October 14, 2019
Fortune Magazine CEO Alan Murray joins Tim to tell the story behind the Fortune 500, its history, its significance today, and what it has said over the years about America’s and the world’s business evolution. Fortune Magazine was founded in 1929 by Henry Robinson Luce. If that date doesn’t mean anything to you at first glance, keep in mind the stock market crash that led to the Great Depression happened on October 24, 1929. This was seven years after he had cofounded Time magazine with two Yale classmates. When Henry founded Fortune magazine, he said it should be for “wealthy and influential people,” and it should be “surpassingly beautiful” so that when readers turn the pages, they will pay more, and they did. In its first year, subscribers paid $10 per year for the magazine, an unheard of price at that time. In the process, Fortune Magazine featured the work of some of the country’s greatest thinkers and writers, from Ernest Hemingway and Archibald MacLeish to John Kenneth Galbraith. The first Fortune 500 list was published in 1955. Edgar P. Smith was an assistant managing editor at the magazine. He’s the one who came up with the idea for the now iconic list. In that fist year, the Fortune 500 rankings listed only companies that were in the manufacturing, mining and energy sectors. This made the list exclusive to several already well-known companies. General Motors was the top company on the list. Its annual revenues then were $9.8 billion. The Fortune 500  Yearly list of 500 of the largest U.S. Companies ranked by total revenues for the respective fiscal year. This list is compiled using the most recent figures for revenue and includes both private and public companies. Private companies must have publicly available revenue data. It excludes private companies that do not file financial statements with government agencies, foreign corporations, U.S. companies that have been consolidated by other companies, and companies that do not report full financial statements for at least three quarters of the current fiscal year. The History of the Fortune 500 52 of the original Fortune 500 are still on the list. These include: 3M, DowDupont, Merck, Abbott Laboratories, Eli Lily, Motorola, ExxonMobil, General Dynamics, General Electric, General Mills, General Motors, Goodyear, Hershey, IBM, Kellogg, Kraft-Heinz, Lockheed Martin, Cummins, Colgate-Palmolive, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Chevron, Caterpillar, Campbell Soup, Boeing, Whirlpool,, Rockwell Automation, Procter & Gamble, and PPG Industries. Over the years, more than 1,800 American companies have been featured on the Fortune 500.  Changes have occurred – mergers, acquisitions, bankruptcies, changes in society, recession have all contributed to the changing list. The Fortune 500 is more than a ranking, it is a reflection of the performance and evolution of America’s private sector. The biggest change to the list happened in 1994. That was when it added service companies for the first time. That year, service companies made up 291 of the 500 entries. What the Fortune 500 Says About Society * Long Gone - 1955 – American Motors, Brown Shoe, Studebaker, Collins Radio, Detroit Steel, Zenith Electronics, National Sugar Refining. * Still Here – Every year since 1955 – Boeing, IBM, Procter and Gamble, Whirlpool. * In 2019 but not 1955 – Amazon, Facebook, eBay, Home Depot, Microsoft, Google, Netflix, Target. This year’s top ten: * Walmart * Exxon Mobile * Apple * Berkshire Hathaway * Amazon * United Health Group * McKesson * CVS Health * AT&T * Amerisource Bergen
October 7, 2019
Veteran public relations consultant, author and professor Fraser Seitel joins Tim to talk about a horrendous moment in American business history and how that spurred the need for the public relations profession and PR practitioners to serve as the “conscience of the organization.” This story centers on John D. Rockefeller, Jr., the striking workers of the Ludlow Camp in 1914, and one of the fathers of the PR profession, Ivy Lee. During the summer of 1913, the united Mine Workers labor union started to try to organize the 11,000 coal miners at John D. Rockefeller’s Colorado Fuel & Iron Company. Most of these workers were immigrants from Italy, Greece and Serbia. They had been brought in to replace other workers who had gone on strike 10 years earlier. Their grievances centered on low pay, long hours and allegations of corruption. In short order, these 8,000 employees went on strike. They wanted a 10 percent pay raise, an eight-hour work day, and the right to live and trade outside of the company-owned town. Everything they wanted was already required by Colorado law, but enforcement of the law was another issue. Not long after they went on strike, the workers were evicted from their company-owned homes. That’s when they decided to set up make-shift tent cities surrounding the mines in which they had worked. The largest of the tent cities was known as the Ludlow Camp. John D. Rockefeller decided to hire a detective agency, which was staffed by a group of roughnecks out of Texas. The detectives would periodically raid the striking workers’ camps. Sometimes they’d fire off their weapons, rifles and shotguns, to intimidate the striking workers and their families. By November, the Colorado governor called in the Colorado National guard at the request of the company. The Guard formed militias, and their members carried out more raids and shootings in the tent cities. The strike went on through the winter and in the Spring, Rockefeller appeared before Congress. He described the standoff as a “national issue, whether workers shall be allowed to work under such conditions as they may choose.” He said the workers were satisfied with their labor conditions. On April 20th, 1914, four militiamen brandished a machine gun at some of the striking workers. At some point, someone fired the first shot. It is not known who. But one thing that everyone agreed on is that a full day of gunfighting followed. That night, the National Guard set fire to the Ludlow camp. Thirteen residents who tried to run away, were shot and killed as the camp burned, and where many others burned to death. In the Ludlow camp, there was a hospital tent called the women’s infirmary for sick women and their children. The day after the Ludlow raid, four women and 11 children were found. All of the children and two of the women were killed. Mary Petrucci was one of the survivors. She lost three of her children in that infirmary fire. Fire wasn’t the only weapon of choice. The National Guard had sprayed the Ludlow camp with machine gun fire. At least 66 were killed, including those women and children. News of the Ludlow Massacre, as it would quickly be known, spread. It filled newspapers across the country and brought government and public pressure down on John D. Rockefeller in ways he never anticipated. Fraser Seitel is one of the senior statesmen in the PR field today, and over the years, he himself had served as a spokesperson for the Rockefeller Family. By the time he took on his role, both the PR profession and the Rockefeller Family had evolved.
September 30, 2019
Historian and author Kasey Pipes joins Tim to talk about the Richard Nixon that may get lost in a world of tweets and social media posts, and that is the 20-year post-presidency of Nixon that had a meaningful impact on the United States’ foreign policy and place in a changing world. Kasey tells of Richard Nixon’s years in exile, and then his unlikely comeback that few if any could have predicted. By the time he died, Nixon had become an elder statesman and an advisor to other presidents, both Democrat and Republican. On August 9th, 1974, Richard Nixon became the first and only U.S. president to resign from office. Most may not realize today that he was never impeached. Though impeachment was imminent as a result of the Watergate scandal that brought down his presidency. What few could have predicted was how Richard Nixon would respond after leaving the White House that late summer day. But in less than ten years, he had re-established himself as an advisor to presidents on campaign strategy and foreign policy. He helped influence U.S.-Soviet relations, and he was asked to represent the United States at state funerals. In short, by then he had become a respected elder statesman. Kasey Pipes decided to take a deep dive into those years to find out just how the former president did it. In this episode we talk about: * Resignation Day * The Pardon * The David Frost Interviews * A Self-less Gesture from a Former Political Foe * Nixon’s role in the Reagan Foreign Policy * Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton, an Unlikely Alliance Links * After the Fall: The Remarkable Comeback of Richard Nixon, by Kasey S. Pipes (Amazon) * Kasey S. Pipes (website) * Richard Nixon Presidential Library * Richard Nixon, About this Episode’s Guest Kasey Pipes Kasey Pipes served as an advisor to President George W. Bush and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. He is co-founder of the issues management firm Corley Pipes, partner at the public affairs firm High Water Strategies, and the Norris Fellow at the Eisenhower Institute at Gettysburg College. His writings have appeared in USA Today and Politico, and he is the author of Ike’s Final Battle: The Road to Little Rock and the Challenge of Equality.
September 23, 2019
Author Rich Cohen joins Tim to talk about his latest book called The Last Pirate of New York. As the title would suggest, it’s about the end of the days of pirates in New York, and the birth of the celebrity gangster, all in the story of one man, Albert Hicks and the grisly case in 1860 that changed the way Americans saw crime. In the 1990s John Gotti was the face of organized crime in New York, following a long tradition of gangsters in the Big Apple. Long before him, there was Lucky Luciano and Tammany Hall. But where did it all get started? And who started it all? These are the kinds of questions that were on the mind of Rich Cohen as he dug deeper and deeper into New York’s organized crime history. The end result was his book, “The Last Pirate of New York: A Ghost Ship, A Killer, and the Birth of a Gangster Nation.” The Scene on March 21, 1860 A boat adrift. The crew of the J.R. Mather saw it when the boats crashed into each other. Saw a darkened, lifeless boat but had to get back to port to fix their own damage quickly. Another boat came upon it less than an hour later. That boat was the Telegraph. They boarded the boat. The EA Johnson (an oyster sloop) was found on March 21st 1860. It was floating in New York’s Lower Bay off Brooklyn. Its foresails were torn off during a predawn collision with the J.R. Mather. The scene was grisly. The crew had vanished, but down in the cabin, the crew found ax marks in the ceiling and the floor, a sailor’s shirt with slash marks from a knife, and drawers and closets ransacked. Pools of blood ran from beam to beam as the ship swayed in the waves. Blood was everywhere. The Police detectives would find four amputated fingers and a thumb still clinging to the starboard rail. Newspapers and Public Reaction Word of mouth was extremely powerful and fast at that time. Word would spread through the ship crews and in the taverns and tenements. The shipyards and maritime life was centered in what is now the Financial District. The major newspapers that covered the crime were the New York Herald, New York Sun, Brooklyn Daily Eagle and the New York Times. The police followed the perpetrator’s trail to him. Albert Hicks was described as stalky and strong and handsome. He was also described as having an unsettling look in his eyes. He was an alcoholic. Known as aloof and a mean drunk. He had a wife and a son who did not know of his alternate life. He was a career criminal known as a “pirate.” He would admit to committing crimes from New Orleans to Hawaii, always coming back to New York. He used an alias which was “William Johnson.” The Trial He was held in a large prison building called the Halls of Justice, but they were better known as the Tombs because they resembled the tombs of the ancient Egyptians. Corruption was rampant. Some prisoners had it pretty good thanks to bribes to the warden and jail guards. Hicks didn’t have it that good. The trial at U.S. Circuit Court on Chambers Street drew standing room only crowds. Hicks became a prototype of an American architype – the celebrity gangster. The U.S. marshal detaining Hicks at The Tombs prison was a corrupt politician and gambling kingpin who also ran the toughest gang in Five Points. Hicks confessed to stealing $150 in gold and silver coins; $26 in money; a watch from the captain and some clothes. After being found guilty and sentenced, Hicks was executed on Bedloe’s Island. That island is better known as Liberty Island today,
September 16, 2019
Former war correspondent and author Jack Fairweather joins Tim to talk about the one man who elected to volunteer to be taken prisoner to fight the Nazi’s from inside of Auschwitz during World War II. Jack tells Tim why the world is only learning more about Witold Pilecki now, and how his story of bravery, heroics and the ultimate sacrifice almost was lost to history. Pilecki took on one of the most daunting tasks anyone would take in the war. Think about this for a second. He’s the only known voluntary inmate of Auschwitz. He spent spent two and a half years as a member of the Resistance, gathering intelligence from German army during World War II from inside the concentration camp. Now, let that sink in. Witold Pilecki was a member of the Polish army, and on September 19th 1940, he intentionally allowed himself to be arrested by the Nazis. After that he was detained with roughly 1,800 Polish political prisoners, and then he was taken to Auschwitz, where he would be imprisoned for the next two and a half years. To his captors, he was nothing more than Prisoner 4859. Click here to buy book via Amazon Here’s what happened. Pilecki, a Catholic, had already served in the Polish Army and married a local school teacher named Maria before the hostilities started. They had two children. He ran the family farm, painted and wrote poetry and lived a quiet life. In 1939, he was called back to military service when the Nazis invaded Poland. Poland was quickly defeated and became occupied by the German army. After that, Pilecki found his way to Warsaw to serve as part of the underground resistance against the Nazis. Not long after that, in August of 1940, the Nazis had taken prisoner a group of Polish political opponents and transported them to Auschwitz. It didn’t take long before the families of those prisoners were notified of their deaths. The Polish underground suspected murder, but needed more information. That was when he volunteered to investigate from the inside. After two and a half years, he would escape and write a 100-page report on life inside the Auschwitz death camp. The Mission In October 1940, Pilecki successfully sent out his first report with a released inmate. It reached the Polish Government-in-exile in March 1941, who passed it onto the Allies. At the time of Pilecki’s internment, Auschwitz was a concentration camp intended to hold predominantly political prisoners from Poland. He witnessed the changing demographic and horrifying treatment of each persecuted group. His reports described the early experiments conducted on Soviet prisoners of war, who were murdered with poisonous gas. This laid the foundations for the mass-murder of many Jews in the purpose-built gas chambers and crematoria. He described the pain suffered by other prisoners undergoing experiments against their will; many died from their injuries. Pilecki over time met fellow members of the Polish underground and began to create a secret organization inside Auschwitz. The organization ran at great risk. They built a radio transmitter from smuggled parts. Through this transmitter, he reported on conditions inside the camp, and he told of the number of deaths. At some point he had to stop communicating for risk of being discovered. Witold Pilecki Escapes Pilecki escaped Auschwitz in April 1943. He decided to escape this time because key members of his organization were sent to other concentration camps.
September 9, 2019
Captain Bill Toti, a retired Naval officer, joins Tim to discuss his firsthand experiences from the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. Bill remembers the attack on the Pentagon moment for moment, and what he did in the immediate aftermath and throughout the recovery. One thing we talk about is how the Pentagon’s story may be the least known in the conversation on 9/11. On September 11th, 2001, 19 terrorists from the extremist group al-Qaida hijacked four commercial aircraft and used those planes to carry out suicide attacks against the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and what appears to be a failed attempt to target another Washington, D.C. target. At 8:45 a.m. on that a clear day, American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center in New York. Eighteen minutes later, a second passenger jet – United Airlines Flight 175 – flew into the South Tower of the World Trade Center. At 9:45 a.m., American Flight 77 would circle over Washington, D.C. before crashing into the west side of the Pentagon, ripping through the outer three of the Pentagon’s four, heavily reinforced and massive rings. At 10 minutes after 10 that morning, United Airlines Flight 93 crashed into an empty field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, after it appears the passengers on that jet foiled a terrorist attack on Washington. At the end of the day, it was the worst terrorist attack on the United States in the country’s history. Almost 3,000 people were killed. Millions watched events unfold on television, though most of the country’s attention was on New York, where the World Trade Center’s twin towers would collapse on live TV, and where the greatest human losses occurred. At the Pentagon, 189 military personnel and civilians were killed, including the 64 people aboard American Flight 77. To this day, less is known about what happened that day at the Pentagon than the stories from New York and Pennsylvania. The Chronology of Events at the Pentagon * That morning, five militants passed through security at Dulles International Airport at approximately 7:35 am. * They boarded American Airlines Flight 77 that was on its way to Los Angeles, California. * At 8:20 am, Flight 77 departed Dulles International Airport. * The jet had 64 people on board: a crew of six plus 58 passengers, including the five terrorists. * The last routine radio communication with American Airlines Flight 77 occurred at 8:51 am. Investigators have guessed that between 8:51 and 8:54 that morning, somewhere over Kentucky, the terrorists took control of the plan. * The hijackers turned the jet southward, and then around 9 a.m., they turned the plane toward Washington, D.C., all the while causing confusion among air traffic control. * The hijackers had turned off Flight 77’s transponder, causing the aircraft to become invisible to air traffic control. No one knew the course, the speed or the altitude of the jet. * The militant pilot would not answer any radio messages. * At 9:33 am, Flight 77 headed for the Pentagon. * Controllers at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport told the Secret Service Operations Center in Washington, D.C. that “an aircraft is coming at you and not talking with us.” * At 9:37 a.m., American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon. Captain Bill Toti was there and remembers what it was like that day, and in the years since, he has worked to help keep the story of the Pentagon on that day in the nation’s memory. Links * 9/11 'Inside the Pentagon' Documen...
September 2, 2019
Thor Ringler joins Tim to talk about an effort by the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs to tap the power of narrative medicine. Thor is a writer and a poet with a special background that has placed him at the center of an effort at the VA health system to see patients as more than a number, a condition, a chart. But rather as people, each with his or her own story. If you wanted to find Thor Ringler, you’d have to go to the VA Medical Center in Madison, Wisconsin. That’s where he works, but he’s not a doctor, a nurse, or a physical therapist. He’s more like a journalist or a biographer. His job is to sit down with patients and learn their life story beyond their health symptoms or history. He asks patients to tell them about themselves. In short, he gets the answer to the questions, who are you, what’s your story? Thor uses that information as part of the health system’s effort to deliver better care, by making sure the human connection does not get lost amid a sea of charts, graphs and treatment plans. Thor says it’s called narrative medicine. Narrative medicine involves asking the patient to share his or her life story. That story is included in the medical record. The goal is to tell doctors, nurses and other medical professionals who the patient is beyond their symptoms and chart stats. To get the story, Thor sits with veterans for one-on-one interview. They talk about everything from family to in-depth recollections of war, depending on what the patient wants to or can share. Thor or one of his team members of staff and volunteers then writes a 1,500-word narrative that is approved by the patient. This goes into their medical record, right alongside their medical history and other data. The medical record, including that story, can be shared throughout the VA system so that anyone treating the patient in any facility, has access to it. Other medical centers are looking into establishing their own narrative medicine capabilities. Links * To Improve Care, Veterans Affairs Asks Patients to Share Their Life Stories, Wall Street Journal * My Life, My Story, Advancing the Veteran Experience, The Veterans Affairs Administration * Using Life Stories to Connect Veterans and Providers, by Thor Ringler, Federal Practitioner * VA Program Adds Veterans' Personal Narratives to EHR, Becker's Hospital Review About this Episode’s Guest Thor Ringler Thor Ringler is a poet and a therapist. He is the national program manager for My Life, My Story and works as a writer-editor at the VA hospital in Madison, WI. He has an MFA in Poetry from the University of Pittsburgh and an MS in Marriage and Family Therapy from Edgewood College.
August 26, 2019
Writer and editor Martha White joins Tim to discuss her work on the new book called, “E.B. White On Democracy,” a collection of her iconic grandfather’s essays, poetry and letters on democratic society. E.B. White wrote the children’s stories of Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little. His work on the book The Elements of Style is iconic. But he was best known during his lifetime as an essayist, a poet and a writer for The New Yorker and others. Sometimes it’s a good idea to start at the beginning. Other times you have to start with the ending. Today, let’s start at the end with the obituary that the Los Angeles Times wrote for E.B. White on October 2nd 1985: “White was familiar to millions on various levels. He was the author of Charlotte’s Web, Stuart Little, and the Trumpet of the Swan, children’s books that have also delighted adults. He was well known to writers for updating The Elements of Style, a highly praised guide to writing and English usage written by one of White’s college professors, Will Strunk. “He was probably at his best, however, in his essays on American life, both urban and rural, many of which appeared in The New Yorker. White also wrote editorials for The New Yorker. And more than any other writer associated with the magazine since its founding in February 1925, he helped set its tone and style. …And he was often very funny.” In this episode you’ll get to know E.B. White in a new and different way. We’ll talk about his writings on democracy. E.B. White was a product of a different time, having lived through the Great Depression, World Wars One and Two. To be sure, E.B. White’s point of view can easily be described as progressive, but as we’ll see, his writings have a timeless quality with appeal for people across the political spectrum. Martha White is E.B. White’s granddaughter and the editor of, “E.B. White On Democracy.” The Book Total Moral Resistance – June 22nd, 1940 – The Germans had invaded France and France surrendered. E.B. White wrote: “We are of the opinion that something of a total nature is in store for this country, and we don’t mean dictatorship or vigor. We mean a total rejection of the threat with which we are faced, and a total moral resistance to it.” “Democracy is now asked to mount its honor and decency on wheels, and to manufacture, with all the electric power at its command, a world which can make all people free and perhaps many people contented. We believe and shall continue to believe that event that is within the power of men.” The Meaning of Democracy – July 3rd, 1943 – “Democracy is the recurrent suspicion that more than half of the people are right more than half of the time. It is the feeling of privacy in the voting booths, the feeling of communion in the libraries, the feeling of vitality everywhere.” Fascism – August 7th, 1943 – One month later – “It is getting so a fascist is a man who votes the other way. Persons who vote your way, of course, continue to be ‘right-minded people.’” Fascists is a member of a party or a believer in ideals that “a nation founded on bloodlines, political expansion by surprise and war, murder or detention of unbelievers, transcendence of state over individual, obedience to one leader, contempt for parliamentary forms, plus some miscellaneous gymnastics for the young and a general feeling of elation.” After the War – The Media Landscape The Importance of Free Press – November 16th, 1946 – Talked about a newspaper not supported by advertising and newspaper ownership. “The majority of the voters may not always go along with the majority press opinion, but if there are enough owners of enough papers,
August 22, 2019
Country music historian John Rumble joins Tim to talk about Nashville’s legendary RCA Studio B, where music history was made on a regular basis. John is a senior historian at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. In this episode, we talk about a humble little recording studio that changed the course of country music history, and made the careers of many entertainers within and outside of country music. Dan Maddox built this nondescript building on the corner of 17th Avenue South and Hawkins Street in Nashville in 1957. From the outside there’s not much to see, and even on the inside it looks like any other recording studio from that time. But appearances aren’t all that they seem. RCA Studio B became known as one of the cradles of the “Nashville Sound” not long after it was built. In the 1960s, the Nashville sound had a sophisticated style that was characterized by background vocals and strings. The Nashville Sound is credited for reviving America’s interest in country music and helped establish Nashville as an international recording hub. A partial list of the artists who recorded in RCA Studio be include: Elvis Pressley, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Charlie Pride, Waylon Jennings, Eddy Arnold, Chet Atkins and many others. Studio B gets credit for a number of recording industry innovations. You’d have to be a real musician to appreciate this, but it was in Studio B where the Nashville number system was created. This is a musician’s shorthand to notate a song’s chord structure. This makes it easier to create individual parts of a song’s arrangements while retaining the integrity of the song. Highlights: * Over 35,000 recordings were produced in RCA Studio B. * Elvis recorded 200 songs there. * Roy Orbison recorded “Only the Lonely” and “Crying.” * Dolly Parton created “Jolene” and “I Will Always Love You” on the same day and recorded both in Studio B. * Waylon Jennings recorded a number of songs. * Charlie Pride recorded “Kiss an Angel Good Morning.” * Recordings from Studio B sold over 40 million records. * Current stars have recorded in Studio B: Carrie Underwood, Martina McBride, Wynonna Judd and others. * Chet Atkins recorded there and ran the studio at its peak Links * Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum * RCA Studio B * Historic 'Home of 1,000 Hits," RCA Studio B Turns 60, The Tennesseean * Historic RCA Studio B, * Historic RCA Studio B: Home of 1,000 Hits, (Amazon) About this Episode's Guest John Rumble John Rumble is the senior historian at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.    
August 19, 2019
The COO and General Manager of Nashville’s famous Bluebird Café Erika Wollam Nichols joins Tim to talk about the Bluebird, its storied history and how this little place in a strip mall has impacted country music, songwriting and our culture. If you were to drive down Hillsboro Pike just outside of Downtown, Nashville, you could easily miss it. The Bluebird Café is tucked into a small strip mall, and is as unassuming as it might have been the day it opened in 1982. It’s known as a songwriter’s performance space. It has only 90 seats but it still plays host to new and upcoming singer-songwriters, and accomplished artists on any given night. The music is acoustic. The genres can range from country and bluegrass, to pop, rock and contemporary Christian music. In addition to Garth Brooks and Taylor Swift, Bluebird audiences have had the chance to listen to Keith Urban, Kathy Mattea, Trisha Yearwood, Faith Hill, Vince Gill, LeAnn Rimes, John Prine, Phil Vassar, and many, many writers who’ve created songs for the biggest names in music. Amy Kurland founded the Bluebird Café in 1982, and in 2008, she sold it to the Nashville Songwriters Association International. It was more of a donation, than a sale. The Nashville Songwriters Association is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the craft of songwriting. The Bluebird Café gained even broader attention in 2012 when the hit ABC television drama Nashville featured the Bluebird in its ongoing plotline. Links * The Bluebird Cafe * Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI) * 'Nashville' Made the Bluebird Famous, But Few People Know the Venue's Real Story, Washington Post * Taylor Swift Proved She Can Actually Work a Room at Nashville Landmark Bluebird Café, People Magazine * Garth Brooks Brings Stories, Friendships to Bluebird Café, The Tennesseean * Bluebird Documentary, Review, Variety About this Episode’s Guest Erika Wollam Nichols Erika Wollam Nichols is the General Manager and Chief Operating Officer of Nashville’s Bluebird Café. A native of Acton, Massachusetts, Erika came to Nashville in 1984 when she went to Belmont University and began working at The Bluebird Café. Since then, she was the Program Director for the Summer Lights Festival, a city-wide event that was 4 days of music, art, dance and theater in downtown Nashville. She handled all the entertainment from folks like Wynonna to the local theater company. The event boasted an attendance of over 150,000 people with talent on up to 8 outdoor stages. She left there in 1996 to run Tin Pan South for the Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI) from 1996 to 2000. She then went to the Country Music Hall of Fame as Director of Public Programs, and then VP of Marketing & Community Outreach. She returned to NSAI in 2004 and attended grad school for her MFA. Erika agreed to take the helm of The Bluebird when NSAI purchased it 2008.
August 12, 2019
College professor and author Dr. Jim Wetherbe from Texas Tech joins Tim to discuss the story of FedEx and how it changed the game in overnight shipping, in time management and e-commerce, and just how Americans shop online and conduct business. Jim is the author of the book, “The World on Time,” the story of Fred Smith and the company he founded FedEx. Fred Smith attended Yale University in the mid-1960s, and that was where he wrote a term paper for an economics class that hatched an idea that would change everything. The focus of the paper was on the need for a reliable overnight delivery service in what would now what he described as the computer information age. His professor gave the paper a C grade and said if Fred wanted a higher grade he’d have to come up with an idea that’s feasible. How do you think Fred responded to that? Well, you’d have to know some things about him. He was born with a birth defect that forced him to wear braces and walk with crutches for most of his childhood. His mom wanted him to feel more confident, so she encouraged him to get involved with physical activities. In the process, he would learn how to overcome obstacles and naysayers. He would grow out of his ailment and by the time he went into prep school, he played basketball and football. After Fred earned his bachelor’s degree from Yale, he joined the Marines and went to Vietnam where he became a platoon leader. He met people from places and backgrounds he never knew before. He spent two tours of duty in Vietnam, and returned home. His stepfather had bought a company in Little Rock that modified aircraft and overhauled their engines. Fred went there to help him run it. One of the biggest problems the company faced was getting parts, and that was when Fred remembered the overnight delivery idea he’d come up with in college. The idea for what would become Federal Express, or FedEx, would be reborn, only this time it wasn’t about to get a C grade. The FedEx Story * Fred Smith inherited $4 million from his father. * He needed to raise money to buy airplanes for his plan. * He had charisma and knowledge gained from studying the air-freight industry. * Federal Express began operation in April 1971 with 14 Falcon jets servicing 25 cities. * Fred was 29 years old at this time. * He had tested the initial 25 city network, flying empty boxes across the country. The operations went live April 17, 1973, on that first night, FedEx shipped 186 packages. * Volume picked up quickly and service was expanded. While the company was successful quickly, it went south fast, too, because of rising fuel prices in the 1970s.  Fred had raised $90 million in venture capital from investors like Allstate and Newport Securities. Costs surpassed revenue and by 1974, FedEx was losing more than $1 million per month. Fred couldn’t convince investors to give him more money. Bankruptcy was on the horizon. While waiting for a flight home to Memphis from Chicago after General Dynamics turned him down, he decide dto go to Las Vegas.  He won $27,000 playing blackjack, and that was as he said an omen that things would get better. He was able to raise another $1 million and keep the company flying. FedEx – When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight. * 1976 – Profit of $3.6 million * 1978 FedEx went public * 1980 – Revenue went up to $415.4 million and profits were $38.7 million. * Growth ever since. * 1999, the No. 1 overnight shipper in the world. 3 million packages to 210 countries every day.
August 5, 2019
Christine Kinealy joins Tim to talk about a tragedy that reshaped the landscapes of Ireland and the United States and Canada. The Great Hunger, The Great Famine, or better known as the Irish Potato Famine, but it was about anything but potatoes. If you’re of Irish descent in America, there is a good chance your ancestors were spurred to come to America due to blight and famine in Ireland in the mid-1800s. Christine is the Director of Ireland’s Great Hunger Institute at Quinnipiac University, an author, and a member of the Irish American Hall of Fame. This is how the New York Times described it in 1995 on the 150th anniversary of Ireland’s Great Hunger: “This was a fine spring in Ireland 150 years ago. By summer, farmers were forecasting an abundant potato crop, “the most luxuriant character.” But in September came the first reports of a disease that could blacken crops overnight and putrefy an entire field within days. Ireland’s eight million people were overwhelmingly reliant on potatoes.” This is how the Great Famine started. It was a tragedy of proportions unimaginable today. The failure of the crop was just the first in a series of failures that combined led to the death of as many as one million people from hunger or diseases. Another two- to three million fled to North America. The impact emigration had on America can be seen through the numbers. By 1850, the U.S. Census revealed that one out of four New Yorkers had been born in Ireland. Other cities that saw a huge influx of Irish immigrants were Boston, Philadelphia and Baltimore. In this episode, we learn the difficult story of the Great Famine and its impact on Irish and American culture with Christine Kinealy. Links * The Great Famine, Discovering Ireland * The Irish Potato Famine Didn't Just Happen, New York Times * The Irish Potato Famine, Eyewitness to History * This Great Calamity: The Irish Famine 1845-1852, By Christine Kinealy, Amazon * A Death Dealing Famine: The Great Hunger in Ireland, By Christine Kinealy, Amazon About this Episode's Guest Christine Kinealy Christine Kinealy is a graduate of Trinity College Dublin, where she completed her doctorate on the introduction of the Poor Law to Ireland. She then worked in educational and research institutes in Dublin, Belfast and Liverpool. She has published extensively on the impact of the Great Irish Famine and has lectured on the relationship between poverty and famine in India, Spain, Canada, France, Finland and New Zealand. She also has spoken to invited audiences in the British Parliament and in the U.S. Congress. Based in the United States since 2007, she was named one of the most influential Irish Americans in 2011 by "Irish America" Magazine. In 2013, she received the Holyoke, Mass. St. Patrick's Day Parade's Ambassador Award. In March 2014, she was inducted into the Irish America Hall of Fame.
July 29, 2019
Los Angeles Times music editor and author Craig Marks joins Tim to talk about the birth of MTV and how it changed culture, music and television. Craig is a co-author of the book, “I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story of the Music Video Revolution.” The date was August first, 1981, otherwise known as 8/1/81. That was the night music television was launched. Fittingly, the first video viewers would see was called Video Killed the Radio Star. It was a two-year old song by the Buggles that said it all. Before Music Television, radio and the record companies controlled the music industry. They decided what you would hear and who you would hear. They decided who the stars would be. After MTV, a lot more people had a say, and the music industry would never be the same. Dwight Garner wrote in the New York Times in 2011 that when it launched, “MTV delivered not just new music, constantly on tap, but also a jumpy new visual aesthetic.” It didn’t take long for MTV to have an impact. But before that could happen, the stars had to convince cable companies to carry the channel. That mission inspired the first iconic images of MTV, when David Bowie, Sting and others starred in TV spots demanding, “I Want My MTV.” Those spots drove demand on the part of young, baby boomers and the first cohort of Generation X. And cable television companies responded. But before you can fully appreciate the impact MTV made on culture, it’s important to know what it was like before music television. Craig Marks tells the whole story from those crazy ‘80s videos and bands, to the impact Michael Jackson and Madonna had on MTV and the impact it had on them. At the same time, MTV would usher in the Reality TV phenomena with the creation of The Real World. Our gratitude to Viacom for its permission to feature the classic "I Want My MTV" promotional spot audio in this episode.  Links * I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story of the Music Video Revolution, by Craig Marks and Rob Tannenbaum, Amazon * * MTV Launches, * When the Music was Still on MTV, Vanity Fair About this Episode’s Guest Craig Marks Craig Marks is the Los Angeles Times’ music editor, responsible for coverage of popular music. Marks has previously been executive editor at Billboard; editor in chief at Spin and Blender magazines; and co-founder and editor in chief of Popdust. Most recently, he was editorial director for Townsquare Media, a radio company that owns and operates several music websites. He is the co-author of “I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story of the Music Video Revolution” and of a forthcoming oral history of World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. (WWE).
July 22, 2019
Julia Parsons joins Tim to talk about her role as a code-breaker during World War II. Julia was part of a a team of Navy women stationed in Washington, D.C. during World War II who worked to decipher German submarine messages that were sent in secret code using the Enigma machine. Her work relied on the now legendary Bombe machine invented by Alan Turing. If you’ve ever seen the motion picture The Imitation Game, you would be familiar with the story of Alan Turing and his highly secretive and revolutionary work during World War II. If you have seen that movie, it may give you a greater sense of what Julia Parsons, this episode’s guest, did in her own way to help the Allies defeat the Nazis. Not long after the war started, German submarines were sinking more ships than the United States could replace. During 1942, German subs patrolled just off America’s Atlantic coast. Under the cover of darkness, they would torpedo ships that were silhouetted against the city lights in the background. In the open water, German U-boats would operate in packs and sink entire convoys in coordinated attacks. If a U-boat spotted a convoy, the German skipper would communicate with other U-boats nearby using a complex machine that sent coded messages that only other U-boats could decipher using the same machine. Then they would converge like a pack of wolves and attack allied ships. The goal was to cut off England’s supply line from the United States. The machine that the German military used to create that secret code was called the Enigma. Enigma was so sophisticated it was thought impossible to crack. The entire secret language the machine used changed completely every 24 hours. So, even if you were to crack the code of the machine today, you would have to start all over again tomorrow. Both the Americans and the British were working hard on both sides of the Atlantic to crack the German military’s secret code. In England, British Intelligence put together a team of their greatest minds and set about trying to solve the Enigma code. Alan Turing, young a mathematical genius, ran his own group as part of that effort, which would somehow find a way to crack the Enigma code. In the process, he and his team created a new machine. Turing had realized that human beings alone could not analyze the vast amounts of data required every 24 hours to solve the Enigma problem each day. They needed a machine that was equally sophisticated at unlocking the Enigma code. The machine Turing’s team invented was known as the Bombe, and not only would it crack the Enigma code, shortening World War II by two or three years and saving countless lives, but it would also launch the modern era of computing. Thanks to the Bombe machine, the Allies could read German communications and gain a strategic military advantage in the field. German U-boats were neutralized. Allied ships were steered away from U-boats and kept safe. In December 1942, Turing went to the United States to share what he knew about Enigma, along with his own solutions, with the U.S. military. Meanwhile, the U.S. had its own code-cracking team. Within that larger U.S. effort, Julia Parsons was on a team of Navy women who worked to decipher German U-boat messages sent by the Enigma machine. In the Naval Communications Annex on Nebraska Avenue, thousands of WAVES (Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Services) worked in three shifts to break the codes the Germans used in Europe and on the Atlantic, and by the Japanese in the Pacific. Links *
July 15, 2019
Educator and well-respected author Dr. Tim Coombs joins Tim to talk about one of the more prevalent types of crises businesses and organizations face today – the social issue crisis. Boycotts, social media backlash, protests and other activities centered on social issues, and no organization is exempt, even if it’s not involved in the controversy. You probably remember that last year, 17 people were killed in a mass shooting in Parkland, Florida. A few weeks after the shooting, Ed Stack, the CEO of Dick’s Sporting Goods, which is the nation’s largest sporting goods retailer, learned that the shooter had once bought a gun from his company. That’s when Stack decided to make it harder to buy guns at his stores. Then he advocated that Congress adopt gun safety measures. He proactively arranged interviews with the national media, and everywhere he sounded more like an anti-gun activist than a gun owner which he was. Gun sellers, gun buyers, the firearms industry turned their backs on him, along with a few of his own employees who quit in protest. But that was just the beginning of the damage. Earlier this year, the company reported that Dick’s Sporting Goods lost $154 million in sales after deciding to ban the sale of certain rifles and restrict access to other firearms. The company knows that gun owners are likely to be hunters, and hunters buy more than guns at its stores. So, by taking a stand on gun sales, the company knew it would alienate a large segment of its customer base and lose sales on non-gun-related merchandise. The company’s stock dropped, and through it all, Ed Stack, the company’s CEO said two things. First, he knew there would be backlash. And second, he wouldn’t change a thing. This is just one example of a social issue creating a crisis for a company. In the case of Dick’s Sporting Goods, the crisis was of its own making because it made the decision to scale back its gun sales. It knew the risks and it moved forward with its own decision. Other times, companies and organizations find themselves in the middle of controversy over social issues even if they did nothing. For the past few years, the hamburger chain Wendy’s has been the target of protests for not succumbing to pressure on the issue of where it buys its tomatoes. Farmworker activists successfully pressured Walmart and McDonald’s to buy their tomatoes from suppliers that the activists favor. When Wendy’s did not follow suit, the company found itself the target of a series of national and very localized protests, and a boycott. Today, it’s not hard to find a company in the middle of a controversy, and quite often that controversy centers on a social issue like guns, labor, religion, freedom of speech, immigration, the environment. Dr. Tim Coombs is a well-respected educator and writer on crisis communications, and at the moment he’s doing research on all of the factors that define a social media crisis. In this episode, we talk about how activists sometimes target the leaders in their industries even if they aren’t involved in the crisis to start with. We talk about why social issue crises are on the rise, how those crises are covered by the media, how they play out in social media, and what companies and organizations can do once targeted. Statistics Compare Cards * (A site for Credit Cards) conducted a survey earlier this year and asked Americans their views on boycotts. * 26% of Americans said they are currently boycotting a company or product that the...
July 8, 2019
Mary Latham is on a mission to collect stories of kindness from all 50 states in the country for a once-in-a-lifetime journey. She joins Tim to talk about what and who inspired her mission and tells many stories she’s learned 41 states into her trip. Mary Latham is in the middle of the kind of trip that many may dream of, but only a few take, which is to travel across all 50 states in America by car. What makes Mary’s story even more unique is why she’s doing it and what she hopes to find. Mary is looking for as many stories of human kindness as she can find and document for a book she plans to write that will be donated to hospital waiting rooms across the country. Mary’s physical journey started in October 2016, but the idea came much sooner, in 2012. In the process, she has created a movement she calls, “More Good.” You may wonder what this has to do with "shaping opinion." The answer is simple. When someone travels to all 50 states, collecting stories of kindness, you get to know something about America and why and how Americans think the way they do. Mary's journey will help you see the very large good in the country. Links * More Good * A Woman's Journey to Find Human Kindness One State at a Time, Westword * Inspired by Her Mother, She Roadtrips Across the Country to Gather Stories of Kindness, WBUR * A Quest to Collect Stories of Kindness Has Driven Her to 39 States (and counting), Star Tribune * Searching for More Good, Stonehill College * Woman Travels Entire Country Seeking Random Acts of Kindness in Honor of Late Mother, The Western Journal About this Episode’s Guest Mary Latham Mary Latham was working in a law firm, as a nanny in the evenings and she ran a photography business on the weekends when she lost her mother from cancer. That traumatic event inspired Mary to look for the positive, or in the words of her mother Pat, there’s “more good” in the world if you just look for it. So, that’s what Mary decided to do. Since then, Mary’s mission has taken her to 41 U.S. states so far.
July 1, 2019
Dr. George Zambelli, Jr., Chairman of Zambelli Fireworks, joins Tim to talk about fireworks, America’s 4th of July tradition, his family’s role as the “First Family of Fireworks,” and the American dream. Since 1893, Zambelli Fireworks has dazzled millions, including every president since JFK. There is a good chance that if you watch fireworks this July 4th, you’ll be enjoying that “Zambelli magic.” In last week’s episode we talked quite a bit about Francis Scott Key and his Star Spangled Banner. You know the line, “bombs bursting in air…” The 4th of July is upon us and fireworks will be on display from sea to shining sea. But how exactly did we get to this point with our obsession with fireworks? Let’s start with the history of fireworks. The Chinese get credit for the fireworks. The story goes that as early as 200 BC, the Chinese were using green bamboo stalks and heating them on coals to dry. Once the stalks would overheat, the wood would explode, burst and pop. The Chinese liked this because it effectively scared off large mountain men would raid their villages. Somewhere between 600 and 900 A.D., a Chinese alchemist mixed potassium, nitrate, sulfur and charcoal to create the first gun powder that was then poured into bamboo sticks and then stiff paper tubes to make the first form of fireworks that we know today. By the 13th century, Fireworks made their way to Europe, and 200 years later, fireworks became a fixture for religious festivals and public entertainment. The Italians were the first Europeans to manufacture fireworks, and it was in Italy that the aerial shell was invented and used in fireworks. The Italians are also credited with being the first to discover how to use metallic powders to create specific colors. Fireworks made their way across the Atlantic when early American settlers brought them to the New World. In fact, fireworks were a part of the very first Independence Day, starting our Fourth of July tradition. According to historians, the first 4th of July celebration featured a 13-cannon display, a parade, a fancy dinner, music, musket salutes and a grand exhibition of fireworks that began with 13 rockets on the commons of Philadelphia. John Adams envisioned an annual birthday celebration for America that would be marked with “pomp, parade, bonfires and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other.” Speaking of John Adams, it wouldn’t be long before 18th century politicians would get in on the act. They were among the first to discover how to use fireworks to draw a crowd for their speeches. And ever since, fireworks have been a part of just about every major ceremonial event, from national historic events, to those the just mean a lot to any small town in America, and everywhere in between. Today, while Americans use fireworks year-round, July 4th is the biggest day of the year for fireworks. The Zambelli Story If you’ve ever found yourself in a lawn chair looking up at the sky some summer evening, waiting for that grand finale with your eyes and your mouth wide open, there’s a chance you were watching Zambelli Fireworks. George Zambelli, Jr. comes from a family that has been known as “The First Family of Fireworks….” * Zambelli Fireworks is one of the largest fireworks companies in the world with a history that dates back to 1893 * 2,000-plus fireworks shows a year * 800-900 displays on the 4th of July alone * Almost all 50 states and around the world Notable Displays * Washington, D.C. * The Mall * Kennedy Center * The White House
June 24, 2019
Historian, professor, and podcaster Greg Jackson joins Tim to discuss the story of the United States flag, its history, its meaning and what it represents, and just why and how it stirs such strong emotions throughout society. Later in the episode we have a special feature you won’t want to miss. On June 14, 1777, the Continental Congress established an official flag for the United States. The official resolution stated: “Resolved, that the flag of the United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation." Since that time, it has been a banner used to rally troops in battle, show patriotic support in both war and peace time, and at times it has been at the center of controversy. It’s been draped over the caskets of presidents and fallen soldiers, some we know and some that are still unknown. As the flag was raised on Iwo Jima and in the ruins of the World Trade Center, our hopes were raised with it. In this episode, we tell the story of the American flag. Birth – Betsy Ross The origin of the first American flag is unknown. Some historians believe it was designed by New Jersey Congressman Francis Hopkinson and sewn by Philadelphia seamstress Betsy Ross. The Betsy Ross story was brought to public attention in 1870 by her grandson, William Canby, in a speech he made to the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Canby and other members of Betsy's family signed sworn affidavits stating that they heard the story of the making of the first flag from Betsy herself. Despite the absence of written records to prove the story, there are several reasons why historians believe it could be so: George Ross, a member of the Flag committee, was the uncle of Betsy's late husband, John. This could be one reason why Betsy was chosen to make the first flag. Since making the flag was an act of treason, it is significant that these men would know of her allegiance to the Revolutionary cause. Symbolism and Meaning The flag consists of 13 horizontal stripes, seven red alternating with six white. The stripes represent the original 13 Colonies and the stars represent the 50 states of the Union. The colors of the flag are symbolic as well; red symbolizes hardiness and valor, white symbolizes purity and innocence, and blue represents vigilance, perseverance and justice. It wasn’t until the Third Flag Act of 1818 that the country decided to stick with 13 stripes—one for each colony—and a star for each state. Coming of Age “The Star-Spangled Banner” becomes the national anthem of the United States in 1931. The anthem’s history began the morning of September 14, 1814, when an attorney and amateur poet named Francis Scott Key watched U.S. soldiers—who were under bombardment from British naval forces during the War of 1812—raise a large American flag over Fort McHenry in Baltimore, Maryland. A lawyer from Baltimore who practiced law in Washington, D.C., Francis Scott Key watched the bombardment of Fort McHenry from a ship anchored in Baltimore’s harbor. Key was working to negotiate the release of an American civilian, Dr. William Beanes, who had been captured in an earlier battle. As a condition of the release, the British ordered the Americans not to return to shore during the attack on Baltimore. Francis Scott Key wrote “The Star Spangled Banner” and its initial verse on the back side of a letter while watching the large American flag waving over the fort that morning. When he got back to Baltimore, he worked on his piece until he had completed four verses,
June 17, 2019
College professor, researcher and entrepreneur Dr. Lloyd Corder joins Tim to talk about the story of the father of the motivation industry, Napoleon Hill, and how his principles continue to provide the foundation for the self-help movement. If you ever bought a self-help book, there’s a chance you read terms and concepts that originated with Napoleon Hill in the early 20th Century. If you like to listen to podcasts, attend seminars or join webinars about how to be more successful, you may not realize that some of the core ideas behind many of them started with a man by the name of Napoleon Hill. So, who was Napoleon Hill? According to the Napoleon Hill Foundation, Napoleon Hill was born in 1883 in a one-room cabin on the Pound River in Wise County, Virginia. He began to write as a “mountain reporter” at the age of 13, working for small town newspapers and went on to become one of the country’s pioneering motivational authors. His most well-known book is called “Think and Grow Rich,” which is the all-time bestseller in the field. That book and his many other activities and work pursue a mission to perpetuate his philosophy of leadership, self-motivation, and individual achievement. Millions have read his books, listened to his audio recordings and watched videos that his foundation has produced over the years. Napoleon Hill passed away in November 1970 and has left a legacy and an operating model that nearly all other motivational speakers and authors have followed since. Dr. Lloyd Corder, who serves as a professor in the business schools at the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University says that he’s incorporated some of Napoleon Hill’s theories into some of his own teaching and says some of that material is popular among his own students. Hill had 17 Laws of Success and 30 Causes of Failure. In this episode, the highlights of some of those laws and causes are covered, along with Hill’s concepts of the “Master Mind” and the “Chief Aim,” with is your own goal or mission. Get Your Free Copy of Lloyd Corder's eBook "Success 101" If you'd like your own copy of the material Dr. Lloyd Corder discussed in this podcast interview, please send us a request here! Links * Napoleon Hill Foundation * Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill (Amazon) * CorCom, Inc. * The Autobiography of Andrew Carnegie, by Andrew Carnegie (Amazon) * Hello Fresh About this Episode's Guest Dr. Lloyd Corder Lloyd has over 25 years of research and consulting experience as the founder of CorCom, Inc., a market research and consulting firm based in Pittsburgh. He holds faculty appointments at the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh. BA, University of Kansas; MA, PhD, University of Pittsburgh.
June 10, 2019
Former presidential speechwriter Noam Neusner joins Tim to talk about what it was like to create news-making and sometimes history-making speeches for the President of the United States. A seasoned communicator, journalist and book author, Noam shares his insights on the craft of speechwriting and the power of an effective speech. Behind just about every modern speech by someone who made history was a good speechwriter, a ghostwriter, someone who crafts words for others to speak, where others get the credit for the words, and those memorable phrases. Some speechwriters are well known, others are practically anonymous, but all of the good ones have found a way to produce a tightly written and effective speech that at the same time makes sure that the speech is in the wording and speech of the person giving the speech. That the thoughts are those of the speaker, that the speech is in the end, from the speaker. This is the balance every good speechwriter seeks to achieve. Noam Neusner is a veteran speechwriter and senior level communicator. He’s got decades of experience in the private sector, the U.S. government and as a journalist. And he has authored four books. During this time, he served as the economic and domestic policy speechwriter for President George W. Bush. In this episode, Noam talks about his time at the White House, the craft of speechwriting and shares tips on what makes for a great speech. Links * 30 Point Communications: Noam Neusner * A Son's Perspective on a Scholar Father, The Lab * Articles from Noam Neusner, U.S. News & World Report * George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum About this Episode’s Guest Noam Neusner Noam Neusner is a principal at 30 Point Communications. He has experience in speechwriting, media prep and training, and strategic communications planning. Neusner draws on nearly two decades of communications experience in the private sector, the U.S. government and journalism. This knowledge, along with strong writing skills, enables him to help clients shape opinions, inform the public and achieve strategic goals. He served as President George W. Bush's economic and domestic policy speechwriter for nearly two years. He managed all communications and media relations for the Office of Management and Budget and twice oversaw the editing and production of the federal budget.
June 3, 2019
Veteran journalist, author and college professor Alison Bass joins Tim to talk about her time as a reporter with the Boston Globe and her work in the earliest days of breaking and covering the Catholic priest abuse scandal in Boston.   Father James Porter was assigned to St. Mary's School in North Attleboro, Mass. In 1960 – in charge of altar boys. Over the years, he quietly earned a reputation as a child molester. It appears nothing was done in an official sense until 1963 when at least 4 parents complained to the church about his behavior. Father Porter was transferred to a parish in Fall River. In 1964, Porter was arrested for molesting a 13-year-old boy and sent to a mental hospital for just over a year. He was then assigned to another parish. He was again hospitalized in 1967 to be “cured” of his affliction. Porter was released after a few months. Over the years, in addition to Massachusetts, he would then receive new assignments in Texas, New Mexico and Minnesota. In 1990, Frank Fitzpatrick went public with accusations that Porter had molested him as a child in the '60s when Father Porter worked in the Fall River Diocese. This news lead to over 200 people coming forward and with charges of abuse against Porter. In 1992, Alison Bass broke the story about Father Porter. This pre-dates the time period made famous by the Boston Globe’s Spotlight investigative series on the Boston diocese’s problem with predators and related cover-ups in the early 2000s. And then of course there was the movie called Spotlight that earned critical acclaim in 2015 for its story about that investigative team. To more fully appreciate how news reporting of the Catholic church abuse crisis evolved, we talked with Alison who provides some context to the story. Alison was the reporter who first broke the story about Father Porter who molested children in Boston. On the subject of the motion picture Spotlight, she feels it could have accented the reporting that had been done by the Globe about the priest scandal well before the Spotlight team started its work in 2001. Cardinal Bernard Law, Archbishop of Boston, was a critic of the Father Porter case and the media coverage. This provided external pressures on the Globe newsroom as it continued to cover the stories of allegations of abuse. Alison describes what it was like to work on the story in the early phase of its coverage. Links Alison Bass Website Alison Bass, Professor at WVU Oscar-nominated ‘Spotlight’ Gets Most Things Right But a Few Things Wrong , by Alison Bass, Huffington Post Nine Allege Priest Abused Them, Threaten to Sue the Church (1992), Boston Globe article by Alison Bass 30 More Allege Sex Abuse by Priest, (1992),Boston Globe article by Alison Bass Father Porter: Remembering the Evil, The Sun Chronicle Movie Truths, Newspaper Truths, Economic Principles Where Were Boston's TV Stations During Boston's Sex Abuse Scandal, Columbia Journalism Review Our Fathers: The Secret Life Of The Catholic Church In The Age Of Scandal, by David France (page 234) About this Episode's Guest Alison Bass Alison Bass is the author of two critically acclaimed nonfiction books, Getting Screwed, Sex Workers and the Law and Side Effects: A Prosecutor, a Whistleblower, and A Bestselling Antidepressant on Trial, which received the prestigious National Association of Science Writers’ Science in Society Award. She is an Associate Professor of Journalism at West Virginia University, where she teaches investigative journalism,
May 27, 2019
Seamus Hughes joins Tim to talk about the myths and realities of extremism, terrorism and how some Americans have become radicalized. Seamus is the Deputy Director of the Program on Extremism at George Washington University. He’s an expert on terrorism, homegrown violent extremism and countering violent extremism.   Before Seamus Hughes took on his current role at George Washington University, he worked at the National Counterterrorism Center where he served as a lead staffer on U.S. government efforts to implement a strategy to counter violent extremism. He regularly led engagements with Muslim American communities across the country. He provided counsel to civic leaders after high-profile-related incidents and he met with families of individuals who had joined terrorist organizations. Seamus created a groundbreaking intervention program to help steer individuals away from terrorism, and he worked closely with the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force, Fusion Centers and U.S. Attorney offices. Before that, he served as the Senior Counterterrorism Advisor for the U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. Links A New American Leader Rises in ISIS, The Atlantic First He Became an American, Then He Joined ISIS, The Atlantic To Stop ISIS Recruitment, Focus Offline, Lawfare The Islamic State is Successfully Radicalizing Americans. How Do We Stop Them, LA Times America's Terrorism Problem Doesn't End with Prison, It Might Just Begin There, Lawfare About this Episode's Guest Seamus Hughes Seamus Hughes is the Deputy Director of the Program on Extremism at George Washington University. He is an expert on terrorism, homegrown violent extremism, and countering violent extremism (CVE). Hughes has authored numerous reports for the Program including ‘ISIS in America: From Retweets to Raqqa’ and ‘The Travelers: American Jihadists in Syria and Iraq.’ He regularly provides commentary to media outlets, including the New York Times, The Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, the Atlantic, CNN, MSNBC, FoxNews, BBC, PBS, and CBS’ 60 Minutes. He has testified before the U.S. Congress on multiple occasions. Hughes previously worked at the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), serving as a lead staffer on U.S. government efforts to implement a national CVE strategy. He regularly led engagements with Muslim American communities across the country, provided counsel to civic leaders after high-profile terror-related incidents, and met with families of individuals who joined terrorist organizations. Hughes created a groundbreaking intervention program to help steer individuals away from violence through non-law enforcement means, and worked closely with the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force, Fusion Centers, and U.S. Attorney Offices. Prior to NCTC, Hughes served as the Senior Counterterrorism Advisor for the U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. He organized over a dozen congressional hearings on the threat of homegrown violent extremism, and led fact-finding delegations to the various European and Middle Eastern countries. He authored two reports for the Senate: “A Ticking Time Bomb: Counterterrorism Lessons from the U.S. Government’s Failure to Prevent the Fort Hood Attack” and “Zachary Chesser: A Case Study in Online Islamist Radicalization and Its Meaning for the Threat of Homegrown Terrorism.” Hughes has authored numerous legislative bills, including sections of the 9/11 Commission Recommendations Act and the Special Agent Samuel Hicks Families of Fallen Heroes Act. He is a graduate of the University of Maryland, and a recipient of the National Security Council Outsta...
May 20, 2019
Fellow crisis communicator Dan Keeney joins Tim  to talk about the time when two Domino’s Pizza employees created a viral YouTube video that helped usher in a new era for crisis management – the age of the social media crisis.   It was on an Easter Sunday in Conover, North Carolina, business was slow at the local Domino’s pizza restaurant. In order to entertain themselves, two Domino’s employees – one male and the other female - came up with an idea that involved their kitchen, a video camera, and YouTube.   That’s when the two decided to create videos of themselves tampering with food that allegedly was to be delivered to customers. Kristy Hammonds captured video of Michael Setzer sticking cheese up his nose and then putting it on a sandwich.  He was also captured performing other health code violations. Then they decided to upload the videos to YouTube for the world to see. It didn’t take long. By Wednesday of that week, the video had been seen more than one million times on YouTube. The Domino’s brand name was dominating Google search results for all the wrong reasons. Domino’s would fire the two on Tuesday, and on Wednesday, they were facing felony charges on grounds of delivering prohibited foods. Later that year, the New York Times talked to Domino’s spokesperson Tim McIntyre.  Here’s what he said at that time - quote: “We got blindsided by two idiots with a video camera and an awful idea. Even People who’ve been with us as loyal customers for 10, 15, 20 years, people are second-guessing their relationship with Domino’s and that’s not fair.” In 2019, it’s no longer uncommon for someone to behave badly on video or social media and a brand has to defend itself, but this case was – if not the first – the biggest of its kind to usher in the era of the social media crisis. The Situation We know that Domino’s employees Kristy Hammonds and Michael Setzer got themselves into trouble thanks to a video camera and YouTube.  I recapped this in the intro to this episode. Now we start to look at the PR disaster aspect of this. Their video was seen over one million times on YouTube in those first few days. The head of PR at Domino’s Tim McIntyre said at the time that their brand suffered damage. The research firm YouGov conducts online surveys of 1,000 consumers every day on perceptions around hundreds of brands.  According to YouGov’s BrandIndex, the YouTube video did some damage. How it Played out on the PR Side   McIntyre was alerted to the videos Monday evening, the day after Easter. Kristy Hammonds is heard in one of the videos, “In about five minutes it’ll be sent out on delivery where somebody will be eating these, yes, eating them, and little did they know that cheese was in his nose and that there was some lethal gas that ended up on their salami.  Now that’s how we roll at Domino’s.” There was a site called that was instrumental in identifying the offenders.  Visitors to the site used clues in the video to find the franchise location in Conover, North Carolina and McIntyre was alerted. A site visitor was the one who identified the offenders.  Amy Wilson, a grad student at Georgetown University, worked with boyfriend Jonathan Drake to identify the two people after spotting the story, which was then on Consumerist. They noticed a Jack in the Box sign visible from a window in the video. She and Drake (who analyzes satellite images for a nonprofit) used that and other clues to assemble a street view. Then they started to search Google satellite images for locations that matched. Then Paris Miller,
May 13, 2019
Hollywood publicist, crisis manager and author Howard Bragman joins Tim to talk about what it’s like to handle public relations for celebrities, particularly when those celebrities find themselves at the center of controversy. For decades, Howard has been the go-to guy in Los Angeles and nationwide for celebrity crisis management.   The Hollywood publicist of old was both a staple and a cliché at the same time. In the black and white movie era where moguls ran the Hollywood studios, he was a fast-talking guy who didn’t care what his celebrity clients do, so long as they earned their share of headlines doing it. There was a saying from that time, “It doesn’t matter what they say in the newspapers, as long as they spell my name right.” Those days are long gone if they ever were.  Today’s celebrity public relations pro operates in a totally different landscape. Celebrities aren’t people, they’re brands. But perhaps most importantly, the media environment has shifted so dramatically that the very definition of celebrity has changed. You still have sports celebrities, movie stars and television stars. But you also have new kinds of celebrities. Reality TV stars, YouTube sensations, even politicians and ex-politicians who have found ways to cash in on celebrity status once they’re out of office. But there are two sides to that coin. While there is much to gain by being a celebrity, there is much to lose, too. Howard Bragman knows better than most what it’s like to be a Hollywood publicist and more importantly, a celebrity crisis manager. Links LaBrea.Media Where's My Fifteen Minutes?, by Howard Bragman (Amazon) Anthony Scaramucci Signs with Hollywood PR firm, Deadline Hollywood College Admissions Scandal: 10 Ways to Know How Bad the Crisis is, Variety Meet the Man Who Orchestrated Michael Sam's Historic Announcement, USA Today About this Episode’s Guest Howard Bragman Howard Bragman has become one of America’s best-known PR and crisis experts because of his experience, wisdom, calmness and straightforward yet empathetic manner. He has worked with some of the most recognized people in the world and managed some of the highest profile press moments of this millennium and last. LaBrea.Media is the distillation of 35+ years of Bragman’s media and marketing experience into a responsive, nimble and world-class consultancy. Bragman manages a small team of some of the best and brightest PR talent around, yet is personally and intimately involved when the situation warrants it. LaBrea.Media represents talent, entertainment companies, brands, causes and digital entities. Bragman was an award-winning adjunct professor at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communications and is the author of the best-selling book, “Where’s My Fifteen Minutes? (Penguin/Portfolio). He has received numerous awards for his work as an activist for those with HIV/AIDS, LGBT civil rights and Jewish causes. He lives in Los Angeles with his husband, a nationally-respected horse trainer.
May 6, 2019
The host of the popular new podcast ‘How To Be American,’ Brendan Murphy joins Tim to talk about America’s immigration heritage as seen through the rooms of a couple old tenement buildings on the Lower East Side of New York City. Brendan is an educator at the Tenement Museum.   Hundreds of millions of Americans can trace their emigration histories to ancestors that entered the country through the port of New York.  The New York port of entry has been the gateway to the American dream for generations of immigrants for over 400 years. America is a nation that has been defined by its immigrants, who often settled at first in the poorest parts of our cities, living in crowded tenements and learning a new way of life. If walls could talk… That’s a rhetorical term we often hear. What it means is that those silent houses, apartments and buildings where generations have lived and worked have seen so much of human history, it would be a wonder if we could just hear the stories. This is the concept behind a fascinating museum on the Lower East Side of New York City. That’s where a couple of old tenement buildings have been preserved and restored to help tell the story of America through the stories of the people who lived there, the people who worked there, and the people who came there in the normal course of their day. “How to Be American” Podcast Six-episode series, biweekly, started in February. The podcast explores different facets of the American identity, from food to music to the process for immigrating and becoming a citizen. It features interviews with historians, scholars, chefs and everyday people. It also tells stories from Tenement Museum programs, archives and from their “Your Story, Our Story” program. Tenement Museum The Tenement Museum provides guided tours, creates curriculum and programs for high school and college educators, centers on stories and tapping primary sources. It was founded in 1988 by Ruch Abram (historian) and Anita Jacobsen (activist). They discovered a dilapidated tenement building on New York’s Lower East Side that had been shuttered for over 50 years. They uncovered personal belongings and other evidence of the immigrant families that had lived there between the 1860s and the 1930s. The artifacts and their owners became the foundation for what is the Tenement Museum today. 97 Orchard Street 1864-1886 - Schneider’s Lager Beer Saloon German immigrants John and Caroline Schneider lived and worked together at 97 Orchard Street, operating Schneider’s Lager Beer Saloon from 1864-1886, while living in an adjoining apartment. The Schneiders served German lager (previously unknown in the United States) and food in an era when the neighborhood was known as Little Germany. 1869 Bridget and Joseph Moore Bridget and Joseph Moore arrived in America in the mid-1860s, and lived at 97 Orchard in 1869 with their first three daughters. At the time, many New Yorkers did not welcome Irish newcomers. As only one of two Irish families residing at the tenement, the Moores felt like outsiders in a neighborhood that was primarily home to German residents. The discrimination against Irish immigrants was such a prevailing sentiment at the time that newspaper want ads for work often stressed ‘No Irish Need Apply’. The Moores had eight children, only four of whom lived to adulthood. 1870-1886 - Nathalie Gumpertz Nathalie and Julius Gumpertz, East Prussian immigrants, lived at 97 Orchard during the Panic of 1873, a major economic depression. One morning in 1874 Julius left for work never to return,
April 29, 2019
Grammy Award-winning bluegrass songwriter and performer Tim O’Brien joins our Tim O’Brien to talk about his own musical journey and about America’s bluegrass musical heritage.   According to the Bluegrass Heritage Foundation, America’s bluegrass music can trace its roots to the 1600s when people emigrated to America from Ireland, Scotland, and England brought. The Foundation says they brought with them the basic styles of music that give us the bluegrass music we know today. The music took hold in North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky and Virginia, which at the time included what we now know as West Virginia. Bluegrass music has always about stories that reflected the people from these regions. At first it was known simply as country or mountain music. Ironically, it would be the dawn of audio technology that would give bluegrass a new life. In the early 1900s, the invention of the phonograph and then later the dawn of radio introduced bluegrass music to the masses. In the 1920 and ‘30s the Monroe Brothers – Charlie and Bill – made a name for the music and themselves. In the late 1930s and early 1940s, it was Bill Monroe who coined the term “bluegrass” when he called his band Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys. Bill was from the bluegrass state of Kentucky. They thought of this as traditional country music, using a sound that relied on acoustic instruments and vocal harmonies. Another key figure in the development of bluegrass music was Earl Scruggs. Earl joined Monroe’s band in the mid-1940s as a banjo player. His sound gave bluegrass what we now think of as that signature bluegrass sound. Others would make their own imprint on bluegrass, like Lester Flatt from Tennessee, Chubby Wise from Florida, and other instruments would be added to add richness to the bluegrass sound. One includes the resophonic guitar, better known as the dobro. Bluegrass music has been the soundtrack for motion pictures, television shows and has been made popular on radio stations from coast to coast for generations and millions of Americans. Links Grammy Winner Tim O'Brien's Website Tim O'Brien Returns with New Album, Rolling Stone Hot Rize Bluegrass Band Bluegrass Heritage Foundation The Origin and History of Bluegrass Music, Bluegrass World About this Episode’s Guest Tim O’Brien Born in Wheeling, West Virginia on March 16, 1954, Grammy winning singer songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Tim O’Brien grew up singing in church and in school, and after seeing Doc Watson on TV, became a lifelong devotee of old time and bluegrass music. Tim first toured nationally in the 1980’s with Colorado bluegrass band Hot Rize. Kathy Mattea scored a country hit with his song Walk The Way The Wind Blows in 1986, and soon more artists like Nickel Creek and Garth Brooks covered his songs. Over the years, Tim has released 15 solo CD’s, as well as collaborations with his sister Mollie O’Brien, songwriter Darrell Scott, and noted old time musician Dirk Powell. He’s performed or recorded with Steve Earle, Mark Knopfler, Bill Frisell, and Steve Martin, and produced records for Yonder Mountain Stringband, David Bromberg, and Canada’s Old Man Luedecke. O’Brien’s solo shows feature his solid guitar, fiddle, and banjo, along with his engaging vocals and harmony from Jan Fabricius. Expect a range of original compositions and traditional arrangements from his many discs, mixed with stories and Tim’s self-deprecating
April 24, 2019
Jay Baer, the author of the book, “Talk Triggers: The complete guide to creating customers with word of mouth,” joins Tim to talk about the power of word of mouth to sell products or services, increase awareness, educate the public and create a brand. Jay is a very popular keynote speaker, an inductee into the Word of Mouth Marketing Hall of Fame and the author of several books.   It’s a term you may hear every day. It’s just assumed you know what it means. Word of Mouth.  Webster’s dictionary describes it as “oral, often inadvertent publicity.” What’s interesting about that definition is how the people at Webster saw fit to include the word “inadvertent” in the definition. When it comes to Word of Mouth dynamics, it’s just assumed that it’s inadvertent or unintentional. Many times, this is true but I’ve been in the PR business for decades and I’ve seen quite often how something that was spread through Word of Mouth was anything but inadvertent or unintentional. In this episode we talk with Jay Baer about the dynamics behind word of mouth publicity, hear some stories of some organizations doing it right, and how to harness it for yourself. Debt Collections Case Study Americollect is in the debt collection industry. At present there are roughly 8,000 collections firms in the U.S. The common practice is for debt collections agencies to call a debtor, cajole, threaten, coerce until they get money or not In 2017, consumers filed 84,500 complaints against collections agencies. Kenlyn Gretz worked for a debt collector making $4.25 per hour collecting unpaid medical debts. He worked his way up and bought the firm. Then he changed everything. He now has more than 250 employees because they embraced their tagline – “Ridiculously Nice.” Being ridiculously nice is a part of their culture. The theory – Just because they are a nonpayer today doesn’t mean they will be a nonpayer tomorrow. They can call a debtor one to four months later and they take the phone calls because Americollect was nice to them. Jay tells the story of Americollect’s win rate in the competitive marketplace and of one key statistic; and why 60 percent of Americollect’s employees were once debtors who Americollect was assigned to recover a debt and was so nice that the people decided to go work for the company. In this episode Jay talks about companies like The Cheesecake Factory and Air New Zealand which have their own means for creating buzz around their brand. And a unique and simple story of a California restaurant called Skip’s Kitchen.  What they all have in common is they have their own “talk triggers” to generate word of mouth publicity. About Talk Triggers Word of mouth is directly responsible for 19% of all purchases, and influences as much as 90%. Every human on earth relies on word of mouth to make buying decisions. Yet even today, fewer than 1% of companies have an actual strategy for generating these crucial customer conversations. Talk Triggers provides that strategy in a compelling, relevant, timely book that can be put into practice immediately, by any business. The book includes: proprietary research into why and how customers talk; more than 30 detailed case studies of extraordinary results from Doubletree Hotels by Hilton, The Cheesecake Factory, Penn & Teller and dozens of delightful small and medium-sized businesses; and the 4-5-6 learning system for creating and activating talk triggers in your business. Links About Jay Baer Convince and Convert Talk Triggers Book Web Site Talk Triggers Book on Amazon Talk Triggers Show on iTunes
April 22, 2019
Pamela Whitenack, Director Emeritus of the Hershey Community Archives, joins Tim to talk about the story behind Hershey, the iconic candy brand, the company and the small town in Pennsylvania, all the vision of one man, Milton S. Hershey.   If I were to say the word “Hershey,” to you, most likely the first thing you would picture is that iconic American chocolate bar. But there’s a story behind that candy bar that all starts with one man who never allowed his failures to have the last word. In the end, he would succeed at the highest levels of business, live a long life and leave a community legacy that continues to this day. In this episode, we talk about Milton Hershey and the Hershey story. Milton Hershey – Pre-Chocolate Bar He was born on September 13th, 1857. Lived in Central Pennsylvania in the village of Derry Church. It wouldn’t be long before he was earning a living, quitting his formal education around the age of 13 to serve an apprenticeship. When he was 18 years-old, Milton opened his own candy shop in Philadelphia, but that lasted 6 years and he had to close it after making some poor business decisions. He then moved to Denver where he worked with a caramel manufacturer and learned how to make caramel with a unique recipe that included fresh milk. After less than a year he went to New York City to start wholesale business, and makes another poor business decision on leases that causes that business to fail. At that point, he decides to return to Pennsylvania and launch the Lancaster Caramel Company. He builds that business into the leading national Caramel company and by 1900 was able to sell that business for $1 million. The modern-day equivalent to roughly $1 billion. Milton Discovers Chocolate In 1893, Milton attends the Chicago International Exposition and sees a demonstration of German chocolate-making machinery He bought the equipment and began making chocolate-coated caramels. . Chocolate became a secondary business to caramels throughout the 1890s. In 1903, Milton Hershey builds a mammoth and modern candy-making factory in Derry Church. It opened in 1905. At the same time, he designs a model community to serve as the town for his employees, which would become, Hershey, Pennsylvania. The town featured brick and wood-frame homes, treelined streets with sidewalks, churches, retail and recreational facilities and parks. Milton Hershey School and Philanthropy Milton and Catherine Hershey, who did not have children of their own, decide to create the Hershey Industrial School for orphaned boys, which opened in 1909. Today, that school is known as the Milton S. Hershey School. Boys and girls attend. In 1918, three years after Catherine died unexpectedly, Milton Hershey transferred much of his wealth – the company to the Hershey Trust, which funds the Hershey School. Chronology & Legacy 114 products in 1896. 1900 – the Hershey Bar 1907 - Hershey Kisses 1908 – Included almonds in Hershey Bar 1925 – Included peanuts in Hershey Bar for product called Mr. Goodbar 1938 – Krackel Bar Milton Hershey died at 88 in 1945.  The Hershey Company is one of the leading candy makers in the world with a portfolio of iconic brands.  A partial list of other Hershey brands includes: Reese’s York Peppermint Patty Twizzlers Good and Plenty Cadbury and Rolo in North America Milton Hershey School serves 1,9090 students per year.  The M.S. Hershey Foundation, established in 1935, funds educational and cultural activities for local residents. Links
April 15, 2019
Dr. Jaclyn Schildkraut, an author and an educator of criminal justice at the State University of New York at Oswego, joins Tim to talk about Columbine, 20 years after that tragic day. Dr. Schildkraut is an expert on mass shootings and is the author of “Columbine, 20 Years Later and Beyond: Lessons in Tragedy."   On April 20th, 1999, two high school teenagers in Littleton, Colorado did something that irreversibly changed the way parents think when they send their kids off to school each morning. And they gave the name of their school a new, tragic symbolic meaning, one that it never wanted. Columbine. The killers were both seniors at the school. They were scheduled to graduate in just a few months. Here’s what happened. They wore trench coats that morning, and they carried a small arsenal of weapons in their cars. At 11:10 a.m., they walked into the school cafeteria with two duffel bags. Each bag contained a 20-pound propane bomb that was set on a timer to explode at 11:17 a.m. They boys then went back outside to their cars to watch for the explosions. Nothing happened. The bombs did not explode as they had planned. That was when they went to plan B. They went back into the school, only this time with guns. They carried submachine pistols, a carbine, a sawed-off, double-barreled shotgun, 99 home-made explosives and four knives. One of the killers’ girlfriend was 18-year-old Columbine student. She had bought the guns for the boys at a Gun Show. At roughly 11:19 a.m., the boys began shooting fellow students outside of the school. The two quickly moved inside the school, where they gunned down many of their victims in the school’s library. By about 11:35 a.m., the killers had already killed 12 students and a teacher. They had wounded more than 20 other people. The event ended almost as quickly as it began in roughly 15 minutes. Just after 12 Noon, the two teens turned their guns on themselves. These killings changed the way Americans look at school safety and sparked a level of debate over school safety and gun control that continues to this day. Several investigations found that the Columbine killers chose their victims at random. Classes at Columbine High School did not resume for the rest of that academic year, but the school did reopen in the Fall of 1999 and is still open today. Some have said that the killers in these situations should not get the attention they seem to crave, and that more of the attention should be on the victims. To effectively look back at the Columbine killings, we will have to talk about the killers in this episode, their motives and their actions, but as we do, it is important to remember the 13 innocent victims who were killed and the 20 who were injured. (In order of how they were killed) Rachel Scott Daniel Rohrbough Dave Sanders (teacher) Kyle Velasquez Steven Curnow Cassie Bernall Isaiah Shoels Matthew Kechter Lauren Townsend John Tomlin Kelly Fleming Daniel Mauser Corey DePooter Columbine Killers’ Motives Some have speculated that they considered themselves social outcasts and were fascinated with Goth culture. Much speculation included a range of explanations. They were bullied. They played violent video games. They listened to music that had an influence on them. None of these theories were proven. The “Trench coat Mafia” myth was due to their wearing trench coats, but it turned out they wore the coats only to hide their weapons. The killers left journals and videos that have helped investigators,
April 8, 2019
Hockey Hall of Fame curator and Keeper of the Cup Philip Pritchard joins Tim to talk about the history and lore of the Stanley Cup and how it’s unique among all professional sports trophies with its own personality, and the stories it could tell. Wherever the Cup goes, Phil goes with it as the Keeper of the Cup.   The Stanley Cup is the oldest trophy that professional athletes in North America compete to win.  It was a donation in 1892 from Sir Frederick Arthur Stanley, Lord Stanley of Preston and son of the Earl of Derby. He wanted to present the trophy to "the championship hockey club of the Dominion of Canada." The first team to ever win the Stanley Cup was the Montreal Amateur Athletic Association in 1893. In 1910, the National Hockey Association took possession of the Stanley Cup. Since then the trophy has been symbolic of professional hockey supremacy. Starting in 1926, only NHL teams have competed for the Cup. The Stanley Cup has changed shape several times. Tiered rings supporting the actual bowl were added periodically. Then in 1927, long narrow bands were added. These were later replaced by uneven bands in 1947. On those bands are the names of every member of the winning teams who have won the Stanley Cup. Over time, bands have been retired to make room for new champions. Retired bands, along with the original Stanley Cup bowl, are displayed in Lord Stanley's Vault at the Hockey Hall of Fame. Each year once the trophy is presented to the NHL’s champions, the Cup goes on tour as each of the organization's players and staff enjoy their own 24 hours with the Cup. To say that players have a special relationship with the Cup would be an understatement. In its many years of existence, the Stanley Cup has traveled around the world, including stays in Russia, Japan, and Switzerland as well as atop mountain peaks in the Rockies. In all of professional sports, no other trophy has the lore of the Stanley Cup. Philip Pritchard is curator at the Hockey Hall of Fame and is better known as the Keeper of the Cup. The Stanley Cup goes nowhere without Phil. What Players Have to Do to Win the Cup The Stanley Cup Playoffs are four rounds of a best of seven series. There are 60 minutes in every game, and that is without overtime. Every shift a hockey player takes, especially in the playoffs, he’s giving 100% and more. They play with broken bones and other injuries willing to accept the pain in the hopes of winning the Cup. This after an 82-game regular season. Players’ Relationship with the Cup Some players are wary of the Cup if they haven’t won it yet, and steer clear if they’re still in contention—in fact, some players on conference champion teams won’t even touch the respective Western Conference Campbell Bowl or Eastern Conference Prince of Wales Trophy so they don’t jinx their team’s chances at the real prize. The Cup Went Swimming Three Times Following their 1991 victory over the Minnesota North Stars, Pittsburgh Penguins legend Mario Lemieux hosted the team at his house. When Lemieux wasn’t looking, his teammate Phil Bourque decided he wanted to see if the Cup could float—and threw the trophy into Lemieux’s swimming pool. It didn’t float, and immediately sank to the bottom (thankfully, it was recovered unharmed). Two years later the Cup also found the bottom of Montreal Canadiens goaltender Patrick Roy’s pool. In 2002, Red Wings goaltender Dominik Hašek attempted to swim with the Cup. The Ottawa Hockey Club, now known as the Ottawa Senators, won the Cup in 1905, members had a little too much to drink and took the trop...
April 3, 2019
Executive Director of the Builders Guild of Western Pennsylvania Jeff Nobers joins Tim to talk about the rising career opportunities for people without four-year degrees, and who don’t mind rolling up their sleeves and going to work.   If you were to have a baby today, one of the first questions someone might ask you is, “When are you going to start saving for college?” It’s generally assumed today that everyone has to go to college, and if you don’t well, it’s not good. At the same time, we also hear talk about how robots and artificial intelligence are going to replace millions of jobs, especially white collar jobs. The future of work. College costs continue to rise. College graduates enter the work force with so much debt that in some cases, they are putting off getting married, starting a family, buying a house. The American dream is on hold. Last fall, the Washington Post reported that – “Well-paying jobs that don’t require a college degree are multiplying at the fastest rate in three decades, offering more Americans a path to the middle class. “ The newspaper cited a report from Georgetown University that found there are now about 13 million jobs nationwide that require only a high school diploma and pay at least $35,000 annually. This is a higher wage than most entry-level service roles. The Builders Guild of Western Pennsylvania is a unique, non-profit labor/management initiative, representing 16 building trade unions, eight affiliated general and specialty contractor associations, and the Pittsburgh Construction & Building Trades Council. The Builders Guild is a positive forum for labor, management, and community relationships, and fosters a cooperative and productive climate for regional commercial construction development. Links The Builders Guild of Western Pennsylvania Blue Collar Jobs Tracker Blue Collar Worker Shortage Turns U.S. Labor Market on Its Head, Bloomberg Blue Collar Workers are No Longer Singing the Blues, The Conference Board About this Episode’s Guest Jeff Nobers Jeff Nobers joined the Builders Guild in his current role in February 2017. He brings an extensive background in media and public relations, crisis communications, marketing communications and community relations to the position. Among his goals for the Builders Guild is to expand the public knowledge of construction trade unions and contractor associations, heighten the awareness of career opportunities in the trades, and promote the benefits of union construction. Prior to joining the Builders Guild, he was the Vice President of Public Relations and Marketing for the 84 Lumber Company. As the company’s lobbying representative to the National Association of Home Builders Jeff played a key role in the passage of the housing mortgage tax credit act which helped to spur the housing market recovery. Previously he was Vice President of Media and Public Relations at Brunner, Inc., where he developed the agency’s first ever media training and crisis communications programs for clients. Previous experience included: Sr. Account Supervisor/Public Affairs & Crisis Communications at Burson Marsteller; Media Relations Director at Hill & Knowlton PR; and Sr. Account Supervisor at Ketchum Public Relations. A 1979 graduate of Duquesne University with a BA in Journalism, he is married with two children and resides in McMurray, PA. His interests include surf fishing, reading and family traveling.
April 1, 2019
Historian, author and Heritage Foundation Distinguished Fellow Lee Edwards joins Tim to talk about the Berlin Wall, the world that created it, the Cold War that fostered it, and the free world that brought it down.   The Berlin Wall was as much a symbol for communist oppression as it was a barrier created to contain citizens of communist East Germany. At the end of World War II, the allies held two peace conferences in Yalta and Potsdam to determine the postwar map of the world. The key figures at those conferences were Winston Churchill of the United Kingdom, Joseph Stalin of the Soviet Union and Franklin Delano Roosevelt of the United States. Tensions were already rising between the West and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics or the USSR. In this context, the allies decided to split Germany into four “allied zones” to weaken the threat of that country re-emerging as a threat to world peace. The Eastern part of the country would be controlled by the Soviet Union, and the western part would fall under the control of the United States, Britain and later France would join. While Berlin is located in the eastern part of Germany, at Yalta and Potsdam, it was determined that as the capitol city, it had such significance that it, too, should be divided. Going forward, West Berlin became a thriving westernized city and enjoyed postwar prosperity, even though it was located deep inside communist East Germany.  East Berlin, on the other hand, remained in dire straits under the tight grip of communism. The Soviets decided to drive the West out of West Berlin. In 1948 they initiated a Soviet blockade of West Berlin to starve the Western Allies out of the city. The U.S. and its allies decided to conduct airlifts of humanitarian aid to West Berliners. Eventually the blockade ended, but tensions continued as the Soviets and the U.S. as super powers engaged in a nuclear arms race for global domination. The threat of World War III was ever-present. By 1958, the Soviets lost large numbers of skilled workers to the West as more and more of East Germans sought freedom in the West. By June 1961, roughly 19,000 people left East Germany through Berlin. On August 12, 1961, roughly 2,400 refugees defected to Berlin in a single day. This was the largest number of people to leave East Germany in one day. That night, Soviet Leader Nikita Khrushchev approved East Germany’s plans to stop to flow of refugees by closing its border. In one night, part of the Berlin Wall was built.  This did not defuse tensions but had the opposite effect. While it slowed the flood of refugees going from communism to freedom, it only exacerbated Cold War tensions. This did not stop captive East Germans from trying to escape communist oppression. 171 people died trying to defect, while another 5,000 East Germans found a way to successfully reach freedom in the West. Ronald Reagan’s Speech On Friday, June 12th 1987, President Ronald Reagan gave a historic speech of his own at the Berlin Wall. In it, he stepped up his pressure on the Soviet Union, reinforcing his strong positions against the oppression of communism, and then he delivered the now famous line when he called for Soviet leader Mikhail Gobachev to “Tear down this wall.” The Fall November 9, 1989 0 East Berlin’s Communist Party announced a change in its travel ban with the West. They said East German citizens were now free to cross the city’s borders. Both East and West Berliners descended on the wall and celebrated. Guards opened the checkpoints and 2 million people from both East and West joined together to celebrate.
March 25, 2019
Author and historian Tom McMillan joins Tim to talk about the Civil War history of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania and why it still matters in the 21st Century. If the outcome were different, there could be up to five different countries between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.   The American Civil War started in 1861 with the southern states forming the Confederacy and the decision to secede from the United States. The Confederacy won its share of battles as the Union appeared to struggle with strategy, decision-making and leadership By the summer of 1863, Confederate General Robert E. Lee decided to try to capitalize on a eries of Confederate victories and win the war on Northern soil. His goal was to force President Lincoln to negotiate for a quick peace. His route was the Shenandoah Valley, which provided cover for his army, as the union army followed in pursuit. The Confederate force entered Pennsylvania in mid-June, and by the end of the month, it had reached the Susquehanna River near Harrisburg. Federal and Confederate forces would collide at the town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on the morning of July 1st. In that first day, the Confederates pushed the Union Army to the west and north of Gettysburg, but could not take some strategic hills that preserved the high ground for the Federals. On the second day, reinforcements arrived for both armies. General Lee decided to attack the growing Union Army, which occupied strong positions in the heights. He paid particular attention to the right and left sides of the Federals, trying to outflank them. But the day ended with no significant change in ground occupation. On the third day, which was July 3rd, the Confederates attacked the Union center at a place known as Cemetery Ridge. This is known as Pickett’s Charge, named after Confederate General George Picket who led the attack. On that day, the Confederates would reach their furthest point in the North during the war. Historians refer to this battle as the time when the Confederates reached High Tide, before retreating south. The battle of Gettysburg was a defeat for Lee and the Confederate Army, but it would be two more years of fighting before the Civil War would come to an end. By the end of the battle of Gettysburg, there were heavy casualties on both sides. Roughly 51,000 soldiers were killed, wounded, captured, or listed as missing. In my own research on the topic, one person described it best. He said that’s 51,000 unique stories, combined with the stories of those who survived or where affected in some way by the Battle of Gettysburg. The fighting at Gettysburg has inspired countless books, movies, documentaries and many journal and news articles. The town of Gettysburg remains one of the most popular Civil War destinations for historians, history buffs and tourist. In this episode, Tom and Tim talk about the Battle of Gettysburg and its impact on a small cross-section of people who were there and how their stories still resonate today. Links Gettysburg Rebels: Five Native Sons who Came Home to Fight as Confederate Soldiers, by Tom McMillan (Amazon) Gettysburg National Military Park, U.S. Parks Service Battle of Gettysburg, Battlefield Trust Battle of Gettysburg, The Gettysburg Address, Abraham Lincoln Online Killer Angels, by Michael Shaara (Amazon) The Gettysburg Campaign, by Edwin Coddington (Amazon) About this Episode's Guest Tom McMillan Tom McMillan has spent a lifetime in sports media and communications but his pa...
March 18, 2019
Space author, journalist and historian Rod Pyle joins Tim to tell the story you knew and the ones you didn’t about the pinnacle accomplishment for the NASA space program, when man first stepped foot on the Moon thanks to Apollo 11, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2019.   On July 20th of this year, the country and the world will mark the 50th anniversary since the historic voyage of Apollo 11 when man first stepped foot on the moon. That event market the fulfillment of a promise President John J. Kennedy made in a speech at Rice University on September 12th 1962. In less than seven years, the United States developed the systems, technologies and ability to do something mankind had never before achieved. In 2019 it may be difficult to imagine just how big this was.  You would have to go to history books to read about ancient mariners who discovered never before seen lands and cultures.  Only with Apollo 11 it was different. Man has always been able to see the Moon, but it wasn’t until Apollo 11 that he would actually walk on it. And thanks to the technology of the day, millions around the world were able to see and hear that history in real time, though the imagery left much to be desired. In episode 50, we talked about one of the low points for NASA, which was the Challenger Disaster. In this episode we will talk about the highest of highs for NASA. Rod Pyle has written a book about Apollo 11 called First on the Moon with a forward written by one of the first men on the moon Buzz Aldrin. His book features many stunning photos and illustrations, along with some rarely seen documents that tell the story of the first men on the moon. The Mission Kennedy framed it in that 1962 speech: To beat the Soviet Union in space. National and world security. To set the tone that our mission to space would be in the name of peace, not war. But clearly to gain a military edge. Background It took 400,000 scientists, engineers, technicians and managers along the way. The public was mixed in support of space travel 50/50. Launch was July 16, 1969 from Cape Kennedy. Orbited the Earth for 2 hours and then accelerated to escape Earth’s gravity. Three days later, Apollo 11 entered lunar orbit. The Lunar Module (LM) landed on July 20th. “The Eagle has landed.” The Sea of Tranquility was chosen because it is relatively smooth and level. Armstrong had to manually pilot the LM to avoid a sharp-rimmed crater seconds before landing. The astronauts were supposed to eat and sleep and then walk on the Moon, but they decided to walk on the Moon first. This was planned, but the flight control didn’t all know this. Some had gone home to eat and sleep. They figured it would be easier to decide to walk on the Moon then than to plan to do it then and have to abort. Neil Armstrong was the first to leave the LM. They had a grainy black and white video camera that sent live signals back to Earth. While on the moon, Buzz Aldrin and Armstrong deployed a Solar Wind experiment, collected a sample of lunar dust and rocks, took panoramic photos of the region near the landing site (Sea of Tranquility), and close-up photos. They also deployed a seismic experiment. They left the Moon the next day, and three days later, they splashed down in the Pacific Ocean. The Crew Neil Armstrong – Commander Buzz Aldrin – Pilot of Lunar Module – The Eagle Michael Collins – Command Module Pilot Deke Slayton picked the crews and was against choosing crews for specific missions. His philosophy – any crew could fly any mission.
March 11, 2019
Rolling Stone journalist Andy Greene joins Tim to talk about plans to mark the 50th anniversary of Woodstock and the legacy across generations left by that iconic original event in 1969.   From August 16th through the 18th of 2019, the original organizer of Woodstock will host a 50th Anniversary event in Watkins Glen, New York. Michael Lang, that original planner, said there will be more than 40 performers at an event that he says will get back to Woodstock’s roots and as he puts it, the event’s original intent. This event is one of two Woodstock 50th anniversary concerts that will happen in Upstate New York on the same weekend. The one hosted by original Woodstock promoter Michael Lang is called Woodstock 50. The other event will be called the Bethel Woods Music and Culture Festival. That event will be held at the original Woodstock site at the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts. Live Nation is sponsoring that festival. While Woodstock 50 appears to be primarily a music event, the Bethel Woods event will include cultural and community activities, including a history exhibit and some TED-style talks. One thing you can be sure. On the third weekend of August this year, Upstate New York will host scores of people, some looking to relive a moment in their youth, and others seeking to create one. History On August 16, 1969, the original event, called the Woodstock Music & Art Fair, took place on a dairy farm in Bethel, New York. Over 500,000 people, mostly teenagers and college-age traveled from across the country to a 600-acre farm. It was the biggest rock concert ever. The promoters gave up collecting tickets after a while. They sat in the heat and the rain to hear 32 acts that included some well-known and some not-so-well known musical acts. But if the event were just about the music, Woodstock wouldn’t be the phenomenon that it became.The late 1960s were a time for youthful rebellion, anti-war protests, the emergence of a counter-culture. And of course, there was the music. Jefferson Airplane, Jimi Hendrix, the Grateful Dead, The Who, Janis Joplin, Crosby, Still, Nash & Young, and Joni Mitchell were some of the headliners. Over 100,000 tickets were sold before the Woodstock festival started, and by the end of four days of music, over 500,000 people endured rain, heat and spartan conditions to create a happening that is now part of history. Andy Greene has been following the anniversary activities and plans as part of his role with the Rolling Stone. What’s Different This Time The original attendees are 50 years older. They are now retirees for the most part. The prices have changed: 3-day passes $429-$4,200 for VIPs. Woodstock 50 at Watkins Glen will center around The Glen, a racetrack with capacity for 40,000. Expected to draw 100,000 in terms of ticket sales with three main stages. The Bethel Woods festival will center on the Center for the Arts, an amphitheater with seating for 15,000. There will be more stages, but it’s likely that 500,000 number from the original event won’t be matched. Links Three-Day Woodstock Festival from Original Organizer Coming this Summer, Rolling Stone Woodstock Returns Again on the Festival's 50th Anniversary, New York Times 13 Things You Didn't Know About Woodstock, HuffPost 1969: Woodstock Festival Opens in Bethel, New York, About this Episode's Guest Andy Greene Andy Greene began his career at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio.
March 6, 2019
The president of the Marcellus Shale Coalition joins Tim to talk about just how game-changing a somewhat recent innovation in the energy industry could be. While hydraulic fracturing isn’t new, how it was used to tap previously unreachable oil and gas reserves was an innovation that changed the energy future of the nation. The 1970s and early 1980s were a dire time for many mill towns from around the Great Lakes and into Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. This region was home to America’s steel and automobile production. These industries were in no small way responsible for America’s rise on the global stage to super power status. But by the 1970s, the region saw a sharp decline in industrial work as many factories were closed and abandoned and left to rust on acres of unused real estate, while the people who used to work there looked for work. Local news reports of increasing home foreclosure rates were on the rise, along with declining populations in once thriving towns and cities. Foreign steelmakers and automakers drove down wages and prices on the world market. The way manufacturing had been done up until then just wasn’t working any more. In 1983, unemployment in the Pittsburgh Metro area hit 15 percent. Nearby communities saw unemployment rise to 27 percent. In the region, the number of those unemployed hit 212,000. This is just one region. One by one, still mills closed and another 2,000-8,000 people were out of work for good. There were pickets and protests, labor strikes, and in the end, silence. The region became known as the Rust Belt. Former working class towns fell into decline. Young generations knew they wouldn’t find work in the mill like their parents, so they left town and local economies fell apart. Pittsburgh was one of the more prominent big cities to feel the impact of the decline of big steel. While the city and the region worked to reinvent itself over decades, shedding its smoky mill-town image for a new economy in technology, biotech and healthcare, the lack of good manufacturing jobs in the region is a problem that never really went away. Meanwhile in Texas The news wasn’t much better for the energy industry in Texas around that time. Energy industry experts saw what they said were irreversible declines in hydrocarbon energy supplies – oil and gas. The country became increasingly dependent on foreign sources of oil and gas, and had to pay high prices set by cartels, which contributed to higher costs for daily items such as groceries and utilities. That’s when an oil man named George Mitchell took on a long-term effort to see if the experts were wrong. Mitchell needed to find new sources of energy. He was already sending large amounts of natural gas from his Texas fields to the City of Chicago. This was his main source of revenue. But as his fields started to dry up, he was worried about his company’s and his future. Through the 1980s and 90s, he drilled all over Texas to see for himself. He used existing technologies to start to fracture shale rock formations in fields where he had already pumped out oil and gas at the shallower depths. He felt he had to find gas somewhere, some way on his fields. Bigger companies – Exxon and Chevron – had already shut down their operations in the same area. Mitchell was undeterred. His team started to experiment with the fluids and mixtures they were using, and started to find that thinner, watery mixtures were more effective at breaking shale rock apart to release the natural gas inside. It took him 17 years, but by 1998,
March 4, 2019
Former Chairman and CEO of global communications firm Ogilvy & Mather Miles Young joins Tim to talk about David Ogilvy, a legend in the advertising world and just why Ogilvy’s legacy continues to be felt far and wide.   If you ever worked in advertising or marketing - if you ever studied advertising or marketing - or if you are just a fan of good advertising, there is a chance you already know of David Ogilvy. Even if you don’t know David Ogilvy by name, you have seen the impact of his work. He was born in West Horsley in England in June 1911. Long before he became an advertising icon, he flunked out of Oxford in 1931. After that he went to Paris and became a chef’s apprentice. The highly demanding head chef made such an impression on young David Ogilvy that he would later model his principles of management after the that chef. As Ogilvy said it, when the head chef would fire someone for not living up to his high expectations, “it made all of the other chefs feel that they were working in the best kitchen in the world.” After his time in the kitchen, David Ogilvy returned to England, where he took a job selling cooking stoves door to door. He did very well at that job, so much so, that he was asked to write an instruction manual for his fellow salesmen. David’s writing of that manual helped him land a copywriting job at the London ad agency called Mather & Crowley. It didn’t hurt that David’s brother Francis was already an executive at the firm. By 1938, Ogilvy convinced management to send him to the United States to learn how advertising was done in the U.S. Shortly later, he left the ad agency to join George Gallup and his research organization. Every experience became a major influence on David. George Gallup was meticulous in his research and his methods. David Ogilvy would later say that his foundation in research “would become the Ogilvy approach to advertising.” When World War II broke out, David worked for British Intelligence. After the war, he secured the backing of his former employer, Mather & Crowley, to launch what would become Ogilvy & Mather. He became known for ideas that are commonplace today but were pioneered by him. Instead of emphasizing the quick sale or the hard sell, he favored a more long-term, soft-sell style. His strategy focused on building brand name recognition, so his ads were more informative and focused on product benefits. He’d use eye-catching people or symbols. His advertising copy was said to flatter the readers’ intelligence. In addition to his work, David Ogilvy is known for authoring two books that remain must-reads for anyone considering a career in advertising: Confessions of an Advertising Man; and Ogilvy on Advertising. David Ogilvy died in 1999 at the age of 88. By then he was well into retirement at his 12th century chateau in France. Miles Young joined Ogilvy & Mather in 1983 and would later serve as the CEO of Ogilvy & Mather. Links Ogilvy on Advertising in the Digital Age, by Miles Young (Amazon) Ogilvy on Advertising, by David Ogilvy (Amazon) Confessions of an Advertising Man, by David Ogilvy (Amazon) Ogilvy & Mather (Agency Page) David Ogilvy: Master of the Soft Sell, Entrepreneur David Ogilvy, 88, Father of Soft Sell in Advertising Dies, New York Times About this Episode's Guest Miles Young Miles Young was an undergraduate historian at New College from 1973 to 1976. His business career has been spent in advertising and marketing, most recently as Chairman and CEO of Ogilvy and Mather,
February 25, 2019
Jen Chaney joins Tim to talk about a cult classic film that its fans have to watch over and over. Ferris Beuller’s Day Off. Jen is a TV critic and pop culture journalist who’s contributed to the Washington Post, the New York Times, New York Magazine’s Vulture specialty publication, and WTOP Radio in Washington, D.C. In this episode we talk about how a teen movie left an indelible mark on pop culture.   Filmmaker and Director John Hughes made more than his share of movie favorites that spanned generations. All we need to hear are just some of the titles of some of his films, to find ourselves taking a trip back to a certain time in our lives: National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, Home Alone, Mr. Mom and others. In this episode, we to talk about the lasting impact of one of Hughes’ films, one that many of its fans said they just couldn’t watch one time. Ferris Beuller’s Day Off. The movie debuted in 1986. Matthew Broderick played Ferris, a free-spirited teenager with a quick wit. In Ferris Beuller’s Day Off, he cuts school and goes out on the town in Chicago with two of his girlfriend and his best friend. As with many cult classics this movie contributed some things to culture that have lasted decades.  In fact, Jen Chaney wrote an article in the Washington Post where she documented 25 contributions to pop culture lore. The Plot Ferris is played by Matthew Broderick. He lives in the suburbs of Chicago. He decides to fake being sick so he can cut school for the day. He recruits his best friend Cameron to join him, and Cameron, who is played by Alan Ruck, actually does have a cold that day. And Ferris recruits his girlfriend Sloane, who is played by Mia Sara. There are other memorable characters like Ferris’s little sister played by Jennifer Grey, Jeffrey Jones who plays Principal Ed Rooney, and of course Ben Stein, who plays one of Ferris’s teachers. Charlie Sheen even made a memorable appearance. The movie shows us how cleverly Ferris convinces his mother he’s sick, and then it shows us how he is able to get Cameron and Sloane away from school. The movie starts to build to a point when the three decide to take a joy ride in Cameron’s father’s 1961 Ferrari 250 GT. There were only 100 of those cars ever made. They escape from school and explore Chicago, including a little culture – the museum. The kids make a series of decisions that leave you wondering what’s going to happen next, and sometimes what you fear might happen actually does. Ferris Beuller in Pop Culture It’s not just that certain lines stood out in the movie, but that they came to mean things outside of the movie: When Ben Stein drones Beuller’s name three times in class. When the 1961 Ferrari enters the picture, the soundtrack plays a song from Yello called Oh Yeah. Now shorthand for something you really want in other films, TV and advertising. The movie revived Twist and Shout by the Beatles and Wayne Newton’s 1960s hit Danke Schoen. Rock bands took their names from the movie: Save Ferris, Rooney. Two 1990 TV shows: NBC’s Ferris Beuller (Jennifer Anniston played Ferris’s sister in that;” and Fox’s Parker Lewis Can’t Lose. Things We Didn’t Know Alan Ruck, who played Cameron, was 30 years old at the time. Broderick was 23. In real life Matthew Broderick and Jennifer Grey (his on screen sister) got engaged before the movie’s release. The couple who played Ferris’s parents actually met on the set and got married. (Cindy Picket and Lyman Ward) Ben Stein was supposed to be off-camera,
February 18, 2019
Dr. Cyril Wecht, a world-renowned forensic pathologist joins Tim to talk about his long experience with his study of the John F. Kennedy assassination. Dr. Wecht was among the first to raise concerns over the investigation of the assassination. In this episode, we talk with Dr. Wecht about the events of November 22, 1963, the story that was told to the world, and the story that has started to emerge in the 55 years since.   Dr. Cyril Wecht has been involved in many high-profile cases, including the assassinations of Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King. But the most high-profile case that he has studied and written a book about is the JFK Assassination and the possibility that it was the result of a conspiracy. On a sunny day on November 22nd 1963, President John F. Kennedy was shot and killed as his motorcade traveled through the streets of Dallas. That’s one thing that everyone can agree on. After that, the official explanation for what happened is only one of the stories that have resonated with people over the years. As history would tell it, as the president rode with the first lady and Texas Governor John Connally through Dealey Plaza in Downtown Dallas, he was horrifically shot in the head, setting off a chain of events that are controversial to this day. Very quickly, the world would learn that the shooter was an employee of the Texas Schoolbook Repository. His name was Lee Harvey Oswald, and he was said to have perched himself at a window on the 6th floor overlooking Dealey Plaza when the president drove by. In six seconds, he fired three shots into the president’s car. In a matter of hours, the police caught up with Oswald and it was widely believed that for all intents and purposes, the case was solved. With President Kennedy deceased, President Johnson convened the Warren Commission to conduct a formal investigation into the assassination. By September and October of 1964, just short of a year after the assassination, the Warren Commission issued their report. It was 26 volumes of details and justification of their findings, which was that there was a single shooter, and that shooter was Lee Harvey Oswald. The Commission concluded that he was operating on his own and that there was no larger conspiracy either within or outside of the United States. Dr. Cyril Wecht was the first civilian forensic pathologist to see the Warren Commission’s forensic evidence, which would come in 1972. Before that, in 1964, he was among the first to study the 26-volume Warren Commission Report from a forensic pathology perspective. Links Who Killed Kennedy?, Amazon Books (Cyril Wecht author) Dr. Cyril Wecht Author Page, Amazon Books 50 Years Later, Wecht Continues to Poke Holes in Report on JFK Assassination, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review The Cyril H. Wecht Institute at Duquesne University, About Dr. Wecht About this Episode's Guest Dr. Cyril Wecht Cyril H. Wecht, M.D., J.D., is a forensic pathologist, attorney and medical-legal consultant. Being an expert in Forensic Medicine, Dr. Wecht has frequently appeared on several nationally syndicated programs discussing various medicolegal and forensic scientific issues, including medical malpractice, drug abuse, the assassinations of both President John F. Kennedy and Senator Robert F. Kennedy, the death of Elvis Presley, the O.J. Simpson case, and the JonBenet Ramsey cases. His expertise has also been utilized in high profile cases involving Mary Jo Kopechne, Sunny von Bulow, Jean Harris, Dr. Jeffrey McDonald, the Waco Branch Davidian fire, and Vincent Foster. A comprehensive study of these cases are discussed from the perspecti...
February 11, 2019
Author Blake Harris joins Tim to discuss the story behind his book, which is being turned into a television series: “Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle That Defined a Generation.” Blake tells the story of when Sega and Nintendo battled Nintendo throughout the 1990s for video game industry dominance, and for the hearts, minds, and the fingers of a new generation. The video game industry is as strong as ever and growing. Technologies continue to evolve so that gamers can participate with fellow players – together - from home anywhere in the world. And innovations like virtual reality are taking the video game experience to a new level. According to Newzoo, a company that follows the video game industry, gamers around the globe will spend over $138 billion on video games in 2019. The fact that video games are big business is not new. But how did we get here? A case can be made that the video game market we know today can trace its roots back to the rivalry between Sega and Nintendo in the 1990s. Blake Harris wrote about the battle between Sega and Nintendo in the early 1990s. This is when video games grew from being seen as a fad or a toy, into mainstream entertainment for teenagers, and later adults. At the time, Nintendo owned the video game market with a 90 percent share. It was a $3 billion market at that time with one in every three American homes having a video game console. That was when the Japanese video game company named Sega saw an opportunity and made its move. It hired an American named Tom Kalinske to take over as head of the American division of Sega. The story of Sega as we know it today may start when Tom Kalinske was named CEO for Sega in North America.  He had already served as the young CEO of Mattel and was recruited to take the helm of the American division of Sega. When Kalinske travels to Japan, he’s captivated by some products under development that include a handheld portable game system and a home console called Sega Genesis. Back in America, things weren’t so impressive for Kalinske. Sales and marketing are a mess, and the company is struggling. He decides that the company needs to unbundle its games and market each one individually. One of those games is called Sonic the Hedgehog. Sega's Japanese management team resists, but eventually he gets his way, and successfully demonstrates Sonic at the 1991 Summer Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Things Start to Happen Between 1990 and 1992 Sega had seized 35 percent of sales by appealing to an older audience than Nintendo had appealed to in its marketing. The Genesis system quickly outsells Nintendo's entry in the marketplace, and this is the first time since 1985 that Nintendo does not dominate the home console market. Not only did Nintendo have to contend with Sega, but in this same time period, Nintendo had run into some trouble when it tried to partner with Sony on video games. This led to problems later when Sony produced its firsts PlayStation game console. Links Console Wars: SEGA, Nintendo and the Battle that Defined a Generation, Amazon Books History of the Future: Oculus, Facebook and the Revolution that Swept Virtual Reality, Amazon Books Console Wars Book Review, New York Times Newzoo About this Episode's Guest Blake Harris Blake J. Harris is the bestselling author of Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo and the Battle that Defined a Generation, which is currently being adapted for television by Legendary Entertainment, and producers Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg and Scott Rudin. Harris has written for ESPN, IGN, Fast Company, /Film and The AV Club,
February 4, 2019
Fellow crisis communicator Jeff Worden joins Tim to talk about one of the worst crises NASA ever faced when the space shuttle Challenger came apart in midair shortly after launch in front of millions. In this episode, we talk with Jeff about the tragic events around January 28, 1986. That was supposed to be a day of celebration but turned to tragedy when the Space Shuttle Challenger’s booster rockets exploded shortly after launch.  That event marked a turning point for the way we see space travel. The NASA space shuttle Challenger came apart in the air 73 seconds after launch on that sunny day in January. The tragedy took the lives of all seven astronauts on board, which included Crista McAuliffe, a teacher from New Hampshire who had won the honor of be the first civilian in space. The event shocked the nation and the world, and was arguably the worst crisis NASA had ever faced to that time. Confidence in America’s leadership in space was shaken. Later, it was found that two rubber O-rings were the problem. They had been designed to separate the sections of the rocket booster on liftoff, but they failed due to cold temperatures on the morning of the launch. After that tragedy, NASA had to temporarily suspend all shuttle missions. Those who perished were Dick Scobee – Spacecraft Commander; Michael Smith – Pilot; Judith Resnik – Mission Specialist; Ronald McNair – Mission Specialist; Ellison Onizuka – Mission Specialist; Gregory Jarvis – Payload Specialist; and Christa McAuliffe – First Teacher in Space. Civilian. On July 19, 1985, she was chosen to be the first teacher and the first civilian to go to space. Her presence on this mission made it anything but routine. Problems Before Launch The mission had already been delayed 6 days for weather and technical problems. That morning was very cold. We would later learn that engineers warned their supervisors that certain components, including the rubber O-rings that sealed the joints of the shuttle’s rocket boosters – could fail at low temperatures. The warnings were ignored. Myths Challenger's Maiden Launch 1982. Source: NASA The Challenger did not explode.  NASA public affairs officer Steve Nesbitt said at the time that “We have a report from the flight dynamics officer that the vehicle has exploded.” It wasn’t that simple. The external fuel tank collapsed, releasing all of its flammable contents. They ignited to create a huge fireball in the air. The shuttle itself was still intact and still rising. The truth is, it was trying to stay on its path but it broke off of the tank, and it was moving so fast, it couldn’t tolerate the aerodynamic forces. The tail and main engine section broke off. Both of the wings broke off. The crew cabin and the forward fuselage separated from the payload bay and they broke up when the fell from the sky into the water. The crew did not die instantly. Experts believe the astronauts were alive until their crew cabin hit the Atlantic Ocean at 200 miles per hour. The National Air and Space Museum has said that the astronauts were still strapped into their seats when they were found. Still, it’s hard to know if they were conscious when things went awry. While millions did see the tragedy on TV, most did not see it live.
January 28, 2019
Liz Dolan joins Tim to talk about one of the most well-known advertising taglines of all time, Nike’s “Just Do It.” Liz was Nike’s head of PR and then Marketing for the ten years when the legendary changed everything for the company and the way companies market themselves. We talk with Liz about the story behind Nike’s marketing genius, line and the impact it’s made beyond athletics. Liz Dolan has been described as one of the most creative marketers in the business, having run marketing at global brands like Nike and others. She’s also the creator and a host of the Satellite Sisters podcast and the Safe For Work podcast from Wondery. In this episode , we talk with Liz about her time at Nike, and more specifically that iconic advertising slogan, Just Do It. It was 1987, and Nike had just launched its new ad campaign built around the tagline, “Just Do It.” Today, the tagline is hard to miss. You’ll find it on bags, T-shirts, billboards, posters and online. The line makes a statement about Nike and the people it targets. The Just Do It tagline was central to Nike’s first major television ad campaign, which included commercials for running, walking, cross-training, basketball and women’s fitness. Just weeks after the company launched the “Just Do It” tagline, Liz Dolan took the helm of public relations, and later marketing at Nike. She would spend the next 10 years at the company during the most formative time in its history. On her 40th birthday, she decided to leave Nike to as she says, “get a life.” She started a radio program with her sisters called Satellite Sisters, which is now a podcast. But she wasn’t done in the world of marketing. She has also served as the Chief Marketing Officer at the Oprah Winfrey Network and at the National Geographic Channels. Today, in addition to her continued work on Satellite Sisters, she is also a co-host of the podcast Safe For Work. For anyone in marketing or communications, we know that in the slogan was created by Dan Wieden who is a legend in the advertising business. He is one of the founders of Wieden + Kennedy agency based in Portland, Oregon. The slogan has a very interesting story that wasn’t apparent at first. Gary Gilmore was a convicted killer who was executed in Utah State Prison on the morning of January 17, 1977. He was convicted of murdering a gas station employee and motel manager the year before. This was the first execution in the United States since 1967 – ten years. Just before his execution, he was asked if he had any last words, and according to reports, he said, “Do it.” In 2009, Dan Wieden said in a documentary, “Art & Copy” that he was drawn to the phrase “do it” and pitched it to Nike. Pitched it to Nike co-founder Phil Knight. Knight didn’t like it at first, but Widen said he told Knight, “Just trust me on this one, so they trusted me and it went big pretty quickly.” One of the fist ads in 1988 for the campaign featured Walt Stack, an 80-year old marathon runner in San Francisco. This became the company’s signature, transforming Nike from an athletic shoe company into a multibillion-dollar giant. The slogan is a mantra for many. The general public started sending letters, calling in, Nike and Wieden + Kennedy. The line resonated in the athletic community and with people who had no connection to sports. Nike used this and focused it towards the female demographic with an emphasis on female empowerment. Today, Nike says it doesn’t even see the line as a tagline. It’s a brand identity and a corporate philosophy. It’s what they stand for. Links
January 21, 2019
Groundhog Club Inner Circle member John Griffiths joins Tim to talk about Groundhog Day and why a little town called Punxsutawney becomes the epicenter of weather prognostication one day a year. John is the handler of Punxsutawney Phil, the Pennsylvania ground hog famous around the world for predicting whether or not we have another 6 weeks of winter. February 2nd is better known as Groundhog Day.   On February 2nd, 2019, it will be the 133rd year of Groundhog Day at Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, which is a little drive north of Pittsburgh. This is when Punxsutawney Phil will reveal to the president of his Inner Circle his prediction for the end of winter. It all happens at the break of dawn, on a usually very cold morning in front of thousands of spectators and television and news media cameras. Whatever happens, Phil’s prediction is transmitted to millions thanks to the media. History of Groundhog Day Groundhog Day has European roots. Started centuries ago and is rooted in certain animals in nature “awakening” from their winter hibernation on certain dates. Legend has it then that the groundhog come out of his winter hibernation on February 2nd to look for his shadow. If he sees it, this is seen as an omen of six more weeks of bad weather, and he then returns into his hole. If the day is cloudy, and there is no shadow to see, he takes it as a sign of spring and stays above ground. Some of Pennsylvania’s earliest settlers were Germans and they noticed the abundance of groundhogs. They saw the animal as the most intelligent and sensible of the local animals, and decided that if the sun did appear on February 2nd, the groundhog would be the one to see its shadow or not. Phun Phacts Punxsutawney Phil is named after King Phillip. Crowds have gotten as high as 30,000 on Gobbler’s Knob. The Punxsutawney Spirit newspaper printed the first news of the observance in 1886, one year before the first trip to Gobbler’s Knob. During Prohibition, Phil threatened to imposed 60 weeks of winter on the community if he wasn’t permitted a drink. In 1982 Phil wore a yellow ribbon in honor of the American hostages in Iran. In 1986, Phil went to Washington, D.C. to meet with President Reagan. 1993, Columbia Pictures released the movie Groundhog Day, starring Bill Murray. Links The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club Groundhog Day Movie via Amazon The First Groundhog Day, Groundhog Day & Punxsutawney from The Encyclopedia Britannica About this Episode's Guest John Griffiths John Griffiths is a co-handler in the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club and a member of the Inner Circle.  He's been a member since 1999. His advice to people who plan on enjoying Groundhog Day in person, he advises "Put all rational thought out of your mind and let the day take you wherever it may." His favorite Groundhog Day Memory was, "Meeting a couple from the state of Washington who told me Groundhog Day was their favorite holiday because it wasn't political or religious, its just 'fun'."
January 14, 2019
Author Abe Aamidor joins Tim to talk about those iconic Chuck Taylor Converse All Star shoes. The Chuck Taylor story, how he was the first to have an athletic shoe named after him, and how a classic basketball shoe came to stand for rock and roll, the counter culture, and today a major fashion statement. We talk with Abe about his book, Chuck Taylor All Star: The True Story of the Man Behind the Most Famous Athletic Shoe in History.   The shoes have been around since 1917. They are canvas on top, usually white or black. The soles are white rubber around the toe and then around the sides to the back. The bottoms have a trademark dark rubber waffle pattern. The people who wear them have an emotional connection to the shoes. They like the way they look, the way they feel. If you wear the high-top version, on the inside of your ankle, there is that trademark blue star set in a white circle, flanked by that name in script. Chuck Taylor. By now, you know we’re talking about Converse Chuck Taylor All Star athletic shoes. He didn’t own the company. He didn’t invent the shoe. He wasn’t a millionaire professional basketball player. Yet he was the first one to have his name put on an athletic shoe, and what a shoe it is. About Chuck Taylor Chuck Taylor was born in Indiana in 1901. Right after high school, he played professional basketball. Teams were the Columbus Commercials and the Akron Firestone (Non-skids). Converse first produced its All Star athletic shoe in 1917. By 1921 or 22, Chuck Taylor joined the Converse Rubber Shoe Co., and that’s when he became a shoe salesman. That became his profession and would lead to his legacy. For perspective, the NBA won’t be founded for another 28 years. Chuck Taylor first joined Converse in Chicago. Chuck Taylor would help redesign the shoes and become and a champion for the game of basketball in America. He was a player and coach for a team called the Converse All Stars, which was an industrial league basketball team. He created the Converse Basketball Yearbook, where players, teams and big moments were highlighted. And he conducted basketball clinics all across the country. He promoted the shoes at the grassroots level, and non-stop. In 1932, Converse put his name on the ankle patch. He didn’t get any special payment for this. He was paid an employee’s salary, and he was on a salesman’s expense account. Those shoes are the best-selling basketball shoe in history. In 1969, he was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. He died the same year at the age of 67 from a heart attack. After Chuck Taylor Adidas had made inroads with new styles of shoes on the basketball court. Then Nike entered the picture in the 1970s. But then you started to see rock bands wearing the shoes in concerts, and a whole new Chuck Taylor fan base emerged. Chuck Taylor shoes became a statement for counter culture, for rock and roll, for new counter culture sports like skateboarding. And today, they are now a fashion statement that cuts across all generations and are worn around the world. In 2003, Nike bought the Converse Chuck Taylor shoe brand. Converse sells roughly 270,000 pairs of Chuck Taylors every day of the year. Links The History of the Converse All Star "Chuck Taylor Basketball Shoe," Chuck Taylor, The Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame Who was Chuck Taylor?, Mental Floss Converse Shoes: In the All Star Game, BBC Chuck Taylor, Converse, and Us: A True American Love Story, Newsweek Chuck Taylor All Star: The True Story of the Ma...
January 7, 2019
Aja Romano, a culture staff writer for Vox, joins Tim to discuss the impact AOL Instant Messenger had on the way we communicate and on many peoples’ formative years. The two talk about those colors, those sounds, the dos and don’ts of AIM ands the legacy it left for social media habits we carry on today. Last year, AOL decided to retire its Yellow Running man after 20 years since it first started to transform the way we communicate on the Internet. The operative word in the name was “instant.” AOL launched Instant Messenger in 1997. It was one of the fist widely used, free, instant chat services online. It became the most famous instant chat services, and even had a starring role in the 1998 romantic comedy, “You’ve Got Mail” that starred Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. AIM is credited with igniting a cultural shift in the way we communicate, popularizing instant, live, real-time texting online. AOL Instant messenger paved the way for the evolution of instant messaging on social media and through texting. Long before Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, there was AOL Instant Messenger. Someone who knows something about AIM is Aja Romano. Links Saying Goodbye to AIM, the Instant Messenger that Changed How We Communicate, Vox AOL Instant Messenger is Shutting Down After 20 Years, TechCruch So Long, AIM, We'll Miss You, The Verge AOL Instant Messenger Made Social Media What it is Today, MIT Technology Review About this Episode's Guest Aja Romano Aja Romano is a culture staff reporter for Vox with a special focus on Internet Culture.
December 31, 2018
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. Fallingwater 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.   Flight 93 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,
December 24, 2018
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. If you plan to watch the Times Square ball drop at Midnight on New Year’s Eve, you’re not alone.  New York City expects to play host to over 2 million people for the festivities. Over 175 million across the United States will watch the ball drop on TV. And around the world, over 1 billion people will watch. 103 million said they will travel 30 miles or more to celebrate 93.6 million will drive When we think of New Year’s Eve, we often think of Times Square and parties at organized events, bars and restaurants, but I have some interesting statistics, thanks to WalletHub from last year: 49% celebrate the holiday at home 9% at a bar, restaurant, or organized event 23% don’t celebrate New Year’s Eve 30% said they fall asleep before Midnight 61% said they say a prayer on New Year’s Eve. Rankings Christmas 78% Thanksgiving 74% Independence Day 47% New Year’s Eve 41% Most Popular New Year’s Eve Destinations Las Vegas Orlando New York City More Times Square Stats 7,000 police officers in Times Square 1.5 tons of confetti dropped 280 sanitation workers will clean up 40-50 tons of trash. The ball itself – Waterford Crystal Triangles – 11,875 pounds That’s today. Let’s talk about the history: For 4,000 years people have marked a New Year Public bells would herald the New Year since the Middle Ages Theaters, taverns and other places would be very busy on the night Rituals meant to augur good fortune. 1900 or so, the moment of Midnight became the focus because cities were illuminated with gas and electric lights. (Times Square) Installation of public clocks and bells The Countdown 1907/08 was the first year to drop an illuminated time ball at the moment of the New Year’s arrival. Uses a flag pole atop One Times Square. First one was made of iron and wood and had 25-watt light bulbs. 5 feet in diameter and weighed 700 pounds. When radio and television media emerged, New Year’s Eve was a made for broadcast media event. Live coverage. Links Counting Down to a New Year: The History of Our Joyful Celebration, We're History For Better or Worse, The New Year is Time's Touchstone, Dallas Morning News A Ball of a Time: A History of the New Year's Eve Ball Drop, The New Yorker How Times Square Became the Home of New Year's Eve, About this Episode's Guest Alexis McCrossen Alexis McCrossen is a professor of history at Southern Methodist University and has devoted her career as a cultural historian to studying how Americans observe the passage of time. She is the author of Holy Day, Holiday: The American Sunday; and Marking Modern Times: Clocks, Watches and Other Timekeepers in American Life.
December 17, 2018
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.   In his book Gerry details the birth of Santa Claus and his” character development.” Santa is described him as an advocate, an adman, a warrior, and of course his role in entertainment, from movies, television shows and in music, books and literature. St. Nicholas died in December 343 AD. By 1100, he was the most powerful saint on the Catholic Church’s calendar. The St. Nicholas legend: One father who was down and out couldn’t provide for his three daughters, so he decides to sell them into slavery. So, Nicholas would sneak bags of gold through the father’s window, saving the girls from a live of oppression. By the Middle Ages, with gift-giving a part of the Christmas season, different customs emerged. One that grew in popularity was the legend of St. Nicholas coming through a window or down a chimney to leave gifts in stockings and shoes by the fire, by a window or by a bed. By the 16th century, protestant reformers depicted medieval cult of saints. They did not readily embrace St. Nicholas. There was tension between the Protestant and Catholic sects and St. Nicholas was at the center of it. The controversies usually centered over how the communities marked Christmas. St. Nicholas was venerated throughout Europe but debate on whether he ever made it across the Atlantic to North America with gusto. The Feast of St. Nicholas is December 6, most notably marked by the Dutch, which paves the way for the modern celebration of Christmas. The earliest mention of Santa Claus was 1773 in Rivington’s Gazetteer, a New York Newspaper. On December 15, 1810, the New York Spectator published a poem about Sancte Claus – a good holy man who brings gifts to good children. The first picture of Santa Claus was published in 1821 when William Gilley of New York published a book of lithographed images with one of Santa Claus. “The Children’s Friend: a New Year’s Present, to Little Ones from Five to Twelve.” In 1822, Clement Clarke Moore was credited for authoring the classic poem, “The Night Before Christmas.” Other topics we discuss: Santa Claus in Books and Literature Santa Claus in Music Santa Claus in Advertising (We address the Coca-Cola Santa myth) Santa Claus in Motion Pictures and Television Links Santa Claus: A Biography, by Gerry Bowler (Amazon) A Visit from Saint Nicholas (Night Before Christmas), Clement Clarke Moore Saint Nicholas, Coca-Cola and Santa Claus, Coca-Cola Company Saturday Evening Post and Santa Claus, Saturday Evening Post Miracle on 34th Street Motion Picture, IMDb St. Nicholas to Santa: The Surprising Origins of Mr. Claus, National Geographic About this Episode's Guest Gerry Bowler Gerry Bowler is a Canadian historian, specializing in the intersection of religion and popular culture. He is the author of The World Encyclopedia of Christmas, Santa Claus: A Biography and Christmas in the Crosshairs: Two Thousand Years of Denouncing and Defending the World’s Most Celebrated Holiday.
December 10, 2018
Writer, editor, producer and actor Jason Liebig joins Tim to talk about the Sears Wishbook. Jason is the creator of a website called, which has archived complete, high-quality scans of Sears Wishbooks and other holiday catalogues going back to 1933. In this episode, we talk about a holiday tradition sure to bring a smile to your face. The very first Sears Wish Book was published in 1933. It featured dolls, a Mickey Mouse Watch, Lionel electric trains, fruitcakes, chocolates and even live, singing canaries. The store catalogue was 87 pages long, and featured 25 pages of toys for kids and 62 pages of gifts for adults. The Sears Wish Book grew over the decades, so that by 1968, it totaled 605 pages.  And in 1998, it went online with This year, Sears will not publish a Wish Book, but that is not stopping many from revisiting their childhoods through a website called Jason Liebig is the man behind it. Sears Wish Book History The first Sears Wish Book came out in 1933. Prior to that, in 1896 the Sears general catalogue included wax candles for Christmas trees. But 1933 was the first year Sears devoted a full catalogue to Christmas. The term Wish Book was an informal name. The real name was Sears Christmas Book Catalogue. The company made it a tradition to put colorful, warm Christmas scenes on the cover. The company published the book annually from 1933 until 1993. The Chicago Tribune once described The Wish Book as, “so central to holiday expectations it read like a catalog of middle-class American Aspiration … To flip through one today is to see what we thought our homes and holidays should look like.” The Wish Book was delivered early. It would usually appear in mailboxes during the late summer right when the school year started. Links The Sears Christmas Wishbook, A Holiday Tradition, Sears Unsung: The Sears Wish Book, a Ghost of Christmas Past, The Chicago Tribune Sears' Wish Book Shown Through the Years, Business Insider About Wishbook Web first launched in 2006, with the initial scanning project having started a year earlier in 2005. From the outset, the goal of the WishbookWeb project has been to archive, preserve, and share the wonderful holiday gift catalogs of the past – making them freely-available to anyone with a web browser. Inspired by the pioneering work of websites like Plaidstallions and MegoMuseum, who had already been sharing select pages of vintage catalogs online, our goal was to build upon that idea by sharing entire volumes, every section and every page. As you see it now, WishbookWeb represents the product of hundreds of hours of work to create the current archive. About this Episode's Guest Jason Liebig Jason Liebig is a New York City based writer, editor, producer, actor and host. After spending much of his early career in the comic book business, most notably as an editor for Marvel Comics’ X-Men, he has since split his time between developing his own properties while still consulting and working on others. In addition to his work with WishbookWeb, Jason is one of the country’s premier candy collectors and historians with his discoveries appearing in countless blogs, magazines, newspaper articles, and books. He operates a web site called Always happy to share his knowledge and unique perspectives on this colorful part of our popular culture, Jason has consulted for The Smithsonian, The Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, and New York’s Museum of Food and Drink and more. His knowledge of vintage brands and packaging (as well...
December 3, 2018
Author Danny Graydon joins Tim to talk about the classic cartoon The Jetsons and how a children’s television program from the 60s could have had such staying power after only one season, and some of the many visions of the future depicted in the show. What’s our progress been towards becoming the world of The Jetsons? Danny Graydon is an academic, journalist and author who specializes in Film and Comics. He is also the author of a book called The Jetsons: The Official Guide to the Cartoon Classic. In this episode, we talk with Danny about The Jetsons. Things you may remember, some things you didn’t know, and how a kids’ cartoon could shape the way we once thought about the future. On Sunday, September 23rd, 1962, ABC Television launched its first program ever to be broadcast in color, and that show was The Jetsons. The Jetsons were a children’s cartoon broadcast in prime time.  At a time when America was engaged in a space race with its arch-enemy the Soviet Union, and in the post-war boom, these were the Kennedy years. It was all about optimism for the future. The Jetsons featured a future with flying cars, cities in the sky, robots and space ships, and all of the promise of automation. The Jetsons didn’t come up with these ideas, but they presented so many of them in an entertaining and relatable way. As the “norm.” The Jetsons only lasted one season, 24 episodes on ABC. Some have speculated the reason is the Jetsons were in color. The show did not look the same in black and white, but most Americans only had black and white TVs at that time. Less than 3% of American homes had a color TV set then. Many local affiliates didn’t even broadcast in color at that time. While it is never said within the show, publicity materials and news articles have the show set 100 years into the future, which would be 2062. The Jetsons debuted during a period of American history where there was renewed hope, the beginning of the 1960s when Kennedy was in power and very popular. Some Jetsons Trivia The voice for Astro was the same voice for Scooby Doo (another Hanna-Barbera classic) – Don Messick, who did many voices for other Hanna-Barbera cartoons. The Jetsons theme song hit the Billboard charts in 1986 at #18. Jane Jetson was once Miss Solar System. George Jetson is a drummer. George only starts work at 11 a.m., (to 3 p.m.) but he’s always late. George’s computer is called RUDI – Referential Universal Digital Indexer The Jetsons’ Innovations Robots and robot servants Rosey the Robot only appeared in 2 of the 24 episodes Moving Sidewalks Talking Alarm Clocks Jet Packs Dog treadmills Flat screen TVs – Very first episode there is mention of such a thing Video phones or video screen chats Smart watches (Dick Tracy, too) Roomba – vacuum cleaner robot Video newspaper (George reads the news on a TV screen in his living room) Smart Phones (opening credits, one guy is looking at a tablet) Pill Camera (George gets a physical by swallowing a robotic pill called a Peekaboo Prober. The prober does an internal checkup inside George’s body and sends images of his system to a TV screen). A drone – flying photo robot Mr. Spacely uses to spy on people Retractable beds Links The Jetsons: The Official Guide to the Cartoon Classic, by Danny Graydon (Amazon) 14 Times The Jetsons Predicted the Future, Screen Rant Evaluating Smart Home Technology from The Jetsons, Digital Trends It's 2012 Already, So Where are All The Jetsons Flying Cars?,
November 26, 2018
John Chamberlin joins Tim to talk about something we may take for granted, that is until we need it. It’s the story behind those helicopters that swoop in to take critically injured or sick people to the hospital care needed to save their lives. John is a co-host at the popular Pittsburgh podcast called YaJagoff, and over the years has served as an emergency medical responder. He remains an active advocate for that community.  In short, this episode is about hope that didn't exist before, all thanks to a wingless aircraft. In this episode, we talk about how it wasn’t that long ago, that a health crisis too far away from a hospital meant a death sentence. But thanks to the deployment of helicopters nationwide, countless lives have been saved. In the process, this has changed the way we now think about our chances in some of the worst situations we can face in life. The term “Medical evacuation” is often shortened to medevac, which is a term used to describe the transport and care provided to patients en route to a hospital or care center. The term is rooted in military terminology when describing moving wounded soldiers away from the battlefield. There are two kinds of vehicles used in medevac situations. Ambulances and aircraft. Air medical services have a very long tradition, rooted in battlefield deployments. In 1926, the U.S. Army Air Corps used a converted airplane to get patients from Nicaragua to an Army hospital in Panama 150 miles away. Planes were used to get wounded soldiers from one hospital to another in World War II. Helicopters made their medical debut during the Korean War in the 1950s. That was because the roads weren’t usable in Korea, so the military decided to use helicopters for the rapid and gentle evacuation of troops to field surgical units. Do you remember the TV show MASH? Over 22,000 troops were evacuated by helicopter during that war. In Vietnam, helicopters played a major role in the movement of wounded troops. Over 800,000 troops were evacuated from the field by helicopter. The advantages of helicopters are that they are quick, they could land and take off from almost anywhere, and medical personnel could start working on patients while in flight. By 1970, more and more military medical helicopter pilots had been discharged and returned to civilian life, often working in law enforcement or as first responders. Their influence helped lead to the creation of the Military Assistance to Safety & Traffic (MAST) program. That served as the catalyst for civilian programs. In 1972, St. Anthony’s Hospital in Denver became the first to have a civilian, hospital-based medical helicopter service in place. By 1980, the country had roughly 32 helicopter emergency medical service programs in operation, transporting over 17,000 patients a year. By 1990, those numbers grew to 174 services that transported 160,000 patients a year. In 2000, 231 services flew over 203,000 patients each year. Today, there are over 500,000 medical transports by air each year. Facts An average response time to the scene of a trauma is about 10 minutes. There are 9% fewer wound infections. A major reduction in the number of deaths during transport to the hospital. Head injury mortality has been reduced by 15%. Links YaJagoff - Pittsburgh Podcast Modern EMS Practices have their Roots in Vietnam Medical Rescues, The American Home Front Project The History of Air Medical and Air Ambulance Services in the United States, Air Ambulance Guides About this Episode's Guest John Chamberlin John Chamberlin,
November 19, 2018
Author Robert Grippo joins Tim to discuss the story of the most famous parade in the world, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Robert and Tim talk about the parade’s history, its role as perhaps one of the most notable PR events ever, and how the event has become ingrained in America’s consciousness and the official kick-off of the nation’s celebration of the Holiday Season.   Bob Grippo is the author of the book entitled, “Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.” He’s also the moderator of a popular Facebook Page called The Big Parade History Project. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has been a New York City and an American tradition since 1924. Today it draws more than 3.5 million spectators to the streets of New York City each year. On television, 50 million viewers across the country watch the parade as they gear up for a day with their families, enjoying turkey, stuffing, cranberries and football. When we think of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, we think of balloons, and maybe our favorite balloon. We think of our television hosts, and the bands, the celebrities, all of the excitement kicking off the holiday season. It appears the parade was first used to draw attention to the expansion of the Macy’s flagship store. We talk about: How those famous balloons became a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade staple. About how the floats evolved. The role of the motion picture Miracle on 34th Street. The role of the NBC telecasts. The key players in the evolution of the parade, notably the late Macy’s PR executive Jean McFaddin. Letting the balloons go free – in 1932 a young student pilot actually collided with a parade balloon in the sky. Links Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, by Robert Grippo (Amazon) Jean McFaddin, Who Made the Macy's Parade What It Is, Dies at 75, New York Times The History of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in History, Town & Country Magazine Top 10 Moments in Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade History, New York Post 16 Fun Facts about the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, About this Episode's Guest Robert Grippo Robert M. Grippo grew up on Long Island, New York, and spent 20 years in the credit card industry. His earliest childhood memories include watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and enjoying the classic film Miracle on 34th Street. This led to a lifelong avocation as a Macy’s historian, and even to brief stints as a Macy’s parade balloonist and clown. Robert is a writer whose works include Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and Macy's: The Store. The Star. The Story.
November 12, 2018
John Wall, marketing veteran and co-host of the popular podcast Marketing Over Coffee joins Tim to discuss the story behind Black Friday and Cyber Monday and their impact on the holiday shopping season, marketing and the economy. Where did Black Friday get its name? How much do people spend on the first weekend of the holiday season? Find out.   The term “Black Friday” was first used after September 24, 1869 when two investors – Jay Gould and Jim Fisk – drove up the price of gold and caused a market crash that day. The stock market dropped 20%, and foreign trade stopped. Investors and famers were devastated. The second time it was used was in Philadelphia in the 1950s when local police used the term to describe the misery they would experience trying to control the large crowds and traffic because of the shopping, and the tourists in the city for the annual Army-Navy game. By 1961, Black Friday became a thing in Philadelphia. Retailers tried to change it to “Big Friday,” but that never caught on. The term didn’t spread to the rest of the country until the 1980s. That was when retailers redefined the term into something more positive. The concept was “red to black” in an accounting sense. That was when America’s retail stores “finally” turned a profit. Retailers used to have Christmas Parades around Thanksgiving which marked the official kickoff of the holiday season. Thanksgiving was always on November 30th until President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (with Congressional approval) changed it in the early 1941 to the last Thursday in November to help retailers following the Great Depression. That provided retailers a shopping day on Friday. Black Friday Weekend Stats says most of the deals are on tablets/laptops/PCs and TVs (27%); clothing (24%); smart home gadgets (15%); gift cards (11%); and travel (8%). In 2017, 11% of Black Friday Shoppers started their shopping prior to 5 p.m. on the Thanksgiving holiday. (Source National Retail Federation - NRF) Another 11% started at 6 p.m. on the holiday. (Source NRF) 25% started their shopping at 10 a.m. or later on Black Friday. (Source NRF) 2017 holiday sales (November and December) totaled $691.9 billion, an increase of 5.5% over 2016.  (Source NRF) Black Friday 2017 (counting Thanksgiving Day) was responsible for $7.9 billion in online sales ($7.9 billion on Thanksgiving Day; $2.87 billion spent on Black Friday). This was an increase of 17.9% over 2016. (Source Adobe Analytics) 174 million Americans shopped on Black Friday weekend in 2017 (Source NRF) 77 million Americans shop on Black Friday Itself (Source NRF) Average per-person spending on Thanksgiving Weekend 2017 - $335.47, most of which was for gifts. (Source NRF) Older millennials (25-34) spent $419.52 per person. These numbers are higher than 2016. (Source NRF) Cyber Monday National Retail Federation coined the term in 2005 through its division called In a news release issued a few days before Thanksgiving, they used the term “Cyber Monday” to tell the story of how 77% of online retailers had seen their sales increase substantially on “Cyber Monday” the previous year (2004). The story goes that they considered calling it “Black Monday” but there already was one associated with a previous stock market crash. The theory behind the plan was the assumption that people had faster internet connections at work, and kids couldn’t see what parents were doing, so parents waited until Monday to do holiday shopping online from work. Cyber Monday Stats In 2017, online shoppers spent $6.6 billion on Cyber Monday,
November 5, 2018
Nobel Prize recipient Frances Arnold joins Tim to talk about winning a Nobel Prize honor for her pioneering work in “directed evolution,” which harnesses the power of evolution to enhance products throughout society - from biofuels and pharmaceuticals, to agriculture, chemicals, paper products and more. We talk with Frances about her journey and her work that is changing the world for the better. Since the Nobel Prize in Chemistry was first awarded in 1901, 117 years ago, only four women had won the honor, and in October, American Frances Arnold became the fifth. The professor of chemical engineering, bioengineering and biochemistry at the California Institute of Technology, received the honor for her pioneering work in “directed evolution.” Frances’s work centers on the directed evolution of enzymes, proteins that serve as catalysts for chemical reactions that take place in living organisms, animals and people. In its most simple form, the process focuses on harnessing the power of natural evolution to solve problems for society. Frances is the Linus Pauling Professor of Chemical Engineering, Bioengineering and Biochemistry at Caltech. Today, directed evolution is used in research laboratories around the world to create things from laundry detergents to biofuels to pharmaceuticals. Enzymes created with through this process have been able to replace some toxic chemicals traditionally used in industry. Frances shares the prize with George Smith of the University of Missouri, who created a "phage display" process for protein evolution, and Gregory Winter of the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in the United Kingdom, who used phage display for antibody evolution. Arnold was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Her undergraduate degree in mechanical and aerospace engineering is from Princeton University. Her graduate degree in chemical engineering is from UC Berkeley. She has been at Caltech since 1986, first as a visiting associate, then as an assistant professor, and progressing to professor in 1996. In 2017, she became the Linus Pauling Professor. She became the director of the Donna and Benjamin M. Rosen Bioengineering Center at Caltech in 2013. Frances is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society, and is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Royal Academy of Engineering. How Directed Evolution Works Directed evolution is similar to how animal breeders mate cats or dogs to create hybrids or new breeds of animal. To conduct directed evolution mutations are induced to DNA, or a gene, which “encodes” a particular enzyme. That mutated enzyme, along with other thousands, are produced and tested to what Frances calls a desired trait. The preferred enzymes are selected, and the process continues until the enzymes are working to achieve a desired outcome or solution. “I copy nature’s design process. There is tremendous beauty and complexity of the biological world, but it all comes about through this one, simple, beautiful design algorithm.” - Frances Arnold Links Frances Arnold Wins 2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Caltech Frances H. Arnold Group Caltech scientist is among 3 awarded Nobel Prize in chemistry for sparking ‘a revolution in evolution’, LA Times The Latest: Nobel chemistry winner credits team at Caltech, Washington Post Nobel winner overcame personal loss, cancer, and being a woman, NBC News
October 29, 2018
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?   Jared Keller is a senior editor at Task and Purpose, a news site that covers military and veterans issues. He’s contributed articles to a wide range of media. We talked with Jared about one article he wrote in 2016 for the Smithsonian. The title was, “The Strange History of the October Surprise.” Now that we’re into the month of October during an election year, the subject of October Surprises will inevitably come up. Campaigns save their best…or worst… for this time of year, hoping that any surprise announcements can help their campaigns while hurting their opponents. 1800 – Thomas Jefferson v. John Adams – “Dirtiest campaign in American History?” 1880 – James Garfield v. General Winfield Scott Hancock – New York Truth (ironically) published a letter allegedly written by James Garfield voicing concerns over Chinese immigrants stealing jobs from American workers. There was backlash against Garfield but it calmed before election day. An investigation found letter a fake, and the journalist who fabricated it was arrested for fraud. 1912 – Woodrow Wilson v. Teddy Roosevelt - Teddy Roosevelt was shot in the middle of giving a stump speech. The bullet hit his prepared remarks (50 pages) he had stuffed in his suit coat. And he carried on with the speech. He said, “I don’t know whether you fully understand that I have just been shot. But it takes more than that to kill a bull moose.” 1968 – Richard Nixon v. Hubert Humphrey - Viet Nam war raging. Democrat Lyndon Johnson was president. Johnson suspended bombing missions in Viet Nam. Nixon ran on promise to end the war. Nixon sent an emissary to convince the South Vietnamese not to suspend hostilities. 1972 – Richard Nixon v. George McGovern - Secretary of State Henry Kissinger announced “Peace is at hand,” in Viet Nam only two weeks before election day. The voters felt better, and voted for Nixon, even though he was expected to win by then. 1980 – It wasn’t October, but somehow, Ronald Reagan found a way to end the Iranian Hostage crisis that plagued Jimmy Carter and probably cost him the election. He looked week, while on Reagan’s inauguration day, we saw Iran release the hostages. 1992 – George H.W. Bush v. Bill Clinton - Reagan’s Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger was indicted for perjury and obstruction of justice during an investigation into the Iran-Contra arms trading scandal. Bush was Reagan’s Vice President and couldn’t distance himself from it. He lost for that and for his (what would be a broken) promise, “Read my lips, no new taxes.” 2000 – George W. Bush v. Al Gore - Fox News reported days before the election that Bush was arrested for drunk driving in 1976 after a night of partying with a tennis pro. Bush came clean in a press conference, admitted everything and said he learned his lesson. It worked. 2012 – Barack Obama v. Mitt Romney - Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast in the last days of October. Helped Obama’s leadership stature. And the photo op of all time – Republican Gov. of NJ Chris Christie fawned over Obama in the aftermath of the hurricane and it was all over the media. Links The Strange History of the October Surprise, A Brief History of the October Surprise, Mental Floss October Surprises That Wreaked Havoc on Politics, Politico About this Episode's Guest Jared Keller
October 22, 2018
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.” Dr. Speel wrote an article for the Smithsonian where he mentioned that there is a history of candidates and the media crying foul over what they perceived as suspicious results and rigged elections. 1876 – A Compromise that Came at a Price Rutherford B. Hays (Republican) v. Samuel Tilden (Democrat) – There was widespread voter intimidation in the south against African American Republican voters on election day. The primary states involved were Florida, Louisiana and South Carolina. Tilden won those states due to widespread allegations of intimidation and fraud. Congress created bipartisan commission - 15 members of Congress and the Supreme Court of the U.S. to determine how to allocate electors. Changes to the make-up of the commission led to the awarding of those states and an electoral college majority to Rutherford B. Hayes. 1888: Bribing Blocks of Five Democratic Incumbent President Grover Cleveland v. Senator Benjamin Harrison - William Wade Dudley, treasurer of the RNC sent letter to local Republican leaders in Indiana with promise to more or less bribe people for their votes in “blocks of five.” Democrats obtained a copy of the letter and publicized it widely in the days before the election. Harrison won Indiana by 2,000 votes but didn’t need that state to win the Electoral College. Cleveland won the national popular vote by 100,000, and did not contest the Electoral College outcome. Cleveland would face off against Harrison four years later and win the White House again. 1960: Chicago’s Mayor Daley and Kennedy Republican VP Richard Nixon against Democrat John F. Kennedy – It was the closest popular vote of the 20th Century. Kennedy won by roughly 100,000 votes. Chicago Mayor Richard Dailey allegedly churned out just enough votes to give Kennedy the state of Illinois. Chicago had a reputation for election improprieties. Election judges known to look the other way when people voted twice. The city’s Democrat machine would buy people drinks for voting for the “right people” Precinct captains would steal blank ballots, mark them and give it to someone to turn in. Election judges were mostly Democrat. Had Nixon won Illinois and Texas, he would have had an Electoral College majority and won the presidency. Some newspapers investigated and concluded voter fraud had occurred in both states. The GOP mounted bids for recounts but couldn’t find enough discrepancies to shift the balance of the vote. Nixon did not contest the results. 2000: The Hanging Chads Vice President Al Gore v. George W. Bush - Gore was set to conceded when they learned it was very close in Florida and that could tip the scales in Gore’s favor. Many states used paper punch cards in many places. Florida was one of them. It took a month to determine the winner with teams reviewing each ballot for “hanging chads” Over 60,000 ballots in Florida, most of them punch cards, registered no vote for president on the punch cards readers. It was suspected that the machines did not punch presidential votes “all the way through” the card, and left “hanging chads” of paper.
October 15, 2018
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.   If you haven’t noticed by now, it’s an election year. In November, Americans will go to the polls to elect their senators and congressional representatives. In the run-up to that election, you will see your share of political ads. So in this episode we talk to someone who’s studied political advertising. John Geer is the Dean of the College of Arts and Science at Vanderbilt. He’s written books and articles on politics, and has appeared on many national media programs. He also operates a website called John Geer’s Attack Ad Hall of Fame. John Geer’s Attack Ad Hall of Fame Best Known Attack Ad – LBJ’s Daisy spot form 1964. Aired only once, but still talked about. A little girl was featured playing with a daisy in a field. She counts to ten, then we hear the countdown to a nuclear launch, then the camera zooms into her eye where we see a nuclear explosion. Most Effective Attack Ad 1988 – George H.W. Bush v. Michael Dukakis. The Willie Horton ad.  Willie Horton was in prison for first degree murder. When Dukakis was governor of Mass., Horton was in a program in that state where he received weekend passes from prison. The ad says that Horton murdered a boy by stabbing him 19 times during one of those weekends. Least Effective Ad – Mondale v. Reagan in 1984. Featured a boy in a bomb shelter and followed the lead of the Daisy Ad. But the ad didn’t work. Boomerang Ad – Carter v. Reagan 1980. Framed Reagan as not prepared to be president. But Geer says Reagan showed during the course of the campaign that he was prepared, which undermined the claim and the ad. And he proved this in the debates against Carter. The Most Informative Political Attack Ad – George W. Bush v. John Kerry 2004. Featured Kerry as a windsurfer in one, which painted Kerry as an elitist and a “flip flopper.” Least Informative Ad – Reagan v. Mondale 1984. Reagan ran the ad called Bear In the Woods. Featured a bear, which we know symbolized the Soviet Union, our mortal enemy at that time in the Cold War. Geer’s Favorite Attack Ad – George H.W. Bush v. Michael Dukakis 1988. Features Dukakis in a tank with a large helmet. Marginalized Dukakis on defense issues. Non-Attack Ads 1952 – I Like Ike Ads (jingles) 1960- John F. Kennedy’s ad that defended attacks from Richard Nixon on inexperience allegations. He turned youth into an asset, “old enough to know, and young enough to do.” Kennedy was 43. 1984 – Reagan’s Morning in America – very positive, idyllic scenes of productivity, suburban life, he has restored American optimism and revived the economy. 1992 – Bill Clinton’s Man from Hope. Hope, Arkansas. Emphasized his small town roots, work ethic and sense of humanity. Links In Defense of Negativity: Attack Ads in Presidential Campaigns, by John Geer, Amazon 10 Iconic Presidential Campaign Ads that Changed Political Advertising, Adweek 11 Influential Campaign Ads that Changed the Course of Politics, Mashable How the First Political Attack Ad Changed Politics, Forbes Top 10 Campaign Ads, Time About this Episode's Guest John Geer John G. Geer is Dean of the College of Arts and Science,
October 8, 2018
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. Sharon Grimberg served as a writer, producer and director on the American Experience production of “The Circus,” which premieres on October 8th on PBS stations. The two-part series takes us inside America’s most dominant form of entertainment from its roots, to its glory days with the greatest showman, P.T. Barnum, James Bailey and the Ringling Brothers, all five of them. A Uniquely American Form of Entertainment “The Circus,” a four-hour, two-part documentary, explores the colorful history of this popular, influential and distinctly American form of entertainment, from the first one-ring show at the end of the 18th century to 1956, when the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey big top was pulled down for the last time. A transformative place for reinvention, where young women could become lion tamers and young men traveled the world as roustabouts, the circus allowed people to be liberated from the roles assigned by society and find an accepting community that had eluded them elsewhere. Drawing upon a vast and richly visual archive, and featuring a host of performers, historians and aficionados, “The Circus” brings to life an era when Circus Day would shut down a town, its stars were among the most famous people in the country, and multitudes gathered to see the improbable and the impossible, the exotic and the spectacular. Through the intertwined stories of several of the most innovative and influential impresarios of the late 19th century, including P.T. Barnum, James Bailey and the five Ringling Brothers, Sharon talks about how the series reveals the circus as a phenomenon created by a rapidly expanding and increasingly industrialized nation. It explores how its “dangerous” and “exotic” attractions revealed the country’s notions about race and Western dominance, and shows how the circus subverted prevailing standards of “respectability” with its unconventional, titillating and “freakish” entertainments. Part One (1793-1891) For more than a century, Circus Day was as anticipated as Christmas and the Fourth of July. It would crash into everyday life, colorful and brash, and then disappear, leaving many dreaming of another life. As the country grew, so did the circus, evolving into a gargantuan entertainment that would unite a far-flung nation of disconnected communities and dazzle not only Americans, but the world. The first circus in the U.S. was established in Philadelphia in 1793, but it wasn’t until the introduction of the tent in 1825 that the circus became a truly roving art form that could reach the tiniest hamlets. Almost everywhere, the circus met the disapproval of the religious and puritanical. In a society that valued sobriety and hard work, a wide-eyed day peering at half-naked aerialists amid shifty circus workers was frowned upon. Soon, circuses began to add elaborate menageries of exotic animals including lions, hippos and elephants, and “human oddities” from across the globe — rebranding themselves as “educational” experiences to concerned communities. The arrival of infamous showman and huckster P. T. Barnum transformed the trade. In 1871, Barnum and his partners created the largest to...
October 1, 2018
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. Ralph Cindrich was ranked among the most powerful people in sports. He is the author of the book, “NFL Brawler: a player turned agent’s 40 years in the bloody trenches of the National Football League.” In this episode, Ralph talks about his career, cut shot by injury, and the role injuries play in an NFL career. He talks about how injuries can affect the value placed on a given professional football player. From Player, to Lawyer, to Agent In this expansive conversation, Ralph talks about how he decided to become a lawyer as his pro football career started to come to an end. He talks about how he made the transition to become a pro football agent. And he tells many interesting, funny and compelling stories about life in and around the NFL.” Some of these stories range from the time when shady agents tried to dominate the football agent business, to some of his negotiating brawls with general managers and owners. Among them, how he was there when his teammate, Billy White Shoes Johnson, lit up score boards and created the NFL endzone dance tradition. He tells, blow by blow, what it was like to negotiate against some of the toughest negotiators in the business, from Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys, to Bill Polian of the Buffalo Bills, and Robert Irsay of the Indianapolis Colts. Links NFL Brawler: A Player-Turned-Agent's Forty Years in the Bloody Trenches of the National Football League, by Ralph Cindrich, Amazon Hard Hitter, Pittsburgh Quarterly Cindrich Renounces NFL Agent Business, Sports Business Journal Robinson: Ex-Super Agent Sounds Off, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review 'NFL Brawler': How Local Football Star Ralph Cindrich Became a Big-time Agent, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette About this Episode's Guest Ralph Cindrich Ralph Cindrich was an All-American linebacker at the University of Pittsburgh. He then went on to play in the NFL for the New England Patriots, the Houston Oilers, and the Denver Broncos.  When his career was cut short due to injuries, he went on to become an attorney, and one of the most revered player agents in the league.
September 24, 2018
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. According to the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program, between 1.7 and 3 million sports-related concussions happen each year. Around 300,000 are football-related. Five of 10 concussions go unreported or undetected. Two in 10 high-school athletes who play contact sports — including soccer and lacrosse — will suffer a concussion this year. Girls' soccer sees the second-most concussions of all high school sports. Girls’ basketball sees the third most. The UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program sees more than 17,000 patients each year. About 70 percent are high school-aged. The National Federation of High School Associations (NFHS) reports that while sports participation is up across all sports and across both boys and girls, 11-player football participation is down. While the NFHS does not blame concussions – high school football participation for boys on 11-player teams in 2016-2017 fell for the sixth time in seven years. The drop was down almost 26,000 from the previous year. Youth football organizations are seeing similar declines. Anecdotally, coaches and youth league officials say there are lot of reasons, like less parental involvement in the operation of sports leagues and teams, the emergence of Fall Baseball, year-round basketball leagues, hockey and lacrosse, and more and more non-sports activities. Still, most will say a big factor for the decline is growing concern about head injuries. They see the media reports about former NFL players diagnosed with CTE, the degenerative brain disease. And they see a good deal more media attention devoted to the issue. And when they watch the pros and college football, the care and attention to concussions is more noticeable. In this episode, Dr. Collins addresses all of those concerns in a very scientific way. In the end, with the right care and treatment, he says, concussions are a “treatable injury.” Links UPMC Blazes Trail...Comes up with Curious Results, The Concussion Blog Despite Billions Spent on Treatments, Concussions Still a Puzzle, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Hermon Native Dr. Micky Collins Helped Ross, Drew Contribute to Red Sox World Series Run, Bangor Daily News Unscrambling the Signals, Missing Piece Found to Help Solve Concussion Puzzle, About this Episode's Guest Dr. Michael Collins Michael “Micky” Collins, Ph.D., is an internationally renowned expert in sports-related concussion. Established in 2000, the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program is the first and largest research and clinical program focused on the diagnosis, evaluation and management of sports-related mild traumatic brain injury in athletes of all levels. Dr. Collins’ expertise attracts many elite and professional athletes from around the world to seek his comprehensive care. On a daily basis, Dr. Collins and his colleagues at the UPMC clinic see dozens of high school and college athletes with concerns about safe return to play following concussion and treatment/rehabilitation of the injury. In addition to his extensive clinical experience, Dr. Collins has been a lead author on several major groundbreaking studies of high school and college athletes published in JAMA, Neurosurgery, American Journal of Sports Medicine, and Pediatrics,
September 17, 2018
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.   On April 23rd, 1985, Coca-Cola announced it would discontinue its beloved Coca-Cola formula for a new one. This marked the first formula change to the product in 99 years. At that time, the company said it was changing the formula for modern tastes. Coke and Pepsi were in the middle of fierce competition. This was when colas dominated the non-alcoholic beverage marketplace, and the battle between the two companies was called the Cola Wars. The branding that made Pepsi so successful was its appeal to youth, building its marketing around a new generation. Pepsi was also sweeter and more sugary than Coke. Some experts have believed Coke was inadvertently following Pepsi’s lead by trying to make the product sweeter and more appealing to young people. Late Night comics weighed in. David Letterman made the comment, “Coke’s decided to make their formula sweeter, they’re going to mix it with Pepsi.” For its part, Coca-Cola said its share lead over Pepsi was slipping for 15 years. The company said the cola category in general was lethargic. Consumer research had told Coca-Cola that consumer preference for Coke was dipping, and so was awareness. Coke’s Consumer Research Coke conducted taste tests for a new formulation with nearly 200,000 consumers. They said the test results (based only on taste) favored “New Coke.” What they didn’t measure was the emotional bond consumers may have felt with the original Coca-Cola brand.  Reports are that Coke spent $4 million on development of the new product. Much of this was spent on consumer research. Backlash Shortly after the announcement, a groundswell erupted among consumers. Consumers sent letters to the company. They called the company, and that was just the beginning. The company was getting 1,500 calls a day on a company hotline. Overall, they received about 400,000 angry calls and letters. People started to hoard what cases of old product they could find. Protests started. One man became the face of the protests. Gay Mullins of Seattle, launched a lawsuit, and he loaned $120,000 to create a group he called Old Cola Drinkers of America. He said he got 60,000 calls a day in support of his effort. The group circulated petitions, created a brand of its own featuring the New Coke logo crossed out. They staged media events. The message was unanimous. America wanted their original Coke back. Corrective Action In July of 1985, the company decide to bring back original Coke, but it was done gradually.  They introduced something called Coca-Cola Classic, but still they continued to offer New Coke under different names. “Coke II” was one of them. Finally, the company stopped making the alternative in 2002, 17 years later. Once Coca-Cola Classic was reintroduced, sales actually went up over time and brand loyalty for a large number of base consumers was strengthened. Lessons In the long run, the question is did the controversy help or hurt the brand? According to research and sales results: 75% of those surveyed said they’d by New Coke again. New Coke sales were on a par with original Coke sales. The main thing was people did not like the idea of not ha...
September 10, 2018
Business writer and author Jeff Haden joins Tim to tell the story of Beats. Those expensive headphones that are about more than sound. They’re fashion statement. Jeff is a contributing editor for, and he’s the author of the book, The Motivation Myth: How high achievers really set themselves up to win. Today, we look at a case study on winning in business in the high-end headphone market and how it changed the way we look at sound.   Dr. Dre’s Beats Headphones are more than headphones, they are what Jeff describes as a cultural phenomenon. We talked with Jeff about the story of how something as basic as a set of headphones became a fashion statement, something cool, and a high-end brand. Here are the basics: Noel Lee is the founder and CEO of Monster Cables. His son is Kevin. They’re known for turning a commodity – audio cables – into a brand. So, he had a very profitable business, but at one point, it seems Kevin had the idea they could expand into the area of headphones. Dr. Dre, was and is the hip hop superstar and music entrepreneur. Jimmy Iovine is the music producer and record mogul who made many music superstars famous. They formed the deal with Monster to produce high-end headphones. According to claims by Monster's founders, Beats sold a 51% share of the company to HTC in 2011, which set in motion a "change of control" that required Monster to hand over its intellectual property -- research and development -- along with its marketing and distribution information. Reports were that later Beats repurchased HTC's stake in the company and Monster claimed in a lawsuit that Beats had committed fraud and deceit against Lee by convincing him to sell his own stake in Beats. Apple then acquired the company for $3 billion in May 2014. It was reported in USA Today that had Lee had his 5% stake in Beats when Apple acquired the company, he would have made $100 million in the $3 billion transaction based on lawsuit claims. The Headphone Marketplace According to - The global earphones and headphones market is expected to cross $20 billion in revenue by 2023. As mobile devices are getting affordable, the demand for entry-level headphones is also increasing globally. On the other hand, there is also a huge demand for specialized, high-end, best sound quality earphones and headphones. There are more than 3,000 companies engaged in manufacturing of earphones and headphones. The top five manufacturers, Beats, Bose, Sennheiser, Sony, and Skullcandy have two-thirds of the global market share in terms of value and 50% of the market share in terms of volume. Links The Motivation Myth: How High Achievers Really Set Themselves Up to Win, by Jeff Haden (Amazon) Beat by Dre: The Exclusive Inside Story of How Monster Lost the World, Gismodo Wondery Business Wars Podcast - Monster vs. Beats by Dre, April 17, 2018 Monster CEO: Beats Electronics 'Duped' Him, USA Today Dr. Dre's $3 Billion Monster: The Secret History of Beats, Forbes Beats Wins in Case that Accused Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine of Double-crossing Investor, LA Times/Associated Press Jury: Dr. Dre's Beats Headphones Owes Ex-Partner $25 Million, Washington Post About this Episode's Guest Jeff Haden Jeff Haden is a speaker, contributing editor for, and the author of The Motivation Myth: How High Achievers Really Set Themselves Up to Win.
September 3, 2018
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.   In August, the Ford Motor Company reached a milestone when it produced the 10 millionth Ford Mustang rolled off the assembly line in Detroit. The Mustang has weaved its way int our culture through advertising, music and Hollywood.  It’s largely recognized around the world as one of America’s strongest cultural exports. While sales of the model have decreased in the U.S. in recent years, the car is gaining popularity overseas in places like China and Germany. Over the years the car was dubbed the original “freedom vehicle,” named after a horse that roamed free in the American West. The Ford Mustang was introduced in 1965, but it actually debuted in the Spring of 1964 at the New York World’s Fair.  It wasn’t thought of as a muscle car, but rather a more affordable, sporty but appropriate for young professionals, including female drivers. The Bullitt Mustang This past year, Ford tapped a nostalgic nerve, introducing a new limited edition 2019 "Bullitt Mustang"  alongside one of the original vehicles that appeared in the movie Bullitt, which was released in 1969. While the human star of the movie was Hollywood legend Steve McQueen, a case was made that th real star of the film was the Highland Green 1968 Mustang GT that McQueen drove through the streets of San Francisco. After filming was complete, a New Jersey detective named Frank Marranca bought one of the two or three vehicles used in the production. According to reports, Bob Kiernan had bought the Mustang from Marranca in 1974. Apparently, he found it in the Road and Track magazine classified and paid $6,000 for it back then. It moved around. First it was stored in Tennessee, then it was stored inside a friend’s barn in Kentucky. After that the family moved the car to a garage on their property in Memphis around 1984. In 1977, Steve McQueen approached the family to buy the car and they turned him away.  Bob Kiernan loved the car, and even used it as a family vehicle for a time. According to Bob's son Sean, the two had planned to eventually work to restore the car, but sadly, bob died in 2014. It's been reported that in 2015, Sean approached Ford.  Since then interest in the car has increased as the company prepared to mark the 50th Anniversary of the movie Bullitt and celebrate what is the most famous Ford Mustang ever. Links John Heitman's University of Dayton Bio Ford Mustang Debuts at 1964 World's Fair, Found: The real Bullitt Mustang that Steve McQueen tried (and failed) to buy, Mustang Sally - Wilson Pickett, YouTube Ford Mustang 2019, Ford Motor Company The Going Thing: A Peek Inside Mustang Marketing in the 1960s on Display at MCACN 2017, Hot Rod Magazine With 2015 Mustang, Ford Puts American Icon on a Global Path, Advertising Age Iacocca, Autobiography, Amazon Bullitt Movie Chase Scene, YouTube (Movieclips) About this Episode's Guest John Heitmann At the University of Dayton since 1984, Professor John Heitmann has taught a wide variety of co...
August 29, 2018
Researcher Dr. Eva Lee joins Tim to discuss her work on the front lines in the battle against the opioid epidemic. Dr. Lee is a professor in the School of Industrial and Systems Engineering at Georgia Tech, and Director of the Center for Operations Research in Medicine and HealthCare, and her not-so-secret weapons are math, data and analytics.   In this episode, we talk with Dr. Lee about her work in trying to tackle challenging problems associated with the nation’s opioid epidemic and how perceptions in the medical community is one key area of focus. This bonus episode is a break from our normal pattern at the Shaping Opinion podcast. Usually, we talk about people, events or things that have found a place in history that truly have shaped the way we think. The nation’s opioid epidemic is different, however. The opioid epidemic is happening now. It’s not history. Our perceptions of the seeming harmlessness of a painkiller or a cough medicine may lead us to choose comfort over temporary discomfort, which has the potential to lead to complications from taking opioids. When we talked to Dr. Eva Lee, we learned that math can be used to identify patient care practices with the best outcomes, and that if those practices spread, society can start to take significant measures to counter the opioid epidemic. Dr. Lee focused her research on the youngest and most vulnerable among us, babies. But not healthy babies. These are babies born with heart defects that typically begin their lives in the Intensive Care Unit and face serious surgeries in the first year of their lives. They are prescribed opioids to alleviate their suffering. But where do we get to the point where the opioids can cause more problems than they solve? And most importantly, what can we learn from Dr. Lee’s research in this area to expand those lessons to children and adults so that the nation can form a more broad-based attack on the opioid epidemic? Dr. Lee is a professor in the H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering at Georgia Tech, and she is Director of the Center for Operations Research in Medicine and HealthCare. She is also a Senior Research Professor at the Atlanta VA Medical Center. She uses mathematical programming and large-scale computational algorithms to help medical and healthcare decision-making. She tackles challenging problems in health systems and biomedicine by bringing a math perspective to healthcare, through systems modeling, algorithm and software design, and decision theory analysis. This work creates a better understanding of what works based on data and analytics so that patient care guidelines across the country can be improved. Dr. Lee was part of a team that was a finalist for a prestigious honor for this work. It is the Franz Edelman Award from the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS). We talked to Dr. Eva Lee about her research and what it means from actual health care practices, to doctor and patient perceptions. Links Dr. Lee Bio (Georgia Tech) The Most Interesting Person in the O.R. World, INFORMS Pediatric Heart Network, Edelman Award Finalist, INFORMS About this Episode's Guest Dr. Eva Lee Eva K Lee is a professor in the H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology, and Director of the Center for Operations Research in Medicine and HealthCare. She is also a Senior Research Professor at the Atlanta VA Medical Center. Dr. Lee earned a Ph.D. at Rice University in the Department of Computational and Applied Mathematics,
August 27, 2018
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.   It’s been 17 years since America experienced the deadliest terrorist attack in its history. Four commercial jetliners were hijacked by members of al-Qaeda. The first two jets flew into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. These were American Airlines Flight 11, and United Airlines Flight 175. Another jet slammed into the western side of the U.S. Pentagon. This was American Airlines Flight 77. A fourth plane never made it to its intended target. United Airlines Flight 93 crashed into a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. It has been widely reported that the terrorist attack failed because the crew and passengers on Flight 93 fought back. We now know much about what happened on the plane, thanks to cell phone conversations and other data, including the plane’s flight recorder. We also know what happened that morning in other places. At 8:46 a.m., American Airlines Flight 11 was the first of the planes to hit their target, crashing into the north tower of the World Trade Center in New York City. 18 minutes later, United Airlines Flight 175 crashed into the South tower of the World Trade Center. TV coverage went live and millions were watching. This was before the collapse of the towers. At 9:37 a.m., American Airlines 77 flew into the west side of the Pentagon. Only 15 minutes later, the south tower of the World Trade Center came down. At 10:30 a.m., the north tower collapsed. At 9:45 a.m., air traffic controllers across the country tried to take control, flights were grounded. Meanwhile United Airlines Flight 93 was delayed from taking off in New Jersey by 25 minutes and was listed as a nonstop flight to San Francisco. It took off at just minutes before the attacks in New York had begun. This delay allowed passengers on Flight 93 to learn of the other attacks through air phones and cell phone calls to family and friends, and more fully assess the situation. The hijackers were armed only with box cutters, but they threatened the passengers and crew with a bomb, that turned out to be a fake. The hijackers in Flight 93 gained control of the plane 40 minutes into the flight. Dispatchers started to warn cockpits of potential intrusions, and just before the terrorists invaded the plane’s cockpit, flight recorders recorded a struggle. Eventually, the passengers and crew of Flight 93 realized the fate of the other hijacked planes and decided their only course of action was to fight back for control of the aircraft. At 9:57 a.m., around the time that the World Trade Center buildings were starting to collapse, the people on Flight 93 mounted their counter attack. At 10:03, the jet rolled upside down and plowed into an empty field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, going 563 miles per hour. It is still not known the exact target, but used the flight data recorder to find that the plane’s auto pilot was reprogrammed to take the aircraft to Washington, D.C. It is believed that likely targets were the U.S. Capitol building or the White House. There was virtually nothing left resembling the wreckage of the aircraft. A cloud of smoke and the smell of burning jet fuel. Today, that field has been turned into a memorial to the heroes of that day at their final resting place under the management of the National Park Service. Links
August 20, 2018
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. George Washington was born on February 22nd, 1732.  Over the course of his life, he would experience things no one in the history of the world would experience, while at the same time, suffering setbacks and loss like few endure.  This episode focuses on his setbacks and failures, the lessons he took from them, and how his response in turn fed the American spirit. His father died when he was young.  He had no formal education.  He would take work as a civilian surveyor in North America. Eventually he would serve in the British Army, but his loyalties to his home state of Virginia and his native land would take him to become the Commander in Chief of the Continental Army in 1775, fighting from independence. After the Revolutionary War, he would become the first President of the United States. Key Dates 1754 – For Necessity – Surrenders on July 4th 1755 – The disastrous Braddock campaign. 1775 – Becomes Commander in Chief of the Continental Army. 1776 – Successful seizure of Boston 1776 – George Washington gets destroyed by Lord Howe and chased out of New York. 1776 – Christmas day, battle at Trenton, victory. Battle at Princeton, victory. Winter 1777 – Valley Forge and the Conway Cabal 1787 - George Washington and the Constitutional Convention 1789 - First term as president, health problems and dealing with Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton’s hate for each other. 1793 – Second term, hates politics, government. French Revolution and uneasy decisions. 1797 – End of his presidency and back to Mount Vernon. 1799 – Death. Links Mount Vernon, George Washington's Home and Library History that Doesn't Suck Podcast, Greg Jackson Official White House Biography of George Washington George Washington, Fort Necessity, National Park Service Valley Forge, National Park Service French and Indian War, Conway Cabal, About this Episode's Guest Greg Jackson Born and bred in Southern California, Greg now calls Utah home and is a professor at Utah Valley University (UVU). He holds a Ph.D. in history from the University of Utah, where he was also a Burton Scholar. Previous to that, he earned an M.A. in French Studies and a B.A. in history from Brigham Young University. He's also taught a range of history classes (US, European, World, and Middle Eastern) at a few universities (the University of Utah, Westminster College in Salt Lake City, and now UVU). ​ When Greg isn't researching, teaching, or podcasting, he's usually with his family, cycling, rock climbing, or indulging his love of languages. Greg speaks fluent French, rusty-but-conversational Spanish, and has some working ability in Arabic and Classical Latin.
August 13, 2018
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. On December 31st, 1935, the game of Monopoly was patented.  Since then it has been translated into 37 languages and has been customized into over 200 licensed and local editions in 103 countries around the world. Over 250 million sets of Monopoly have been sold since 1935.  It’s been played by over a half a billion people. The game as we know it today was created by Charles Darrow of Germantown, Pennsylvania during the Great Depression.  In 1934 he pitched Monopoly to the people at Parker Brothers and they turned him down.  Only one year later, he found a way to sell 5,000 copies of the game during one of the worst economic periods in history. That got the board game company’s attention. Parker Brothers then bought the game. But that wasn’t the very beginning for Monopoly. It was actually invented years earlier under another name and under different rules. It was dubbed The Landlord’s Game in 1904 by Elizabeth Philips. She saw it as a means to educate people on Henry George’s single tax movement. Charles Darrow discovered the handmade version of the game in the early 1930s and modified it and patented it as Monopoly in 1935.  He was an unemployed salesman struggling with odd jobs during the Depression. In this episode, Phil tells us the story behind the game pieces, how the streets and board navigation (Boardwalk, Park Place, "Go Directly to Jail," and "Pass Go, Collect $200," was decided, and how Monopoly took its place in pop culture. Links Winning Moves Games Official Monopoly Page - Hasbro Go Directly to Success: Monopoly's Lessons - Wall Street Journal (Phil Orbanes) Everything I Know About Business I Learned from Monopoly - Harvard Business Review (Phil Orbanes) The Chairman of the Board - Boston Globe Monopoly: The World's Most Famous Game and How it Got that Way - Amazon Books (Phil Orbanes) About this Episode's Guest Phil Orbanes Phil Orbanes started Gamescience Corp. while still in high school.  He sold that company before he graduated from college. After graduation, he landed work in the board games industry, starting with Ideal Toy Corp., the nation’s second-largest toy and game company. He then joined Parker Brothers in 1979 and served in leadership until 1990.  While at Parker Brothers, he took company into the video age and rejuvenated Monopoly, Clue and others. In 1995, he co-founded Winning Moves Games and still serves in leadership after serving as President for 18 years.  Winning Moves has relaunched your favorite classic games and puzzles, including Monopoly, the Mega Edition. Phil serves as President of the Association for Games & Puzzles International, and continues to serve as Chief Judge at major Monopoly national and international competitions.
August 6, 2018
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.   Dan Abrams is the CEO of Abrams Media and the Chief Legal Affairs anchor for ABC News. David Fisher is the author of more than 20 New York Times bestsellers. The two worked together to produce Lincoln’s Last Trial: The murder case that propelled him to the presidency. David and Dan drew from the transcript of a case reported to have changed everything for an attorney from Illinois named Abraham Lincoln. David will tell us how they drew from a transcript of the case – The State of Illinois versus “Peachy” Quinn Harrison. The transcript was discovered in 1989 in a garage that once belonged to Peachy Harrison’s great grandson. In this conversation we talk about Abraham Lincoln’s skills as a litigator, and get a glimpse of Lincoln’s interactions with witnesses and how he honed those skills as he shaped himself into an iconic leader. Abraham Lincoln took on a broad range of cases. He and a group of attorneys and judges and would travel for 12 weeks at a time, twice a year, "riding the circuit." Lincoln learned the law by working with other attorneys.  By 1859, he had handled 27 murder cases.  He also handled civil and commerce cases, and was reported to have handled Springfield, Illinois' first "slip and fall" case. The 1859 Case 1859 murder trial captivated the region and the country. Nine months before the Republican convention. Political insiders were watching him on the heels of the Lincoln-Douglas debates. Two men from local families who scuffled in a local drugstore.  Peachy Quinn Harrison slashed Greek Crafton with a knife when Crafton and his buddies grabbed Harrison with intent to “stomp his face” over vague insults. Lincoln effectively defended Harrison after he was indicted by a grand jury for the murder. Lincoln’s strategy: Peachy Harrison was “frail young man, weighing no more than 125 pounds,” and Crafton was much larger. It was Harrison against two Crafton brothers at first. Harrison was already taking a beating from Crafton before he pulled a four-inch long hunting knife and started to slash at both of this “tormentors.” Lincoln argued self-defense, not murder. Lincoln introduced his own personal relationship with the Harrison family. Crafton was mortally wounded in the abdomen and died three days later. But apparently, he forgave Peachy in a deathbed admission, according to Peter Cartwright, a revered evangelical leader. Harrison was acquitted at the end of the case, largely due to the judge’s decision to allow his grandfather – Peter Cartwright – to testify that Crafton gave a deathbed absolution of Harrison. The story of this trial is not only that Lincoln won it so close to the presidential campaign of 1860, but that he leveraged this trial and the relationships he formed outside of the courtroom to put him on the path to the White House. Links Lincoln's Last Trial: The murder case that propelled him to the presidency, by Dan Abrams and David Fisher Lincoln's Last Trial, Good Reads The Grisly Murder Trial that Helped Raise Abraham Lincoln's National Profile, The Sensational Murder Trial that Showed Off Abraham Lincoln's Skills as a Lawyer, Time
July 30, 2018
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.   The emoticon is a term that’s short for emotive icons. Emoticons have been around for centuries in various forms. What all emoticons have in common is they appeal to or express some form of emotion. And they are icons not words. But today, when we use the term emoticon, we’re usually talking about the Internet variety. And that is what brings us to our guest, Scott Fahlman. Scott tells the story of how he created the world's first Internet emoticon which actually started before it was called the Internet.  Back in September of 1982, it was called the ARPA Net, run by the military and only accessible to 12 universities. It was during this time that those working on it had already discovered the "social" aspect of the new technology and shared their own brand of humor, which was not always received as intended. With this in mind, Scott came up with a way to flag comments meant only as an attempt at humor or sarcasm.  Here is his original message outlining his idea: From Scott E. Fahlman, 19-Sep-82 11:44 (a.m.?) I propose that the following character sequence for joke makers: : - ) Read it sideways. Actually, it is probably more economical to mark things that are NOT jokes, given current trends. For this, use : - ( Within a week, many on the CMU campus had started using it. In less than a month, it reached people at universities in California. Once the military turned the ARPAnet over to civilian control and more universities came on board, it started to spread to Japan, the United Kingdom and Europe. By the arrival of the consumer Internet in the 1990s, the emoticon had arrived, too. Scott never kept a copy of his original message, so, in 2001, a team led by Mike Jones of Microsoft decided to conduct an "archaeological" search for that original missive. Eventually they found the backup tape they suspected had the evidence they were seeking, but they didn't have anything to read it. So, they had to find an old device that could read and decode those old tapes.  Just a few days before the 20th anniversary of that original message, the team hit pay dirt. Scott admits he may not have invented the emoticon, which he believes can be traced back hundreds of years to the creation of the exclamation point, but as we commonly think of it today, the only popularized by the Internet, he is its confirmed creator. Why did it take off? Scott's answer is as simple as the emoticon itself. Smiles are universal and tap an emotional nerve. The emoticon fills a small need, it's free and doesn't require permission to use.  And it brings with it something he calls an "in-group effect." In other words, early users saw the emoticon as a means of fitting in with those "in the know" on the latest in tech. Links Scott Fahlman's Smiley Lore Site How the Emoticon was Invented, Business Insider September 19, 1982: Can't you take a joke?, Wired Meet Scott Fahlman, The guy who created the first emoticon, About this Episode's Guest Scott Fahlman Scott E. Fahlman has been on the faculty of Carnegie Mellon University since 1978, doing research on Artificial Intelligence, especially in the area of knowledge representation and reasoning -- that is, trying to get some general knowledge and common sense into the stupid machines.
July 23, 2018
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." This conversation takes a nostalgic look at the golden age of family road trips — part pop history, part humorous memoir not unlike National Lampoon’s Vacation movies. This episode focuses on how the birth of America's interstate highways in the 1950s ushered in an era of unprecedented family travel. Over the next three decades, the number of vehicles on the road quintupled, national parks attendance grew to 165 million, and 2.2 million people visited Gettysburg each year — 13 times the number of soldiers who fought in the battle. Richard combines little-known historical stories and information, with amusing personal stories of family that takes us back to a time when the whole family piled into car for long hours of driving, car games, running on empty, and roadside attractions. Those relatively new roads we take for granted today changed the way America sees itself because it enabled millions to get out and see the country. Don't Make Me Pull Over: An informal history of the family road trip TITLE: Don’t Make Me Pull Over! / AUTHOR: Richard Ratay / PUBLICATION DATE: July 3, 2018 / 288 pages / ISBN: 9781501188749 / PRICE: $27.00 Hardcover Links The Interstate Highway System, History Channel Three Ways the Interstate System Changed America, Smithsonian 10 Things You Might Not Know About the U.S. Interstate System, Mental Floss 13 Unusual Roadside Attractions Across America, U.S. News & World Report   About this Episode's Guest Richard Ratay Richard Ratay was the last of four kids raised by two mostly attentive parents in Elm Grove, Wisconsin. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a degree in journalism and has plied his talents as an award-winning advertising copywriter for twenty-five years. Ratay lives in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, with his wife, Terri, their two sons, and two very excitable rescue dogs.
July 16, 2018
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.   The Beatles released "Love Me Do" on October 5, 1962, their first single. Their second single “Please Please Me” reached number one on nearly every chart in U.K. "Please Please Me" was the first in a series of 11 of 12 Beatles albums that reached number one in the U.K. In the U.S., over six years, the Beatles had the top-selling single in one out of every six weeks, and the top-selling album in one out of every three weeks. "Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band" was released in June 1967, and would eventually be ranked number one on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of “The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.” British Invasion The Beatles toured for four years in the 1960s, greeted constantly by screaming Baby Boomers, so much so that their music usually couldn't even be heard by the crowd or the Beatles themselves. Enthusiastically chaotic crowds became a signature of every Beatles performance. The band members started to feel the pressure after four years. The End of Touring and Brian Esptein In August 1966, John Lennon was quoted in an article that the “Beatles are more popular than Jesus.” The reaction across America was extremely negative. John Lennon appeared in a press conference for damage control. Band members' concerns over their own safety intensified. Later that month, after a concert, George Harrison said he no longer wanted to tour. John Lennon agreed. Paul McCartney then became convinced and the touring came to an end. On August 27, 1967, band manager and close mentor to every member of the Beatles, the "fifth Beatle" Brian Epstein dies as the result of an accidentally fatal mixture of drugs and alcohol. Enter Yoko Ono In May 1968, John brings Yoko Ono to a recording session unannounced. She was an artist who John met while still married. Yoko's presence changes the dynamics of recording sessions and the dynamics of the band. Tensions rose. No New Contract - The End In January 1969,  John and Yoko meet with Allen Klein, who John entrusts with his own business affairs. John lobbies for Allen Klein to serve as Brian Epstein's replacement. Paul McCartney wanted his wife Linda's father/brother (both lawyers) to play the role. A standoff ensues and Paul never signs on with Klein. In September 1969, in a meeting over the future of the Beatles, it is said that John says it’s over, but Klein and the others convince him to stay through negotiations with a record company. Band members had started to pursue solo projects On April 10, 1970, Paul McCartney announces he's leaving The Beatles. Links The Beatles: The Biography, By Bob Spitz The Beatles (Official Site) The Beatles in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame The Beatles' U.S. Invasion, 50 Years Later, CBS News Five Myths About the Beatles, Washington Post About this Episode's Guest Bob Spitz Bob Spitz is the award-winning author of the biographies Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child and The Beatles, both New York Times bestsellers, as well as six other nonfiction books and a screenplay. He has represented Bruce Springsteen and Elton John in several capacities. His articles appear regularly in magazines and newspapers.
July 9, 2018
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.   June 25, 1876 , American Indians defeat George Custer at and the U.S. Army  at Little Bighorn, which is in southern Montana. The U.S. Army had been forcing American Indians onto reservations, but there were resistors led by chiefs Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse. As Americans moved West, Indian nations had repeatedly entered into treaties with the U.S. government but the terms changed as more and more people moved West.  Then gold was discovered in South Dakota’s Black Hills in South Dakota, which had been considered sacred ground to plains Indians. In 1875 the U.S. Army was said to have ignored treaty provisions and invaded the Black Hills. That prompted many plains Indians to leave their reservations and join Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse in Montana. Battle lines were drawn. In late 1875, the  U.S. Army ordered “hostile Indians” in Montana to return to their reservations or be subject to attack.  Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse ignored the order, then urged other warriors to join with them to fight the army. By late Spring 1876, thousands of American Indian men, women and children had gathered at a massive camp along a river in Southern Montana called Little Bighorn. On June 17th, General George Crook of U.S. Army was stunned by size and ferocity of the Indian attack nearby and pulled back.  Two other Army columns remained, one commanded by General Alfred Terry and one by General John Gibbon. General Terry ordered the 7th Cavalry under Lt. Colonel George Custer to scout ahead.  Instead of proceeding cautiously, he dismissed his scouts when they told him of a gigantic Indian village nearby in the valley of Little Bighorn. Believing that there was a village but discounting its size, his main fear was that when word got to the village, the people would scatter before he could emerge victorious. He divided roughly 600 men into three battalions, keeping about 215 under his direct command. He did this to keep the Indians from scattering to escaping his invasion. The people did not scatter, they mobilized. Sitting Bull was too old for battle, but younger Crazy Horse sped into battle with a large force to meet the U.S. Army. With Custer’s troops divided and advancing, they found it was they who were under attack by a rapidly growing number of warriors.  Custer and the others had tried to regroup his regiment but it was too late. Everyone was under attack. Custer himself, and his 215 men were cut off and under attack by as many as 3,000 armed braves. In less than a 2 hours, they were all killed to the last man. Eyewitness Lakota Chief Red Horse said this in 1881 – “The Sioux did not take a single soldier prisoner, but killed all of them. None were left alive for even a few minutes.” Other regiments survived with heavy casualties but were able to hold for a day until the Indians withdrew. There were 50 known deaths among Sitting Bull’s followers. While the Battle of Little Bighorn was the greatest victory for the plains Indians, and the army’s worst defeat in what was called the Plains Indian War, the Indians were not able to revel in victory.  The story of "Custer's Last Stand" outraged many Americans and created national perceptions of merciless In...
July 2, 2018
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. We spend this episode with a focus on the history of one of America’s most iconic condiments, Heinz Ketchup, which was a big part of a corporate history Eleanor once wrote for the Heinz Company. Her  book was called In Good Company: 125 Years at the Heinz Table. Our discussion explores how the evolution of ketchup has followed step-by-step with American business, culture and society, food trends, and marketing. When people think of ketchup they think of Heinz; when they think of Heinz, they think of ketchup, but it wasn’t always that way. The change occurred over many decades but accelerated from the 1960s through the 1980s. Ketchup remains one of the most broadly used products in the grocery category, found in over 97 percent of all U.S. households and four out of five restaurants. Heinz is the world’s largest buyer of tomatoes. 2 million tons per year.  Heinz sells 11 billion ketchup packets per year. Malcolm Gladwell wrote a piece in 2004 for The New Yorker where he described how Heinz became dominant in the ketchup market by focusing on all five of the condiment's flavor attributes. It used to be just a salty and bitter, but then Heinz increased thickness, increased the sourness with acidity from concentrated vinegar; and the company doubled the sweetness. The History of Heinz Ketchup Ketchup was invented in 1876. Do you know who invented it and how it came to be part of Heinz’s early product mix? Before Heinz, it was largely considered a home-made concoction you’d make in your kitchen. The Heinz company was launched seven years later, and ketchup was one of its first products. Ketchup was on of the first bottled products, along with horseradish, pickles, mustard and vinegar. The company introduced its iconic octagon glass bottle with its keystone label and neck band around 1900. Heinz had an obsession with efficiency and quality, so it decided the best way to make the best processed food was to locate production near quality farmland, so the ketchup plant is right next to the fields where the tomatoes are grown. Marketing: When Last was First From the 1960s through the 1980s, Heinz Ketchup went from just another condiment to a mainstay in the American diet through improvements on the agricultural front, technological front, but also in the area of marketing. Ketchup only had 23.6% of the market in the 1960s, comparable to Hunt’s. Both companies had deemed the tomato ketchup category "mature." Then Heinz recruited talent and some strategies from Procter & Gamble. Heinz  lowered ketchup's price slightly, introduced a television advertising campaign, and it added a 26-ounce “Ketchup lover’s ketchup” with a wide-mouth bottle, which created more shelf space in grocery stores. Much of this was an outgrowth of a decision Heinz made to hire ad agency Doyle Dane Bernbach. These strategies led to immediate growth in Heinz ketchup sales.  While the company had to remove the wide-mouth ketchup bottle from the market over product quality issues, the growth trend had begun. The company had done focus groups with consumers, taking a page from Procter & Gamble marketing, and found consumers wanted thicker, richer ketchup. The television spots illustrated this through comparison advertising, showing how Heinz ketchup "lost" a race to see which ketchup would run out of the bottle fastest.
June 25, 2018
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.   Declaration adopted by Continental Congress July 4, 1776, but work started on it early June of that year. Many may think the declaration preceded the fighting of the Revolutionary War, but the fighting actually had already begun in Massachusetts (April 1775 with local militia skirmishes with the British army in Lexington and Concord over rights as British subjects.) October 1775, King George II became very outspoken against the rebellious colonies and ordered expansion of the royal army and navy. The colonies got word of this and it only caused colonies to lose hope for reconciliation. Late 1775, Benjamin Franklin communicated with the French that the colonies were leaning towards independence and could use some help.  France wouldn't provide any support unless the colonies made it official. Continental Congress met that winter and realized reconciliation with Britain was unlikely. It looked to them like independence was their only option. December 22, 1775, British Parliament banned trade with the colonies. Tried to crush the resistance.  Continental Congress deliberated and planned. June 7, 1776, Richard Henry Lee made a motion for Independence. The group could not get full consensus at that time. The colonies were not ready, but they did form a Committee of Five to draft the Declaration, which Thomas Jefferson (Virginia) Virginia to chair. Benjamin Franklin (Pennsylvania), John Adams (Massachusetts.), Roger Sherman (Connecticut), and Robert Livingston (New York). They needed a southern colony representative, particularly a Virginian. The drafting of the Declaration took roughly three weeks.  Thomas Jefferson wrote it with input from John Adams and the others. We talk about resources that may have served as source material, along with David McCullough's description of Thomas Jefferson's approach to the writing of the Declaration. John Dunlap, official printer, worked through the night to set the Declaration in type and print roughly 200 copies. These were known as the Dunlap Broadsides sent to committees, assemblies, commanders in the Continental Army. One copy made it to King George II months later. The introduction said independence was necessary for the colonies, the body listed grievances with the British crown, the preamble includes the most famous passage: "In Congress, July 4, 1776. The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America, When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends...
June 18, 2018
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.   Believe it or not, before the late 1930s, most brides did not receive diamond engagement rings. In this episode, we tell the story of how tough times for the diamond industry, combined with one Philadelphia ad agency and a single, female copywriter changed everything. Diamond Industry History In the late 1800s, massive diamond mines were discovered in South Africa, which led to a glut of diamonds, flooding the market and reducing their value. The diamond mine owners realized they had to create scarcity to preserve their appeal and their value. That's when they took control over the supply and worked to control the price of diamonds around the world. They created a cartel called DeBeers Consolidated Mines in 1888, controlling all facets of the diamond industry for decades. Enter N.W. Ayer In 1938, during the Great Depression, DeBeers hired Philadelphia ad agency N.W. Ayer. The agency conducted attitude research and found that the public saw diamonds as a luxury only for wealthy, and that American consumers felt they needed their money for cars and appliances. That's when the agency decided it would need to target across demographics and income levels, and to do that it needed to come up with an emotional appeal. The research guided the agency to conclude that diamonds needed to be positioned as socially valuable and eternal.  This led the firm to focus on the emotion of love and the practical culmination of love in marriage. Before World War II, only 10 percent of engagement rings contained diamonds. The agency targeted men to instill the notion that diamonds were synonymous with romance and provided a way to prove his love for her.  The size of the diamond was important. When it came to women, N.W. Ayer told women to expect that if their man really loved them, he would give them a diamond. On the PR side, the agency centered its efforts on celebrities, publicizing famous engaged couples.  On the advertising side, newspaper and magazine ads repeatedly showcased the timeless quality of diamonds. Frances Gerety, Copywriter Frances Gerety, who wrote all of DeBeers' ads from 1943-1970, created the famous line, "A Diamond is Forever."  J. Courtney Sullivan tells the whole story of how Gerety came up with the line that Ad Age deemed the #1 Advertising Slogan for the 20th Century. Today, the vast majority of engagements are marked with a diamond engagement ring, and DeBeers continues to sell diamonds on the timeless strength of the line, "A Diamond is Forever." Our thanks to Anna Marks for the program suggestion. Links How Diamonds Became Forever - New York Times Why 'A Diamond is Forever'  has Lasted So Long - Washington Post Diamonds are Forever: The Story Behind the Slogan - The Diamond Authority Perspective: Rock of Ages - Adweek   About this Episode's Guest J. Courtney Sullivan J. Courtney Sullivan is the New York Times best-selling author of the novels "The Engagements," "Maine," and "Commencement," and most recently, "Saints for All Occasions." "Maine" was named a 2011 Time Magazine Best Book of the Year and a Washington Post Notable Book. The Engagements was one of People Magazine's Top Ten Books of 2013 and an Irish Times Best Book of the Year,
June 11, 2018
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. Arnold Palmer hit the American consciousness as golf grew in popularity during the latter half of the 20th Century. He won the U.S. Amateur Championship in 1954, and he then turned professional a few months later. From 1960 to 1963 he earned 29 of his titles and collected almost $400,000. The Associated Press named him "Athlete of the Decade" for the 1960s. Over the course of his career, Palmer won 92 championships in professional competition.  Sixty-two of those victories came on the U.S. PGA Tour.  Seven of his wins came in golf's major championships. He won the Masters Tournament in 1958, 1960, 1962 and 1964.  He won the U.S. Open in 1960 at Cherry Hills Country Club in Denver.  He won the British Open in 1961 and 1962. Arnold Palmer, the Business Man It's largely understood that Arnold Palmer ushered in the modern era of sports marketing.  While he earned $7 million in golf competition, he earned 50 times that off of the golf course. His enterprises ranged from licensing and endorsement deals, to golf ventures and his famous iced tea brand. In this episode, we talk about how Palmer engineered his sports marketing persona and enterprise while staying true to his roots and living his life as grounded as his friends, family and fans knew him to be. Links Arnold Palmer: Homespun Stories of the King - Amazon Arnold Palmer Enterprises Arnold Palmer Beverages How Arnold Palmer and President Eisenhower Made Golf the Post-War Pastime - Smithsonian The Story Behind Arnold Palmer's Famous Signature - New York Times Remembers Arnold Palmer Golf Channel Remembers Arnold Palmer About this Episode's Guest Chris Rodell Chris Rodell's writing has appeared in publications including Sports Illustrated, Esquire, Men's Health, Golf and Arnold Palmer's Kingdom Magazine. About the Book In his new book, Rodell, a personal friend of Palmer’s offers a new take on the legendary figure. Drawing on more than 100 interviews conducted over decades of acquaintance, Rodell delves into Palmer’s character away from the game, examining Palmer’s relationship to his hometown and its people. ARNOLD PALMER: HOMESPUN STORIES OF THE KING By Chris Rodell Triumph Books      
June 4, 2018
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. According to the Discovery Channel, Shark Week is “television’s longest-running and eagerly awaited summer TV event, delivering all-new groundbreaking shark stories and incorporating innovative research technology to reveal compelling insight on some of the most unique shark species in the world.” In 2018, the cable network will mark “the 30th installment of the annual franchise,” which commences Sunday, July 22, 2018, followed by eight days of sharks in high definition. In this episode of Shaping Opinion we talk to one of the country’s leading writers on the subject of sharks, Jason Bittel. In our conversation, we explore both the positive and potentially negative impacts of the way in which sharks have been depicted on television, in motion pictures and in pop culture. Is that fear warranted? It’s complicated, but we start to simplify things, while exploring what it would take to begin to put sharks' image into a more clear focus. In the end, you may not want to hug a shark, but you may just ... Well, just give it a listen. Links Stop Calling Everything a "Shark Attack" - Huffington Post Snap a Shark Photo and Help Save the Biggest Fish on Earth - National Geographic Meet the New Ninja Lanternshark - Hakai Magazine Biggest Loser: Shark Edition - NRDC onEarth The Shark Attacks that were the Inspiration for Jaws - Smithsonian Magazine Jaws: The Monster that Ate Hollywood - PBS Frontline About this Episode’s Guest Jason Bittel Jason Bittel describes himself as writing “about weird animals for a living. Big animals. Little animals. Dangerous animals. Cuddly animals.” He has written for National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, Huffington Post, and many others, using a style that entertains, enlightens and captivates. For more information on Jason: BittelMeThis
May 28, 2018
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." Bob Hope was born Leslie Townes Hope in England in 1903. He became an American entertainer and comic known for a quick delivery of jokes and one-liners who found success in all entertainment media. He spent his first years in England where his father was a stonemason. He came to the United States when he was four years old. His family settled in Cleveland, Ohio. He had six brothers and worked a number of odd jobs to help the family deal with the financial strains. He took dancing lessons and developed an act with his girlfriend as a teenager. He then paired up with a series of partners and hit the road, making it to Broadway with Fatty Arbuckle at first (Sidewalks of New York in 1927). In 1937, he signed his first radio contract and then hosted his own show every week. Hope became one of ratio’s top performers until mid-1950s. In the late 1930s, he started appearing in feature films. In 1940 he was paired up with Bing Crosby in The Road to Singapore. Several more “Road” pictures followed. In 1950, on NBC, Hope started to host periodic television specials that were strong ratings-getters for 40 years. Hope and the USO Hope wasn’t the only or the first entertainer to perform for the troops in World War II. Where he diverged was when he continued those overseas tours when the war had ended. He did his first post-war tour in 1948 in Berlin during the Berlin Airlift. He brought along Jinx Falkenberg and Irving Berlin. “So he became a Cold Warrior that way. An emblem of America,” said our guest Kurt Jensen. In 1950, he was one of only two American entertainers who went to Korea before the Chinese invaded, and he went to Japan. Hope once again toured for overseas military in 1954 in Greenland (with Anita Ekberg), and after that, to European bases and Alaska, for the most part. These tours were broadcast to the country, earning big ratings. Starting in the 1950s, Bob brought a press junket with him on the USO tours. From 1964 to 1972, always Southeast Asia, and those tours became his legacy. Active war zone the entire time, of course. In 1983, Beirut (Brooke Shields, Cathy Lee Crosby, Ann Jillian. Vic Damone) In 1987, Persian Gulf (Barbara Eden, Joely Fisher, Phyllis Diller) In 1990, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia (mostly handshaking), but also shipboard shows with Ann Jillian and Marie Osmond. Special Thank You James Hardy and Bob Hope Legacy Project for providing sound clips used in this episode. USO for photos used on this page and in our social media posts. Links Bob Hope: The USO's One-Man Morale Machine - USO Site Rare, Candid Photos of Bob Hope's USO Shows - Reader's Digest Bob Hope's Vietnam Christmas Tours - Bob Hope - About this Episode's Guest Kurt Jensen Kurt Jensen is a veteran journalist who has worked for USA Today and other media organizations. Currently, he is a reporter for Catholic News Service, which he has served since 2007. Among his colorful memories of encounters with celebrities: "I was the interviewer/researcher for Michael Sragow's "Victor Fleming: An American Movie Master." The big "get" in terms of getting her to cooperate with a...
May 21, 2018
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. Regis McKenna founded his own high tech marketing firm, Regis McKenna, Inc., in Silicon Valley in 1970 after working in the marketing departments of two early semiconductor-pioneering companies. His firm evolved from one focused on high tech start ups to a broad based marketing strategy firm servicing international clients in many different industries and countries. McKenna retired from consulting in 2000 and is concentrating his efforts on high tech entrepreneurial seed-ventures. McKenna is included in the San Jose Mercury News' Millennium 100 as one of the 100 people who made Silicon Valley what it is today. McKenna has written and lectured extensively on the social and market effects of technological change advancing innovations in marketing theories and practices. McKenna and his firm worked with a number of entrepreneurial start-ups during their formation years including: America Online, Apple, Compaq, Electronic Arts, Genentech, Intel, Linear Technology, Lotus, Microsoft, National Semiconductor, Silicon Graphics, 3COM, and many others. McKenna helped launch some of the most important technological innovations of the last thirty years including the first microprocessor (Intel Corporation), the first personal computer (Apple Computer), the first recombinant DNA genetically engineered product (Genentech, Inc.), and the first retail computer store (The Byte Shop). In the last decade, McKenna consulted on strategic marketing and business issues to industrial, consumer, transportation, healthcare, and financial firms in the United States, Japan, and Europe. McKenna continues to be involved in high tech start-up companies through his venture activities. McKenna pioneered many of the theories and practices of technology marketing that have become integrated into the marketing mainstream. Some of these include: The process of diffusing technology across various classes of users ranging from innovators to early adopters to late adopters and laggards and the corresponding evolution of the "whole product." (The Regis Touch, 1985). The development of industry infrastructure modeling whereby a relatively small number of "influencers" establish and sustain standards. The focus on "intangibles" as the benefits of technology products. The development of "other" as a major, growing segment of market share with the result of "choice becoming a higher value than brand." His book, Relationship Marketing, was a pioneering work in the concept of one-to-one marketing. The concept that “marketing is everything and everything is marketing.” The idea that, like quality, marketing is not a function but a cultural and operational process engaging every aspect of the enterprise. The development of the concept of "Real Time," whereby technology compresses time (from want or need to zero), creating "the never satisfied consumer." The development of the concept that “access has replaced” broadcast. The Internet and the prolific growth of access devices empower the consumer with the power of near infinite choice. McKenna has written five books on technology business strategies and marketing. His first two books were: The Regis Touch and Who's Afraid of Big Blue. His third book, Relationship Marketing,
May 16, 2018
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. Sheila Tate served as press secretary to First Lady Nancy Reagan from 1981 to 1985, and remained in close contact with her after the Reagan’s returned to California. She spoke with Mrs. Reagan often until her passing in 2016. In her book, "Lady in Red: An Intimate Portrait of Nancy Reagan," Sheila provides a glimpse into the personal life of Mrs. Reagan, from her life as First Lady to her relationships and her influence at the seat of power. Sheila has described Mrs. Reagan as once her boss, but later her friend. Sheila's first book reveals stories and details of historical proportions, including: The assassination attempt on President Reagan: the personal moments, and subsequent aftermath of that painful time, including his recovery, and Mrs. Reagan’s struggles. An exclusive interview with George Opfer, the First Lady’s lead security Secret Service agent who has never spoken publicly before. The long-goodbye: President Reagan’s fight with Alzheimer’s, how it affected Mrs. Reagan, and his eventual death 15 years after leaving office. The first turbulent year in the White House, Christmastime in Washington, Mrs. Reagan’s “Just Say No” campaign, and her own family upbringing. Sheila interviewed friends and politicians who knew Mrs. Reagan best: Chris Wallace, James Baker, George Shultz, Maureen Dowd, and Marlin Fitzwater. "Lady in Red" features a First Lady who felt it her mission to restore a sense of grandeur and style to the presidency, while playing the roles of wife, mother, protector, host, diplomat and advisor. Links "Just Say No" Campaign - USA Today March 30, 1981: President Ronald Reagan shot by John Hinckley - The Man Who Beat Communism - The Economist About this Episode's Guest Sheila Tate Sheila Tate served as press secretary to First Lady Nancy Reagan from 1981 to 1985. After leaving the White House staff, she co-founded the Washington D.C. public relations firm Powell Tate. Sheila served as press secretary to George H. W. Bush during his successful campaign for the presidency in 1988, and for his transition. About the Book LADY IN RED: AN INTIMATE PORTRAIT OF NANCY REAGAN By Sheila Tate Crown Forum
May 14, 2018
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. You may never have heard of Otto Von Bismarck, but there’s a good chance you have heard of something he once said. Otto was a 19th Century Prussian Statesman and the first Chancellor of the German Empire. He may never have envisioned television but he did say something that is quite relevant today, thanks to television. Otto said, “Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made.” That’s where C-Span comes in and why in today’s episode we dig a little deeper into Otto’s famous words with our guest Jeff Cohen. C-SPAN launched on March 19th, 1979. It is a private, nonprofit company that has pursued a mission to make government more transparent to the American people. C-SPAN televises political proceedings to millions of households across the country, available in 100 million homes, though we know most don’t spend great amounts of time watching the network. C-SPAN also has International reach on the Internet, and it doesn’t just limit its programming to political proceedings. The network features public affairs, political events, international legislatures and non-fiction book discussions, and of course, American history. At first the network consisted of eight hours of programming a day, and in the ensuing years, expanded to 24 hours of programming per day. One year after C-SPAN, Cable News Network (CNN), launched on June 1st, 1980, and the floodgates were opened. Three major broadcast networks no longer had full control over the televised narrative. In 1986, C-Span started a second channel – CSPAN 2- to televise debates in the U.S. Senate from gavel to gavel. And on weekends, that network becomes Book TV, which covers non-fiction book and author events. C-SPAN’s core coverage is televising all House and Senate Floor activities. This is a voluntary commitment, and a venture created by the cable TV industry. The network features over 8,000 hours of original public affairs programming every year. Very quickly, politicians learned how to use those cameras for their own self-promotion as well. Some senators have been known to “play for the cameras” even when no other media were present. Today, C-SPAN content has fed viral social media activity as well. C-SPAN is not tracked by Nielsen ratings, but a 2013 survey showed that roughly 47 million adults watch C-span at least once a week. In 2004, Pew Research reported that 12% of Americans are regular C-SPAN viewers. C-SPAN’s own audience profile, based on a survey of its viewers says that 28% consider themselves liberal; 36% consider themselves moderate; and 27% consider themselves conservative. Nationally, 25% of its audience is in the West, 22% is in the Midwest, 33% of the audience is in the South, and 20% is in the Northeast. Demographically, 67% of its audience is between the age of 18 and 54. Links C-SPAN: Our History - C-SPAN: 30 Years of Our Video Library - C-SPAN Marks an Anniversary - The Atlantic "The Big Sort: Why the Clustering of Like-Minded America is Tearing Us Apart" - By Bill Bishop About this Episode's Guest Jeff Cohen Jeff Cohen is an accomplished strategic communication counselor with over 25 years of extensive experience at the intersection of communication, business and politics. Jeff has worked for and counseled a wide range of established and emerging companies and ex...
May 7, 2018
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. The fight at the center of our story occurred at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, November 1982. Twenty-one-year old Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini was the world lightweight champion and a fan favorite. CBS Sports loved him because the fans loved him, and that meant ratings. Here’s how described Mancini in 2007: “He was to toast of Hollywood, a kid with good looks, a big smile, and a tear-jerking story about how he’d live out his father’s broken dream of success in the ring, and he breathed life into a dying industrial town in the middle of America’s rust belt.” His opponent was a poor kid from South Korea who saw boxing as a way up and out. 23 year old Duk-Koo Kim, in his first fight in the U.S. He had a reputation for not being the type to run away. He liked to stand in and take as much as he gave. And he did both. For 13 rounds it was brutal and grueling for both fighters. The 6,000-plus in attendance and the millions watching on CBS-TV got their money's worth. But things took a tragic turn at the beginning of the 14th round, Mancini ran across the ring, stepped right and knocked Kim down with a straight right. Kim somehow managed to grab the ropes and pull himself up, but it was over. Kim beat the count, but referee Richard Green decided to stop the fight. Right after that, in the corner, Kim collapsed. He was taken to Desert Springs Hospital in Las Vegas and was diagnosed with a blood clot on the brain. He underwent surgery, and he died four days later. Immediately after the fight, the American Medical Association took a stand against boxing. Advertisers and sponsors started to flee. Ray Mancini's own marketing opportunities quickly faded. Almost overnight, professional boxing went from its status as an elite professional sport to a niche one. That has left questions, like, "What could boxing have done differently, perhaps sooner?" Or, "What should the sport have done since?" At the same time, what lessons can today's National Football League (NFL) take from a tragedy in the ring at Caesar's in Las Vegas? Links Families Continue to Heal 30 Years After Title Fight Between Ray Mancini and Duk-koo Kim - New York Times, September 16, 2012 Twenty-five Years is a Long Time to Carry a Memory -, November 13, 2007's "Blood and Sport" Documentary Then All the Joy Turned To Sorrow - Sports Illustrated, November 22, 1982 About this Episode's Guest Gayle Lynn Falkenthal Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, Fellow PRSA, is President of the Falcon Valley Group, a San Diego based public relations consulting firm. Falkenthal worked as an award winning broadcast editor, producer and talk host prior to pursuing her current career as a strategic communications expert. Her clients include a range of nonprofit and public organizations, corporate and business clients and is known for her expertise in crisis communications. Falkenthal is a skilled strategist, teacher and collaborator who maintains her focus on the needs of the audience. Prior to her consulting career, she worked for several large organizations including the San Diego County District Attorney’s office, San Diego Convention Center Corporation, and American Red Cross.
April 30, 2018
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. Frank Lloyd Wright was born right after the American Civil War in Wisconsin. He started his career in 1887 and was a well-known architect well into the 20th Century. He was the originator of the organic approach to modern architectural design and construction. By 1934, however, many considered him past his prime. He was in his late 60s, in his third marriage, and there wasn’t in as much demand for new commissions. The Kaufmann family owned a highly successful department store company in Pittsburgh, and they had a weekend retreat at Bear Run about 90 miles away where the family enjoyed the beauty of nature. One of the key features of the property were the Bear Run water falls. In 1934, the Kaufmann’s and Frank Lloyd Wright came together to create an architectural masterpiece that continues to remind us of what a house and a home can be. Links Fallingwater - Official Site Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation - Fallingwater Frank Lloyd Wright's Most Beautiful Work - Smithsonian Magazine Kahn Academy on Fallingwater 12 Facts You Didn't Know About Fallingwater - Mental Floss About this Episode's Guest Lynda Waggoner Lynda S. Waggoner, former Vice President of Western Pennsylvania Conservancy and Director of Fallingwater, was affiliated with the Frank Lloyd Wright masterwork since first serving as a tour guide during her high school days. She now is widely regarded as one of the nation’s foremost authorities on Fallingwater. “Lynda Waggoner understands Fallingwater in a way that few others alive do…because she is a direct link to the Kaufmanns and an indirect link to Wright,” wrote American Institute of Architects member Robert Bailey in a review of Waggoner’s book, “Fallingwater: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Romance with Nature.” Those teenage days at Fallingwater inspired her to study architecture at the University of Kentucky and art history at the University of Pittsburgh, where she earned dual degrees in art history and anthropology with summa cum laude honors. Her first professional position was as curator of the Museum Without Walls, originally an outreach program of the Baltimore Museum of Art after which she was named curator of the Jay C. Leff Collection of non Western art. In 1980 she became the first executive director of Touchstone Center for Crafts, now a nationally recognized crafts school. A native of nearby Farmington, Waggoner returned to Fallingwater in 1985 as a curatorial consultant and became full-time curator in 1986. A year later, she was named site administrator in addition to her curator’s role. She was named director in 1996. Waggoner is past president of the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy, past Vice President of the Greater Pittsburgh Museum Council, past chairman of the Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau, and past vice president of the Pennsylvania Federation of Museums. She currently serves on the Board of the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy and the Community Foundation of Fayette County and the Advisory Board of Preservation Pennsylvania. In 2007 she received the “Wright Spirit Award” from the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy for her service in the preservation of Wright buildings. In 2004 she was awarded the American Institute of Architects Gold Medal by the Pittsburgh Chapter and in 1997, she was named the Distinguished Alumna Lecturer for the University of Pittsburgh’s Frick Fine Arts School of Art History and Architectural Studies.
April 25, 2018
This is our "About Us" episode.  One of our goals is simply to make the time you spend during your commute or during your workout a little bit more fun and interesting. The premise of the Shaping Opinion podcast is simple. It’s about the people, events and things that have shaped the way we think. Almost every regular episode involves a guest who helps us tell a story through conversation. Each guest is likely to have a personal or professional interest in our topic for the episode. We tell interesting stories, sometimes forgotten, little-known, or under-appreciated stories, but always they represent change. A turning point that marked a significant shaping of the way we think today. A podcast like this can be difficult to categorize. It’s about history and society and sometimes pop culture, but it’s about more than that. Yes, it’s often about public relations, marketing, advertising and communications issues and topics, but it’s not an industry podcast. It’s about you. It’s about us and how we see the world thanks to the influences that have shaped us and the world in which we live. That may be what the podcast is about, but we do need to tell you what it is not about. It’s not about the news you’re seeing this week. It’s not about the latest technology or platforms you may need to learn. There are many other good podcasts already available for that. If you like listening to the Shaping Opinion podcast, I’d be so honored if you would subscribe to it and rate it on iTunes. Just go to About Your Host Tim O'Brien Tim O’Brien formed O’Brien Communications, an independent corporate communications practice, in June 2001 after serving as Communications Director and the Chief Investor Relations Officer at a publicly traded tech firm.  He launched the Shaping Opinion podcast in April 2018 to add a new dimension to the conversation about the role of communication in society.  In doing so, we explore the big picture through specific stories. O’Brien Communications has managed corporate projects and communications programs for both publicly and privately held companies, from start-ups to Fortune 100 companies. Services have centered on major transactions; bankruptcy filings and subsequent reorganization support; earnings reports; professional services marketing; annual report writing; media relations counsel, planning and support; crisis communications planning; communications and media training; and corporate and marketing communications writing. Before his time on the corporate side, Tim spent ten years at Ketchum, where he was a Vice President, handling corporate communications and crisis/issues management client work for some of the country's largest and most visible organizations. He started his career as a producer/news writer at KDKA-TV & Radio (CBS). Tim earned his bachelor’s degree with majors in Journalism and Rhetoric at Duquesne University. He is a member of the Board of Ethics & Professional Standards of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), where he has been accredited since 1990. He has served on the PRSA/Pittsburgh Board of Directors. He is a regular columnist for PRSA’s monthly publication PR Strategies & Tactics, a monthly contributor to Muck Rack Daily, and he has written for several trade publications on communications topics. He has presented at professional and trade functions, including the American Bar Association’s Continuing Legal Education programs. He has also lectured at graduate and undergraduate programs at several leading colleges and universities. He contributed to the "PR News Crisis Management Guidebook," the "PR News Employee Communications Guidebook,
April 23, 2018
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. Seven people are dead. We know they were poisoned. We know that it had to be some form of tampering in Chicago at the distribution level and not at the manufacturing plant. We know that the packaging had vulnerabilities, and now the company faces a huge crisis of trust. The company almost abandoned the Tylenol brand but decided against it. Johnson & Johnson Chairman James Burke decides instead to rebuild the brand. The company comes up with a new tamper-resistant package, and it leads the way for the rest of its industry. Advertising agency Young & Rubicam conducts consumer research. They find: 94% of the consumers surveyed were aware that Tylenol was connected to the poisonings. 87% of the Tylenol those surveyed understood that the company was not responsible for the deaths. 61% of those surveyed indicated they were not likely to buy Extra-Strength capsules going forward. 50% felt the same way about Tylenol tablets. Ultimately, many consumers knew it wasn’t Tylenol’s fault but still said they wouldn’t purchase Tylenol anyway. The one piece of promising news in the research, frequent Tylenol users were more inclined to return to the brand than the infrequent user. The company used this piece of data to concentrate on regaining the confidence of its most loyal customers. Starting with a Grassroots Effort One month after the crisis began, Johnson & Johnson conducted grassroots outreach to doctors and pharmacists to persuade them to recommend Tylenol tablets to patients once again. Working with the FDA, the company introduced a new tamper-proof packaging. These measures soon became the industry standard. The company also introduced price reductions and a new version of their pills — called the “caplet” — a tablet coated with slick, easy-to-swallow gelatin but more tamper-resistant. When the company re-launched Tylenol capsules at the end of the year, it distributed 40 million coupons. By September 1983, Tylenol had rebuilt its market share to 30 percent, almost where it was prior to the poisonings. About this Episode's Guest Dan Keeney Dan Keeney, APR is the president of DPK Public Relations, a public relations firm specializing in crisis communications planning, crisis response and crisis recovery as well as media relations, marketing communications and spokesperson training. He has led numerous high-profile communications initiatives, from corporate restructurings to product introductions and from international crisis communications response to grassroots engagement efforts. Dan is a five-time recipient of the public relations field’s highest honor, the Silver Anvil Award from the Public Relations Society of America. He was part of the team that was recognized with the 2017 Best of Silver Anvil Award for their work on NASA-Johnson Space Center’s Year In Space program. NASA first engaged Dan in 2004, during its darkest hours following the loss of the Space Shuttle Columbia. His work has been pivotal in building public trust and support for continued human space exploration beyond lower Earth orbit. Dan is a former broadcast journalist who worked as a reporter, anchor and talk show host in Virginia and Chicago before working as a network director of news and programming. A graduate of the University of Colorado School of Journalism,...
April 13, 2018
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. It started on Sept. 29, 1982. Mary Kellerman, a 12-year-old girl who lived in a suburb of Chicago called Elk Grove Village told her mom and dad she had a sore throat and runny nose. She took one extra-strength Tylenol capsule. What no one knew then was her medicine was laced with potassium cyanide poison. Mary died that morning. Later that day, a 27-year old mail man named Adam Janus of Arlington Heights, Illinois, died from what was at first believed to be a heart attack, but soon later, the cause would be discovered to be cyanide poisoning. Adam’s brother Stanley and Stanley’s wife Theresa came over to grieve with family that day. Given the stress of the situation, both Tylenol Extra Strength capsules from the same bottle Adam had used earlier that day. Stanley died the same day and Theresa died two days later. Three members of the same family dead. In the end, seven people had died over a period of just a few days, and all of them had taken Tylenol Extra Strength. All were in the Chicago area. Meanwhile at the Company.... The first call came in to Johnson & Johnson the next morning. It was from a reporter from the Chicago Sun-Times. He needed information about McNeil Consumer Products’ history and current sales. Johnson & Johnson owned 150 companies and one of them was McNeil Consumer Products, the maker of Tylenol. When a PR manager checked for the info by calling down to McNeil, he learned that some people were poisoned with Tylenol capsules. By then, that Sun Times Reporter was back on the line. He told the company that the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office reported three people died in Chicago after being poisoned by Tylenol capsules. He wanted a comment now. Inside of J&J word traveled fast. Johnson & Johnson’s Chairman James Burke was brought up to speed quickly and he assigned McNeil’s chief David Collins to handle the immediate crisis response. Things unfolded quickly. The phones were ringing like crazy at both McNeil and Johnson & Johnson. The company realized it needed the media to accurate information to the public as quickly as possible and prevent a panic. And it needed the media as a source of information itself. In those first hours, the company fielded calls from everywhere, learned of false reports of other poisonings, and spent large amounts of time and resources checking and verifying facts and rumors. Getting to the Root of the Problem Collins and the management team did not believe the poisonings did not occur at their plant. Based on what they knew of their own processes, if someone had dumped a dose of cyanide so small it could not be detected into a drug mixing machine, the poison would have been so diluted to the point of being almost harmless. In addition, there would have been contaminated pills all over the country. Instead, the poisonings were traced only to Chicago. When on Friday morning the company learned that a sixth victim had been poisoned with Tylenol capsules from a lot manufactured in Round Rock, Texas, this proved that the tampering had to have taken place locally in Chicago and not in the manufacturing process, because poisoning at both plants would have been almost im...
April 13, 2018
Elizabeth Flynn joins Tim to tell the story of the Goodyear Blimp and why it has endured as one of America’s most recognizable and beloved marketing icons.   The first Goodyear blimp for advertising purposes was the Pilgrim which used helium rather than hydrogen which is flammable. On July 18, 1925, Pilgrim was christened by Florence Litchfield, wife of Goodyear exec Paul Litchfield. Paul Litchfield was the visionary and a showman. He believed blimps could be yachts in the sky and called them Air Yachts. An inland version of the maritime yacht for the yachting class. He envisioned airship regattas and Air Yacht clubs. By the time it was retired in 1931, Pilgrim had made 4,765 flights, carried 5,355 passengers and covered 94,974 miles. For over 90 years, dozens of blimps have flown thousands and thousands of miles bearing the Goodyear brand in some of the biggest events in the world. The Goodyear Blimp is known to millions and one of the most recognizable marketing icons there is. Blimps have been used to support the military during times of war, like the U.S. Navy during WWII. But the Goodyear Blimp’s most well-recognized mission has been marketing. The Goodyear Blimp has covered Super Bowls, NASCAR, horse races, golf tournaments, baseball, even basketball and hockey events. In this episode, Elizabeth tells the full story of the blimp and how she worked to help make the Goodyear Blimp a presence in major Hollywood entertainment events.  She puts to rest an urban legend about the how these airships came to be called "blimps." And she discusses what it's like to work with the blimp and its team, and how rewarding it can be. Learn the lexicon of the blimp when Elizabeth explains the meaning behind such terms as "blimp dreams," the "blimp effect," and "Blimpworthy." Links Airships.Net - Dan Grossman's Rich Aviation History Site Goodyear Blimp's Official Online "Hangar" About this Episode’s Guest Elizabeth Flynn Elizabeth Flynn is an experienced communications specialist with a background that encompasses advertising, public relations and marketing. She has worked for major advertising and public relations agencies, Fortune 500 clients, and had independent contracts with the City of Los Angeles, UCLA Medical Center, Coca-Cola, Inc. and the U.S. Olympic Organizing Committee. Most recently, Elizabeth was the PR Manager for Goodyear's iconic GZ20A-type blimp, the Spirit of America (decommissioned in 2015), which was based in Carson, CA. The Spirit of America provided aerial coverage for up to 90 events a year, which included MLB, NBA, NHL, MLS, college football and bowl games, NASCAR, NHRA, horse racing, golf and a host of special events such as The Rose Parade, The Golden Globes, The Oscars, The Espy Awards, Jimmy Kimmel's Summer Concert Series, the Daytime Emmy Awards, and more.
April 13, 2018
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. Prince Rogers Nelson was born on June 7th, 1958 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. His mother was jazz singer Mattie Shaw. His father was John Nelson, a musician whose stage name was Prince Rogers. Prince’s parents broke up when he was a child. He then lived with his mother and step-father for a time but would run away from home. After being adopted by a family called the Andersons, he and the Anderson’s son Andre joined a band called Grand Central. The band was later renamed Champagne. At 18, after working on demo tracks, he caught the attention of Warner Brothers Records, where he signed a recording contract. His debut album was in 1978 and it was called “For You.” From there, he had a string of hits. "Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad?" and “I Wanna Be Your Lover.” Other memorable hits: “1999,” “Little Red Corvette” and “Delirious.” In 1984, he released his album “Purple Rain,” largely regarded as his masterpiece. After signing a new contract with Warner Brothers in the early 1990s, Prince wanted to release material when it was ready. There were reports he had 500 unreleased songs in his studio vault. The execs at Warner Brothers said that would saturate the market and dilute demand, so they did not allow release of the music. Since Warner Brothers technically owned and trademarked the Prince name or brand, Prince decided to change the terms of the deal. In 1993, Prince announced that he would no longer go by the name Prince, but rather by a "Love Symbol" which was a combination of the gender symbols for man and woman. According to all accounts Prince wanted out of his contract. It was the news media who, by default, came up with a way to verbalize the new name. Journalists started to refer to him as The Artist Formerly Known As Prince. Record sales declined. In 2016, the magazine Wired published a more detailed account of the name change. Prince died on April 21, 2016 in Chanhassen, Minnesota, at his Paisley Park recording studio complex. He was 57. Takeaways Could anyone else have done what Prince did by changing his name to a symbol? Robin says, “No.” But he adds there are many lessons for brands and marketers in how Prince was able to change the narrative while remaining authentic and true to himself artistically and in a business sense. About this Episode's Guest Robin Teets Robin Teets is Principal at ARIA Strategic Communications, LLC, where he taps his 25 years' branding, marketing and strategic planning experience for clients. Robin has worked in corporate communications, government affairs and stakeholder engagement with an extensive background in branding and marketing. Previously, he led marketing communications and government affairs at a Fortune 500 consumer brands company.  Before that, he was a Vice President at Ketchum. And before that, he was a Prince fan.   Photo credit: Robin Teets
April 3, 2018
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. Before the 1920s, most Americans didn’t each much for breakfast.  Orange juice, maybe a roll or a cup of coffee.  Then Edward Bernays entered the picture.  He’s considered the father of modern public relations.  He was also the nephew of Sigmund Freud. In the 1920s, Beech Nut Packing Company approached Bernays.  One of their main products was bacon and they wanted to sell more. Bernays came up with the idea to talk to his agency’s doctor to find out if a “heavier breakfast” might be more beneficial to the American public than a lighter breakfast. The doctor told Bernays that a heavier breakfast would be better for people.  So, then Bernays asked the doctor if he’d be willing to sign a letter to other doctors across the country to see if they agreed. After that, Bernays seemed to have described it as a study of doctors that as a group encouraged the American public to eat a heavier breakfast, and by “heavy” Bernays meant Bacon and Eggs. This was published in major newspapers and magazines across the country and the rest is history. About this Episode's Guest Mary Barber Mary Deming Barber, APR, Fellow PRSA, is president of The Barber Group, a strategic communications consultancy, and Food PR & Communications, where her food efforts are focused along with a team of food public relations professionals. During her 40-year career, she has led award-winning programs for a wide range of food commodity boards, international brands and restaurants while employed by agencies and as an entrepreneur from her home bases throughout the West. She often tells friends she’s worked with nearly every center-of-the-plate item there is, and more. Mary’s comfortable in the kitchen with chefs, or out in the field with farmers and ranchers. She thrives on spotting trends that fit client goals and turning those trends into programs that are as much leading-edge as they are successful. Mary also enjoys experimenting in the kitchen, either with her family or unsuspecting friends. In 2002, she published a cookbook celebrating three generations of family recipes, preserving the importance of food in her family gatherings. Mary is well known nationally for her leadership and service in the International Foodservice Editorial Council, the Public Relations Society of America, and the Ad2 Division of the American Advertising Federation. She has won numerous awards from various public relations organizations, including two Silver Anvil awards. Links: Why You Should have a Heavy Breakfast, Moderate Lunch and Light Dinner ( Watch Edward Bernays tell his breakfast story:
March 22, 2018
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.” What made this first-person experience all the more memorable was that it was a one-on-one business meeting. In future episodes, I’ll have a guest with me as we take a closer look at people, events and things that have shaped opinion. Spoiler alert – After this meeting, I had an even deeper appreciation for “Mister Rogers.” Links: Fred Rogers Bio Soulful, Inspiring Mister Rogers Movie Trailer Just Might Make You Cry (Vanity Fair)
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