By Sean Graham
In the spring of 2012, I was in Guelph, Ontario at a conference. What I thought would a typical couple days turned out to be a pretty important event in my life. Not only did it provide me with my favourite conference story, but it was there where I met several members of the Activehistory.ca editorial team. I don’t recall the specific circumstances, but at some point I strongly (obnoxiously) suggested that the site would greatly benefit from a podcast. As any wise person would, the response from the team was that if I felt that way, I should be the one to do it. From that conversation, the History Slam was born and over 10 years, we produced 221 episodes with nearly 300 guests.
For as proud as I am of the podcast and grateful to all those who supported the project over the years, since we increased the episode frequency at the start of the pandemic, I started to feel like something needed to change. When we started, podcasting was still relatively new, so I didn’t spend too much time thinking about the finer details of the show. My approach was – and still is – if I wouldn’t want to listen, why would I expect anyone else to listen? That guiding principle provided a lot of freedom to the show, allowing me to go from Prime Minister Fantasy Draft to Death Masks to Reconciliation.
At the same time, though, I started to think that I would benefit from having a direct line through the series. That, coupled with some back end changes that I realized would benefit the entire project, led me down the lengthy path towards re-branding the podcast and re-launching the entire project.
With that, I am excited to introduce What’s Old is News, the new podcast from Activehistory.ca. Like the History Slam, I will continue to chat with people doing groundbreaking historical work and shine a light on the outstanding stories being told across the discipline. At the same time, however, we’re going to lean into how current events are shaped by the past, focusing on how we can all learn from the stories and experiences of those who came before us. As part of this, we’re introducing the Historical Headline of the Week segment, where we will look at how old news continues to resonate today.
I’m excited about this next chapter in the life of the podcast and my relationship with Activehistory.ca. I cannot begin to adequately express my gratitude to the team here at the site, all the guests who have trusted me to share their work, and anyone who has ever listened to the show. It’s been an incredible decade doing the History Slam and I am looking forward to continuing the journey. So please subscribe wherever you get your podcasts and join me as we learn how What’s Old is News.
Sean Graham is a media historian, Adjunct Professor at Carleton University, and contributing editor with Activehistory.ca
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