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Shaping Opinion


People, events and things that have shaped the way we think. Tim O'Brien hosts conversations with thought leaders on topics that touch on every facet of life but all have one thing in common - they influenced the way we think today. It's part history podcast, party PR podcast, part marketing podcast, but it's all you.

People, events and things that have shaped the way we think. Tim O'Brien hosts conversations with thought leaders on topics that touch on every facet of life but all have one thing in common - they influenced the way we think today. It's part history podcast, party PR podcast, part marketing podcast, but it's all you.


Pittsburgh, PA


People, events and things that have shaped the way we think. Tim O'Brien hosts conversations with thought leaders on topics that touch on every facet of life but all have one thing in common - they influenced the way we think today. It's part history podcast, party PR podcast, part marketing podcast, but it's all you.




Do Political Campaigns Really Change Voters’ Minds?

Author and cognitive scientist Hugo Mercier joins Tim to talk about an article he wrote for the Wall Street Journal where he sheds light on research that answers the question: “Do political campaigns change voters’ minds?” Hugo is the author of, “Not Born Yesterday: The Science of Who We Trust and What We Believe.” It’s 2020 and election season is in full swing. No matter where you live in America, you’re...


The Story of a Song: “Play That Funky Music”

The founder of the band Wild Cherry and the creator of the iconic song “Play that Funky Music,” Rob Parissi, joins Tim to do an anatomy of a funky song. That funky song, which has been named one of the top 100-performing songs of all time. Rob tells stories and gives a hint why new generations are embracing it even today. The song is one of the best known of the disco era by one of the best-known bands of the disco era. But...


The Rise of Rush Limbaugh & Conservative Talk Radio

Brian Rosenwald joins Tim to talk about the rise of Rush Limbaugh and conservative talk radio. Brian is the co-editor of a daily Washington Post history blog called “Made by History.” He’s a Scholar in Residence at the University of Pennsylvania. He’s also the author of a new book called: “Talk Radio’s America: how an industry took over a political party that took over the United States.” Talk radio...


The Philosophy of Mister Rogers

Bill Isler joins Tim to talk about his friend and colleague and Fred Rogers and the film “It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” starring Tom Hanks and where Bill serves as an important character in the movie. Bill sheds light on the Fred Rogers the man, his philosophy and his unquestionable legacy. There’s a good chance that sometime in the past year, you sat down and watched a documentary or a movie about Fred Rogers,...


YouTube Creator: The Kavalier

He’s an up and coming YouTube creator better known to his 100,000 subscribers as The Kavalier. Jon Shanahan joins Tim to talk about what it was like to come up with this YouTube concept, and then come up with a successful strategy to build a large following as a full-time YouTuber. Did you ever think about how you use YouTube or why you use the social media channel? If you’re like most people, you log onto YouTube to...


1989 Protests: She was There in Tiananmen Square

Born and raised in China, author Anna Wang was in Tiananmen Square during those protests in 1989. She joins Tim to talk about what she saw, what she experienced, and what she learned since the events, the government crackdown that followed, the ripple effect those protests continue to have today. In the Spring of 1989, student-led demonstrations happened in Beijing. The protests centered in the Chinese city’s Tiananmen...


Are We Ready for What’s Next in Marketing & Communication?

Public Relations industry leader and visionary Ray Kotcher joins Tim to talk about the current state of communications in the world with a particular focus on the role professional communicators play in the process of reshaping the conversation. Ray was the long-time president, CEO and Chairman of Ketchum, one of the largest PR firms in the world. Presently, he’s Professor of the Practice, Public Relations – at Boston University. On a personal note, he’s also Tim’s former boss....


2020: The Art of Persuasion

Lee Hartley Carter joins Tim to talk about the climate for persuasion in 2020. Lee is the president of maslansky + partners, a language strategy firm. She’s also the author of a new book from Penguin Random House called: “Persuasion: Convincing Others When Facts Don’t Seem to Matter.” For the past 25 years, maslansky + partners has been involved in the study of how words, messages and stories that brands choose...


Our Top 10 Moments of 2019

In this episode, Tim revisits the Top 10 moments in the Shaping Opinion Podcast for 2019. Which one was your favorite? Find out if your fellow listeners selected it in their Top 10! If 2018 was the year we created a podcast, 2019 was the year we started to build a community, and we thank you for that. Please know how much we appreciate you for listening, sharing and talking about with your friends and with us. Some...


A Remarkable Peace: The Christmas Truce of 1914

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


Hanukkah, The Festival of Lights

Rabbi Seth Adelson joins Tim to talk about the story of Hanukkah, its history, its traditions and its meaning. Rabbi Adelson serves the Congregation Beth Shalom in Pittsburgh. It’s often called the Festival of Lights, and it usually happens in November or December each year. It’s the Jewish celebration of Hanukkah, and it takes place over eight days. Hanukkah commemorates the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem during...


Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus

Jim Temple is the grandson of Virginia O’Hanlon, who wrote a letter to the New York Sun that would lead to an editorial that would cement Santa Claus in the minds of children of all ages for generations. Jim joins Tim in this episode to talk about the lasting impact of that letter and the editorial. This is that now iconic editorial that features those legendary words, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.” The year was 1897,...


She was Cousin Catherine in “Christmas Vacation”

Miriam Flynn is an actor and voice actor best known as Cousin Catherine in the National Lampoon Vacation series of motion pictures. She joins Tim to talk about here work on the National Lampoon Christmas Vacation movie, her own memories and how the film has found a way into America’s holiday season entertainment traditions. The cast has been described as one of the best ensemble casts for a holiday movie. It was...


He Directed “Christmas Vacation”

Plan on watching National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation this holiday season? Listen to the film’s director Jeremiah Chechik talk about the impact that movie has had on him and on our holiday entertainment traditions. He’ll talk about the making of the film and why the Griswold Family have become a staple in holiday viewing. Are there any movies you just have to watch every year during the...


Out of Tragedy Emerges Gratitude

Steve Garrett, the host of the Within the Realm Podcast, joins Tim to talk about giving thanks in a way you may not expect. Steve shares his story of personal tragedy that he and his family have faced, and how through it all, he has found a way to be grateful. This Thursday, millions of Americans will gather together for the Thanksgiving holiday. There will be the Macy’s Parade to start the day off. There...


Why We Eat What We Do at Thanksgiving

Food PR expert Mary Barber joins Tim to tell the origin stories behind our Thanksgiving foods, from regional favorites, to some items that trace their “roots” back to that first Thanksgiving in 1621. Listen to the story behind your Thanksgiving table. Next Thursday America will celebrate Thanksgiving marking the official start of the Holiday season. A day of parades, football, food, family…and more...


He Reshaped the World After World War Two

Author and historian Rachel Yarnell Thompson joins Tim to talk about the man with a plan, George Marshall, whose “Marshall Plan” reshaped Europe and the world after World War Two. After playing important military roles in winning both World War One and World War Two, he was tapped for what would become his most well-recognized legacy, the rebuilding of the free world. Rachel is the author of: Marshall—A Statesman Shaped in the Crucible of War....


Building The Bomb

Richard Rhodes won a Pulitzer Prize for his definitive book on the development of nuclear weapons called “The Making of the Atomic Bomb.” It’s one of 26 books he’s written, several of them focused on the world in the nuclear age. He joins Tim to talk about the wartime effort that changed everything, The Manhattan Project. In 1938, nuclear fission was discovered in Nazi Germany just in time for Christmas. News of the...


Iowa Caucuses: The Breakfast Place

David “Stoney” Stone, the owner of the Waveland Café in Des Moines, Iowa, joins Tim to talk about how his humble little diner has become the go-to destination in for anyone who wants to become President of the United States as they compete in the Iowa Caucuses. On Monday, February 3rd, 2020, Iowa will conduct its caucuses to kick off the presidential election primary season, officially launching the 2020...


Post-game Staple: The Locker Room Interview

Veteran sports columnist Gene Collier joins Tim to talk about the ubiquitous locker room interview and how it changed the way the world learns about and sees sports. Gene tells stories of his own memorable experiences as a journalist interviewing athletes and coaches before and after some of the biggest events of their lives. In this episode we talk about the first locker room interview pioneer, and the time when female journalists gained access to team locker rooms....