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Three History Amigos

Radio talk show combines past, present

Using history to inform the present is nothing new, but three scholars are bringing a fresh approach to learning from the past.

BackStory, a weekly call-in radio show, features UVA historians Peter Onuf and Brian Balogh teamed with Ed Ayers, president of the University of Richmond and a former UVA historian and dean, as the “history guys,” and their on-air patter might beg comparisons with Click and Clack of NPR’s Car Talk.

They plan to take current affairs, such as the war in Iraq or the environment, and give them a historical perspective framed by their shared expertise and collegial banter.

Their specialties cover a broad range—the Civil War for Ayers, the Jeffersonian era for Onuf and the 20th century and American politics for Balogh.

“What’s fun and surprising about this is that we are all talking with each other and we get very excited about it,” Onuf told the Cavalier Daily. “Who knew we had so much to say?”

A production of VFH Radio at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities at UVA, the program is set to debut on public radio stations in Virginia in June and being available nationally by the end of the year.

Ed Ayers, Brian Balogh and Peter Onuf