Marshall Shore, the man known as “the Hip Historian,” has a thirst for acquiring new knowledge and sharing it with others. During the COVID-19 pandemic, he had to find new ways to do this, including hosting virtual happy hour.
The Arizona History Happy Hours are accessible through the Marshall Shore, Hip Historian Facebook page and on Twitch at 7 p.m. Thursdays.
Past shows are also available for view on Facebook and YouTube.
Shore has partnered with AARP Arizona, which is helping to promote his virtual show statewide. The historian offers the show for free but is accepting donations. Like many others, he hasn’t been able to work due to venue closures and event cancelations during the pandemic.
Along with his show, Shore has been working with Virtual Arizona Pride, hosting LGBTQ-themed happy hours on topics such as LGBTQ entertainers in Arizona for the organization’s Third Saturdays.
During his time as a historian, Shore has hosted a range of different events, including themed tours, bingo nights and Arizona history talks. He started the virtual happy hours so he could connect with others.
“I missed sharing stories with people and in return them sharing with you,” Shore said.
Through in-person and virtual events, he has met folks with rich histories, such as a woman in Scottsdale whose dad worked for area resorts in the 1960s.
Often during the virtual shows, audience members will use the chat feature to talk with each other and with the host.
“People are having this other conversation as you are talking, asking questions and being able to give tidbits about their own experience,” Shore said.
The virtual shows have a talk-show format, with his conversations fitting into different segments.
For one segment, he shares facts about small towns in Arizona.
“We have some really amazing little tiny places that are rich with history,” Shore said. “For me, that’s part of the fun. I pick a town, and I don’t even know the history. I know it’s an old mining town, but when did it start? What was there? How is it functioning now? Did it have a boon in the ’50s?”
Another segment touches on Arizona’s music history.
“I get a chance to talk about some really cool voices that have come from Arizona and get a chance to highlight the diversity of that,” Shore said.
Each week, Shore brings on guests with knowledge of the topics discussed, which so far have included Arizona’s Tiki history, Hohokam canals and the local R&B music scene of the 1950s and ’60s.
During each virtual happy hour session, Shore provides cocktail recipes.
“I’m looking at how to make it engaging because so many things virtual are just talking heads. I think for a lot of people, it’s easy to watch that and zone out,” Shore said.
He has found that asking trivia questions helps to keep audiences engaged, especially when he goes more in-depth and creates discussion around the answers.
“I’ve learned it’s more fun if you ask questions and at the end of that go through the answers and talk about why that’s the answer. That way, you empower people so when they walk away, they know more than when they came in,” Shore said.
During his career, Shore has built up a collection of goodies that he often shares with viewers. His collection includes a cocktail stirrer designed by sign maker Glen Guyette.
Through his work, he has put a spotlight on people who have been part of Arizona’s history. This includes comedian and singer Rusty Warren of “Knockers Up” fame and Madge Copeland, who opened the first Black salon in Phoenix.
Even when doing virtual shows, Shore continues to dress in his colorful signature style. He focuses on different items of clothing, such as his eyewear, because of the format but still continues to don clothing items such as his hand-painted Arizona jacket.
Hailing from rural Indiana, Shore has a master’s degree in library science and worked as a librarian in New York and the Phoenix area before becoming a historian.
He moved to Phoenix in 2000 and started on his current path in 2009, when he hosted his first event. He developed his nickname “the Hip Historian” during Arizona’s Centennial.
He always had an interest in information, community building and theater, but there wasn’t a job that fit with those passions. This prompted him to create his own job.
“When I first moved here, there was this prevailing thought that there’s no history here. As I was going out, I’d come across these amazing stories and realize people just haven’t taken that time to explore. It was like, ‘Let me do that,’” Shore said.
He said his natural curiosity has always been part of his personality.
“As friends back in New York would say, I would talk to a stump. I think
everybody has a good story. You just need someone who’s willing to listen,” Shore said.