One of the most interesting discussions in my Writing of History course last spring was the choice between writing history in a new way and providing new outlets and audiences for history. One of the projects in the latter category was a plan for a new history radio show, one using the audio effects and approach of RadioLab or This American Life to tell stories about history.
As we work to expand the project, I have been looking for other examples of history over the air, audio programs either made for radio or podcast on the Web. Of course one local example came to mind, along with New Books in History, the podcast lectures of the Gilder Lehrman Institute, Library of Congress and other history venues, and walking tours, from Civil War battlefields to urban streets. Then there are the history talkshows, most notably BackStory with the American History Guys, who always seem to be having a great time.
For short-form work, I found the great pieces in the BBC’s History of the World in 100 Objects series, and the historical commentaries offered on a few National Public Radio affiliate stations, from Nevada Yesterdays to a Moment of Indiana History and the seemingly defunct PA History. Personal histories appear weekly thanks to StoryCorps, and the NPR website’s search function finds a number of stories tagged for “history.”
A Google site works to collect a scattershot set of history over the air, from church historians to 8th-grade projects; interesting work is definitely lurking within. And then, topping the iTunes history podcast charts, there is the fun Stuff You Missed In History Class and the edgy Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History, which explore the world past in the manner closest to RadioLab and This American Life (which has its own list of keyworded history programs.)
So – how much history do you listen to? Have I missed your favorite outlet? Are you trying to broadcast your view of the past? We look forward to hearing from you, and perhaps a snippet from my student’s project will appear here, improved by all those suggestions, someday soon.