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 2: The Polar Bears of World War 1

A group of soldiers from metro Detroit and Michigan boarded a trip ship bound for war-torn Europe during the closing months of World War I. Instead, they were diverted to Russia, just south of the Arctic Circle. They battled the Bolsheviks, who had just...

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Season 6 – Episode 1: The Sheik and Big Time Wrestling

The Sheik (real name: Edward Farhat) was the most feared bad guy in Detroit wrestling during the 1960s and 1970s. He threw fire. He cut his opponent. He bit them, often winning with his “camel clutch.” His business model was simple: to behave in...

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The 1957 NFL Champion Detroit Lions: Revisited

It’s been 5 years since the Detroit History Podcast originally released their podcast on the 1957 NFL champion Detroit Lions. Much has changed with Lions brass in the past few years, and it has finally led to post-season success in the Motor City. The...

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Season 5 Finale- The Development of PCP and Ketamine

Ketamine has found wide uses since the 1960s: as a painkiller, an anesthetic, a street drug consumed at raves, and — now — considered by many to be an exciting new treatment for depression. We explore how ketamine was developed here in Detroit, at...

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Season 5 – Episode 9: Fran Harris, The First Female Newscaster in Michigan

Newscaster Fran Harris’s life was a lifetime of firsts. She was the first woman newscaster in Detroit radio during World War II, persuading her bosses at WWJ to abandon its “guys only” tradition. And when television came along in Detroit on Channel 4 in...

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Season 5 – Episode 8: A Century of Mexicantown

A longstanding community called Mexicantown on Detroit’s southwest side has persevered for around a century. The area of restaurants, shops, and bakeries anchors a key ethnic community in Detroit. For many, the journey here was prompted by a search for jobs. We explore the...

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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.