Rio Scarcelli | staff writer
For anyone familiar with Comedy Central’s “Drunk History,” there is excitement to be had for a similarly-styled podcast made by Duquesne alumnus Zachary DeBacco: “Drinks with Great Minds in History,” or DGMH.
The podcast made its debut online April 9, 2020 and has been producing bi-weekly uploads ever since.
The show, which is recorded, produced and scripted by DeBacco, takes its time to highlight individual members of history under a listener-friendly and wittier scope. All the while, the show is christened with “a cocktail of history, sarcasm and… cocktails!” as listed on the podcast’s Instagram.
Pursuing a Master of Arts in History at Duquesne in 2014, DeBacco spent his college years simultaneously working late hours as a bartender in Pittsburgh. In growing a passion for history, he was also a master of his “craft” in finding a love for mixing drinks.
“My love for cocktail making, for that industry and for history go hand in hand. I would come home from grad school at 8:30 p.m. go to work at 10 till sometimes 4 a.m.,” DeBacco said. “They were simultaneous loves of my life at the time and I wanted to take that with me.”
In what Zachary called his “simple philosophy,” the aim of the podcast was clear and the ideas were in place ever since his time as a graduate student. He felt history should be fun for everyone, and so it took on the sophistication of a show that scholars and the average person alike could understand and enjoy.
As a history teacher in South Florida, the dream to educate people was possible, but the schedule to do so was not so lenient. This is why the podcast started around the first COVID-19 quarantine.
“It was born out of the pandemic because teachers have no time for podcasts. I was able to get started with it now, it’s the one where I can manage it on a weekly basis,” DeBacco said.
For an average script of one episode, DeBacco estimates that the paper would be 10-15 pages in length. Aside from writing the script, the amount of research and specificity that comes to recording and editing that goes along with podcasting makes for a large time commitment, considering the relatively bi-weekly uploading schedule.
Regardless, this is a project made out of passion. This podcast sees viewers from America, Canada, Britain, Australia and even Malaysia. By getting the word out and entertaining people through something he loves, DeBacco finds the most pride in his work to teach.
“It sparks joy and passion for history and people that never knew they could have it,” DeBacco said.
Within DGMH’s content, the show spans history’s greatest minds from Joseph Stalin to Alexander Hamilton. Episodes tend to take a more subjective and detailed analysis on the way that these people both existed and were portrayed.
“I teach people to not take history at face value. It is an intricate web and should be treated as such,” DeBacco said.
One of DeBacco’s loves is presenting stark opinions through his many show segments such as “The Piece of S**t Curve,” “A Twist of Psych” and “A Shot Heard ‘Round the World.” All of these episodes provide variation in the content and a different viewpoint on the way that history has portrayed such infamous people.
While DeBacco’s work is mostly done alone, he has done many collaborations with some of his own former teachers, historians and even best-selling authors: all in hopes to do more in the future. By getting a collaborative perspective, DeBacco felt it made for much more interesting conversation.
Banter does not solely exist within the episodes for DeBacco, but also on his social media accounts.
“Social media is the best way to interact with viewers and I find it really important to help stimulate my growth,” DeBacco said.
DGMH can be found on Instagram @dgmh_historypodcast, Twitter @dgmhpodcast as well as the Facebook group Drinks with Great Minds in History. The podcast itself can be streamed on Apple, Spotify, Google and Podchaser. For more information go visit https://www.podpage.com/drinks-with-great-minds-in-history/.