The Road to Now
Conversations about the history of right now. Hosted by Bob Crawford (The Avett Brothers) and Dr. Benjamin Sawyer (Middle Tennessee State University).
info_outline #166 Everything’s Going To Be Okay 03/30/2020
#166 Everything’s Going To Be Okay 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).
info_outline #165 Saving America’s Cities w/ Lizabeth Cohen 03/23/2020
#165 Saving America’s Cities w/ Lizabeth Cohen The suburbanization of the American landscape after World War II left the country’s 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. Dr. Cohen joins us for a conversation about her new book Saving America’s Cities: Ed Logue and the Struggle to Renew Urban America in the Suburban
info_outline #164 What('s) A Disaster 03/16/2020
#164 What('s) A Disaster 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.
info_outline The History of Coal w/ Chuck Keeney 03/09/2020
The History of Coal w/ Chuck Keeney Bob and Ben speak w/ 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- he had a PhD in history from West Virginia Univ. & is the great-grandson of coal miner/ labor organizer Frank Keeney.
info_outline #163 The Avett Brothers Archive w/ Tim Mossberger 02/24/2020
#163 The Avett Brothers Archive w/ Tim Mossberger Tim Mossberger talks 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.
info_outline #162 The Presidents’ Day Rundown 02/17/2020
#162 The Presidents’ Day Rundown 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! Edited by Gary Fletcher & part of the Osiris Network.
info_outline #161 Food in the Era of Adulteration w/ Benjamin Cohen 02/10/2020
#161 Food in the Era of Adulteration w/ Benjamin Cohen 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, & administrative structures. In this episode, Bob & Ben speak with Dr. Benjamin Cohen about the pure food crusades of the late nineteenth century, the origins of the Food & Drug Administration (1906), and the lessons this era offers us as we seek to make decisions about food policy in the 21st ce
info_outline #160 NASCAR and Moonshine w/ Kyle Petty and Dan Pierce (Recorded Live at the McGlohon Theater in Charlotte, NC) 02/06/2020
#160 NASCAR and Moonshine w/ Kyle Petty and Dan Pierce (Recorded Live at the McGlohon Theater in Charlotte, NC) NASCAR has a reputation as a family-friendly organization, but its history is inseparable from the moonshining and bootlegging of the prohibition era. While today's cars have little in common with their mid-20th century predecessors, many of the sports traditions have endured. In this episode, 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.
info_outline #159 The History of Charlotte, NC w/ Thomas Hanchett & Pam Kelley (Recorded Live at the McGlohon Theater in Charlotte, NC) 02/03/2020
#159 The History of Charlotte, NC w/ Thomas Hanchett & Pam Kelley (Recorded Live at the McGlohon Theater in Charlotte, NC) Charlotte, NC has grown tremendously in the last half-century, yet it still lacks a clear national identity. Bob & 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 Dr. Thomas Hanchett (author of Sorting Out the New South City) & journalist Pam Kelley (author of Money Rock). The show opens w/ musical guest David Childers.
info_outline #158 Live in Carrboro, NC- Charisma in American Politics & Society w/ Molly Worthen, Doug Heye & Rufus Edmisten (Recorded at Cat’s Cradle) 01/27/2020
#158 Live in Carrboro, NC- Charisma in American Politics & Society w/ Molly Worthen, Doug Heye & Rufus Edmisten (Recorded at Cat’s Cradle) Dr. Molly Worthen (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 on Jan. 25, 2020.
info_outline #157 The State of the Union w/ Matt Negrin 01/20/2020
#157 The State of the Union w/ Matt Negrin 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 & the Constitution w/ special guest Matt Negrin!
info_outline #156 Executive Boundaries 01/13/2020
#156 Executive Boundaries 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.
info_outline #155 Uncivil Christmas w/ Carson Hudson 12/23/2019
#155 Uncivil Christmas w/ Carson Hudson 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.
info_outline #154 America's First War on Christmas w/ Bruce Carlson 12/16/2019
#154 America's First War on Christmas w/ Bruce Carlson On Dec. 25, 1776, George Washington & 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. RTN favorite Bruce Carlson of My History Can Beat Up Your Politics joins Bob & Ben for a conversation about these recognized, yet little-known battles & how they affected the the war for independence.
info_outline #153 Floating Coast: The Environmental History of the Bering Strait w/ Bathsheba Demuth 12/02/2019
#153 Floating Coast: The Environmental History of the Bering Strait w/ Bathsheba Demuth In 1848, New England ships crossed the Bering Strait in pursuit of bowhead whales. About a century and a half later, Bathsheba Demuth graduated High School in Iowa and moved north of the Arctic Circle in the Yukon. Now 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.
info_outline #152 Building Community and Breaking Barriers w/ Digital Humanities (Recorded Live at ASEEES 2019) 11/25/2019
#152 Building Community and Breaking Barriers w/ Digital Humanities (Recorded Live at ASEEES 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.
info_outline #151 Live in Chicago w/ Pete Souza & Erin Welsh (recorded at Beverly Arts Center) 11/18/2019
#151 Live in Chicago w/ Pete Souza & Erin Welsh (recorded at Beverly Arts Center) 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.
info_outline #150 Life on the Road 11/11/2019
#150 Life on the Road It’s our sesquicentennial episode, so Bob and Ben thought it was time to talk about all the great things that have been happening in the last few months. The conversation covers The Avett Brothers’ new album, the books they’ve been reading, and the questions about history that have kept them going. They also talk about the upcoming RTN live recordings (hope to see you there)!
info_outline #149 The History of Hong Kong w/ Mindy Smith 11/04/2019
#149 The History of Hong Kong w/ Mindy Smith The protests that recently swept through the streets of Hong Kong have highlighted the tension between the residents of the region and China’s political leadership. Dr. Aminda Smith joing Bob & Ben to explain the history of Hong Kong, its special status within China, and the forces that pushed the people of Hong Kong into the streets. We also talk about how Hong Kong’s distinct history has led to a clash in historical narratives, and what US policy toward the region can tell us about US foreign policy.
info_outline # 148 The Bizarre Life of American Death w/ Caitlin Doughty 10/28/2019
# 148 The Bizarre Life of American Death w/ Caitlin Doughty Death is something that everyone has in common, yet most of us spend our lives trying not to think about it. Even as we buy our decorations and costumes for Halloween, we rarely consider that witches, skeleton and other symbols associated with the holiday have their own histories. Caitlin Doughty takes Ben, Bob & Tanya Marsh on a conversational haunted trail that covers the history of witch hunts, the disposal of dead bodies, and how social norms surrounding death have come to shape the world around us.
info_outline #147 How to Remove a Confederate Monument w/ Adam Swensek 10/21/2019
#147 How to Remove a Confederate Monument w/ Adam Swensek In 2015, the New Orleans City Council voted to remove four Confederate monuments from the city. The last monument came down in 2017, but not before a legal battle. Ben & guest co-host Tanya Marsh speak with Adam Swensek, who led the New Orleans City Council’s legal team as they defended the city’s right to remove these public monuments. The conversation covers the history of the monuments, the arguments that both sides used in court, and what monuments can (and can’t) tell us about the history.
info_outline #146 Keeping Government Secrets w/ Stacy Wood 10/14/2019
#146 Keeping Government Secrets w/ Stacy Wood 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.
info_outline #145 The Opioid Crisis w/ Beth Macy 10/07/2019
#145 The Opioid Crisis w/ Beth Macy 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.
info_outline The Seriousness of Being Funny w/ Tom Shadyac (Rebroadcast) 09/30/2019
The Seriousness of Being Funny w/ Tom Shadyac (Rebroadcast) 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.
info_outline #144 Saudi Arabia and the Middle East w/ Sean Foley 09/23/2019
#144 Saudi Arabia and the Middle East w/ Sean Foley 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. MTSU's Sean Foley joins us to explain the history of the conflict and how that might inform policy moving forward. In the second half, Ben and Bob talk about Bob's research and make an exciting announcement about RTN live shows beginning this fall!
info_outline #143 Research! 09/16/2019
#143 Research! 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.
info_outline #142 How Talk Radio Took Over the Republican Party w/ Brian Rosenwald 09/09/2019
#142 How Talk Radio Took Over the Republican Party w/ Brian Rosenwald 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.
info_outline #141 The Last Czars, Chernobyl, and the Pros & Cons of Dramatizing History w/ Philippa Hetherington & Jon Waterlow 09/02/2019
#141 The Last Czars, Chernobyl, and the Pros & Cons of Dramatizing History w/ Philippa Hetherington & Jon Waterlow The Netflix series The Last Czars & HBO’s Chernobyl have brought Russian/Soviet history to TVs across the world. Ben sits down with fellow historians Philippa Hetherington & Jon Waterlow to discuss the two series, what they got right, & how producers & scholars might benefit most from collaboration. Philippa, who is a featured scholar in The Last Czars, shares her experience being interviewed, her impression of the show, and her work to correct errors that viewers identified after release.
info_outline #140 Citizen Coke: The History of Coca-Cola w/ Bartow Elmore 08/26/2019
#140 Citizen Coke: The History of Coca-Cola w/ Bartow Elmore Ever wonder how the Coca-Cola Company used a brown fizzy drink to fuel 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.
info_outline # 139 Healthcare, the Law and the Future(s) of Privacy w/ Roy Wyman 08/19/2019
# 139 Healthcare, the Law and the Future(s) of Privacy w/ Roy Wyman Technology is transforming the production & availability of knowledge. Many experts predict AI & nanotechnology will soon bring about a massive change in the ways we work, relate to one another, and are known, but 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.