In this episode of the Shaping Opinion Podcast, we’re doing something different. This is our Year in Review episode. 2018: Moments to Remember. We’ll go back and highlight some of the great moments we’ve had so far in our first year.
2018 was a great year for the Shaping Opinion podcast. We were new. We knew what we wanted to do, but we didn’t know what to expect.
We started out with the tagline, we talk about people, events and things that have shaped the way we think. And that’s exactly what we did.
We’ve produced 45 episodes, including this one. We’ve captured first-person stories of history. Fun stories, interesting stories, and we learned a lot along the way.
This podcast is nothing without its guests. So, we would like to thank each and every one of them who graced us with their time, their thoughts and their stories.
Here’s what we discussed. We’ve broken this hour into three chapters. We’ve decided to call the First Chapter Memorable Moments. The Second Chapter is called Things You May Not Have Known. And the Third Chapter is all about You and Me.
Chapter One. Memorable Moments.
In every episode we strive to capture a moment the was so immersive, that you feel like you were there. You can’t expect it to happen every time, but if you want an idea of one of those moments, listen to Fallingwater’s former director give us a closed-eyes tour of Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterpiece home.
Sheila Tate on the Day Ronald Reagan was Shot
While some moments can be mesmerizing, others can be sobering. Sheila Tate was press secretary for First Lady Nancy Reagan on the day President Reagan was shot.
We had a similar reminder of how precious life is when we talked to Bill Crowley. He was the FBI agent who served as lead crisis communicator on site in Somerset after Flight 93 crashed in a field on September 11th, 20011. We asked Bill where he was when he first heard of the terrorist attacks on the United States.
Regis McKenna, Apple’s First Marketing Visionary
We’ve talked to people who had a front row seat to history. We also talked to people who helped make history. Regis McKenna is the marketing man Steve Jobs turned to to help let the world know of Apple Computer when Apple was still based in his parents’ garage. Regis tells the story of when he met Jobs and how he knew the company would be successful from the earliest stages.
Frances Arnold: The Nobel Prize
Another history-maker in California was Frances Arnold. Just this year, the Nobel Prize committee honored Frances with the Nobel Prize for Chemistry because she figured out a way to harness the power of evolution to help solve some of society’s biggest problems. What it took nature to do in millions of years, Frances found a way to accomplish in weeks. She told us her story and more.
Andy Masich Sings
Some of our best moments have been when guests surprise us. The head of the John Heinz History Center in Pittsburg talked to us about the Battle of Little Bighorn. That’s a topic he knows well. He’s written books about the American West. And when he talked to us, he allowed his childhood exuberance to re-emerge.
Chapter Two. Things You May Not Have Known.
The Man Who Created the Emoticon
Did you ever use an emoticon in one of your emails? 🙂 Millions of people do this every day, and most have no idea of where it came from. We had the chance to talk to its inventor, Scott Fahlman. He’s a researcher and professor at Carnegie Mellon who focuses on artificial intelligence. Decades ago, in a moment of joking around, he came up with the emoticon, and his little creation started its journey around the world to where it is today. We asked Scott to tell us just how he came up with the Emoticon in the early days of the Internet when only a few college professors had access.
A New Day for Concussions
Just down the road from Scott is another person who gained a global reputation for his work. Dr. Michael Collins found that we knew very little about concussions. He was a former college baseball player who had an interest in helping better diagnose and treat athletes with one of their most common and sometimes debilitating injuries – concussions. Thanks to his work, people around the world receive better concussion diagnosis and treatment. With all of the controversy surrounding concussions, and particularly the sport of football, we had a question for Dr. Collins. With all you know, if you had a son, would you let him play football?
Bacon and Eggs: A PR Creation
One of our listeners once commented that Shaping Opinion teaches without hitting you over the head with it. What he meant was, we try to let our conversations follow naturally, and if you listen, you can learn as much or more than if we stood in front of you and lectured in a classroom.
Mary Deming Barber illustrated this well, when we talked to her about bacon and eggs. You may not know that the iconic American breakfast was the brainchild of a PR man named Edward Bernays. We told that entire story, and we talked about the important role PR and family play in helping people make better food choices.
An Ad Line is Forever
These stories are like diamonds in the rough. One story was literally about diamonds. Did you know that like that bacon and eggs breakfast, the whole notion of giving someone a diamond ring when you get engaged was conceived in a Philadelphia ad agency? And that the line “Diamond Is Forever”was hatched by a female copywriter who herself never got engaged or got married? Novelist J. Courtney Sullivan wrote about this story and she told us how that copywriter, Frances Gerrity, came up with the famous tagline.
George Washington Gives Birth to the American Spirit
Sometimes, marketing lines can shape opinion and make history. Other times history, or historical figures, are responsible for shaping opinion. We talked with Professor Greg Jackson of the History that Doesn’t Suck Podcast about George Washington. Greg makes the case that it was George Washington himself who gave birth to what we think of as the American Spirit.
Thomas Jefferson and the Declaration of Independence
We talked about another founding father in our episode on the Declaration of Independence. The purpose of that episode was to tell the story behind the writing of the Declaration. In that episode, historian Liz Covart, the host of Ben Franklin’s World podcast, told us what Thomas Jefferson was thinking when he wrote one of the most important documents in history.
C-SPAN and the 24-hour News Cycle
Today, a free press is one of the cornerstones of our democratic society rooted in that Declaration, but it takes shape in ways Thomas Jefferson never could have imagined. The 24-hour news cycle. Newspaper, radio, television, and the Internet. All give us access to information on what our elected leaders are doing. We talked to Jeff Cohen about one of the major turning points in this evolution during many of our own lifetimes. And that was the debut of C-SPAN, which provided a level of transparency in Washington that government had never seen until that point.
The Tylenol Recall
Another development in the 1980s wasn’t planned, but it did have a major impact on the communications landscape. It’s the story of one company’s decision to do the right thing in a crisis.
It was in 1982 when Johnson and Johnson, the makers of Tylenol did something unprecedented when seven people died in Chicago after taking Tylenol pills that were tampered with. The mention of Tylenol in the PR industry represents the most famous crisis communications case study in history because the company took the initiative and owned the problem. We talked to fellow crisis communicator Dan Keeney about what made this situation different.
Chapter Three. You and Me.
What Family Road Trips Say about Us
If you want to learn something about yourself, just look at the things you use, the things you eat, the entertainment you watch, the music you listen to, the cars you drive. Everything we use says something about us. This is why pop culture is so popular.
Chances are good you took a family vacation when you were a kid. A road trip. Maybe your memories are good, maybe not so good, but it’s likely there are some things you will never forget. We talked to Rich Ratay, the author of the book Don’t Make Me Pull Over, An Informal History of the Family Road Trip. He talked about what led to the family vacation boom In America.
Santa Claus: A Biography
The theme of family continued when we talked to author Gerry Bower about the story of Santa Claus. He wrote the book, Santa Claus, a biography, and he shared something of the magic of Santa Claus and family. But he also talked about the iconic image of Santa Claus and how it has endured over the decades.
The Sears Wish Book
For many, the holiday season was about gifts, and gift ideas. And one of the most influential marketing mechanisms for planting those gift ideas was the Sears Wish Book. But it was more than a marketing catalog. Jason Liebig created a website called WishBookWeb.com, which preserved all of those Wish Books online. He says that these catalogs became a part of our culture.
The Story Behind Black Friday
The holiday season is not only a part of pop culture or family tradition. It is the time of year when the nation’s economy is put to the test. A good holiday season is both a reflection of the overall health of the economy and a driver for it. And the most important days where the holiday season takes shape are Black Friday and Cyber Monday. We talked to John Wall of the Marketing Over Coffee podcast about Black Friday weekend.
That Time Coca-Cola Ditched its Original Recipe for The New Coke
In several episodes we talked about iconic people and iconic brands. We talked about the story behind Heinz Ketchup. And with branding expert Robin Teets we talked about rock and roll legend Prince, and in a later episode, we talked with Robin about one of the biggest brand crises Coca Cola ever faced, and that was the time it changed its recipe to The New Coke.
The Jetsons: How’s that Future Going?
While many of our episodes have a historical context, we try to tell our stories with the present and the future in mind. Context. Nothing illustrated this better than when we took a look at the 1960s cartoon The Jetsons. We talked to author Danny Graydon about The Jetsons and just how right a children’s cartoon could be at predicting the future.
Ford Mustang: Freedom Car
Those flying cars may not be a reality, but there was one car that captured and still captures America’s and the world’s imagination, and that is the Ford Mustang. We talked to automotive historian John Heitmann about the story behind one of the most iconic cars in American history.
Beats by Dre: Creating a New Product Category
Not everyone needs a car to make a statement. Today, just wearing the right set of headphones is a statement in itself, especially if that statement is a pair of headphones from Beats by Dre. Author Jeff Haden joined us to tell the story behind the making of a new product category centered on really expensive headphones and how Beats By Dre found a way to get teenagers to ask their parents, “Can I have a set of $400 headphones?” The back story involves a father-son team who already created a market for high-end speaker cables. They were Noel and Kevin Lee.
Ralph Cindrich: What a Story
That story was very popular with you. As more and more people listen, we hear from them. And what they tell us is that they like the people we talk to and the stories they tell. We thought we’d leave you with one final story. This one is from our guest from episode 32, former NFL player agent Ralph Cindrich, where he talks about a colorful negotiation he once had with the owner of the Indianapolis Colts, Bob Irsay.
We hope you enjoyed this year in review episode of Shaping Opinion. We enjoy bringing you stories and perspectives you may think you know, and some you’ve never heard before. We have some great plans for 2019.