Catch Members of Team BackStory at 2017’s Tom Tom Founders Festival

History  •  News

Hosts of Virginia Foundation for the Humanities’ popular American history podcast, BackStory, join University of Virginia’s Miller Center for “Innovations in Democracy: The First 100 Days of Trump” on April 13, and BackStory staff members hold a workshop on podcasting on April 15, both during this year’s Tom Tom Founders Festival.

The three-part program features BackStory hosts Ed Ayers and Brian Balogh along with their guest, Christa Dierksheide, for “History of Media and the Presidency,” a panel discussion. During the talk, Ed, Brian and Christa will look at how presidents have mastered new technologies to alter their relationship with the media, the centrality of the press in creating the two-party system, and the importance of the subsidized press.

“In a time when everyone is trying to figure out the present and predict the future, we thought it might be most helpful to look at the many paths that have led us to this place,” said Ayers. “BackStory looks behind the curtains of the current moment to see history working there.”

“Innovations in Democracy: The First 100 Days of Trump” starts with a high-impact conversation featuring Mark R. Warner, U.S. Senator from the Commonwealth of Virginia, and Bill Antholis, director and CEO of UVA’s nonpartisan Miller Center. Warner and Antholis’ conversation is followed by BackStory’s panel. The event closes with a discussion of “Innovations in the Media,” presented by the Miller Center and featuring some of the nation’s leading journalists covering the White House.

Event speakers include:

  • Mark Warner, United States Senator
  • Peter Baker, Chief White House Correspondent, The New York Times
  • Chris Cillizza, Journalist and Political Commentator, The Washington Post
  • Bill Antholis, Director and CEO, Miller Center at UVA
  • Ed Ayers, President Emeritus, University of Richmond
  • Brian Balogh, Professor of History, University of Virginia
  • Christa Dierksheide, Historian, Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies at Monticello
  • Russell Riley, Co-chair, Presidential Oral History Program, Miller Center at UVA
  • Douglas A. Blackmon, Pulitzer Prize-winning Author; Host, American Forum, Miller Center at UVA
  • Nicole Hemmer, Assistant Professor in Presidential Studies, Miller Center at UVA

“Innovations in Democracy: The First 100 Days of Trump” is on April 13, 2017, at 8 p.m. in Charlottesville’s Paramount Theater. General admission tickets are available for $20; student tickets are $10. For more information on “Innovations in Democracy” programming and guests, or to purchase tickets, please visit:

Jamal Millner, BackStory’s technical director and Nina Earnest, a BackStory associate producer join Jack Hamilton, author and assistant professor of media studies at UVA for a workshop. Together, they will explore all angles of how to start a podcast—from writing, to producing, engineering & hosting—in “How to Podcast: Making and Distributing Quality Audio.”

“How to Podcast” is presented as a part of Tom Tom’s weekend events on April 15, 1:30 p.m., at Charlottesville’s Second Street Gallery. Find ticket information on Tom Tom’s website.

BackStory is produced at VFH, the largest and most diversely funded state humanities council in the country. VFH produces more than 40,000 humanities programs including festivals, public radio programs, and digital resources. VFH contributes to more than 3,500 grant projects and 350 individual and collaborated fellowships.

The Tom Tom Founders Festival is presented by the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, American Evolution, the Quantitative Foundation, and the i.Lab at UVA. It is also generously underwritten by a number of leading organizations, including the University of Virginia, Ting, C-Ville Weekly, New Belgium Brewing Company, and the Virginia Tourism Corporation.

About BackStory and VFH

BackStory is a weekly podcast – a program of Virginia Foundation for the Humanities (VFH) –available through iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher and other popular podcatchers. Each week, Ed Ayers, Brian Balogh, Nathan Connolly and Joanne Freeman explore the connections between the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries and the present. BackStory explores the history behind today’s headlines. For more information, visit

VFH connects people and ideas to explore the human experience and inspire cultural engagement, reaching an estimated annual audience of 23 million through community programs, websites and digital initiatives, grants and fellowships, radio programs and podcasts, the Virginia Folklife Program, and the Virginia Center for the Book. To learn more, visit