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The Road to Now

The Road to Now is a series of conversations that trace the historical roots of today’s events. Hosted by Bob Crawford of the Avett Brothers & Dr. Benjamin Sawyer of Middle Tennessee State University, this podcast brings exceptional guests to the table to answer pressing questions and explain how our shared and personal past shape the world today. *
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Oct 14, 2019

With the current impeachment inquiry underway, there has been a lot of talk about government information, where it is stored, and who has the right to access these records. In this episode, Ben speaks with archive and information policy expert Stacy Woods, to get the answers to a lot of the questions surrounding impeachment past and present. They also discuss Presidential authority regarding documents, the state of government transparency, and the relationship of government secrecy to conspiracy theories.

Dr. Stacy Wood is Assistant Professor at the School of Computing and Information Science at the University of Pittsburgh. She is a critical scholar of archives, information policy and information studies who engages with the legal and cultural aspects of records and technology. You can find out more about her at her personal website, StacyEWood.com and follow her on twitter at @StacyEWood.

To hear our first interview w/ Stacy Wood in RTN #12, join us on Patreon. You’ll get episodes 1-75, extra episodes, bonus content and more, and you’ll be an essential part of keeping The Road to Now going!  Click here to join!

The Road to Now is a member of the Osiris Podcast Network. This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

Oct 10, 2019

RTN Theology #14 remembers as collaborative music project from 2012 birthed out of a North Carolina church community. Bob and Chris talk with producer Jeff Crawford about the making of Hymns from the Gathering Church at Arbor Ridge Studios. This record features old hymns reimagined by artists such as Phil Cook, Mandolin Orange, Skylar Gudasz, Seth Kaufman (Floating Action), H.C. McEntire, Brett Harris, Ryan Gustafson (The Dead Tongues), and more. Bob shares his personal ties to this music and Chris is simply content to be on a call “between two Crawfords.”

Oct 7, 2019

Right now an average of one person dies about every 11 minutes from an opioid overdose in the United States. The staggering number of lives ruined by opioid addiction has finally gotten public attention in recent years, but the origins of the crisis goes back to 1996, when Purdue Pharma began selling Oxycontin through a misleading marketing campaign that claimed it was unlikely to cause addiction. In this episode, Ben speaks with journalist Beth Macy, who chronicled the lives of those affected by opioid addiction in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia and across the country. Her book Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted America tells the history of the opioid crisis through the deeply intimate stories of the people and communities that were hit hard by addiction, but never stopped fighting the companies who placed profit over humanity.

Beth Macy is a journalist and author of three books, the most recent of which, Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted America (Little, Brown & Company, 2018), was an instant NY Times Best Seller. Her audio documentary Finding Tess: A Mother’s Search for Answers in a Dopesick America was released on October 3, 2019 is and is available by clicking here. For more on Beth Macy, visit her personal website- intrepidpapergirl.com- and follow her on twitter at @papergirlmacy.

You can get Dopesick and two additional audiobooks for just $15 from Libro.fm. Just click here and enter promo code RTN at checkout!

The Road to Now is a member of the Osiris Podcast Network. This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

 

Sep 30, 2019

This is a rebroadcast of RTN #34 with an update on Tom's work since we spoke with him in December of 2016.

Tom Shadyac has probably made you laugh. He was the youngest ever staff joke writer for Bob Hope and he directed some of the biggest comedy films in recent memory, including Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and The Nutty Professor. A lot of people would say Tom has “made it.” Tom would disagree.

Tom joins Ben and Bob for a conversation about his life and the path that led him to abandon the pursuit of fame and material abundance to focus on helping others. He tells of his 11-year period of unemployment as he struggled to find success in the Los Angeles comedy scene, his relationship with Jim Carrey and how following his own passions led him to take a risk with Ace Ventura. Tom also talks of his approach to teaching film, and explains why he defines success as a state of mind. Other topics of conversation include the LA comedy scene, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and Tom’s deep commitment to the people of Memphis.

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network. This rebroadcast was edited by Gary Fletcher.

Sep 26, 2019

RTN Theology 13 is a conversation with Dr. Jennifer Allen Craft in Durham, NC as she participates in the Duke Initiatives in Theology and the Arts’ 10th anniversary symposium. Dr. Craft wrote Placemaking and the Arts: Cultivating the Christian Life: a beautiful vision for investing in real places and loving real people, while we cultivate a rich experience of God through the arts.

Sep 23, 2019

The recent drone strike on Saudi oil fields has implications for the entire world, but we remain uncertain who is responsible for the attack. Yemen’s Houthi rebels have claimed responsibility, but Trump claims it was actually Iran. There’s a lot at stake here, so Ben sat down with his MTSU colleague Sean Foley to learn about the history of the conflict and how that might inform policy moving forward.

In the second part of the episode, Bob and Ben talk about Bob’s research and what he’s learned about Monsanto since our last episode. We also share an exciting announcement about upcoming plans for the podcast!

Dr. Sean Foley is a Professor of History at Middle Tennessee State University, where he specializes in the contemporary history and politics of the Middle East and the wider Islamic world. He frequently visits Asia and the Middle East, follows events in both regions closely, and speaks Arabic and Bahasa Malaysian. Dr. Foley has held Fulbright fellowships in Syria, Turkey, and Malaysia, and lived in Saudi Arabia from April 2013 until January 2014. His most recent book is Changing Saudi Arabia: Art, Culture, and Society in the Kingdom (Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2019). You can follow him on twitter at @foleyse.

Sep 16, 2019

Bob and Ben talk about some of the incredible resources that are now available electronically and how they have opened up new opportunities for historians. Bob talks about how his research on Monsanto, which he’s conducting for his US business history seminar, is adding to his greater project on the history of the Research Triangle Park and Apex, NC. Ben also talks about some of his interesting finds working in Russian archives and how publicly-accessible databases have provided some valuable material for his work.

Sep 9, 2019

Brian Rosenwald joins Ben and Bob to discuss his new book Talk Radio’s America: How an Industry Took Over A Party That Took Over the United States, which traces the emergence of talk radio as a major powerhouse in shaping the Republican Party. Brian explains how conservative talk radio and hosts such as Rush Limbaugh came to have tremendous influence over the GOP’s policy agenda, ultimately laying the groundwork for Donald Trump’s victory in the 2016 Republican Primary. Brian also discusses how his conclusions have changed since his first appearance on RTN in November 2016.

Dr. Brian Rosenwald is a scholar in residence at the Partnership for Effective Public Administration and Leadership Ethics at the University of Pennsylvania and an instructor at Penn. He also conducts research for the Slate podcast Whistlestop, and serves as one of the two Editors-In-Chief of Made By History, a Washington Post history section. You can follow him on twitter at @Brianros1.

Want to hear our first conversation with Brian Rosenwald? You can get it and the other first seventy-five episodes of RTN, along with Patereon exclusive episodes and other bonus material, by supporting The Road to Now on Patreon for as little as $5 a month! Click here to find out more.

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network. This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

Sep 2, 2019

The Netflix series The Last Czars and HBO’s Chernobyl have (in very different ways) brought Russian & Soviet history to televisions across the world. In this episode, Ben sits down with fellow Russian historians Philippa Hetherington and Jonathan Waterlow to discuss their opinions on the two series, what they think they got right, and ways that producers and scholars might benefit most from collaboration on future projects. Philippa, who is a featured scholar in The Last Czars, shares her experience being interviewed, her impression of the show after seeing it, and her work to correct historical errors that viewers identified after release.

Dr. Philippa Hetherington is a Lecturer in Modern Eurasian History at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London. Her research focuses on the legal history of imperial Russia and the early Soviet Union in global and transnational context. You can follow Philippa on twitter at @philippahether.

Dr. Jonathan Waterlow is the author of It’s Only a Joke Comrade! Humor, Trust and Everyday Life Under Stalin, and cohost of the Voices in the Dark podcast. He received his Doctorate in History from the University of Oxford and was a Postdoctoral Fellow at St. Anthony’s College (Oxford) and the University of Toronto. For more on It’s Only a Joke Comrade!, check out RTN #107 Laughing at Stalin: The Politics of Humor w/ Jon Waterlow or pick up a copy by clicking here. You can follow Jon on twitter at @JonWaterlow.

 The Road to Now is part of The Osiris Podcast Network. This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

Aug 29, 2019

What can happen when folks stay in a place, learn that place, and grow to love the people in a place over a long period of time? This episode of RTN Theology explores the power of conversation, creativity, and working in generative ways across difference and division. Chris has a conversation about conversation with C. Christopher Smith, author of How the Body of Christ Talks. Bob and Chris also got the chance to talk with Will Acuff of Corner to Corner in Nashville, TN about the amazing community organizing and empowerment work he, his wife Tiffany, and their team are doing with the youth in their community. Throughout the episode you’ll hear music from Russ Mohr, from his recent collaborative project, The Kingdom Sessions.

Christopher Smith (Indianapolis, IN) is a long-time member of the Englewood Christian Church community on the urban Near Eastside of Indianapolis, founding editor of The Englewood Review of Books, and acclaimed author. His newest book is How the Body of Christ Talks: Recovering The Practice of Conversation in the Church (Brazos Press, 2019).

Corner to Corner (East Nashville, TN) was founded by Will and Tiffany Acuff in 2011. Based on their core belief that Jesus and Generous Justice go hand in hand, Will and Tiffany sought to create a faith-based nonprofit that focused on both. In partnership with the McFerrin Park Rec Center and key support from City Church, the first program they began was aimed at equipping former offenders with the skills they needed to gain meaningful employment and an invitation to discipleship. Since those early days Corner to Corner has grown to have programming in 5 communities, all in vital partnership with neighbors.

Music by Russ Mohr and the Kingdom Sessions (St. Louis, MO). The Kingdom Sessions is a collaborative worship project featuring 12 different writers, 70 musicians, 17 engineers, 3 producers (from 9 different cities) representing various musical, racial, cultural, & denominational backgrounds. Buy, share, and stream their work across all platforms and follow them on social media (@kingdomsessions).

This episode was hosted and produced by Bob Crawford and Chris Breslin and edited by Gary Fletcher.

Check out the annotated bibliography on our episode page by clicking here.

The Road to Now is a member of the Osiris Podcast Network.

Aug 26, 2019

Coca-Cola is one of the most well-known products on planet earth, but did you ever wonder how a brown fizzy drink fueled the rise of a corporate juggernaut? The answer, says Ohio State historian Bartow Elmore, has everything to do with its business structure. In this episode, Bart offers his take on how Coke went from Atlanta soda parlors in the late 19th century to markets across the globe in less than a century, all along reaping tremendous benefits from public infrastructure while passing the bulk of its environmental costs on to others.  Bart also talks about the difficulties of doing research on powerful corporations, why he thinks we should care about environmental history, and the meaning of what he calls “Coca-Cola Capitalism.”

Dr. Bartow Elmore is Associate Professor of History at The Ohio State University. His book, Citizen Coke: The Making of Coca-Cola Capitalism (W.W. Norton, 2015) won the Axiom Business Book Award for best business commentary in 2015 and the Council of Graduate Schools 2016 Gustave O. Arlt Award in the Humanities. He is currently researching the history of Monsanto. You can follow him on twitter at @BartElmore.

You can get Citizen Coke on audiobook at libro.fm. Click here & enter promo code RTN at checkout to get this book & 3 more for just $15!

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network. This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

Aug 19, 2019

Technology is transforming the production & availability of knowledge. Many experts predict AI & nanotechnology will soon bring about a fundamental change in the ways we work, relate to one another, and are known, while skeptics point to the industrial revolution to dismiss these concerns. In this episode Ben speaks with Roy Wyman, who specializes in healthcare law and the relationship of technology to medicine, to find out how recent innovations are already affecting our lives, and where the future may take us.

Roy Wyman is Partner at Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP, where he is co-chair of the firm’s Privacy & Security Industry Group and a member of the firm's healthcare regulatory and litigation team. You can read his articles on healthcare, security and technology by clicking here. He also designed and is the lead attorney for HIPAA2Z, an automated HIPAA privacy and security compliance tool offered by Nelson Mullins.

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network. This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher. 

Aug 12, 2019

We make sense of our place in the world through stories. Our history as individuals & communities is always present, but the parts of the story we emphasize, as well as those we forget, are crucial in understanding the world today and in shaping the decisions we make going forward. In this episode, Bob, Ben and professional storyteller Donna Washington speak about the power of story and its potential for helping inspire action in a live forum hosted by National Conference for State Legislatures’ Executive Director Tim Storey as part of NCSL’s Legislative Summit held in Nashville, TN on August 7, 2019.

A special thanks to Tim Storey and everyone at NCSL for the invitation to participate in the summit, and to Donna Washington for sharing her wisdom with us and the crowd. We’re also grateful to all those who attended the panel and took the time to speak with us afterward.

 

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network. For more on the podcast, visit our website: www.TheRoadToNow.com. This episode was recorded by NCSL and edited by Gary Fletcher.

Jul 29, 2019

RTN Theology #11 features “America’s Best Theologian” (according to Time Magazine), Stanley Hauerwas. Chris Breslin brings an intimate conversation from Dr. Hauerwas’ office at Duke Divinity School that touches on the recent passing of his friend, Jean Vanier, the life of the church in the era of Trump, and what it means to become people of virtue and character. Professor and author, Dave Fitch chimes in with some of his favorite Hauerwasisms and the ways that Dr. Hauerwas has shaped his life and work. He also shares his most recent book project, The Church of Us vs. Them. We’re also treated to a special reading of a chapter on the virtue of Justice by Stanley Hauerwas from his recent book of letters written to his Godson. Throughout the episode are selections from Deeper Well Music Collective’s (Portland, OR) new release, Volume III.

For more on this episode and a full bibliography on the essential Hauerwas, check out our episode page by clicking here.

The Road to Now is Part of the Osiris Podcast Network.

Jul 22, 2019

Creating games that are both fun and educational takes a lot of work, but Digitalmill’s Ben Sawyer has been doing it successfully for more than two decades. In this episode we speak with Ben about the art of creating serious games and his work on the American Revolution-based game “Revolutionary Choices.”

Just to clarify: Yes, there are two Ben Sawyers on this episode. People have confused them before, which is how they met. But we promise you’ll be able to tell them apart on this episode.

To find out more about Revolutionary Choices, check out the game’s website: www.RevChoicesGame.org.

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network. This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

Jul 15, 2019

When the city of Apex, NC was founded in 1873, it was little more than a railroad stop with a tiny rural population. In the last half-century, however, the development of the Research Triangle Park has thrust the town into the 21st century with tremendous force, with the population increasing more than tenfold in the last three decades. In spite of all this change, Apex has retained its historic beauty and continues to be a highly-desirable place to live. In this episode, Bob talks about his research on Apex, which he conducted as part of his graduate coursework at Arizona State University.

 

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network. This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

Jul 15, 2019

When the city of Apex, NC was founded in 1873, it was little more than a railroad stop with a tiny rural population. In the last half-century, however, the development of the Research Triangle Park has thrust the town into the 21st century with tremendous force, with the population increasing more than tenfold in the last three decades. In spite of all this change, Apex has retained its historic beauty and continues to be a highly-desirable place to live. In this episode, Bob talks about his research on Apex, which he conducted as part of his graduate coursework at Arizona State University.

 

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network. This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

Jul 8, 2019

Robert E. Lee’s surrender to General Ulysses S. Grant on April 9, 1865 marked the end of the American Civil War, but it was just one of many times that officers and soldiers faced the reality of surrender. In fact, throughout the four years of the war, approximately one in four soldiers surrendered to the opposing army. In this episode, David Silkenat explains how looking at surrender as both an experience and a set of codes offers a new and insightful perspective on the Civil War and those who lived through it.

Dr. David Silkenat is Senior Lecturer in American History at the University of Edinburgh and author of three books, the most recent of which is Waving the White Flag: How Surrender Defined the American Civil War (UNC Press, 2019). He is also the cohost of The Whiskey Rebel podcast. You can follow David on twitter at @davidsilkenat.

The Road to Now is hosted and produced by Bob Crawford of The Avett Brothers and Dr. Benjamin Sawyer of Middle Tennessee State University. This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

A proud member of the Osiris Podcast Network.

Jul 1, 2019

Is the United States an empire? US citizens have struggled with this question for a long time. Though our historical narrative traces our origins to the war for independence against the British Empire, we often forget that the US has presided over territories since the very beginning. Today about 4 million people in the territories of American Samoa, the Northern Marinara Islands, Guam, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands are subject to the US government, yet cannot vote for President and have only symbolic representation in congress. At the same time, the US maintains a global network of about 800 military bases in 80 countries.

For these reasons and more, Daniel Immerwahr says the United States is definitely an empire. In this episode, Daniel explains how this happened, the ways that US citizens have debates their country’s role in the world, and how a country born of an anti-imperialist revolution became the thing it professed (and still professes) to despise. He also shares some fascinating stories about how the US military helped make The Beatles, why some people claimed John McCain was not eligible to be President, and how citizens of the United States of America began referring to their country as simply “America.”

Daniel Immerwahr is Associate Professor of History at Northwestern University, and author of the book How To Hide An Empire: A History of the Greater United States (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2019). You can follow him on twitter at @dimmerwahr.

How To Hide An Empire is available on audiobook from libro.fm. Click here and use promo code RTN at checkout to get this book and two more for just $15!

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network. This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

Jun 24, 2019

This episode of RTN Theology centers on the life, thought, and legacy of German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Bob Crawford talks with professor Stephen Haynes, author of The Battle for Bonhoeffer about how Bonhoeffer has become a cultural Rorschach test, often coopted and reflecting his interpreters, but also how his life and work can be relevant and transformative for  today. New co-host and co-producer, Chris Breslin explores some of the ways Bonhoeffer continues to influence by interviewing Pastor José Humphreys (Seeing Jesus in East Harlem) about ministry in Harlem after Bonhoeffer and then reflects on Bifrost Art’s Bonhoeffer’s Prayer by Bifrost Arts.

Jun 21, 2019

This is a rebroadcast of episode #6, which originally aired in July of 2016.

In this episode of The Road to Now, we speak with Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper about his new memoir The Opposite of Woe: My Life in Beer and Politics and the ways that his peculiar & fascinating life interact with the greater history of our country.

Gov. Hickenlooper shares his family history, which he traces back to the earliest settlers of the Pennsylvania colony in the 1680s, and talks about a wide variety of fascinating topics including the urban/rural split in Colorado, the Grateful Dead, and his friendship with Kurt Vonnegut. Gov. Hickenlooper also talks about his years as a geologist, working in real estate, opening Denver's first brew pub, and the value that comes from hanging a light on one's weaknesses in the pursuit of excellence. We hope you enjoy this episode as much as we enjoyed our time with Gov. Hickenlooper.

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network. 

Jun 16, 2019

In 2002, Ashley Capps took a gamble- he rented hundreds of acres in rural Tennessee and put on a music festival. Coming on the heels of the infamous Lollapalooza ’99 and an unsuccessful festival at the same site two years earlier, few thought Ashley could pull it off. As you (and the 80,000 people who attended the festival this year) know, Ashley and his partners proved the doubters wrong and created one of the most iconic festivals in modern America.

Bob and Ben caught up with Ashley Capps back stage at Bonnaroo to talk about the history of Bonnaroo, how Ashley selected Manchester, TN, and the changes in the live music industry that have happened since he began working in live music decades ago. He also shares his insight on building the relationships that make a major festival sustainable. Bob also shares his experiences playing Bonnaroo with the Avett Brothers from the small stage in 2006 to the main stage in 2019.

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network. This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher. 

Jun 10, 2019

On August 15, 1824, the Marquis de Lafayette arrived in the United States to say farewell to the country whose independence he helped secure more than four decades earlier. Over the next 15 months, Lafayette visited all 24 states, meeting with old friends and attending celebrations hosted by Americans who flocked to see the last-living Major General of the Revolutionary War whose close friendship with George Washington, Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson Jefferson shaped both the American and French Revolutions.

Since 2017, Julien Icher has been working to document the 5,000 mile journey that Lafayette took during his farewell visit. Icher, himself a Frenchman, has a remarkable skill set that combines the best of primary source-based research with the technical knowledge required for digital mapping. The result is The Lafayette Trail- a publicly accessible map that allows users to see Lafayette’s physical route, as well as the people, places and events he encountered along the way.

In this episode, Ben speaks with Julien Icher about Lafayette’s contribution to American Independence, his life after returning to France, and the farewell tour that inspired Julien to create The Lafayette Trail. We also speak about the history of Franco-American friendship and why both countries are better when we work together.

Julien Icher is the Founder and Executive Director of The Lafayette Trail, which he established in March 2017 at the Consulate General of France in Boston. Julien is in the process of raising funds for phase two of the Lafayette trail, which is a roadside historical marker program to commemorate the legacy of Lafayette's visit to dozens of communities across the United States. If you would like to contribute to, or learn more about this project, visit his GoFundMe page by clicking here.

The Road to Now is a proud member of the Osiris Podcast Network.

This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

Jun 3, 2019

As the person responsible for documenting the Obama Administration, Pete Souza spent more time with Barack Obama than almost anyone else, which left him with some deep in sights on Obama and the office of the Presidency. In this episode, Pete joins Bob for a conversation about his work as Chief Official White House Photographer, the state of American politics, and the power of photography. Pete’s most recent book, Shade: A Tale of Two Presidents (Little, Brown, & Co, 2018) uses photography to contrast the stark differences between the Presidency of Barack Obama and that of Donald Trump.

This episode is the third in our "Wolftrap Series" recorded during The Avett Brothers' three night run at Wolftrap in Vienna, VA. Click here for our conversation w/ Robert Costa and click here to become a Patron and get the "Maycember in Wolftrap" Patreon Extra episode. 

This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher and Bob Crawford.

 

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network.

May 28, 2019

Bob speaks with The Washington Post’s Robert Costa about the methods used by reporters covering the White House and Capitol Hill. Costa talks about how journalists build and maintain trust with confidential sources inside of the White House, how an article is constructed when multiple reporters share a byline, and everything else that goes into writing the first draft of history. Bob and Robert also talk about music, Robert’s early years working in the music industry, and their shared love of Phish.

 

Robert Costa covers politics for the Washington Post, is an analyst for MSNBC and NBC News, and is the moderator for Washington Week, which airs Friday nights at 8 on PBS.

 

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network.

 

This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

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