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New podcast tells the lesser known and little explored stories from the River City’s past
Feb. 23, 2023 — JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — WJCT Public Media today announced the debut of its newest podcast, Bygone Jax: Our Unsung History.
Bygone Jax was created in partnership with Florida State College at Jacksonville (FSCJ), with the intention of educating Jaxsons on rich examples of local history that aren’t widely known or discussed. The show is powered by the researchers behind FSCJ’s History of Jacksonville course, which launched in fall 2022.
The first season will take listeners back to March of 1863, when two regiments of Black Union soldiers were sent to Jacksonville to occupy the city for the third time during the Civil War. Their mission: pester Confederate troops in the area, free enslaved people along the St. Johns River and enlist as many Black men as possible. Despite their successful occupation of Jacksonville, the Union soldiers were ordered to withdraw after just three weeks — but media coverage of the events helped turn the tide of public opinion on Black troops serving in the army. By the war’s end in 1865, nearly 180,000 Black men were wearing or had worn Yankee blue.
Topics planned for future episodes include Northeast Florida’s Timucua civilization and Jacksonville’s place in national film history. Bygone Jax: Our Unsung History brings these stories to life with compelling sound-rich storytelling, a diversity of primary sources and historical context from subject matter experts.
The show is produced by WJCT Public Media in association with FSCJ, and was brought to life by a trio of collaborators:
● Brendan Rivers, co-host and producer: Special Projects Producer Brendan Rivers joined WJCT Public Media in August of 2018. In addition to his podcast work, he helps produce WJCT News 89.9’s live radio programs: First Coast Connect with Melissa Ross, What’s Health Got to Do with It? and Florida Roundup.
● Tammy Cherry, co-host: Tammy is a professor of English at FSCJ, where she has taught for 20 years. Bygone Jax is an apt expression of both her gratitude to the city and her commitment to sharing its lesser-known stories with others.
● Jennifer Grey, producer and researcher: Jennifer is the public services coordinator for FSCJ’s Library and Learning Commons, where she also oversees the college’s archives. Her research for FSCJ’s History of Jacksonville class led to a conversation with WJCT about how to share Northeast Florida’s stories with the public, culminating in the idea for Bygone Jax.
“Jacksonville just celebrated the 200th anniversary of its founding, which led to our team’s reflecting on an important question: how much do Jaxsons really know about their city’s history? One of our unique strengths as a public media organization is our ability to connect with our community in new ways, and to work with other local institutions as partners,” said David McGowan, CEO of WJCT Public Media. “Through Bygone Jax, we’re telling compelling stories on important topics that may have been overlooked by popular media — in a format that reflects our audience’s interests and listening styles.”
“FSCJ continues to find unique ways to show our ongoing commitment to the community we serve,” said FSCJ President Dr. John Avendano. “Bygone Jax is a great way to showcase the extensive research done by our talented faculty and staff in preparation for our new History of Jacksonville class. Through creative storytelling in this format, we are excited to share detailed accounts of the establishment of our city, particularly some of the lesser-known stories about the rich history of Jacksonville.”
Listeners can subscribe to Bygone Jax on all major podcast platforms, including NPR One. More information can be found at wjct.org/podcasts.
About WJCT Public Media:
WJCT is the community-owned and operated public media organization serving Jacksonville and the First Coast since 1958, using television, radio, digital media, and live events to help community members learn, share, and grow. For more information on WJCT’s in-depth programming content, log on to WJCT Online at wjct.org. Like WJCT on Facebook (facebook.com/wjctjax) and follow WJCT on Twitter (@WJCTJax) and Instagram (@WJCTJax).