Shaping Opinion-logo

Shaping Opinion

Culture >

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.
More Information


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.




The Sears Wish Book – Episode 42

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...


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

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...


Some Angels Don’t Have Wings – Episode 40

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...


Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade – Episode 39

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...


Shopping! Black Friday & Cyber Monday – Episode 38

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...


The Nobel Prize: Directing Evolution – Episode 37

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.


Politics: Gamechanging October Surprises – Episode 36

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...


Politics: Controversial American Elections – Episode 35

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....


Politics: Ads that Changed History – Episode 34

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....


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

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...


Going Head to Head with the NFL – Episode 32

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...


Concussions: It’s a New Game – Episode 31

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...


The “New Coke” Fiasco – Episode 30

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...


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

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....


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

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...


Opioids: Protecting the Innocents – Episode 27 (Bonus)

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...


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

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...


George Washington: Lessons from Failure – Episode 25

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.


The Monopoly Story – Episode 24

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...


Abraham Lincoln’s Final Murder Case – Episode 23

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....