Info

The Road to Now

In 2006, Bob Crawford (The Avett Brothers) & Dr. Benjamin Sawyer (MTSU History) sat down to talk history in a Detroit coffee shop. Their discussion lasted a couple hours, but the conversation kept going. Join them as they trace the road between past and present with the help of great thinkers from the academy, the media, politics, entertainment and more.
RSS Feed Subscribe in Apple Podcasts
The Road to Now
2020
June
May
April
March
February
January


2019
December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January


2018
December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January


2017
December
November
October
August
July
April
March
February
January


2016
December
November
October
June
May


Categories

All Episodes
Archives
Categories
Now displaying: Page 1
Jun 1, 2020

Since going viral with his Liberal Redneck videos in 2016, comedian Trae Crowder has become well-known for sharing a perspective that is southern in origin, but not quite what most people expect. In this episode, Trae joins Bob and Ben for a conversation about southern culture, the south’s bizarre embrace of Donald Trump, and how his work helped a lot of southerners with less conservative viewpoints to ‘come out of the closet.’ We also talk about how Trae’s family and education helped to shape his understanding of the world, and what it’s like when you have your work suddenly go viral.

For more on Trae, visit the WellRED Comedy Tour's website and subscribe to The WellRed Podcast, w/ Trae Crowder, Corey Ryan Forrester, and Drew Morgan. 

We also announce that this summer, The Road to Now will be going to a bi-weekly schedule. We've got some great guests lined up, and you can join us for the recordings by supporting us on Patreon! For details: Patreon.com/TheRoadToNow

This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

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

May 18, 2020

There was a lot happening when Bob and Ben launched the first episode of The Road to Now on May 19th, 2016. It was the year of a Presidential election, there was an intense feeling of partisanship in the air, and people were everywhere- at concerts, in classes, on the sidewalk….

Four years later, Bob and Ben are still going strong, so we decided to make this year’s anniversary episode a party and to invite our Patrons. It’s not a typical episode of RTN, but we hope you enjoy it!

Thanks to everyone who has supported us on Patreon, attended a live show, bought our merch, told a friend about our work, or even just taken the time to listen to an episode. RTN matters to us because it matters to you.

This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

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

May 11, 2020

Baseball is part of America’s cultural fabric, and few people know the game and its place in society as well as Jayson Stark. As a celebrated sportswriter, Jayson has witnessed baseball’s transformation for more than four decades, and has had a front-row seat to some of the biggest moments in the sport’s history. In this episode, Bob & Ben talk with Jayson about baseball’s place in American culture, how the scandals in the sport reflect moments in American history, and how Major League Baseball has persevered through some of our country’s hardest times. Jayson also talks about his path from beat writer covering the Phillies to award-winning sportswriter, what he considers important when casting his vote for the Baseball Hall of Fame, and why nobody wants to visit the National Baseball Hall of Purity.

Jayson Stark covers Major League Baseball for The Athletic. In 2019 he received the 2019 J.G. Taylor Spink Award, for which he was honored at the Baseball Hall of Fame. He is the author of three books on baseball, has won an Emmy for his work on Baseball Tonight and is a two-time winner of the Pennsylvania sportswriter-of-the-year award. He’s so good at covering baseball that Topps honored him with his own baseball card in 2017.

Thank you to everyone on Patreon who joined us for our live zoom recording!

This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

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

May 4, 2020

On June 22, 1941, Nazi Germany launched an attack on the USSR that caught Soviet leaders completely off guard. Over the next four years, the Red Army was transformed, as were the lives of more than 34 million men and women who served in its ranks. In this episode, Ben speaks with Brandon Schechter about his new book The Stuff of Soldiers: A History of the Red Army in World War II Through Objects (Cornell University Press, 2019) and how examining the objects used during World War II- from rifles, to shovels, to spoons- can give us a deeper understanding of soldiers’ lives and the war as a whole.

Dr. Brandon Schechter is Visiting Assistant Professor of History at Columbia University, where he specializes in the history of the Soviet Union and material culture.  

The images discussed in this episode can be seen on our website at http://www.theroadtonow.com/episodes/e170.

This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

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

Apr 27, 2020

The Kinks are one of the great rock bands of the 20th century, and like all artists, they reflect the times and places they’ve inhabited. In this episode, we speak with Mark Doyle about his excellent new book The Kinks: Songs of the Semi-Detached (Reaktion Books, 2020) and how the band, their origins, and Ray Davies’ lyrics can teach us a lot about both the real and imagined spaces of mid-20th Century England.

Dr. Mark Doyle is Professor of History at Middle Tennessee State University, where he specializes in the history of the British Empire. His research and teaching have won him numerous awards including the Stansky Book Prize (co-winner, 2017) and MTSU’s Outstanding Teacher Award (2014-15). Ben once described him as “the Patton Oswalt of academic twitter,” so we recommend you follow him there at @DrMarkDoyle.  

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

Apr 20, 2020

This is a rebroadcast of an episode that originally aired on March 20, 2017

Note: Given that we are relying more than ever on technology to communicate and work during this epidemic, we thought it was a good time to share our interview w/ Nicholas Carr.

The internet has revolutionized the human experience in the 21st century. Our ability to communicate with others, find locations in unfamiliar places, and access information from across the globe has never been easier, and new media like blogs and podcasts have connected voices with audiences in ways that were not possible just a few decades ago. Yet, despite all these incredible benefits, many of us are beginning to sense that all this connectivity is affecting the way we think and interact with one another. How is the internet affecting our brains, and should we be concerned about it? How is the internet different from other media technologies such as print, radio and television? And is google making us stupid? In this episode of the Road to Now, we get the answer from New York Times Best Selling Author Nicholas Carr.

A special thank you to Middle Tennessee State University and Dr. Susan Myers-Shirk for arranging this interview as part of MTSU's Scholars' Week Talk. 

For more on this or other episodes of The Road to Now, please visit our website: www.TheRoadToNow.com.

This episode of the Road to Now is a re-air of episode #149 The History of Technology w/ Nicholas Carr. You can get the other episodes in our history of energy series by supporting us on Patreon.

Apr 13, 2020

As people try to make sense of the Coronavirus epidemic, some have unfortunately turned to conspiracy theories linking Covid-19 to the installation of 5G networks. In this episode, Bob and Ben speak with Stacy Wood about her research on conspiracy theories, the past conspiracy theories that have converged in the 5G theory, and the reasons some people are willing to accept these explanations of the world in spite of strong evidence to the contrary.

 

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. You can also hear Stacy in RTN episodes #12 and #146.

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

Apr 6, 2020

When we think of epidemics, we often imagine the central struggle as between microbe and epidemiologist. But as the coronavirus outbreak has reminded us, our individual actions can compound in ways that have a very real implications for any epidemic. The narrative we adopt to understand these events- ie the story we tell ourselves about who is responsible, who can save us, and what power we have in that struggle- shapes our decisions, and therefore shapes the outcome of these tragic moments. In this episode we speak with Dr. Priscilla Wald about her research on what she calls the “outbreak narrative” and how understanding it might help us respond better in the present.

Dr. Priscilla Wald is R. Florence Brinkley Distinguished Professor of English at Duke University and the author of Contagious: Cultures, Carriers, and the Outbreak Narrative, (Duke University Press, 2008).

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

Mar 30, 2020

Based on what you’ve told us on social media, it’s time for a break from the outbreak. So in this episode, Bob and Ben talk about the French Revolution, nationalism and colonization (aka the books assigned for Bob’s Graduate European History Seminar). They also talk about the art of teaching and Ben’s approach to transitioning to teaching his history classes online (which he recently had to do for an unspecified reason).

 

And, admittedly, they did slip up a couple of times and mention a particular epidemic, but mostly in a positive way. (It’s mostly at the end.)

 

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

Mar 23, 2020

Note: Bob and Ben start off talking about the Covid-19 outbreak and plans for upcoming episodes of this podcast. We shift to our discussion with Dr. Cohen at about 10:30.

The suburbanization of the American landscape after World War II left the country’s older urban centers in crisis. Revitalizing cities was no easy task, and many of the most inspiring plans for reconstructing America’s urban space went unfulfilled. These visions may have never come to fruition, but Lizabeth Cohen says there is much to learn from the visionaries. In this episode Dr. Cohen joins us for a conversation about post-WWII America, the pros and cons of biography, and her new book Saving America’s Cities: Ed Logue and the Struggle to Renew Urban America in the Suburban Age, which recently won her a second Bancroft Prize for American History.

Dr. Lizabeth Cohen is Lizabeth Cohen is the Howard Mumford Jones Professor of American Studies and a Harvard University Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of History at Harvard. Cohen’s previous books include Making a New Deal: Industrial Workers in Chicago, 1919-1939, winner of the Bancroft Prize and a finalist for the Pulitzer, and A Consumers’ Republic: The Politics of Mass Consumption in Postwar America.

Note: Bob and Ben start off talking about the Covid-19 outbreak and plans for upcoming episodes of this podcast. We shift to our discussion with Dr. Cohen at about 10:30.

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

Mar 16, 2020

Disasters abound, and what comes next is all about making good decisions. Ben talks about the Nashville tornado of 1998, the Nashville tornado of 2020, and the coronavirus, and Dr. Andy Bruno shares his expertise on the origins of natural disasters and what we can learn from studying them in history.

Mar 9, 2020

Bob and Ben speak with Dr. Chuck Keeney about the history of coal in the United States. Chuck explains the ways that the coal industry has shaped not only the physical landscape of mining towns, but also, through lobbying efforts and information campaigns, the way we understand our nation’s history. Chuck is uniquely qualified to tell the story of coal; not only does he hold a PhD in history from West Virginia University, he is the great-grandson of coal miner and labor organizer Frank Keeney, who was part of The Battle of Blair Mountain.

(The Battle of Blair Mountain was a 1921 shootout between coal miners and the coal companies that was the largest domestic insurrection since the Civil War. If you want to know more, it’s all in this episode. Or you could stop by the West Virginia Mine Wars Museum where Chuck Keeney is on the Board of Directors).

Chuck Keeney was featured in the 2017 NatGeo Documentary From the Ashes, which was directed by Michael Bonfiglio. We highly recommend you take the time to watch!Chuck Keeney was featured in the 2017 NatGeo Documentary From the Ashes, which was directed by Michael Bonfiglio. We highly recommend you take the time to watch!

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

This is a reair of RTN #61, which originally aired on July 19, 2017. You can get the other episodes in our history of energy series by supporting us on Patreon.

Feb 24, 2020

For many years now, Tim Mossberger has been building an incredible collection of material objects, music, and information on Bob’s band The Avett Brothers. In this episode, Bob and Ben talk with Tim about how he became the Avett Archivist, where he gets his rare items, and how he processes, preserves, and organizes the massive amount of material he’s acquired over the years. Bob and Tim also talk about the history of The Avett Brothers & the turning points that helped the band bring their music to a wider audience.

The Avett Archives are open and available to the public at http://www.asmylifeturnstoasong.com/. You can follow Tim on twitter at @AvettArchivist.

We’ve also posted some of Tim’s deep cuts on the page for this episode, available by clicking here.

Bob and Ben are taking the show on the road and we’ll be hitting towns across the US this year. Click here for show dates and tickets!

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

Feb 17, 2020

The Road to Now is celebrating our fourth Presidents’ Day by launching our first Presidents’ Day episode! To mark this momentous occasion, Bob and Ben both sat down with a list of three significant moments in presidential history and discussed how they changed the country. Are there Roosevelts? Yes. Are there presidents born in three different centuries? Yes. Should you listen instead of asking any more question? Yes! We hope you enjoy the episode!

 

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

Bob and Ben are taking the show on the road! See our calendar of events by clicking here.

Feb 10, 2020

When it comes to food, knowing what you’re getting can be tricky. On the surface, words such as “pure” and “natural” seem straightforward, yet defining them in the modern world has required experts, laws, and administrative structures. In this episode, Bob & Ben speak with Lafayette College’s Benjamin Cohen about the pure food crusades of the late nineteenth century, the origins of the Pure Food Act of 1906 and the Food & Drug Administration (FDA), and the lessons this era offers us as we seek to make decisions about food policy in the 21st century.

Dr. Benjamin R. Cohen is Associate Professor of Engineering Studies and Environmental Studies at Lafayette College and the author of Pure Adulteration: Cheating on Nature in the Age of Manufactured Food (University of Chicago Press, 2019). Learn more about his work at his personal website or by following him on twitter at @BRCohen95.

This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

Join Bob & Ben for a live podcast recording! Click here for dates and ticket links.

Feb 6, 2020

In the last few decades, NASCAR has taken stock car racing from a regional sport anchored in the south, to the national level. Though NASCAR has a reputation as a family-friendly organization, its history is inseparable from the moonshining and bootlegging of the prohibition era. And while the cars on today’s tracks have little in common with their mid-20th century predecessors, many of the sports traditions have endured. In this conversation, recorded as the second part of RTN Live in Charlotte, Bob and Ben talk with third-generation racer Kyle Petty and Dr. Dan Pierce of UNC-Asheville to find out more about the history of stock car racing and the changes that have transformed the sport in the 21st Century.

Kyle Petty spent three decades as a professional stock car racer and is currently an analyst for NASCAR on NBC (NBC Sports). He is also the founder of the charity Victory Junction, which enriches the lives of children with serious illnesses by providing them with life-changing camping experiences at no cost to the children of their families. Victory Junction was inspired by Kyle’s son Adam, who tragically died in a racing accident in 2004. For more on Victory Junction, visit their website: https://victoryjunction.org/

Dan Pierce is Professor of History at UNC-Asheville and the author of Real NASCAR: White Lightning, Red Clay, and Big Bill France (UNC Press, 2010). His newest book Tar Heel Lightnin’: How Secret Stills and Fast Cars Made North Carolina the Moonshine Capital of the World was published by UNC Press in October 2019.

Our show opens with an original song by Kyle Petty, performed live w/ David Childers and Bob Crawford.

This episode is the second of two episodes recorded live in Charlotte at the McGlohon Theater on January 24, 2020. A full list of our upcoming live shows is available at http://www.theroadtonow.com/live-events.

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

Feb 3, 2020

Charlotte, NC has grown tremendously in the last half-century, yet it still lacks a clear national identity. While many know it today for its professional sports franchises or its prominence as a banking hub, the city was once recognized for its leadership in school integration following the 1971 Supreme Court ruling in Swann vs Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education. Bob and Ben both spent pivotal years of their lives in the Queen City, so they dedicated the first portion of RTN Live in Charlotte to a conversation on the city and its history with two people who know it best: historian Tom Hanchett & journalist Pam Kelley.

Dr. Thomas Hanchett served as Staff Historian for 16 years at Levine Museum where he curated the permanent exhibition Cotton Fields to Skyscrapers (named best in the Southeast by the South East Museums Conference), and a string of national-award-winning temporary exhibitions including COURAGE about the Carolina roots of the Brown v Board Civil Rights case. The second edition of his book, Sorting Out the New South City: Race, Class & Urban Development in Charlotte, 1875-1975 (UNC Press) will be available for purchase on February 3rd, 2020 (the very same day this episode launches!).

Pam Kelley is a freelance journalist who spent 35 years covering Charlotte for The Charlotte Observer. Her book Money Rock: A Family's Story of Cocaine, Race, and Ambition in the New South (New Press, 2018) tells Charlotte’s history through the life of Belton Lamont Platt, aka Money Rock, who went from one of Charlotte’s most successful cocaine dealers to a redeemed man who now inspires others to change. “Money Rock is a deeply American story, one that will leave readers reflecting on the near impossibility of making lasting change, in our lives and as a society, until we reckon with the sins of our past.”

Our show opens with a song by musical guest David Childers, whose new album Interstate Lullaby is now available streaming or through his website- www.DavidChilders.com.

Jan 27, 2020

Dr. Molly Worthen (Department of History, UNC-Chapel Hill), Doug Heye (CNN/former RNC Communication Director) & Rufus Edmisten (Deputy Chief Council, Senate Watergate Committee/ former NC Secretary of State & Attorney General) join Bob & Ben for a conversation about charisma in American politics and society. Recorded live at the legendary Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro, NC on January 25, 2020.

Our gratitude to everyone who attended this sold out show! If you’d like to join us for a future recording, check out our calendar of live events by clicking here.

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

Jan 20, 2020

After our last episode on the separation of powers in the Constitution, we heard from several listeners who said they wished we’d spent more time on the topic. The people have spoken, so we’re following up with another episode on modern politics and the Constitution with special guest, RTN-favorite Matt Negrin!

Matt Negrin holds the record for most appearances on RTN. He is also Senior Producer for The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. You can hear him as host of “Slowbama,” on the The Daily Show Podcast Universe, available on apple podcasts, Spotify, or anywhere else you get The Road to Now. You can follow Matt on twitter at @MattNegrin.

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

Jan 13, 2020

2020 begins with an Impeachment Trial in the Senate and will end with a Presidential election, so Bob and Ben are kicking off the year discussing the relationship between the Executive and Legislative branches of the federal government. Their conversation covers the articles of impeachment against Trump, the gap between the modern Presidency and the Executive imagined by the founders, and the problems that might be solved by changing our expectations of Presidents moving forward.

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

Dec 23, 2019

In our final episode of 2019, Bob & Ben speak w/ historian Carson Hudson, whose program “Uncivil Christmas” tells of life in Williamsburg, Virginia during the years of the Civil War. Carson explains the politics and culture of the era, the major role that music played in uniting (and dividing) Americans during the war, the challenges of understanding how people in the past experienced war, and the ways that the Civil War still looms large in American culture today.

Carson Hudson is Educational Program Developer at Colonial Williamsburg and a specialist in the history of war and music history. He is the author of multiple books on Williamsburg history, including Hidden History of Civil War Williamsburg (The History Press, 2019). To attend one of Carson’s site tours, visit www.Colonial Williamsburg.com.

This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher. A special thanks to Melanie Crawford for encouraging us to interview Carson on RTN.

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network. For more on our podcast, visit our website: www.TheRoadToNow.com.

Dec 16, 2019

On December 25, 1776, George Washington and his men celebrated their first post-Declaration of Independence Christmas by crossing a freezing river to mount a surprise attack against their enemies. The plan worked, but almost 250 years later the story of Washington crossing the Delaware might surprise you too. In this episode, RTN favorite Bruce Carlson of My History Can Beat Up Your Politics joins Bob & Ben for a conversation about one of the US’s most recognized, yet little-known battles and how it affected the course of the Revolutionary War.

If you enjoy this episode, check out My History Can Beat Up Your Politics, available anywhere you get The Road to Now. You can also hear Bruce in RTN Episode 85: The History of US-Mexican Relations w/ Bruce Carlson, recorded live from Avetts at the Beach in 2018.  

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

Dec 2, 2019

In 1848, New England ships crossed the Bering Strait in pursuit of the bowhead whales that provided their income. In the years since, the activity of outsiders- from hunters, to government bureaucrats, to consumers of energy who never set foot in the region- has had a deep impact on the region, but the environment of Beringia has made the place itself an active participant in this process.

About a century and a half after New England whalers crossed the Bering Strait, Bathsheba Demuth graduated High School in Iowa and moved north of the Arctic Circle in the Yukon. She later earned a PhD in history, and is currently Assistant Professor of History at Brown University. In this episode, Bathsheba joins Ben for a conversation about her research, how her fascination with the arctic led her to dedicate much of her life to understanding Beringia, and the ways that an environmental perspective allows us to better understand our place in the world and that of others. Bathsheba’s new book, Floating Coast: An Environmental History of the Bering Strait was published by W.W. Norton & Co in 2019. It is a masterpiece.

For more on Dr. Bathsheba Demuth, visit her website- www.brdemuth.com- and follow her on twitter at @brdemuth.

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

Nov 25, 2019

In this episode, recorded live from the 2019 convention of the Association of Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies (ASEEES) in San Francisco, Ben chairs a panel featuring scholars who are working on new, exciting and very important digital humanities projects that bring together scholars from different fields, and connect those inside the university to communities outside of academia.

 

Our guests Anasttasia Bonch-Osmolovskaya (Russian Higher School of Economics) and Mikhail Melnichenko are Russian scholars currently working on Prozhito, which collects and digitizes diaries and other personal primary sources from the Soviet period, many of which were previously unavailable to anyone except family members and other holders of these sources. Our other guest Kelly O’Neill, oversees The Imperiia Project at Harvard University, which creates maps that connect people to history by creating a visual record of the lives and events of those who otherwise left few visual records of their own. Collectively, these scholars are breaking new ground, creating new and innovative ways of engaging others, and providing the sources that historians of the future can use to understand the past, so we are excited to share this work with our listeners.

A special thanks to Andy Janco (who joins Ben in the intro) and Svetlana Rasmussen for the many hours of work that they invested to make this roundtable a success. We are also grateful to ASEEES for allowing us to record this panel and share this important work with our listeners.

Links:
The Imperiia Project

-The Imperiia Project at Harvard University’s Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies.

-Link to the map Kelly O’Neill discusses in this episode

-The Imperiia Project on Twitter

Prozhitto

Prozhito’s website (in Russian)

Slavic DH on twitter

Nov 18, 2019

Pete Souza (photographer for Barack Obama/Ronald Reagan) and Erin Welsh (epidemiologist/cohost of This Podcast Will Kill You) joined Bob and Ben for a live episode in Chicago to discuss history, photography, politics, and what their fields have to teach each other.

The images that we discussed in this episode are available on our episode page- click here to see them.

If you enjoy this episode and want to hear more, you can hear another 16 minutes of Q&A w/ Pete & Erin, by supporting us on Patreon. Click here to join!

Thanks to everyone who came to our live show and to the good people at Beverly Arts Center for their help in making this event happen!

Tickets are on sale for our upcoming shows in Charlotte (Jan 24) and Carrboro, NC (Jan 25)! For tickets to these and all future live shows are available at our website by clicking here.

 

Pete Souza’s Shade: A Tale of Two Presidents and all of his other books are available at his website: www.PeteSouza.com.

 

Erin Welsh’s This Podcast Will Kill You is available anywhere you get this podcast, or at their website: www.ThisPodcastWillKillYou.com.

 

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

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Next » 7