Everyone has that special something that they are so passionate about that they are compelled to share it with strangers.
For Marshall Shore, that something is a good story.
So it’s not surprising that a former librarian has found his calling telling tales for a living as the Hip Historian.
Shore has built a following with his engaging delivery of a subject that often puts people to sleep. His ability to capture the best nuggets of historical events and play them up before an audience in an extremely palpable manner has put Shore in a unique modern-day niche.
“I love telling stories and finding stories,” Shore says. “The research and theater of it is the attraction. This is what I live for.”
After spending nearly a decade as a librarian in New York City, Shore moved to Arizona, where his parents had retired. He landed a librarian position in South Phoenix, at Seventh Avenue and Buckeye Road. And of course, it didn’t take long for the natural-born storyteller to find a treasure trove of tales just by interacting with everyone around him.
His talent for spinning a yarn also turned a bland account into an audible adventure that kept listeners riveted.
“I kept hearing stories and I’d retell them,” Shore says. “I like to shine a light into so many communities and also help people find their own stories.”
Quickly, Shore’s hobby became his full-time gig. His professional moniker was bestowed on him by Karen Churchard, former Arizona Department of Tourism assistant deputy director, who came up with it spontaneously while promoting him during the state’s centennial celebrations in 2012.
Much of his time is spent on fact-finding and chatting with people over coffee. What draws Shore in are not commonly known facts or details. He delves into the hidden bits and pieces that are just as, if not more, compelling to audiences.
“They are a mix of people who’ve been here for a long time wanting to remember, as well as those trying to know the community and why this place is so unique and different from anywhere else,” Shore says.
Growing up in the town of Odell, Indiana, Shore relished any opportunity to indulge in his passion.
“Even giving directions was more of a storytelling. It was always about the story rather than giving directions. Friends said I would talk to a stump,” Shore says with a chuckle. “If it had a good story, I would.”
With a bachelor's degree in communications from Purdue University and a master’s in library science from Indiana State University, Shore is effectively using his formal education in a career he loves.
“I get a chill from the best parts of a story,” says Shore, who will be experiencing this often as he speaks to crowds during Arizona’s birthday month.
But there’s another aspect of his art that gives him a thrill.
“When a mom comes up to me and says, ‘We listen to you and my kid loves what you do,’” Shore says. “I just love the fact that I’m encouraging so many folks to look at what was here first.”