#102 Stand Up Comedy & Los Angeles w/ Pat Reilly

Ben talks with Sociologist Pat Reilly, whose research examines the organization and economics of stand up comedy in Los Angeles. Pat explains what makes stand up a unique form of entertainment, the ways stand up has changed since it began, and how comics deal with issues such a joke theft. Ben and Pat also talk about their own experiences as stand up comics, and the challenges of joining, being part of, and leaving a comedy scene.

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#100 RTN One Hundred

Bob and Ben reflect on the first one hundred episodes of The Road to Now, the state of politics, and what they’ve learned since the first episode launched in May 2016. Bob explains what he thinks most people get wrong about history and the way that hosting RTN and beginning graduate studies have changed his relationship to history, Ben gives his insight on the current state of the US-Russian relationship and why he thinks nostalgia is a big part of the problem in today’s politics, and both say thank you to everyone for helping us turn an idea into a successful podcast.

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#99 The History & Politics of the World Cup w/ Alex Galarza & Matt Negrin

The 2018 FIFA World Cup is underway in Russia, so Ben sat down with soccer historian Alex Galarza and RTN favorite Matt Negrin to talk about the history of the World Cup. We discuss the corruption that has plagued FIFA, the controversy surrounding FIFA’s decision to award the World Cup to Qatar, and what factors helped propel soccer into the world’s most popular sport. We also share some of our favorite experiences at soccer matches abroad and celebrate the recent announcement that the United States, Canada and Mexico will jointly host the 2026 World Cup.

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Episode 33: Jim Cornette on the History of Professional Wrestling

There’s a good chance you don’t appreciate how engrained professional wrestling is in American history and culture, and this episode is about to change that. We didn’t know all this either until wrestling legend Jim Cornette was kind enough to spend an hour taking us from wrestling’s origins in the late 19th century up to the sport as it exists today. Jim knows the sport like no other- he’s been part of the professional wrestling scene since the 1970s, and currently hosts the tremendously popular podcast The Jim Cornette Experience.

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#97 Songs of Social Justice w/ Governor Martin O’Malley

In this episode of The Road to Now, recorded live at Georgetown University’s Institute of Politics and Public Service, Governor Martin O’Malley join Bob & Ben for a conversation about history, music and politics. We discuss the history of immigration, how Gov. O’Malley’s Catholic faith influenced his political views, and Gov. O’Malley shares (and plays) some of the songs that have had the strongest impact on his life.

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#96 Tyler Mahan Coe on Podcasting the History of Country Music

For the third installment of our Music May series, Ben caught up with Tyler Mahan Coe whose podcast Cocaine & Rhinestones dives into some of the most famous stories in the history of country music. As a musician and son of country legend David Allan Coe, Tyler’s own history is part of that story, but his ability to take the best of his own experiences while remaining objective in the subjects he covers is outstanding. Tyler talks about the calling that drove him to make Cocaine & Rhinestones, the methodology he developed to cover the history of country music in a podcast, and why he thinks most people don’t have the story right when it comes to Merle Haggard’s Okie from Muskogee.

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#95 Tom Marshall on Writing Phish and Everything Else

We talk with Phish lyricist Tom Marshall to learn about the history of Phish, his friendship with Trey Anastasio, and the life experiences that inspired the lyrics for some of the band’s most well-known songs. We also set the record straight about Tom’s life, discuss his podcast Under the Scales and talk about Bob & Ben’s collaboration w/ Tom through the Osiris Podcast Network.

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Catching Up: Sean Foley on Syria and the Middle East

In episode 53, we spoke with Sean Foley about Syria and the historic forces at work in the Syrian Civil War. A lot has changed since we first spoke with Sean in April of 2017, so we asked him to come back to catch us up on the Syrian Civil War, where Isis, Assad and other players currently stand, and the implications of Donald Trump’s sudden reversal on American intervention in the conflict.

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#92 The History of the Armenian Genocide w/ Ronald Suny

In this episode of The Road to Now we speak with Ronald Grigor Suny, who is one of the world’s foremost experts on the history of the Armenian genocide. Ron explains the process that led the Ottoman government to turn on its Armenian subjects and the methods it used to carry out this atrocity. He also explains why, in spite of the evidence, recognizing this as genocide remains a political hotspot both internationally and within modern Turkey, and why it is important to remember tragedies even when doing so makes us uncomfortable.  

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#91: The History of Satire and the American Political Cartoon w/ Richard Samuel West

In this episode of The Road to Now, Richard Samuel West joins Bob and Ben for a conversation on the history of political cartoons in the United States. West tells of how political cartoonists went from independent artists in the early 19th century who sold their work on the streets to become powerful actors in American politics just a few decades later. He also  explains how technological and social forces led to the rise, and eventual fall, of political cartoons as a form of satire, and how one of America’s most powerful and corrupt crime bosses was brought down by a single artist and his drawings.

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#90 The History of the Cherokee Nation w/ John Sedgwick

In this episode, we speak with John Sedgwick about the internal struggles that defined the Cherokee nation in the first century after American independence. His new book, Blood Moon: An American Epic of War and Splendor in the Cherokee Nation (Simon & Schuster, 2018), examines the rivalry between two Cherokee leaders and how it shaped the history of the Tribe and the United States as a whole.

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Episode 40: Clayborne Carson on the Life and Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dr. Clayborne Carson is Martin Luther King, Jr. Centennial Professor of History and Ronnie Lott Founding Director of the Martin Luther King Research and Education Institute at Stanford University, where he has taught since 1975. As someone whose life and research are intertwined with the work and legacy of Dr. King, Dr. Carson is uniquely qualified to explain the importance of King’s leadership and his place within the greater struggle for justice in the US and abroad.

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Episode 88: Taxation, the Great Depression, and the GOP Tax Reform w/ Robert McElvaine

In today’s episode, Bob and Ben speak with Robert McElvaine, an expert on the history of the Great Depression, to get his take on what the past can teach us about tax policy and the economy. McElvaine explains why he thinks that history has disproven the Republican principle of supply side economics, and why he sees the recent GOP-backed tax reform as reminiscent of the policies that led the US into the Great Depression.

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