the American History Guys are going back to where it all begins: birth. From mid...

Bought by KFOK-LPFM, KBRP Community Radio, WOUB, and WTJU


  • Added: May 10, 2013
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 4
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30-second promo for: Born in the USA with 5 second hole for station-specific time/date tag.

Bought by KMXT


  • Added: May 08, 2013
  • Length: :30
  • Purchases: 1
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Host Brian Balough explores the meaning of "wartime" with Mary Dudziak, an historian at Emory University's School of Law. Well after V-J Day, Dudz...

Bought by WEZU, Radio Newark, KBRP Community Radio, and PRX Remix


  • Added: May 06, 2013
  • Length: 10:50
  • Purchases: 4
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Host Peter Onuf talks with Amy Greenberg, an historian at Pennsylvania State University, on the rogue diplomat that ended the Mexican-American War ...

Bought by XRAY.fm, Radio Newark, and PRX Remix


  • Added: May 06, 2013
  • Length: 11:01
  • Purchases: 3
Caption: May 1, 2003: President George W. Bush declares an end to major combat operations in Iraq , Credit: (Paul Morse, White House photographer).
The declaration of "Mission Accomplished" in Iraq was famously premature. But have America's other wars had neat or definitive endings?  In this ep...

Bought by KSVR Studios: Skagit Valley Radio, KFOK-LPFM, KBRP Community Radio, WRPI, Louisville Public Media and more


  • Added: May 03, 2013
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 8
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30-second promo for "Mission Accomplished: How Wars End" 5-second music bed at end for station-specific time/date tag.

  • Added: May 01, 2013
  • Length: :30
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Ed Ayers talks with historian Amy Wood about how lynching photographs were used first by white supremacists to spread terror.

Bought by Radio Newark and PRX Remix


  • Added: Apr 29, 2013
  • Length: 11:26
  • Purchases: 2
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BackStory Producer Eric Mennel tells the story of how a turn-of-the-century American writer grappled with his own ambivalence about the meanings an...

Bought by KSVR Studios: Skagit Valley Radio, Radio Newark, and PRX Remix


  • Added: Apr 29, 2013
  • Length: 08:04
  • Purchases: 3
Caption: Woodcut of the 1886 Haymarket Square Bombing., Credit: Harper's Weekly, LOC.
With recent events in Boston highlighting the horrors of domestic terrorism, we're re-broadcasting this episode of BackStory, which originally aire...

Bought by KSVR Studios: Skagit Valley Radio, WUFT, XRAY.fm, KBRP Community Radio, WCAI / WNAN and more


  • Added: Apr 26, 2013
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 10
Caption: A woodcut of the Haymarket Square bombing in 1886., Credit:  From Harper’s Weekly
30-second promo for "Fear Tactics: A History of Domestic Terrorism " 5-second music bed at end for station-specific time/date tag.

  • Added: Apr 23, 2013
  • Length: :30