Shaping Opinion

47 EpisodesProduced by Tim O'Brien

People, events and things that have shaped the way we think.

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All Star: The Chuck Taylors Story – Episode 47

January 14th, 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 …

Remembering AOL Instant Messenger – Episode 46

January 7th, 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’ …

2018: Moments to Remember – Episode 45

December 31st, 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 …

New Year’s Eve – Episode 44

December 24th, 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 …

True Story: Santa Claus – Episode 43

December 17th, 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 …

The Sears Wish Book – Episode 42

December 10th, 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 …

The Jetsons: How’s that Future Going? – Episode 41

December 3rd, 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 …

Some Angels Don’t Have Wings – Episode 40

November 26th, 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 …

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade – Episode 39

November 19th, 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 …

Shopping! Black Friday & Cyber Monday – Episode 38

November 12th, 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 …

The Nobel Prize: Directing Evolution – Episode 37

November 5th, 2018

Nobel Prize recipient Frances Arnold joins Tim to talk about winning a Nobel Prize honor for her pioneering work in “directed evolution,” which …

Politics: Gamechanging October Surprises – Episode 36

October 29th, 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, …

Politics: Controversial American Elections – Episode 35

October 22nd, 2018

Professor Robert Speel joins Tim to discuss classic contested elections in America’s history. Dr. Speel teaches at Penn State University Behrend, …

Politics: Ads that Changed History – Episode 34

October 15th, 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 …

The Circus: How it Fed America’s Imagination – Episode 33

October 8th, 2018

Writer, producer and director Sharon Grimberg joins Tim to discuss her latest production for American Experience on PBS called “The Circus.” Sharon …

Going Head to Head with the NFL – Episode 32

October 1st, 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 …

Concussions: It’s a New Game – Episode 31

September 24th, 2018

World-renowned concussion expert Dr. Michael “Micky” Collins joins Tim to discuss his pioneering work in the diagnosis and treatment of concussions, …

The “New Coke” Fiasco – Episode 30

September 17th, 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 …

BEATS: ‘Dad, Can I Have $400 Headphones?’ – Episode 29

September 10th, 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 …

Freedom Car: The Story of the Ford Mustang – Episode 28

September 3rd, 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 …

Opioids: Protecting the Innocents – Episode 27 (Bonus)

August 29th, 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 …

Flight 93, Shanksville: September 11, 2001 – Episode 26

August 27th, 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 …

George Washington: Lessons from Failure – Episode 25

August 20th, 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 …

The Monopoly Story – Episode 24

August 13th, 2018

Veteran board games executive, entrepreneur, game designer and Monopoly game expert Phil Orbanes  joins Tim to talk about his life-long affinity for …

Abraham Lincoln’s Final Murder Case – Episode 23

August 6th, 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 Man Behind the Emoticon :-) – Episode 22

July 30th, 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 …

The Roads that Brought Us Together – Episode 21

July 23rd, 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 …

The Beatles Break Apart – Episode 20

July 16th, 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 …

The Battle of Little Bighorn Changed Everything – Episode 19

July 9th, 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 …

Humble Heinz Ketchup: When Last was First – Episode 18

July 2nd, 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 …

Writing The Declaration of Independence – Episode 17

June 25th, 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 …

An Advertising Slogan is Forever – Episode 16

June 18th, 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 …

Arnold Palmer: Golf’s Sports Marketing Pioneer – Episode 15

June 11th, 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 …

Do Sharks Need a PR Agency? – Episode 14

June 4th, 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 …

Bob Hope’s USO Legacy – Episode 13

May 28th, 2018

Journalist Kurt Jensen joins Tim to discuss Bob Hope and his USO legacy. The Hollywood legend literally delivered 'hope' to generations of troops …

A Silicon Valley Original: Regis McKenna – Episode 12

May 21st, 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 …

Ronald Reagan’s Lady in Red – Episode 11 (Bonus)

May 16th, 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 …

C-SPAN: Window to Washington – Episode 10

May 14th, 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 …

“Boom Boom” Mancini: Triumph & Tragedy – Episode 9

May 7th, 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 …

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater – Episode 8

April 30th, 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 …

About Us – Episode 7 (Bonus)

April 25th, 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 …

The Tylenol Comeback – Episode 6 (Part Two)

April 23rd, 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 …

The Tylenol Poisonings – Episode 5 (Part One)

April 13th, 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 …

The Goodyear Blimp – Episode 4

April 13th, 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 …

The Prince Love Symbol – Episode 3

April 13th, 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. …

Bacon and Eggs – Episode 2

April 3rd, 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 …

Meeting Mister Rogers – Episode 1

March 22nd, 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 …
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