History

Encore: How the Nazis Turned Ordinary Men Into Kill Squads

Historian and author Christopher R. Browning joins Tim to talk about his study of the Holocaust and the “Final Solution” in Poland. In this episode, Christopher discusses his book, “Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland” and how a group of otherwise average, everyday men turned into one of Hitler’s most prolific killing squads in World War II. This episode was first released January 24, 2022.

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Encore: Mark Seal on the Making of The Godfather

Author Mark Seal joins Tim to talk with Mark about the subject of his popular new book about the making of The Godfather movie. The book is called, “Leave the Gun, Take the Cannoli.” Mark has is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair where he’s covered scandals, history makers and pop culture icons. This episode was originally released January 10, 2022.

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Encore: New Years’ Traditions

Alexis McCrossen, a professor at SMU and an expert on how cultures have marked time in history, Joins Tim to talk about our New Year’s Eve traditions with a special focus on the story behind that Times Square Ball Drop. This episode was first released on December 24, 2018.

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Encore: 7 Random People’s Favorite Holiday Memories

Today is Christmas. We’re in the peak of the American holiday season, which started at Thanksgiving. So, it is with this in mind that I thought I’d take to the streets of Pittsburgh once again and talk to people about their holiday memories. That’s what this special holiday edition of the Shaping Opinion podcast is about. This episode was originally released on December 19, 2022.

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Encore: The Real Story Behind Santa Claus

Author Gerry Bowler joins Tim to discuss the story of Santa Claus. Gerry is the author of the book entitled, “Santa Claus: A Biography.” He talks about everything from Santa Claus’s birth and evolution over the centuries, to his role in modern day culture. Santa Claus the philanthropist, Santa Claus the gift giver, and Santa Claus the ad man. This episode was originally released on December 17, 2018. Parental warning: If your child believes in Santa Claus, you may not want him or her to listen.

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Encore: The Christmas Truce of 1914

Historian and author Terri Crocker joins Tim to talk about the still remarkable Christmas Truce of 1914 at the outset of the First World War. Terri wrote the book, “The Christmas Truce: Myth, memory and the First World War.” In this episode, we look at the Western Front where against all odds and their commanding officers, German and British troops, and others stepped out into no man’s land on Christmas Day for a day of peace. This episode was originally released on December 23, 2019.

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A Children’s Episode

This is our special Children’s Episode. It was written and produced for young listeners and was inspired by a movie that Tim recently saw. It is not designed to entertain, though it may. It is not designed to educate, though it will. It is designed to make the listener think, to question and to want to know more. As you listen, please know I can’t know what you like or don’t like, or more importantly, what your kids like or don’t like, unless you tell me. Please use the contact form on this site. That will help me plan future episodes.

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Encore: The Real Story of The Mayflower

New York Times best-selling author Nathaniel Philbrick joins Tim to talk about the story behind those pilgrims and the Mayflower in a way that covers much more than that first Thanksgiving. Nathaniel has authored many best sellers, but the one we’ll focus on in this episode is must-reading for anyone who wants to get the full story of Thanksgiving’s origins in America. The book is called simply, “Mayflower.” This episode marks the 400th anniversary of that world-changing voyage. This episode was originally released on November 23, 2020.

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Kashmir Hill: The End of Privacy

New York Times reporter and author Kashmir Hill joins Tim to talk about her new book called, “Your Face Belongs to Us: A secretive startups quest to end privacy as we know it.”  It’s about facial recognition tech, how prevalent it already is, and how we are leaving the age where privacy could be expected. In 2019, Kashmir wrote a story that exposed a future where anyone who shows their face in public will lose all privacy.

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13Q: A Top 40 Radio Story

This is a Special Edition of the Shaping Opinion Podcast called “13Q: A Top 40 Radio Story.” In this extended episode (90 minutes), we take you back to when it was all about the music, when radio was everywhere. A time when it was all about the culture, but mostly it was about having fun. In this episode, we talk to the people who were behind the mic and in front of it, telling at least a part of the story of one generation. We do it by telling the story of the last big Top 40 radio station in the form of 13Q, Pittsburgh. It was around for only a short time, but its impact would be felt for decades.

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Encore: Who was Christopher Columbus?

In this special Columbus Day encore episode, Professor William J. Connell, who is an expert on Italian history, joins Tim to talk about the life of Christopher Columbus. Bill is an Andrew Carnegie Fellow and holder of the La Motta Endowed Chair in Italian History at Seton Hall University. He’s also the co-editor of the Routledge History of Italian Americans.  In this episode, we’ll learn about Christopher Columbus, and as cliché as it may sound, the man, the myth, the legend. This episode was initially published on July 20, 2020.

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Fr. Vincent Lampert: An American Exorcist

Catholic priest and exorcist Fr. Vincent Lampert joins Tim to talk about his work as an exorcist, and we separate myth and fiction from reality. In 2005, Fr. Lampert was assigned to serve as an exorcist from his base in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. At the time, there were only 12 priests in America who were exorcists. Now, there are over 100. 

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Rick Porrello: The Ballad of Danny Greene

Author Rick Porrello joins Tim to talk about his book that tells of story of the notorious and now legendary Danny Greene, who tried to take down the mafia in Cleveland in life, and may have done it in death. Rick was the chief of a suburban Cleveland police department, and over the years he has written a number of best-selling books about murder, the mafia and organized crime. The book we’re going to talk about today was even turned into a major Hollywood motion picture. That book is, “To Kill the Irishman.”

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LOST: 18 Million Military Records Go Up in Smoke

Journalist Megan Greenwell joins Tim to talk about her comprehensive reporting for Wired Magazine on the 1973 St. Louis Military Records Fire where in two days, the nation lost the only roughly 18 million records of U.S. military personnel from the first half of the 20th Century. Back when paper was the primary way we kept records, the archives contained the data on millions of military personnel from U.S. military personnel going back to 1912.  Megan talks about the fire, the people still working to preserve those documents, restore them and extract information from them, and through it all, her personal connection to this story.

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Encore: Seth Shostak – Is There Life in Outer Space?

Seth Shostak joins Tim to talk about the serious scientific search for intelligent life beyond Earth.  Seth is the senior astronomer at the SETI Institute, which was created by NASA and is located in Silicon Valley. It is dedicated to the search for life beyond Earth. In this episode, Seth talks about what we’re learning about the potential for finding intelligent life, not only within our solar system, but well beyond it. This episode was first released on November 21, 2021.

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