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Hoosier History Live

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September 23, 2017 show - upcoming

Cannon Ball Baker, dynamic motorcycle pioneer

In this image from the May 13, 1914 edition of the Indianapolis News, Erwin Cannon Ball Baker (center) brieflly pauses for a photograph while passing through his hometown of Indianapolis on his record-breaking 11-day trip across the United States.  Courtesy Indiana Historical Bureau.

Earlier this month, a historic marker was dedicated at a bungalow near Garfield Park in Indianapolis. The house once was the residence of a speed lover nicknamed "Cannon Ball" whose exploits on the new invention of the motorcycle captivated Americans during the early 1900s.

In 1915, Erwin "Cannon Ball" Baker became the first motorcyclist to cross the country from California to New York. According to the book Forgotten Hoosiers (The History Press, 2015), when he accomplished the feat "only four miles of his transcontinental route were paved."

We will explore the colorful life of Cannon Ball Baker (1882-1960), who made more than 140 cross-country speed runs, some on an Indian motorcycle, the first American brand. Nelson will be joined by two guests:

  • Mark Swartz, owner of Cannon Ball Brewing Company on the near-northside of Indy. After researching Cannon Ball's impact on racing history, Mark decided to name his brewery at 1702 Bellefontaine Street in honor of the legendary Hoosier.
  • Matty Bennett, a racing history buff and owner of National Moto + Cycle Co., 5206 N. College Ave. in Indianapolis.

They helped in the crusade to get the Indiana Historical Bureau to erect a historic marker at Cannon Ball's former home in the Garfield Park neighborhood. The marker effort was led by Vickie Goens, the current owner of the bungalow, and her friend Stan Kiwor.

Baker's impact wasn't limited to motorcycles. He competed in the Indianapolis 500 in 1922 and became the first commissioner of NASCAR in 1947.

Nor were his exploits confined to the United States. Cannon Ball raced in Australia, Cuba, Panama, Jamaica and elsewhere overseas. He won a motorcycle sprint race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1909, the first year the racetrack was open.

His cross-country races loosely inspired two movies, The Cannonball Run (1981) and Cannonball Run II (1984), both starring Burt Reynolds.

The future inductee into the Motorsports Hall of Fame was born on a farm in Dearborn County in southeastern Indiana.

According to an article in The Indianapolis Star last April, Baker built the bungalow in Garfield Park in 1925, when he was at the peak of his cross-country racing achievements. Another historic marker is expected to be dedicated next year in Dearborn County near Baker's birthplace.


News from the Hoosier History Live team

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As an informational program that airs over a public radio station, Hoosier History Live is sometimes assumed to be a non-profit organization. And while it's true that we depend on the contributions of our listeners and the generosity of our sponsors for financial support, we have never chosen to file the 501(c)(3) paperwork required by the IRS for tax-exempt status, opting instead to retain the designation of a small business.

Why? In a word, control. We are a small group of creative entrepreneurs who want control over our creative content and distribution. In a media environment where quality journalism is under increasing commercial and political pressure, we want to have an independent voice. We are proud of the high-quality content we offer through our live radio program, newsletter and website, and we believe that the flexibility afforded by our small-business status will allow us to keep producing the quality programming you love.

To continue to thrive as a small business, however, we need to increase our distribution and broaden our listening audience. We are currently working to publish our audio archives online and make our content available for rebroadcast on Indiana stations and elsewhere via PRX, the Public Radio Exchange.

What does this mean for our listeners? Only that you will have more opportunities to listen to the Hoosier History Live content you enjoy, whether by downloading old shows from iTunes or tuning into the show on local radio stations across the state.

What does this mean for our sponsors and underwriters? New opportunities to get your message out to our growing population of listeners. As our media footprint grows on the web, your credit will live online on our podcasts and audio archives rather than just play once over the air. As our radio distribution increases geographically, your message will reach a wider, more diverse population of listeners.

How can you help?

We have no trouble finding guests who generously share their expertise about a given aspect of Indiana history or culture. What we do struggle with is financial support. If you are an individual, you can visit our yellow button, clearly marked below, right before the upcoming show description.

Or, you may make out a check to "Hoosier History Live" and mail it to:

Hoosier History Live
P.O. Box 44393
Indianapolis IN 46244-0393

Your name will go on our website on the "Support the show" page of our website, and you'll also be thanked in our weekly newsletter. You may indicate how you would like your name to appear, and you may also choose to make the donation "in memory of" or "in honor of" a loved one.

If you are a business or organization and would like your logos and links on our website and newsletter (as well as spoken credits during the live show), contact our producer, Molly Head, at molly@hoosierhistorylive.org, or (317) 927-9101.

Your support goes toward our ongoing expenses, including website hosting, email marketing software, audio editing, audio archiving and a long list of items that a media team of any size must have to keep operations going.


A note of support

'We hope to see it broadcast far and wide'

A particularly nice letter of support came in some time ago from authors James Alexander Thom and Dark Rain Thom. We like to re-read it from time to time!

To Whom it May Concern:

Last Spring, my wife and I were interviewed by Nelson Price on his Hoosier History radio program, as authors of frontier and Native American history books. Mr. Price's program was so well prepared and conducted that we feel it should be made available to students and general audiences as widely as possible. His program is well-researched, all questions pertinent to the chosen theme, and moves along briskly. Listeners called in with questions and comments that were intelligent and relevant, a sign of an avid audience.

As historical writers, we try to overcome the public's indifference to history, to bring alive in any way we can the important lessons of the past, and are enthusiastic about programs and writings that make those lessons interesting. The Hoosier History Live program does that so well that we hope to see it broadcast far and wide over this historically significant State of Indiana. It is an excellent program, worthy of extensive distribution and strong support.

James Alexander Thom & Dark Rain Thom, authors
Bloomington, Indiana
July 14, 2011

Shows, we got shows

We have more than 470 Hoosier History Live radio shows completed, as a matter of fact. We certainly welcome underwriting support to get more of our show audio online. Let's help support the hardworking Hoosiers who do the writing and editing for Hoosier History Live!

No one else is doing anything quite like what we're doing. We are the nation's only live call-in radio program about history. We offer a permanent and growing archive of quality content, available for sponsorship opportunities.

If you are interested in becoming a sponsor of Hoosier History Live, click here or call Molly Head at (317) 927-9101 for more info.

What people are saying about Hoosier History Live

"Hoosier History Live does more to promote Indiana history than does any single source."

Andrea Neal, Indianapolis author and educator

"Hoosier History Live is a fun and interesting way to learn about the heart and soul of Indiana. No boring classes or books here! The production team does an outstanding job."

Judy O'Bannon, civic leader and public broadcasting producer

"The folks at Hoosier History Live are able to find great stories and the people to tell them - people and stories that you seldom hear on the national air."

Dr. James H. Madison, author and Indiana University history professor

"As museums and educational institutions scramble to make their offerings more interactive, more entertaining and more 'relevant' to today's digitally obsessed consumers, Hoosier History Live seems to have mastered that formula."

Glynis Worley, rural Bartholomew County listener

"Hoosier History Live is a perfect place to consider and reconsider history ... not just what happened in the past, but what it may mean in the present. Nelson Price is the perfect host: enthusiastic, curious and knowledgeable. Tune in to Hoosier History Live and be prepared to be surprised."

James Still, playwright in residence, Indiana Repertory Theatre

"Hoosier History Live is a fantastic opportunity for people to not only learn about history, but also become a part of the conversation. Much like our mission, the telling of Indiana's stories, Nelson and his guests wonderfully connect people to the past!"

John Herbst
President and CEO, Indiana Historical Society

"The links on the Friday Hoosier History Live enewsletter are a great way to learn more about history, and from a variety of sources."

Jill Ditmire
Omni Media Specialist

"Distilling life experience into stories is an art. Telling stories of life experience for Hoosiers past and present will shape the lives of young people and enrich the lives of all in our state. Mr. Nelson Price brings alive the life experience of notable Hoosiers in Hoosier History Live."

David T. Wong, Ph.D., President
DT Wong Consulting, LLC
Former Lilly research scientist who developed Prozac

"Nelson Price, more than anyone I know, infuses joy into the pursuit of history. And that joy rings out loud and clear on the radio show, Hoosier History Live."

Marsh Davis
President, Indiana Landmarks

"No, I haven't heard of another call-in talk radio show about history. Our airwaves are now full of the worst vitriol! Give me the phone number for the show. I want to call in!"

Ken Burns, speaking at a preview of his film "The War" at Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation, April 18, 2007


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