Welcome to Season Six.

The Detroit History Podcast returns for Season Six with a menu of programs as diverse as wrestling, bebop jazz, and a failed automobile. We’ll look at the life of The Sheik, who threw fire and terrorized fellow grapplers during his wrestling career, which peaked in the 1960s and beyond. We saw something different on the road while we prepped for Season Six: an Edsel, which was the biggest flop in automotive history when it was introduced in 1957. We wanted to know: how could the smart people at Ford Motor Company fail in such a big way? We’ll hear about the Bluebird Inn, a west side jazz club where Miles Davis played in 1953 and 1954. And we’ll explain how the Detroit Institute of Arts grew in the 1920s, acquiring priceless Van Gogh paintings at a time when nobody knew who he was. 

You can find us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, and our embedded audio player on this website. Tim Kiska hosts the program, with new episodes being released each Sunday evening at 8pm est. Thanks for tuning in.

Season 6 – Episode 8: Michigan Central Station: The Ellis Island of Detroit

The Michigan Central Station reopening has given Detroit a great story to tell, specifically: how we took a wreck of a building and turned it into something glorious. The Detroit History Podcast takes a dive into how the place slid into such disrepair. Spoiler...

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Season 6 – Episode 7: Chung’s and Detroit’s Chinatown

As a child growing up in metro Detroit during the 1970s and 1980s, Curtis Chin watched the world go by from an unusual vantage point. His family owned Chung’s, a popular Chinese restaurant in the Cass Corridor, which enjoyed a 60-year run before closing...

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Season 6 – Episode 6: The Edsel: The Road to Lemonville

The Ford Motor Company had momentum going into the mid-1950s: a young Henry Ford II, who inherited the CEO job from his grandfather roughly a decade earlier, was reversing the company’s fortunes. But then, the company laid the biggest egg in automotive history. It...

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Season 6 – Episode 5: The Last Hanging in Detroit

On a fall day in 1830, convicted wife killer Stephen Simmons was hung in downtown Detroit. His execution was as public as anything could be. Bleachers were set up on three sides of the scaffold, as people came from miles around to witness the...

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Season 6 – Episode 4: How the DIA Turned From a Private Art Collection Into a World-Renowned Museum

Here’s where Detroit was, art-wise, in 1917: A middling art museum on the east edge of downtown Detroit, with little to attract notice. We tell the story of the next 10 years, when the entire world began to pay attention. The magnificent Detroit Institute...

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Season 6 – Episode 3: Bird, Barry and Miles: The Blue Bird Inn during the 1950s

The Blue Bird Inn was a cathedral of musical wonder in 1950s-era Detroit. This now-defunct west side club featured bebop jazz, featuring musicians such as Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Barry Harris, Thad Jones, and a longer list of jazz masters. The place was pretty...

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Behind The Show

The hardworking Detroit History Podcast is a collaborative effort.

Tim Kiska

Tim Kiska is a professor at the University of Michigan–Dearborn. He worked in journalism at the Detroit Free Press (1970-1987), Detroit News (1987-2002) and WWJ-AM, the CBS-owned all-news radio station. He earned his PhD in history at Wayne State University in 2003, two years after joining the UM-D faculty.

Eric Kiska

Born in Detroit, MI, Eric Kiska is a musician, writer, and lover of the outdoors. Eric graduated with a Bachelors of Science in English Writing and a minor in Art & Design from Northern Michigan University in 2014. Shortly after he had a part-time column for the Motor City Muckraker focusing on music around Detroit. He has also done freelance video editing for Detroit Public TV’s mivote.org, and helped raised $21,000 for the “BC Surgery Stories” kickstarter campaign by editing the kickstarter video and assisting in social media promotions. Eric is now a mail carrier in Sterling Heights, MI while continuing to pursue a career in writing.

Bob Koski

Bob Koski is a lifelong Detroiter who became warped at the age of eight after seeing the Beatles on Ed Sullivan in February, 1964. Through a sequence of classical piano lessons, electrical engineering, club deejaying, and eventually being a producer/song parody writer for “J.J. & The Morning Crew” on Detroit radio, he has now morphed into an audio engineer–digitally preserving archival recordings. His love of Beatles music still dominates his life, and he actually got to play one of the Abbey Road studio pianos used in many Beatles recordings.

Bill Kubota

Bill has produced, written, directed and lensed local, regional and national documentaries for broadcast since the 1980s. His national projects include co-producing the Dupont Columbia Journalism award-winning Beyond The Light Switch series for Detroit Public Television. He recently directed the PBS documentary The Ethanol Effect for Detroit Public Television. With his production company, KDN Films, he directed Lustron – The House America’s Been Waiting For working with Ohio State University Public Television and the primetime national network broadcast of Most Honorable Son presented by PBS and NET Nebraska. His work has also appeared on PBS NewsHour, ABC News, CBS News and ESPN. He’s worked as a producer, photographer, on-air reporter and news assignment manager for television stations in Lansing, Flint and Detroit. He’s currently working on short films that look at the major issues facing Detroit for DPTV, One Detroit and DPTV’s Great Lakes Now.

Kelley Kiska

Kelley Kiska is an art, design, pop culture, and information nerd from Grand Blanc, MI. She has been designing and creating visual solutions since 2014, and graduated with a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Graphic Communication from Northern Michigan University in 2016. She has created logos and identities for various industries including real estate and online gaming. Most of her days are spent in the digital sphere, but she is also passionate about working with her hands; diving into calligraphy and illustration. She is currently working as a graphic designer and web developer at a paid media shop outside of Ann Arbor.

Tony Mottley

Anthony (Tony) Mottley is a multimedia veteran journalist with an award-winning career utilizing diverse media platforms. In addition to his work in journalism with an emphasis on justice issues, Mottley has worked with large media entities, Fortune 500 companies, and nonprofits to market and promote their programs, projects, and products. As a husband, father of three, and cancer survivor, Anthony knows that every day is precious and chooses his opportunities and engagements accordingly.