After 14 years, Virginia Tech Alumni Distinguished Professor of History James I. Robertson Jr., is wrapping up his Civil War radio commentaries on WVTF-FM and other public radio stations.
Today, Robertson’s last commentary will air on WVTF-FM 89.1 at 6:50 and 8:50 a.m., and in the noon newscast. WVTF will air an interview with him in those same time slots August 31.
Robertson researched, wrote, and narrated more than 350 essays on the Civil War. On WVTF, the essays aired three times each Friday, attracting new listeners to the station and educating old ones about the war's social history and its lasting influence on American life.
"Dr. Robertson's radio essays added much to our region's understanding and appreciation of the human element of the Civil War,” said WVTF Station Manager Glenn Gleixner. “His authentic and familiar delivery of the essays easily touched our hearts and souls as he explained events of the Civil War in a compelling and sincere style."
WVTF will now post one of the essays in its archives on its website each Friday.
Producer Paul Lancaster of Virginia Tech called the production sessions a joy. “Robertson taught us about the Civil War through the eyes of a social historian. It wasn't just a recitation of who fought whom in which battle. The series gave voice to the men, women, children, and even the animals that bore the heavy cost of the conflict."
Lancaster noted Robertson's ability to treat sensitive topics with grace, dignity, and, sometimes, good humor. "The topics ranged from the origins of 'Taps' to camp mascots to the role of women. It was not about how soldiers died. It was about how they lived."
Robertson continues to teach Civil War history at Virginia Tech, in what is believed to be the largest class of its kind in the country. He also directs the Virginia Center for Civil War Studies. A native of Danville, he has won every major award given in the field of Civil War history. Robertson continues to write books and produce documentaries about the conflict. He and Lancaster are working on a CD of some of the essays for the Virginia Center for Civil War Studies.