Welcome to the Detroit History Podcast. We’ll mine this city’s history, telling the story through this town’s cultural, social, political, musical and automotive heritage. Our chosen tool is the podcast.
During the second season we’ll be dealing with topics as varied as Henry Ford’s anti-Semitism; Detroit’s 1943 riot, which killed 34 people; the National Football League Champion Detroit Lions of 1957; and a history of one of this country’s last great newspaper saloons, the Anchor Bar.
Tim Kiska hosts the program, which will be running Mondays in February through April. Hope you enjoy.
Bluesman John Lee Hooker's recording career spanned more than 40 years -- from his hit record, Boogie Chillen', which was recorded in Detroit in 1948, to his Grammy Award-winning LP The Healer. Hooker is a total product of Detroit's Black Bottom, the city's African-American neighborhood. We track his career, with help from John Lee Hooker's son, John Lee Hooker Jr.; to Marsha Music, whose father, Joe von Battle, owned Joe's Record Shop, one of Hooker's hangouts. Detroit musician R.J. Spangler places Hooker in this country's blues galaxy. Stick around after the credits for a preview of John Lee Hooker Jr.'s new song: Testify.
For two days in 1943, Detroit erupted into a flat-out race war. Thirty-four people died as whites and African-Americans battled each other in the streets. People were ripped from street cars and beaten senseless. Of the 25 deceased African-Americans, 17 were killed by police. It ended only as the U.S. Army came in with rifles and bayonets. Two historians, Thomas Klug and Jamon Jordan, discuss the historic event. A young NAACP lawyer by the name of Thurgood Marshall arrived here within days to investigate the catastrophe. He filed a report. Former Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer reads Marshall’s own words. And we hear from the late Bill Bonds, who tells us (in an interview recorded eight years ago) what he witnessed firsthand.
Before radio, TV, and the internet magician Harry Houdini was described as the world's first rock star. So when he died in Detroit after a performance here in 1926, people around the world took note. We unspool Houdini's death, and his various Detroit connections. That includes his 1906 leap off the Belle Isle Bridge. Veteran newsman Joe Donovan, a serious student of history, recreates that jump in classic CKLW 20/20 new style. We also talk with magicians Ming Louie, Michael Belitsos, and Ron Carnell, pop culture expert Tim Caldwell, and reporter Steve Neavling.
The Anchor Bar, situated on the western end of downtown Detroit, was once one of the country’s best-known newspaper bars. As one of the city's most notorious watering holes, it was also the site of a federal raid because the feds thought one of its patrons was running a $15 million-a-year bookie operation (uh, it did have four telephones). After 60 years, the place has just changed ownership. We look at the bar’s history. We talk with Vaughn Derderian, son of Leo Derderian, who created the place's mystique; former Detroit News columnist Pete Waldmeir; Berl Falbaum, who wrote a book about the place; and Julie Altesleben, a Detroit News copy editor/page designer, who brings us into the 21st century.
Warning: Explicit Language, F Bombs Galore
Henry Ford’s Dearborn Independent newspaper published a series of anti-Semitic articles in the 1920s. They gained wide traction, were translated into several languages and gathered together in a four-volume series, The International Jew. Nearly 100 years later, the Dearborn Historian, an obscure quarterly publication, released a story examining the anti-Semitic propaganda. Dearborn’s mayor mothballed the issue, and Historian’s editor Bill McGraw was informed that his services were no longer needed. In this episode of The Detroit History Podcast, we talk with McGraw, University of Michigan-Dearborn professor Ron Stockton, and Mike Smith, principal archivist at the University of Michigan’s Bentley Historical Library and an archivist with Detroit’s Jewish News, about Henry Ford’s anti-Semitism and the controversy surrounding the Dearborn Historian’s issue.
In the season finale of The Detroit History Podcast, we partnered with The Detroit Historical Museum to talk about the 1968 World Series between the Detroit Tigers and the St. Louis Cardinals. The Detroit Tigers had Denny McLain, with his 31 victories that season, an accomplishment that will probably never be equaled. The Cardinals had Bob Gibson, who finished the season with a 1.12 ERA. Set against the backdrop of a horrific year, you'll hear Mickey Lolich and Willie Horton talk about the storybook finish.
Special thanks to Jim Mathew at Elysium Experience (Productions) for generously providing audio from the '68 Tigers 50th anniversary celebration at the Detroit Historical Museum.
If Detroit was a sound, what would that sound be? Although some would say Motown, others say that sound would be Techno music. In this episode of The Detroit History Podcast we explain the birth of Techno in the 1980s, why its popular around the world -- particularly Berlin... and why it's as relevant now as it was when it came to the world's attention three decades ago. We also talk about how three guys from Belleville started this musical revolution. Music by Cybotron, Inner City, Global Logic, and Underground Resistance.
Metro Detroit boasts the largest local concentration of Arabs in North America, many of whom settled in Dearborn. We trace that migration back more than a century. We follow how Ford's $5 day brought many immigrants here, to how chaos in the Middle East drove many families out of their country and to southeast Michigan. Special thanks to the Arab American National Museum for its contributions.
In this episode of The Detroit History Podcast, we unravel the election and downfall of Detroit Mayor Jerome Cavanagh and how he was one of the first mayors to engage Detroit's African-American community. We also discuss how the 1967 Detroit civil disturbance and an ill-advised run for the U.S. Senate put a damper on his previously-rising political career.
The Detroit Red Wings in the 1950s were authentic fire on ice, racking up four Stanley Cups in six years. The team gave birth to "The Production Line" and the first woman team president of a major sports franchise, Marguerite Norris. An historic moment in sports history. We interview Ted Lindsay to uncover what drove the team.
It was one of the city's darkest moments and the panic would shortly spread across the country. Michigan Governor William Comstock closed Detroit's banks on Valentine's Day, 1933. Henry Ford was asked to bail out the banks, Ford said he thought the crash would have to come: "the general effect would be that everyone would have to get to work a little sooner; that it might be a very good thing."
This job no longer exists: the television horror movie host. They were local celebrities, and pillars of local pop culture. Here in Detroit, we had Sir Graves Ghastly and Morgus, among others. In this episode, The Detroit History Podcast interviews Ron Sweed (The Ghoul), who explains how The Ghoul came to be. And, why the firecrackers? He used to blow up everything from toys to pierogies.
This edition of the Detroit History Podcast tells the story of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra's amazing leap in the 1920s, from B-list band to Carnegie Hall in 10 years. Conductor Ossip Gabrilowitsch directed the effort..The players in this drama include Mark Twain, Horace Dodge, Pope Pius XII. And, oh, Orchestra Hall went up in less than five months.
In this episode of The Detroit History Podcast, we hear a rare recording of a confrontation between Coleman A. Young and a congressional committee in 1952. Many people pleaded their Fifth Amendment rights when the House of Un-American Activities Committee came to town looking for Reds. But a young labor organizer, Coleman Young, gave better than he got, telling his inquisitors: "you have me mixed up with a stool pigeon, sir."
The Beatles appeared twice in Detroit, once in 1964 and again in 1966, both times at Olympia Stadium. We'll listen to the screams when the Fab Four took the stage. We'll hear Detroit's intense reaction to the group. And what was up with the jelly beans raining down on stage?