Pick a Topic!

Published: September 16, 2008

league-of-women-voters

Many thanks to all you responsible citizens of BackStory who voted for your favorite show idea! Behind the scenes, teams of archaic statisticians and historical engineers have been carefully tabulating the results. So what ARE the results, you ask? Three awesome new shows! (Well, make that two awesome new shows and one radical show-to-be…) Be sure and check out The More Things Change: Presidential Transitions and From Whales To Wind: A History of Energy in our archive. And help us out by weighing in on The Extraordinary Ordinary: Populism in America, a future show that grew out of your Anti-Intellectualism idea below.

Voting has closed for now, but you can still make suggestions for future shows at our Pitch A Show page. Fire away!

***

You spoke and we listened!  Based on feedback from you the BackStory listening audience, we’ve compiled the following list of possible show topics for the next season of BackStory.  Vote once (and only once) for your favorite topic.  Whichever topic comes out on top will be worked into the next season. Vote Now!

[page_polls]

From Whales to Wind: Fueling America
Fourthtower wrote “I’d love to see something in the history of energy. Edison and Rockefeller versus Tesla, coal and steam power, the building of the great dams for water, etc…that might educate on how we got where we are now, what other paths we could have taken and why we didn’t.”

Man’s Best Friend: Americans and Their Animals
Lauren wrote “The relationship of Americans and animals (people claim today that the emotional investment in pets, acted out in economics, is unlike anything previously).”

Ping Pong Relations: China & the U.S.
Rebecca wrote “How about something on relationship between China and US and shifting views of China. . . RR, exclusion, open door, missionaries, Pearl Buck, WWII and the good Asians, cold war, Nixon, adoption of Chinese children by US families, human rights questions, global warming, Olympics, etc.”

Read My Lips: Presidential Expectations vs. Presidential Realities
Matt wrote: “How about this for a topical show: How do presidencies past relate to the promises made on the campaign trail?”

Location, Location, Location!: Boom & Bust of American Cities
Meredith wrote: “I would be interested in a program on the topic “birth of a city, or location, location, location” — although the topic of Gold Rush is bad for your purposes, the Gold Rush fostered the birth of cities like San Francisco. Natural resources in different parts of the country as well as financial and human resources along with circumstances spawned tremendously fast growth in certain areas. Why?  Financial institutions and ports also could be examined as to how certain communities thrive and some don’t.”

Ordinary Guys: (Anti-)Intellectualism in American History
Jon wrote: “When did it become so uncool to be smart in America? When did being supremely educated become a red flag of “elitism” rather than, oh, I don’t know, something that might make you aptly qualified to lead?  Has this always been the case?”

g

Comments (18)

{Discussion is closed
  1. fourthtower

    ‘Read My Lips’ and ‘Ordinary Guys” are extremely appealing, too, but I still think that a show on American energy and fuel would be the most enlightening and relevant right now. Presidential politics and our economic disaster area both revolve around and can be resolved by an understanding of our past and future relationship to energy.

  2. Becky

    This is a great program. The historians tell such great stories. I’d like to see the humans and animals track move ahead. Yeah.

  3. Katie

    I would be interested in this topic. Why is it some cities thrive and others aredying right before your eyes. For example, Detroit Michigan. What happened? What can turn a city around? Is unemplyment a major contributor or is there something else that causes cities to die?

  4. Patrick Lerner

    I think all of them are very good topics which are worth being covered by your great show, but I think the most interesting thing would be the “Ordinary Guys” topic.

    — Patrick

  5. Wendy

    Great Ideas! I’d vote for “Ordinary Guys”. How did being smart and placing value on intellectual pursuits get to be undesirable? I have tutored in an urban school and have actually heard the “acting white” insult tossed at another African-American student. Why is it that geekdom is nerdy but cool, but intellectualism is rejected? So many questions…

  6. Mike O'Connor

    I am one of a team of historians who blogs on U.S. intellectual history, and the topic of anti-intellectualism comes up over and over again. I’d love to see the “ordinary guys” show, though I think the title raises other issues relating to gender that might complicate the main thread.

    Mike

  7. Markus Krueger

    I vote for Location, Location, Location! I live in Moorhead, Minnesota, sister city to Fargo, North Dakota. The flat prairie landscape here is not a bit different from any other point along the Red River of the North. The only reason we are here is because this is where the Northern Pacific Railroad crossed the river in 1871. The show could also go into the Panic of 1857, which caused many a land speculator in my neck of the woods to lose their shirts and plunge the nation into a recession. The Panic of 1857 did a lot to help me understand the current economic crisis, which has roots in the speculators of the housing bubble.

  8. Markus Krueger

    I just listened to the archived show on panics and I see you already covered the Panic of 1857. Great job!

  9. Erik

    i also vote for location, location, location! it’s especially interesting now that we’re talking about a new new deal and now that we’re seeing new hoovervilles! see recent radio piece on that subject:
    http://www.crosscurrentsradio.org/economic-edge.php?post_id=1465
    a bridge fell into a river during rush hr in minnesota not long ago and the country seems to be slowly realizing that we need to rebuild our infrastructure. before the new deal that was the job of municipal gov’ts and sometimes states (with the exception of major transportation projects, canals, ports, etc.) in nineteenth century cities (including chicago and san francisco), infrastructure was often funded by small improvement clubs which represented very small geographical areas. in the progressive era–with increased taxation and bonded indebtedness–municipalities took much of that over. depression meant that there was no more local largesse to be distributed; enter the feds who were important in city building through the great society. then the backlash of the 1970s and 30 plus years of deregulation that might just be coming to an end. what comes next for cities? how will a new new deal look?

  10. Judd

    The topic that interests me most right now, historically speaking, is population. America is over 300 million people now, truly a staggering sum. But when the nation was founded, the population was a small fraction of this total. The history of U.S. population change would be, to me, a wonderful topic, because the population, its numbers and makeup have so much to do with the evolution of the political, social and technological conditions of life in America, and population density has done as much as anything to define each of America’s centuries.

  11. Judd

    I realize that my topic folds into Location, Location, Location. I am interested in the development of mini-cities around larger cities, and the shifts in population that have occurred. The 20th century has many well-known shifts, such as the dust bowl flight, the European influxes of the first half of the century and the development of suburbia. But what were the analogues in other centuries?

  12. michael chapman

    [quote comment="62"]Great Ideas! I’d vote for “Ordinary Guys”. How did being smart and placing value on intellectual pursuits get to be undesirable? I have tutored in an urban school and have actually heard the “acting white” insult tossed at another African-American student. Why is it that geekdom is nerdy but cool, but intellectualism is rejected? So many questions…[/quote]

    The statement is a more of a defense mechanism. I remember when I was told the same thing by a adult friend. The guy saying it wanted to embarass me for my use of good grammar. This is nothing new and the person making the statement most of the time wants to make you feel insecure about your intellect.

  13. michael chapman

    [quote comment="123335"][quote comment="62"]Great Ideas! I’d vote for “Ordinary Guys”. How did being smart and placing value on intellectual pursuits get to be undesirable? I have tutored in an urban school and have actually heard the “acting white” insult tossed at another African-American student. Why is it that geekdom is nerdy but cool, but intellectualism is rejected? So many questions…[/quote]

    The statement is a more of a defense mechanism. I remember when I was told the same thing by a adult friend. The guy saying it wanted to embarass me for my use of good grammar. This is nothing new and the person making the statement most of the time wants to make you feel insecure about your intellect.[/quote]