Season 5 of The Way of Improvement Leads Home Podcast is Right Around the Corner!

We are in the studio this week recording episodes for Season 5 of The Way of Improvement Leads Home Podcast.

Like Season 4, we have some GREAT guests in the queue.  As always, we NEED YOUR HELP.  Learn how you can support high-quality American history podcasting here.   All supporters are eligible for a The Way of Improvement Leads Home Podcast mug or a signed copy of one of my books, including Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump.  Here are some pics:

Podcast on stage

A shot from our first live episode

Ally Podcast

A fan on the campus of Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan

Mug in Florida

Florida during Hurricane Irma

graham-mug

I believe this is in Richmond, Virginia

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bta-students

Some of these students from Boston Trinity Academy were guests on Episode 31

Lowrie

Season 4 studio producer Josh Lowrie has graduated.  We will be announcing his replacement soon

Nilsa

Don’t forget our intern, Nilsa

Shannon

We interview some great authors!

Stephens Book

fun

Sometimes Drew gets very excited about our episodes

Moral combat

Drew and Josh

Drew and Josh doing their thing

Fitz

Occasionally a Pulitzer Prize-winner shows-up on our airwaves

XM

People love listening to the podcast on road trips

Brenda

It’s always great to meet TWOILH patrons when I’m on the road.  

 

The New Season of The Way of Improvement Leads Podcast is Almost Here!

Mug in Florida

A TWOILH podcast patron from Florida shows-off her mug (and generator) during Hurricane Irma

We are gearing up for Season 5 of The Way of Improvement Leads Home Podcast.  Stay tuned.  New episodes are almost here!

If you are interested in conversations and commentary with some great historians and historical thinkers, you are not going to want to miss this upcoming season.  We hope you will download episodes, write reviews of the show at your favorite podcast sites, and share the podcast with your friends.  We also invite you to support us financially.  The Way of Improvement Leads Home Podcast is funded primarily by listeners.  Check out how you can contribute at our Patreon page.  All donor money, of course, goes to the production and development of the podcast.  It is used to pay our producer and studio engineer.

We accept pledges and one-time gifts.  And you may be eligible for a free The Way of Improvement Leads Home Podcast coffee mug or a free signed book (including Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump).

Here is a quick summary of all of our episodes:

SEASON 1:

Episode 1:  Jim Grossman, the Executive Director of the American Historical Society, reminds us that “Everything Has a History.”

Episode 2: Historian Daniel Williams talks about the history of the pro-life movement in America.

Episode 3: Yoni Appelbaum, Ideas Editor at The Atlantic, helps us think historically about electoral politics.

Episode 4: Stanford’s Sam Wineburg talks about historical thinking “and other unnatural acts.”

Episode 5: Tim Grove of the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum talks about museums and writing history for children.

Episode 6:  Nate DiMeo of the wildly popular podcast “The Memory Place” talks about telling stories about the past.

Episode 7: Paul Lukas of ESPN talks about history, memory, nostalgia, and sports uniforms.

Episode 8: Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Annette Gordon Reed and Peter Onuf discuss the complex life and legacy of Thomas Jefferson.

Episode 9: Author Marc Dolan discusses the historical, political, and spiritual significance of Bruce Springsteen.

SEASON 2:

Episode 10:  Thomas Jefferson living history interpreter Steve Edenbo talks about what it is like to be a Jefferson re-enactor in a post-Hamilton world.

Episode 11: Historian Ann Little reflects on the writing of biography through the 18th-century life of Esther Wheelright.

Episode 12: Slate‘s Rebecca Onion talks about bringing good history to the public.

Episode 13: NPR reporter Sarah McCammon tells us what it is like to follow Donald Trump on the campaign trail.

Episode 14: Historian Amy Bass joins us to talk Olympics, baseball, and sports history.

Episode 15: Jonathan Fetter-Vorm, the co-author and illustrator of Battle Lines: A Graphic History of the Civil War, discusses graphic novels as a way of communicating history to the public.

Episode 16: Award-winning historian Manisha Sinha teaches us about the history of abolitionist movement.

SEASON 3:

Episode 17: Douglas Bradburn, CEO of Mount Vernon, talks with us about George Washington and his Virginia estate.

Episode 18: Historian Bruce Berglund discusses religion and culture in 20th century Prague and we explore the internationalization of American history.

Episode 19: Documentary filmmaker Martin Doblmeier talks about his film: An American Conscience: The Reinhold Niebuhr Story.

Episode 20: Historian Adrian Burgos Jr., editor-in-chief of La Vida Baseball, tackles race, ethnicity, and American baseball.

Episode 21: Scott Hartley, author of The Fuzzy and the Techie: Why the Liberal Arts will Rule the Digital World, argues that we need more historians in the Silicon Valley.

Episode 22: Bancroft Prize-winning historian Nancy Tomes discusses the history of health-care in America.

Episode 23: Amanda Moniz of the Smithsonian National Museum of American History talks about the history of philanthropy in the United States.

Episode 24: Podcaster Liz Covart talks about podcasting and her popular podcast Ben Franklin’s World.

SEASON 4:

Episode 25:  Kelly Baker, a historian of the KKK, helps us put the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia into historical context.

Episode 26: Kevin Gannon, aka “The Tatooed Prof,” talks history pedagogy and introduces us to his “Teaching Manifesto.”

Episode 27: Historian Julian Chambliss interprets Trump’s “Mar-a-Lago in the context of Florida history, environmental history, and populism.

Episode 28: We talk soul music with Jeff Kollath, executive director of the Stax Museum in Memphis.

Episode 29: National Book Award finalist Nancy MacLean discusses libertarianism and the threat to democracy.

Episode 30: Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Francis Fitzgerald discusses the history of American evangelicalism.

Episode 31:  History teacher Mike Milway and his students talk about historical thinking in the classroom and the mission of Boston Trinity Academy.

Episode 32: Historian R. Marie Griffith discusses the links between sexual politics and evangelicalism in modern America.

Episode 33: Historian Amy Bass tells us the story of an amazing group of Somali refugees and their quest to win the Maine state soccer championship.

Episode 34: Princeton historian Kevin Kruse tells us what it is like to be a prominent Twitterstorian.

Episode 35: Historian Bruce Berglund is back to talk about his new project on global ice hockey.

Episode 36: Historian Timothy Shannon introduces us to Peter Williamson, an 18th-century life that spans both sides of the Atlantic.

Episode 37: Historian Erin Bartram, the author of the viral blog post “The Sublimated Grief of the Left Behind,” helps us answer the question: “Should You Go to Graduate School?”

Episode 38: Randall Stephens talks about the complicated relationship between Christianity and rock ‘n’ roll.

Bonus Live Episode:  John and Drew talk about the podcast and digital humanities at the Messiah College Educator’s Day.

The Way of Improvement Leads Home Podcast is on Summer Break, But We Still Need Your Help!

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Season Four  at The Way of Improvement Leads Home podcast is a wrap! We will be back later this month with two bonus episodes (stay tuned!), but we are done recording episodes.  I am writing because we could really use your hope as we start preparing for the possibility of a fifth season. in the Fall.

For those unfamiliar, the podcast brings interviews and commentary related to American history, historical thinking, and the role of history in our everyday lives. In each episode we talk to someone doing innovative, creative, and thoughtful work in American history.  Our guests include historians, authors, filmmakers, museum professionals, teachers, public intellectuals, podcasters, and journalists.

Our guests have included:

  • Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Frances Fitzgerald on American evangelicalism
  • National Book award finalist Nancy MacLean on libertarianism and democracy
  • Bancroft Prize-winning historian Nancy Tomes on the history of American healthcare
  • Historian R. Marie Griffith on sexual politics
  • Historian Amy Bass on sports and community
  • Author Scott Hartley on the need for the humanities in the Silicon Valley
  • Filmmaker Martin Doblmeier on Reinhold Niebuhr
  • Mount Vernon CEO Doug Bradburn on George Washington’s legacy
  • National Book award finalist Manisha Sinha on the history of abolitionism
  • NPR reporter Sarah McCammon on covering Donald Trump
  • Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Annette Gordon-Reed on Thomas Jefferson
  • ESPN writer Paul Lukacs on nostalgia and the history of sports uniforms
  • Stanford professor Sam Wineburg on historical thinking and public schools
  • Atlantic editor Yoni Appelbaum on presidential politics and “useable pasts.”

And much, much more!

The Way of Improvement Leads Home Podcast relies on the support of patrons like you.  If you appreciate what we do, please consider heading over to our Patreon page and joining our support team!

And yes, mugs and books are still available!

Our First Live Episode of The Way of Improvement Leads Home Podcast is in the Books!

Podcast on stageThis morning we recorded our first live episode of The Way of Improvement Leads Home Podcast before the Community of Educators (faculty and co-curricular educators) at Messiah College.

The Community of Educators gathered today at “Educator’s Day,” a tradition in which our faculty and co-curricular educators mark the end of the previous year and turn our attention to developing ourselves for the year ahead.  The theme of this year’s Educator’s Day was “Flourishing in a Digital World.”

As I noted in my post this morning, the administration asked us to record an episode of the podcast related to this theme.   Our guests were three humanities scholars doing very creative work at the intersection of digital scholarship and place.  David Pettegrew runs Messiah College’s Digital Harrisburg Initiative, Jean Corey runs Messiah’s Center for Public Humanities, and Nathan Skulstad is a digital documentarian and story-teller.

We could not have done this live episode without the hard work of podcast producer Drew Dyrli Hermeling and Cynthia Wells, the director of the Ernest L. Boyer Center at Messiah.  Thanks as well to Ashley Sheaffer of the Messiah College Agape Center for interviewing me on the episode and the skilled technicians on the Messiah College sound team for making us sound good!

Stay tuned.  This bonus episode will drop sometime in the next few weeks.  In the meantime, head over to Patreon site and help get us to Season 5.

Some tweets:

And Drew’s excellent response to Mr. Hatfield’s snarky tweet:

Welcome Messiah College Community of Educators!

Parmer

Parmer Hall, Messiah College

When this post appears on the blog (9:50am on Monday, May 20, 2018) I will be sitting with Drew Dyrli Hermeling on the magnificent stage of Parmer Hall at Messiah College hosting a special episode of The Way of Improvement Leads Home Podcast.  The episode is being recorded right now in front of a live studio audience at Messiah’s “Educator’s Day.”  Every year, Messiah College’s community of educators gather on the Monday following graduation for a day of professional development.  This year’s theme is “Flourishing in a Digital Age” and the administration has asked me to dedicate a podcast episode to digital scholarship and teaching at Messiah College.

We have done 38 full episodes of the podcast thus far.  I have interviewed Pulitzer Prize–winning authors and all kinds of other important people in the history field, but I have never been more nervous than I am this morning.  There is something different about having to host this podcast in front of a few hundred of my colleagues!

I think it is fair to say that most Messiah College educators are not familiar with the blog or the podcast.  Many will be finding their way to http://www.thewayofimprovement.com from their phones and laptops as they listen to us recording the podcast on stage. If you are one of those educators, welcome to our online home!  Feel free to explore a bit and get acquainted with what we have been doing here for the last ten years!  🙂

Thanks for Supporting The Way of Improvement Leads Home Podcast

Podcast

I just checked the Patreon crowdfunding page for The Way of Improvement Leads Home Podcast and noticed that we have picked up a few extra patrons over the past few weeks.  If you are one of them, thank you for your support!!

It takes a lot of work to produce a podcast.  I write every episode.  Our producer Drew Dyrli Hermeling schedules the guests, works with our hosts at Recorded History Podcast, schedules our recording sessions, works with our patrons to get them free goodies, edits every episode, and, most importantly, provides creative energy to make this thing happen.

We could not live without our studio producer Josh Lowrie.  He is a master of the sound board and spends several hours on every episode taking out all of our mistakes and making us and our guests sound good.  He also reserves the studio.

The Way of Improvement Leads Home Podcast is a labor of love, but we still have expenses. At this point, I do not make a cent on the podcast.  Most of the support we received via Patreon helps pay for the production work of Drew and Josh, but even that is not enough.

We were able to launch the podcast with a gift from an angel donor.  That money is now almost gone and we are in the process of trying to figure out how to move forward without it.

This is where you can help.  In addition to sharing the podcast on your social media feeds, reviewing it at ITunes or another podcatcher, and downloading episodes, we also need financial supporters.

For those new to the podcast, we are committed to landing great guests who are doing all kinds of amazing history-related things.  Here are just a few of the folks we have talked to over the last four seasons:

  • Princeton University historian Kevin Kruse on life as a #twitterstorian
  • Sports historian Amy Bass on her new book One Goal
  • Historian of American religion R. Marie Griffiths on her new book on sexual politics and American evangelicalism
  • Pulitzer prize-winner Francis Fitzgerald on American evangelicals
  • National Book Award finalist Nancy MacLean on libertarianism and democracy
  • Bancfroft Prize-winning historian Nancy Tomes on the history of healthcare
  • National Book Award finalist Manisha Sinha on the history of abolitionism
  • Pulitzer prize-winner Annette Gordon Reed on Thomas Jefferson
  • Historical thinking guru Sam Wineburg on teaching history in schools
  • The Atlantic‘s Washington Bureau Chief Yoni Appelbaum on history and politics.

And much, much more!!!!

Please consider heading over to our Patreon page and become a patron or make a one-time donation!  Thank you.

Eric Metaxas on The Faith Angle Podcast

Faith Angle

Kirsten Powers of CNN and journalist Jonathan Merritt have started a new podcast titled The Faith Angle.

This looks like it will be a good podcast.  The first episode is titled
Trumpevangelicals and the Divided States of America.”  The guest is Eric Metaxas, a guy who we have spent some time writing about here at The Way of Improvement Leads Home.

A few highlights:

  • Merritt calls Metaxas “the thinking man’s evangelical.” Many would beg to differ.  His book on Bonhoeffer, the work that apparently gave him the “thinking man” moniker, was criticized by Bonhoeffer scholars well before Metaxas endorsed Trump.
  • Most of the podcast episode focuses on how Metaxas went from a “thinking man’s intellectual” to a political hack.  Metaxas is so controversial that Powers and Merritt have to explain why they chose him as their first guest.
  • Powers believes that Metaxas’s support of Trump is “harming his Christian witness.”
  • Metaxas says that “before the election I hated Donald Trump.”  (This, I might add, changed very quickly.  See this pic).
  • Metaxas says that he doesn’t endorse everything about Trump’s character. But Powers makes Metaxas admit that he does support Trump’s policies.
  • Metaxas says that “we are living in a really weird time” because so many people criticize and “attack” Donald Trump.  Could we also say that we are “living in a really weird time” because so many evangelicals, like Metaxas, support a man like Donald Trump?
  • Metaxas laments that our country has become too uncivil.  Let’s remember that this call for civility comes from the guy who called Jim Wallis, “silly, sloppy, and wrongheaded.”  It comes from the guy who once called Hillary Clinton “Hitlery Clinton.”  It comes from the guy who said that “God will not hold us guiltless” if we voted for Hillary Clinton. This is the guy who could not identify textbook racism.
  • Metaxas rejects the King Cyrus argument.
  • Metaxas argues that Trump should get a pass on his character problems (sleeping with porn stars and committing adultery) because they did not happen while he was in the White House.  Bill Clinton, on the other hand, does not get a pass because his indiscretions took place while he was POTUS.  As I wrote last night, this argument fails to acknowledge the ways that Trump’s past sins still have consequences.  And because he is POTUS, we all now have to live through the consequences of his past actions.  His adulterous affairs and porn connections have found their way into the mainstream, further coarsening the culture.
  • Merritt makes a good point.  The Christian Right criticized Bill Clinton because of sexual escapades well before Monica Lewinsky came around.  Why isn’t Trump criticized for his past indiscretions?  (I appreciate Powers and Merritt for holding Metaxas’s feet to the fire.  His answers to their questions are really unconvincing).
  • Metaxas claims that his “Hitlery Clinton” line was just a joke. He then belittles people who thought it was inappropriate.  Metaxas went to Yale and wrote a book about Bonhoeffer.  I think he is smart enough to know what it means when you call someone Hitler. Powers says that she didn’t understand the “joke.”  Metaxas spends five minutes defending the Hitler line, and then, when pressed by Powers, says he shouldn’t have wrote it.  He is really coming across as nonsensical and slippery.  He is speaking out of both sides of his mouth.
  • Metaxas used the phrase “court evangelical.”  No attribution made.  I guess its a thing now.
  • Powers calls him out on his claim that Christians must vote for Trump.  Metaxas regrets that his 2016 Wall Street Journal op-ed came off this way.
  • Metaxas seems to believe that there is some kind of moral equivalence between Obama and Trump because they held/hold the same office.  Metaxas says he, a conservative, was nice to Obama despite his disagreements and now it is time for progressives to be nice to Trump.  Powers asks him to identify these “progressives” and his answer is “Stephen Colbert.”  Seriously, Stephen Colbert?  As Powers notes, the guy is a comedian!  Moreover, I thought the entire podcast discussion was about evangelicals and Trump.  Last time I checked, Colbert was not an evangelical. Moreover, this “respect for the office” argument only goes so far.  Trump is not Obama. Trump does not respect the office in the way that Obama respected the office.  I briefly touch on this difference in Believe Me.
  • Metaxas says, “Pray for this president that he would repent of everything we know that he has done and is too proud to admit.”  Yes.  I think I just found some common ground with Eric Metaxas.

By the way, I think this podcast is helpful for putting this tweet in context:

 

What People Are Saying About The Way of Improvement Leads Home Podcast

Podcast

Podcasts take a lot of work.  We have a staff of three at The Way of Improvement Leads Home Podcast.  As the creator and host of the podcast, I work for free.  Our producer, Drew Dyrli Hermeling (who some of you met in St. Louis this past weekend), is paid through our of the Patreon campaign.  Our studio producer, Josh Lowrie, is paid (at least until May) by a single angel donor.  Needless to say, we operate on a shoestring budget and we could really use your help.  Please consider investing in our work.

Here are some of our ITunes reviews:

Engaging exploration of the historian’s craft, American history, religion, politics, and more…Can’t wait to hear more!”

“Some podcasts are intellectual, but boring; some are fun, but shallow.  Some are hosted by bellicose personalities.  Some are hosted by posers.  It may take a lot of history podcast browsing before you land on one that is engaging for both an academic audience and non-academic audience, while at the same time is hosted by people you would like to invite to your house for dinner.  Fea and Hermeling make a great team.  They are both historians, and while they differ on some issues, they obviously are good friends and have superb rapport.  The guest so far have been top shelf, and the hosts engage them professionally and intelligently.”

“John Fea consistently pushes listeners to think critically using the discipline of history.  Using timely applications, he illustrates the power historical thinking has to gain insight into the world around us.  Everything has a history.  TWOILH podcast is worth your time because it will encourage you to think clearly.”

“I learned the value of thinking historically through reading Fea’s blog and listening to him speak.  I had no idea what I was missing.”

“I, like most people, subscribe to too many podcasts.  However, there are a few that I make sure to listen to every time they post.  In less than 5 episodes, The Way of Improvement Leads Home has become one of them. If you are interested in history or just in thinking deeply about the world around you, I would highly, highly recommend the podcast.”

“Just listened to the first four episodes while on spring break.  Whether you make a living in the profession of history or are someone who simply likes history, this is for you.  Terrific reflections on the practice of history and the events and outlooks of the past.”

“I have listened to every episode from the beginning and this is one of the best history podcasts around.  It is balanced, provides good scholarship, and thought-provoking interviews.  I have used many different components in my own history classes.”

“As a teacher it can be difficult to juggle the demands of lesson planning, assessing, and managing your classroom and still find time for expanding your own depth of knowledge.  This podcast helps to solve that problem.  With a keen focus on the teaching of history and engaging guests, The Way of Improvement Leads Home helps me stay connected to the scholarly world of historical study in an accessible and engaging manner.  Add it to your playlist and reap the benefits!”

“I so much appreciate the mix of broad overview of theory and big picture stuff Fea gives before the actual interview.  The casual nature of the interaction between Fea and Hermeling and their undergraduate technical assistant especially make this accessible.  My husband, who isn’t a historian, loved the podcast on sports we listened to while preparing Thanksgiving dinner.  Thanks for connecting the past to the present and I especially appreciate how frequently women scholars are featured–this is vital when so few podcasts feature women hosts.”

If you feel led to support us please head over to our Patreon page and become a patron or make a one-time donation.  Thanks in advance!  And if you can’t support us, please tell your friends about us or write a review at your podcatcher of choice!

The Way of Improvement Leads Home Podcast Needs Your Support!

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Season Four continues here at The Way of Improvement Leads Home podcast.  For those unfamiliar, the podcast brings interviews and commentary related to American history, historical thinking, and the role of history in our everyday lives. In each episode we talk to someone doing innovative, creative, and thoughtful work in American history.  Our guests include historians, authors, filmmakers, museum professionals, teachers, public intellectuals, podcasters, and journalists.

Our guests have included:

  • Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Frances Fitzgerald on American evangelicalism
  • National Book award finalist Nancy MacLean on libertarianism and democracy
  • Bancroft Prize-winning historian Nancy Tomes on the history of American healthcare
  • Historian R. Marie Griffith on sexual politics
  • Historian Amy Bass on sports and community
  • Author Scott Hartley on the need for the humanities in the Silicon Valley
  • Filmmaker Martin Doblmeier on Reinhold Niebuhr
  • Mount Vernon CEO Doug Bradburn on George Washington’s legacy
  • National Book award finalist Manisha Sinha on the history of abolitionism
  • NPR reporter Sarah McCammon on covering Donald Trump
  • Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Annette Gordon-Reed on Thomas Jefferson
  • ESPN writer Paul Lukacs on nostalgia and the history of sports uniforms
  • Stanford professor Sam Wineburg on historical thinking and public schools
  • Atlantic editor Yoni Appelbaum on presidential politics and “useable pasts.”

And much, much more!

The Way of Improvement Leads Home Podcast relies on the support of patrons like you.  If you appreciate what we do, please consider heading over to our Patreon page and joining our support team!

A Big Podcast Announcement

TWOILHWe have some exciting news to announce here at The Way of Improvement Leads Home!

At the end of last year, we were approached by a couple of podcast producers who were in the process of forming a new network of history podcasts, the Recorded History Podcast Network. They have asked us to join as one of a wide range of historically-minded productions.

As we continue to explore the best ways to make the production of the podcast sustainable, we jumped at the opportunity to join forces with others doing similar work.

While we will retain full creative control over the podcast, listeners will notice some changes in 2018. First and foremost, joining the network gives us access to advertisers. This is a great monetization opportunity for us, but it does mean that advertisements will begin appearing throughout the podcast. Ads will be placed at the beginning and end of each episode and there will be a short advertising break in the middle. Additionally, you will start hearing cross-promotions for other podcasts on the network. We believe this will be a great way to spread the word about what we’re doing and introduce other podcasters’ work to our listeners.

Finally, you can also see that there have been some small changes to our visual identity as our podcast logo has been redesigned to include a tag with the Recorded History logo.

This will not change our current relationship with our patrons. In fact, we are working with the network to provide an ad-free option for our patrons as an added perk. So we still need your support. If you have not done so already, please head over to our Patreon campaign website and join the team!

We are very excited about the continued growth of the podcast and our dedicated and growing listenership. We always need good historical thinking, but in times of great social change, we need it more than ever. We believe that the Recorded History Podcast Network presents a wonderful opportunity for making historical thinking more accessible.

Episode 31 of The Way of Improvement Leads Home Podcast is Almost Here!

BTA students

I am really excited about Episode 31!  We talked with Boston Trinity Academy (BTA) history teacher Mike Milway and three of his senior students about studying history at the secondary-school level.  Some of you may recall my recent visit to BTA.  The episode drops on Sunday.  In the meantime, get caught up on previous episodes here.

As always, we could use your patronage.  Head over to our Patreon campaign and learn about the different ways you can support our work. Help us reach our goal!  You may even qualify for a free mug or signed book!

*The New York Times* Covers “The Memory Palace”

showcard_memory

Check out Sarah Larsen’s piece on Nate DiMeo, the creator and host of “The Memory Palace,” a very popular American history podcast.  Some of you may remember that DiMeo was our guest on Episode 6 of The Way of Improvement Leads Home Podcast.

Here is a taste of Larsen’s piece:

Nate DiMeo’s long-running independently produced podcast “The Memory Palace,” part of the Radiotopia collective, is about history and, in its way, part of history itself: DiMeo started it in 2008, and a decade is a long time in podcast years. It’s both an established veteran and an esoteric indie, consisting of short vignettes about people, places, and objects from the past and the memories they contain—the old Coney Island, the year Hank Greenberg hit fifty-eight home runsthe early-twentieth-century Mexican-American botantist Ynés Mexía—written and performed by DiMeo, without the intrusion of other voices, set to faint background music. Episodes tend to be short—eight minutes, twelve minutes—and transporting. DiMeo sounds like a wistful youngish man dreaming into a microphone and teaching us things at the same time. It has carried him, and his audience, a long way. DiMeo was the 2016-17 artist in residence at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where he created several episodes based on its collections. Last year, as well, a book of “Memory Palace” stories, translated into Portuguese, was published in Brazil.

One way to experience “The Memory Palace” is to jump in anywhere, or to start with the most recent episode and work back; if you’re listening on a phone, it’s hard to poke around for topics of interest, because DiMeo omits episode descriptions in an effort to make the listener just surrender to listening. You can do that, or you can start with the show’s best-episodes page, which does indeed feature a bunch of winners. One of the show’s loveliest episodes, about the Dreamland amusement park in Coney Island, which burned down in 1911, is there.

Read the entire piece.

If you end up listening to Episode 6 of The Way of Improvement Leads Home Podcast and like what you hear, please consider writing a review, telling your friends, share on social media, or help us to produce more episodes by donating to our Patreon campaign.  You may even qualify for a mug or free book!

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The Popularity of American History Podcasts

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According to Khari Johnson of Venture Beat, American history podcasts are “having a moment.”

We believe that The Way of Improvement Leads Home Podcast is part of that “moment,” but we could use your support to keep things going.  We are lining up some great guests for the rest of Season 4.  So far this season we have done episodes on:

  • American Evangelicals with Pultizer Prize-winning author Frances FitzGerald
  • Libertarianism and democracy with National Book Award-finalist Nancy MacLean
  • STAX Records and public history with Jeff Kollath, director of the STAX museum in Memphis
  • The history of Florida and Mar-a-Lago with historian Julian Chambliss
  • Teaching history with Kevin Gannon, the “Tattooed Prof”
  • Thinking historically about race and Charlottesville with historian Kelly Baker

Podcasts take time and money to produce.  We have a great staff at The Way of Improvement Leads Home Podcast and I would really like to keep them for the long haul.  Won’t you consider supporting our work through our Patreon Campaign?  Click here for more details!

Are You Listening to The Way of Improvement Leads Home Podcast?

podcast-icon1Season four continues in January at The Way of Improvement Leads Home podcast.  For those unfamiliar, the podcast brings interviews and commentary related to American history, historical thinking, and the role of history in our everyday lives. In each episode we talk to someone doing innovative, creative, and thoughtful work in American history.  Our guests include historians, authors, filmmakers, museum professionals, teachers, public intellectuals, podcasters, and journalists.

Our guests have included:

  • Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Frances Fitzgerald on American evangelicalism
  • National Book award finalist Nancy MacLean on libertarianism and democracy
  • Bancroft Prize-winning historian Nancy Tomes on the history of American healthcare
  • Author Scott Hartley on the need for the humanities in the Silicon Valley
  • Filmmaker Martin Doblmeier on Reinhold Niebuhr
  • Mount Vernon CEO Doug Bradburn on George Washington’s legacy
  • National Book award finalist Manisha Sinha on the history of abolitionism
  • NPR reporter Sarah McCammon on covering Donald Trump
  • Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Annette Gordon-Reed on Thomas Jefferson
  • ESPN writer Paul Lukacs on nostalgia and the history of sports uniforms
  • Stanford professor Sam Wineburg on historical thinking and public schools
  • Atlantic editor Yoni Appelbaum on presidential politics and “useable pasts.”

And much, much more!

The Way of Improvement Leads Home podcast is available at ITunes, Sticher, and most other podcatchers.

We hope you will find us and listen in 2018!

If you like what we are doing, please consider supporting us here.

A Word From Our Producer

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Drew Dyrli Hermeling, the producer of The Way of Improvement Leads Home Podcast, sent this e-mail out to our patrons recently (if you haven’t seen it yet, it is on the way) and I wanted to share it with all of our blog readers.

Greetings dedicated patrons,

As the people who make this podcast possible, I wanted to be as transparent with you as I can. While we are very happy with the quality of guests we have had on the show this season, a couple of logistical hiccups have delayed production on the last few episodes. Frankly, one of the drawbacks of going after bigger guests is that they also have more complicated schedules! Therefore, as you may have noticed, we have been releasing fewer episodes than usual. 

Luckily, these hiccups have not meant cancellations, just delays. We are still on track to bring you interviews with two more award-winning authors before the end of the year. However, this is one episode fewer than we offered last autumn. As a result, we are NOT planning on taking a January break like we did last year. Instead we will be playing catch-up so that our full year season equals the same number of episodes as the previous year, if not more! 

You all have done so much to make this podcast happen, and you are the stakeholders that we answer to. And we didn’t want you to feel that our sporadic schedule this last month or so was due to a lack of energy or commitment on our part. We are just as fired up about this project as we were on our first episode—albeit with much better sound! 

So thank you for sticking will us, and as John always says, may your way of improvement always lead home!

Producer Drew

 

It’s Giving Tuesday! Show The Way of Improvement Leads Home Podcast Some Love!

Mug

You too can own a The Way of Improvement Leads Home Podcast mug like the one pictured above!

I recently learned that today is “Giving Tuesday.”  According to Wikipedia, “Giving Tuesday” is “a movement to create an international day of giving at the beginning of the Christmas and holiday season.”

As our regular readers know, The Way of Improvement Leads Home Podcast operates on a shoestring budget.  I make no money on the podcast, but I still need to pay our producer Drew Dyrli Hermeling and our studio producer Josh Lowrie.  All of the donations we receive through out Patreon campaign goes toward paying Drew and Josh and covering our overhead for mugs and books.  As I have written about several times, we would love to take the podcast to the next level–a weekly show with even better production quality.

Over the last couple of years we have had some great guests on the show, including a Pulitzer Prize-winner, several National Book Award Finalists, and a Bancroft Prize-winner.  They have included Nancy MacLean, Kevin Gannon, Julian Chambliss, Kelly Baker, Liz Covart, Nancy Tomes, Scott Hartley, Adrian Burgos Jr, Douglas Bradburn, Manisha Sinha, Amy Bass, Sarah McCammon, Rebecca Onion, Ann Little, Annette Gordon-Reed, Peter Onuf, Paul Lukas, Nate DiMeo, Sam Wineburg, Yoni Appelbaum, Daniel K. Williams, and Jim Grossman.

And we have some great guests lined-up for the rest of Season 4. Stay tuned!

If you want to support top-notch history podcasting, please consider donating to The Way of Improvement Leads Home Podcast through our Patreon page.  It’s easy to do and you might even qualify for a free book or a mug!  Once you land on the page, just click the orange “Become a Patron” button on the right of your screen.

Happy Holidays and thank you for your support!

 

*Slate* Introduces a Podcast on the Reconstruction Era

Recon

Jamelle Bouie and Rebecca Onion are hosting.  Here is what you can expect:

The era of Reconstruction that followed the Civil War was our best chance to build an American democracy grounded in racial equality. Its failure helps explain why race, “states’ rights,” and the legacy of the Confederacy remain central themes in our politics today.

Join Slate’s Jamelle Bouie and Rebecca Onion as they dive into the latest scholarship about the era and examine its lessons for America and the world in 2017.

Read Rebecca and Jamelle’s introduction to the series.

This Slate Academy includes:

  • An eight-episode podcast series about Reconstruction featuring Rebecca Onion and Jamelle Bouie—the sequel to The History of American Slavery.
  • Illuminating essays and book excerpts, to help you get more out of the podcast, as well as other readings.
  • A chance to discuss the series with Rebecca, Jamelle, and other members in a lively private Facebook group.

Sign up here.  And while you are at it, click here to listen to Rebecca Onion on The Way of Improvement Leads Home Podcast (Episode 12).