As the nation nears the 2018 midterm elections, journalist Jared Keller joins Tim to discuss some of his reporting on October surprises in American history. From the 1800s and the dirtiest campaign in American history, to that presidential campaigns of 2012 and 2008. How did those surprises impact election outcomes?
Professor Robert Speel joins Tim to discuss classic contested elections in America’s history. Dr. Speel
teaches at Penn State University Behrend, where his research focuses on aspects of American politics that include elections and voting behavior, Congress and the presidency, and public policy. The two talk about some little-known and some unforgettable stories of election rigging, challenges and “skullduggery.”
Historian, author and college dean John Geer joins Tim to discuss the long history of political advertising, from negative attack ads, to a few positive ones that may have changed the course of history. John is the Dean of the College of Arts and Science at Vanderbilt University. He has published several books and articles on presidential politics and elections. One of them is called In Defense of Negativity: Attack Ads in Presidential Campaigns.
Writer, producer and director Sharon Grimberg joins Tim to discuss her latest production for American Experience on PBS called “The Circus.” Sharon talks about how the circus played a unique role in introducing Americans throughout the country to the world beyond, and in the process, helping to define American culture, and feed a growing nation’s imagination. For many decades before mass media, the circus brought to your town sights, sounds, smells, a complete sensory experience you might only get one day a year, if not once in a lifetime.
Former college All-American, NFL linebacker, and one of the NFL’s most prominent player agents Ralph Cindrich joins Tim to give his unique perspective of the NFL. Ralph spent 40 years in locker rooms, on fields and in negotiations with the owners during the league’s meteoric rise.
World-renowned concussion expert Dr. Michael “Micky” Collins joins Tim to discuss his pioneering work in the diagnosis and treatment of concussions, and the role that public education and awareness has played from the very start. Dr. Collins talks about myths, realities, how perceptions have influenced football and sports participation. Then he gives his vision of where it goes from here.
Branding expert Robin Teets joins Tim to discuss the time Coca-Cola decided to change its highly successful 99-year old formula to a new one and the chain of events that took place after that. Robin and Tim talk about why the company decided to make the move, what it did right, and how it could get it so wrong. Marketing lessons that are still taught in MBA classes today.
Automotive historian John Heitmann joins Tim to discuss the Freedom Car, the Ford Mustang and its role American lore. John digs into the history of the car, its place in popular culture and recent events surrounding the emergence of the long lost and iconic “Bullitt Mustang.”
The premise of our podcast is simple. We talk about the people, events and things that have shaped the way we think. In this episode, John tells the story behind the car that some vintage collectors say is an iconic American symbol of freedom, but all describe it in one word – cool.
Former FBI special agent Bill Crowley joins Tim to discuss his role as the FBI’s lead spokesperson on the scene in Shanksville, Pennsylvania in the days following the Flight 93 hijacking and crash on September 11, 2001. Bill talks about his own role, the crisis communications challenges and takes us back to that time and that place.
Historian, professor, and podcaster Greg Jackson joins Tim to discuss the myths and facts surrounding American Founding Father, George Washington. Greg, and more to the point the lessons in failure. Greg hosts the American history podcast, History That Doesn’t Suck, is an assistant professor of Integrated Studies at Utah Valley University, and has a Ph.D. in history from the University of Utah.
Veteran board games executive, entrepreneur, game designer and Monopoly game expert Phil Orbanes joins Tim to talk about his life-long affinity for one of the world’s most beloved board games, Monopoly. Phil tells the whole story behind the game. And he talks about what the Monopoly game teaches us “off the board” in life and in business.
New York Times bestselling author David Fisher joins Tim to talk about his collaboration (Lincoln’s Last Trial: the murder case that propelled him to the presidency) with Dan Abrams on the murder case that put Abraham Lincoln on a path to the presidency. David tells the story of how Abraham Lincoln took on a controversial case less than a year before the Republican Convention and the start of one of the most pivotal periods in American history.
Artificial Intelligence pioneer and Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) researcher Scott Fahlman joins Tim to discuss how a few minutes of humor turned into a worldwide phenomenon when he created the first Internet emoticon. Actually, it all started before the Internet was a thing.
Advertising veteran and author Richard Ratay joins Tim to talk about how America’s new roadways brought the country and families closer together. The conversation ranges from homespun stories of family on the road, to how pop culture was influenced by America’s growing super highway infrastructure, as they talk about Richard’s new book, “Don’t Make Me Pull Over: An informal history of the family road trip.”
Award-winning author and music industry veteran Bob Spitz joins Tim to discuss the break-up of The Beatles, a watershed moment in the history of rock and roll, and how it impacted the music and entertainment and American culture for decades to come.
Historian Andy Masich joins Tim to discuss the battle of Little Bighorn, one of the most well known and possibly misunderstood battles in the history of the American West. An author, speaker and college educator, Andy also serves as CEO of the Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh. In this episode he puts the story of Little Bighorn into perspective for today and how America changed afterward.
Journalist and author Eleanor Foa Dienstag joins Tim to tell the story behind the humble Heinz Ketchup bottle in our fridge, its journey to our hearts and homes, and the people who made it one of the most iconic food brands in America.
Historian Liz Covart joins Tim to discuss the events and circumstances that led to the American Revolutionary War, and the stories behind the actual drafting of the most revolutionary document ever written, The Declaration of Independence. Liz, who is also the host of the popular Ben Franklin’s World podcast, talks about the Declaration of Independence as a living, breathing document that is as relevant today as ever.
Novelist J. Courtney Sullivan joins Tim to discuss the true story behind why every bride must have a diamond engagement ring and the role one woman played in changing America’s love and marriage traditions. A diamond advertising tag line, is indeed, forever.
Author Chris Rodell joins Tim to discuss his 20-year relationship with Arnold Palmer as covered in his new book “Arnold Palmer: Homespun Stories of the King.” Chris talks about what he learned from Arnold Palmer’s example in golf, in business and in life, and what Palmer’s legacy means to professional athletes today.
Writer Jason Bittel joins Tim to discuss how Shark Week, Jaws and other media may have created some off-target myths around sharks, while at the same time, driving more interest in shark research. This is Our Shark Show.
Journalist Kurt Jensen joins Tim to discuss Bob Hope and his USO legacy. The Hollywood legend literally delivered ‘hope’ to generations of troops stationed overseas from World War II to Desert Storm in the early 1990s. For all that he achieved in Hollywood, perhaps his most lasting legacy is coming to define what it means to “support our troops.”
Silicon Valley legend and high-tech marketing pioneer Regis McKenna joins Tim for a complete hour to talk about his path to become one of the foremost marketing thinkers in the tech era. Regis is most widely known for his work with Apple from the very beginning, and for helping to grow Intel and Genentech. In this wide-ranging conversation, Regis talks Apple, Steve Jobs, marketing and the future, and in the process he puts on a Marketing Masterclass.
Sheila Tate, First Lady Nancy Reagan’s Press Secretary and Press Secretary for candidate and President-elect George H.W. Bush in 1988, joins Tim to discuss her new book “Lady in Red” about Nancy Reagan, her impact on Ronald Reagan’s presidency and her own legacy.
Jeff Cohen joins Tim to take a closer look at how C-SPAN opened the door to a 24/7 window to Washington, D.C., changing the way Americans see Congress and, in some instances, how Congress presents itself to the country.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal joins Tim to talk about the boxing match that changed the course of professional boxing in America – when Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini faced Duk-Koo Kim in Las Vegas for the world lightweight championship. It’s the story of triumph and tragedy. No one could foresee that this would be a fight to the death, and it left many wondering about the very sport of boxing. Perceptions changed.
Long-time Director of Fallingwater Lynda S. Waggoner joins Tim to discuss the lasting impact Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterpiece at Bear Run has had on how the nation continues to perceive house and home.
Dan Keeney joins Tim for the second in a two-part series that examines the aftermath of the 1982 Tylenol poisonings that killed seven people in the Chicago area. In this episode Tim and Dan focus on how Johnson & Johnson worked to effectively rebuild trust for both the company and its flagship pain-reliever brand, Tylenol.
Dan Keeney joins Tim for the first in a two-part series that starts with a comprehensive look at the 1982 Tylenol poisonings that killed seven people in the Chicago area and has been described by the New York Times as “The Recall that Started Them All.” But it was much more than just a recall. It’s the story of unsolved set of murders, product tampering, and a change in the way we think about product safety and how companies should respond in a crisis. In the end, it’s about rebuilding trust.
Robin Teets joins Tim to revisit the time in 1993 when Prince turned the music world and pop culture upside down by changing his name to a symbol. Tim and Robin discuss how Prince also broke the rules of branding and marketing and in the end changed them for good.
Mary Barber joins Tim for a conversation about the iconic American breakfast. Tim and Mary break down how one of the PR field’s pioneers served as matchmaker for bacon and eggs in the 1920s and what that continues to mean for us today.
Welcome to the first episode of Shaping Opinion, a podcast about people, events and things that have shaped the way we think. Usually we’ll have a guest, but in this first episode, I revisit my own encounter with someone who has made an impact in the lives of millions, Fred Rogers, otherwise known as “Mister Rogers.”
O’Brien Communications’ Shaping Opinion Podcast is an award-winning podcast about people, events and things that have shaped the way we think. It sits at the corner of culture, history and communication.
We publish new episodes on Mondays. Each episode features a conversation between Tim O’Brien and a guest.
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Tim O’Brien is a Pittsburgh-based communications veteran with experience in complex matters that have ranged from marketing and C-suite issues, to crisis and issues management. He’s the producer and host of Shaping Opinion, where he talks to guests on a wide range of topics at the intersection of communications, history and culture. He’s available to provide media interview coaching, consulting and speaking, and of course, he is always interested in your thoughts for the podcast. Just get in touch.