You can listen to Hoosier History Live! live on the air each Saturday, or listen online at the WICR website during the broadcast on any computer with speakers, anywhere, or on a smartphone. We invite you to visit our website!
Aug. 27 show
Our host, author/historian Nelson Price, calls himself a "garbage can of useless Hoosier trivia." He's the first to concede he doesn't have all the answers and that he easily can be stumped. But because Nelson's career has been devoted to interviewing famous Hoosiers, researching historic Indiana figures and exploring the state's heritage, he is a trove of anecdotes and insights - and he loves to share them.
Wonder what it was like to interview David Letterman, Kurt Vonnegut or Florence Henderson? Or to live next door to Reggie Miller? (The former Indiana Pacers superstar was Nelson's next-door neighbor in downtown Indy for about four years.)
This show will be your opportunity to phone Nelson, turn the tables, and interview him, our "connoisseur of all things Hoosier," about any Indiana-related topic.
A fifth-generation Hoosier who grew up in Indianapolis (his family lived two blocks from the home of a rising star in local media, Jane Pauley), Nelson particularly welcomes questions about the heritage of his hometown, as well as of famous people from across the state.
Hoosier History Live! will open the phone lines so listeners can call the WICR-FM studio - the number is (317) 788-3314 - and ask Nelson any burning (or even slow-simmering) questions.
He's the author of several books, including Indiana Legends: Famous Hoosiers from Johnny Appleseed to David Letterman (Hawthorne Publishing), which features profiles and vignettes of more than 160 notables. They range from frontier characters to entrepreneurs such as Madam Walker and popcorn king Orville Redenbacher to notorious figures, including John Dillinger.
Among famous Hoosiers also are astronauts, Olympic athletes, movie stars and politicians - not to mention spiritual leaders such as Mother Theodore Guerin, a pioneer Catholic nun who was named Indiana's first saint.
Nelson's books also include Indianapolis Then and Now (Thunder Bay Press), a visual history of the Hoosier capital. The book, a collaboration with photo historian Joan Hostetler and photographer Garry Chilluffo, features historic and contemporary images of about 70 sites in Indy. Before-and-after histories abound, from Broad Ripple, Beech Grove and Speedway to Monument Circle, Woodruff Place and Fort Harrison.
Other images in the book include historic Camp Morton (a Union Army training center and Confederate prisoner-of-war camp during the Civil War) and the beloved Tee Pee Restaurant, a popular "cruising" destination near the Indiana State Fairgounds that was demolished in the late 1980s.
Ever wonder what was on the site of the former RCA Dome in the early 1900s? Or who lived on Monument Circle in the mid-1800s, when it was known as Governor's Circle and consisted almost entirely of private residences and churches?
And are you curious about why Indiana governors and their families absolutely refused to move into the residence built for them on the current site of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument? We invite you to phone Nelson and ask.
In addition to writing Indiana-focused books, Nelson has been a commentator for years on tours across the state. So he's full of anecdotes about Hoosier landmarks, ranging from Culver Military Academy (Nelson has taken his "crew" of travelers aboard the Ledbetter, a three-mast ship used to train Culver cadets to sail) to the Slippery Noodle Inn in Indianapolis (dating to 1850, "the Noodle" is the state's oldest tavern operating on its original location) and sites in New Harmony associated with the two waves of Utopia seekers in the early 1800s.
Some fun facts that may inspire some questions:
- Nelson interviewed the final surviving person to have personally known Hoosier poet James Whitcomb Riley. Beginning when Agnes Search Bridgford was 92 years old, Nelson met with her over a period of several years before her death. Mrs. Bridgford grew up in the Lockerbie neighborhood of Indy; her father ran a general store where Mr. Riley (1849-1916) bought his cigars and chewing gum. Nelson also interviewed the cousin of Cole Porter and others who knew the legendary composer.
- In part because his father attended high school in Upland and probably played basketball against James Dean from the rival town of Fairmount, Nelson took an interest during his teen years in the life of the movie icon. He befriended the drama coach who mentored "Jimmy" at the former Fairmount High School and has interviewed dozens of Hoosiers who knew the intriguing star, who was killed at age 24 in a tragic car crash.
- Whom do you consider the 10 greatest Hoosiers of the 20th century? At The Indianapolis Star, where Nelson was a feature writer/columnist for many years, he oversaw a massive reader participation contest at the end of 1999 in which thousands of Hoosiers voted for their "picks." Call in and ask him to describe and analyze the results. They differed markedly from a similar, century-ending contest at The Chicago Sun-Times, where readers voted for Michael Jordan and Oprah Winfrey as the "greatest" figures associated with the Windy City during the 20th century.
Roadtrip: Abraham Lincoln, Hoosier hero at Fringe 2011
Chris Gahl of the ICVA tells us that it's not too late to take in a Fringe Festival show about one of Indiana's most distinguished citizens: Abraham Lincoln. Our 16th president lived in Indiana from the age of 7 to 21. His character was shaped by his formative Hoosier years! Danny Russell's play may be seen the weekend of Aug. 26-27 at the Phoenix Theatre. Visit the Fringe website for more info.
And, a big Hoosier History Live! congratulations to Chris for his promotion to vice president of marketing and communications at the Indianapolis Convention and Visitors Association!
Earlier this summer, a well-known Hoosier appeared as a guest on Hoosier History Live! shortly before being named a Living Legend by the Indiana Historical Society. He or she is featured in host Nelson Price's book, Indiana Legends: Famous Hoosiers from Johnny Appleseed to David Letterman, and was named a Living Legend, along with a longtime professional collaborator.
Question: Name the Legend-to-be who was a studio guest this summer.
To win the prize, you must call in with the correct answer during the live show. Please do not call if you have won a prize from any WICR show during the last two months. The call-in number is (317) 788-3314, and please do not call until you hear Nelson pose the question on the air.
The prize is an overnight stay at the Embassy Suites, Indianapolis North, including two hours of complimentary cocktails at the evening Manager's Reception, and cooked-to-order breakfast the following morning. The prize is courtesy of the ICVA.
Your Hoosier History Live! team,
Nelson Price, host and creative director
Molly Head, producer, (317) 927-9101
Chris Gahl, Roadtripper
Richard Sullivan, webmaster and tech director
Pam Fraizer, graphic designer
Garry Chilluffo, creative consultant
Michele Goodrich, Jed Duvall, grant consultants
Please tell our sponsors that you appreciate their support: Aesop's Tables, Broad Ripple Brewpub, Indiana Historical Society, Lucas Oil, Story Inn and Yats restaurants.
Acknowledgments to Print Resources, Indianapolis Marion County Public Library, Monomedia, Indiana Humanities, Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association, WICR-FM, Fraizer Designs, Heritage Photo and Research Services, Derrick Lowhorn, Samantha Stratton and many other individuals and organizations. We are an independently produced program and are self-supporting through organizational sponsorships, grants and through individual tax-deductible contributions through the Indiana Humanities Council. Visit our website to learn how you can support us financially.
Sept. 3 show
Sept 11 tragedy and Hoosier rescuers
Most people never will forget where they were on 9-11-01 and how their lives have changed since the terrorist attacks 10 years ago. Sixty-two professional rescuers from Indiana and their 12-member support crew have firsthand insights about the tragedy because they searched for survivors on Ground Zero in the aftermath that left the Twin Towers in New York City as still-smoldering ruins when they arrived.
Indiana Task Force One, one of 29 elite rescue teams across the country designed to quickly assemble and respond to catastrophes, consisted of Hoosier firefighters, emergency medical technicians, engineers, search dog handlers and other highly trained specialists. Nelson's studio guests will be two Hoosiers who were at Ground Zero with the rescuers.
Tom Spalding, then the public safety reporter for The Indianapolis Star, filed daily dispatches as he accompanied the Indiana task force for up-close and personal looks at the team's overwhelming mission.
Anne McCurdy managed what Tom has described as the "most popular component" of the task force: the search-and-rescue dogs. In addition to being the training director and manager of the K-9 unit for Indiana Task Force One, Anne is manager of research for Methodist Hospital/IU Health in Indianapolis.
"The air was smoky from still-smoldering underground fires, but it was no longer 'snowing' - the term I'd come up with to describe the floating bits of ash," Tom wrote in a subsequent account in Traces of Indiana and Midwestern History, the Indiana Historical Society's magazine.
He arrived with a night-shift crew (the rescue work was continuing 24-7 at that point) in gear that included a helmet, mask, goggles and steel-toed boots. In addition to Anne, who lives in Fountaintown, Ind., other members of Task Force One on the scene included dog handlers from South Bend, Newburgh and Lebanon, as well as firefighters from Pike, Washington, Warren and Decatur townships in Indianapolis.
Some barely escaped being burned alive when a 50-foot wall of fire shot up during an underground search. Many listeners will recall that Indiana Task Force One rescuers were greeted by a cheering crowd of 3,000 on Monument Circle when they returned after their 10-day assignment.
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