PBS Is Launching a Weekly Magazine Show Meant to Provide Unique Historical Context to the Day’s Top Stories

By A.J. Katz 

Today at the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour in beautiful Pasadena, Calif., PBS announced the fall launch of a different kind of news program, one which endeavors to provide viewers with unique historical context to the top news stories of the day.

The program is named Retro Report on PBS, and it’s a new weekly one-hour magazine format program hosted by journalist Celeste Headlee, artist Masud Olufani and featuring New Yorker humorist Andy Borowitz.

In today’s 24-hour news cycle, with breaking headlines, all-news networks and online outlets constantly competing for attention, Retro Report endeavors to reveal the story behind the story, in order to gain new insights and shed perspective on events that are still resonant today. Each episode will explore four distinct stories, together with a special weekly segment featuring Borowitz.


Topics to be explored include how Colin Kaepernick’s bended knee during the national anthem was deeply rooted in the 1968 Mexico City Olympics protest, why the government spends nearly $50 million a year to care for approximately 100,000 wild horses thanks to an obscure law passed more than 50 years ago, how the modern-day recycling movement was fueled by a news story about a barge full of garbage in the 1980s, and the tragic story behind why modern U.S. drug approval laws are so strict.

“Today, more information is available than ever before, and it’s coming from countless sources — with varying degrees of credibility,” PBS chief programming executive and general manager, Perry Simon said during the public broadcaster’s annual TCA panel. “Retro Report on PBS takes viewers on a journey into the most important stories of the day, looking at them through the lens of their often surprising historical roots, providing new insights while correcting the record and exposing myths along the way.”

“We are honored to be working with PBS on this program and can’t imagine a better partner for this new show,” added Retro Report on PBS ep Kyra Darnton. “Together, we hope to bring a deeper understanding of today’s important news stories by exploring their roots in history.”

Presented by Georgia Public Broadcasting, Retro Report on PBS premieres this fall on PBS stations.