BackStory on RADIO IQ with BBC

Saturdays at 3:00 p.m. on RADIO IQ
Ed Ayers, Peter Onuf, Brian Balogh

BackStory with the American History Guys  brings historical perspective to the events happening around us today.

On each show, renowned U.S. historians Ed Ayers, Peter Onuf, and Brian Balogh tear a topic from the headlines and plumb its historical depths. Over the course of the hour, they are joined by fellow historians, people in the news, and callers interested in exploring the roots of what's going on today.

Together, they drill down to colonial times and earlier, revealing the connections (and disconnections) between past and present. With its passionate, intelligent, and irreverent approach, BackStory with the American History Guys is fun and essential listening no matter who you are.

Composer ID: 
5187f8dbe1c8221ab9bfee43|5187f8c5e1c84d4a4b12563e

Program Headlines

  • Friday, May 29, 2015 10:23am
    A recent ruling by a federal court said that much of the phone data the NSA has been gathering from American citizens for years was collected illegally. That decision set off another round of debate over the scope of personal privacy in a democratic republic like ours, and the means by which the government “keeps tabs” on citizens. So in this episode, the Guys explore the changing ways we’ve collected information on each other – and when it crosses from something necessary into something invasive. From early attempts to determine people's credit rating to the accumulation of data about Americans' "racial purity," the History Guys and their guests look at how, and why, Americans have kept tabs on each other, and consider how earlier generations have balanced the need-to-know with expectations of privacy.
  • Friday, May 22, 2015 6:55pm
    For the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500, BackStory goes into overdrive with a show all about speed in America. How fast — and slow — has life moved in different eras? And how has the pace of social change, well, changed over time? Join Brian, Ed and Peter as they head out to the racetrack, the ballpark and the trading floor ... and hustle from the halls of the Supreme Court to the speedy courtrooms of Reno, Nev. — once the divorce capital of America.
  • Friday, May 15, 2015 2:19pm
    Two hundred years ago, there was no such thing as the “workplace” — and the tools of one’s trade were rudimentary by today’s standards. Since then, of course, America has witnessed the Industrial Revolution, the rise of white-collar work and, now, an age of digital devices that allows the workplace to follow us everywhere. So on this episode of BackStory, from utopian visions of the cubicle to video surveillance in law enforcement, the Guys size up some of the stuff Americans have worked with — and, in turn, how that stuff has shaped the lives of American workers.
  • Friday, May 8, 2015 2:01pm
    Some 20,000 species across the globe are at high risk of extinction, experts say – many here in the United States – and some of our natural fauna have already disappeared. So in this episode, the American History Guys explore how Americans have grappled with the idea of extinction over time, and what the loss of native species has meant for our ecosystems and everyday lives. When did we first realize that species could go extinct? To what extent did earlier extinctions shape the emergence of today's environmentalism? And how have ideas about biological extinction factored into American thinking about human cultures? These are just some of the questions the American History Guys and their guests explore in this episode, with stories on our obsession with dinosaurs, the bird that helped birth the conservation movement, the unlikely fish that galvanized a new generation of environmental activists, and much more.
  • Friday, May 1, 2015 5:29pm
    This week on the show we’re picking through history’s waste basket. What does America’s garbage tell us about its past? How have ideas about what is disposable and what isn’t changed over time? And have Americans always generated so much junk? To get to the bottom of things, the Guys are salvaging all kinds of trashy stories... about filth-eating pigs that once ran amok in New York City… about Americans’ legal rights to their own garbage… and about how Big Soda promoted recycling to boost the industry’s own bottom line. Plus, find out what an anthropologist sees in the decades-old debris now washing ashore at a place called Dead Horse Bay.