How to Participate

Make History!

There are a handful of ways you can help make BackStory. You don’t have to be a radio person, a journalist, or an historian (we can help you on those fronts); you just have to be completely amazed by the way the past seems to resonate with the decisions we make today. Follow the links below for the different types of pitches, or email us at BackStory@Virginia.edu.

Audio Postcards

We’re looking for short pieces (no more than two minutes) that pair a strong sense of place with an historical perspective. “Historical perspective” can be interpreted broadly — it could entail visiting the site of a famous battle or speech, but it could also deal with family stories, local lore, a quirky tradition, etc.  The postcard should be driven by the sounds of the place, though narration is certainly also fine.  We’d be especially interested in postcards from areas outside the east coast. Pitch away!

Features & Stories

We’re looking for new and exciting ways to share history on the radio… in fact, we’re sort of inventing it as we go along. The story is going to be a key part of that. We want to hear about the most amazing moments in American history – moments with a sense of character, action (something happening), and historical significance. This doesn’t have to be “Joe Smith led the charge that won the battle that meant the North would be victorious,” in terms of significance. Try thinking about the history you don’t learn in high school. Stuff that’s surprising. These can be anywhere from 3 minutes to as long as the story holds the listener’s attention. Click to pitch.

Show Topics

If you’ve never listened to BackStory, please spend a little time in our archive before you make your pitch so that you can get a sense of what we’re all about. Basically, we’re looking for topics we can trace over the entire course of American history, rather than single episodes or chapters from history. So….

The Civil Rights Era = Bad Topic

The History of Activism = Good Topic

The Gold Rush = Bad Topic

Boom & Bust in American History = Good Topic

In general, we like to start each show by rattling off the two or three questions we see as central to that week’s topic. If you can include the key questions as part of your pitch, you’re halfway there. Also — if you have ideas for people who would make for good interviewees, so much the better. Let us know.

Be A Caller

BackStory believes history should be accessible and — as public radio’s only call-in history show — sets out to bring ordinary people into a conversation about the relevance and meaning of America’s past. We’re always looking for people interested in being part of that conversation. If you’d like to join the History Guys on-the-air, have a look at the topics we’re working on… and then get in touch! Here’s how.

COMMENT: Leave a comment on our “in the works” pages for upcoming shows, where we encourage open and respectful discussion on the topics we’re working on (you can take a look at our comments policy here).

EMAIL: backstory@virginia.edu

PHONE: Toll-Free History Hotline: (888) 257-8851