BackStory Makes the Move Toward Digital First Strategy

VFH News

The History Guys, left to right Brian Balogh, Ed Ayers and Peter Onuf
The History Guys, left to right Brian Balogh, Ed Ayers and Peter Onuf

Charlottesville, Va. – BackStory with the American History Guys, produced by Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, is pleased to announce a new format, as part of a digital-first shift, for its groundbreaking history storytelling show. The new BackStory will launch in 2017.

BackStory recently made the decision to take a new, audience focused approach. The move allows the show to become more flexible and nimble while continuing to provide the high quality content BackStory is known for distributing. As a result of this move, BackStory will no longer offer an hour-long version for broadcast (starting February 3, 2017).

“I love radio, but I also love the idea of reaching a new and more diverse audience,” said BackStory host Brian Balogh. “A digital-first strategy will allow us to do that.”

BackStory does not wish to move away from public media and the radio system. “By breaking out of the hourly clock, we’ll be able to experiment with format, length and response time to news events.” said senior producer Andrew Parsons. “But we also want to find a model where we still can have a presence on public radio airwaves. Ultimately, we’re looking to offer distinctly different broadcast and podcast experiences instead of repeating ourselves on both channels.”

Beginning February 3, 2017, BackStory will offer subscribing stations 2-5 minute modules suitable for insertion into morning, mid-day and/or afternoon shows. All content will remain free, which means stations can continue to embed our audio on their websites with no additional cost.

As BackStory transitions from radio-first to digital-first, we’ll continue to make our weekly, one-hour broadcast available. In addition, we have a collection of evergreen, special and holiday shows that will always be available for scheduling into one-hour slots. Finally, our new format will allow for ease of insertion into other scheduled programs – giving potentially more opportunities for program directors to add BackStory to their station’s lineup.

BackStory’s podcast-only move is the first step in an extensive restructuring of the show. In the coming months, listeners can also expect a new look and feel to all of BackStory’s digital properties, including a new logo and website redesign. However, BackStory’s signature engaging and informative style will remain largely unchanged.

As BackStory fully embraces public podcasting, we’re looking at this digital transition as an opportunity to establish an even deeper connection with our audience. We’ll do this by focusing on stories that are more easily consumed, that are more responsive to the headlines and that continue to surprise and educate in a way that’s enjoyable and easily shared.

 About BackStory with the American History Guys

 BackStory brings historical perspective to the events happening around us today. Each week, U.S. historians Ed Ayers, Peter Onuf, and Brian Balogh look at current issues and trace them back to their roots in American history. From the days of the Early Republic to stops in between, the History Guys reveal connections (and disconnections) along their way back to the 21st century. BackStory makes history accessible for listeners – not only in the United States, but around the globe. To learn more, visit

BackStory with the American History Guys is freely available on iTunes, SoundCloud, Stitcher or other favorite podcast apps.

About Virginia Foundation for the Humanities 

The mission of Virginia Foundation for the Humanities (VFH) is to connect people and ideas to explore the human experience and inspire cultural engagement. VFH reaches an estimated annual audience of 23 million through community programs, digital initiatives, grants and fellowships, radio programs, and the Virginia Center for the Book. To learn more, visit

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