100 episodes

Tim O'Brien from O'Brien Communications helps you immerse yourself in a story, a time, a place or just an idea that has shaped the way we think. Each episode will make you see things a little differently about subjects and ideas you thought you knew. Shaping Opinion resides at the intersection of history, communication and culture. Each episode tells a story through conversation. Tim O'Brien is a veteran public relations professional who has handled a wide range of complex PR matters for clients and organizations. Good PR sees the big picture and that's what this podcast is designed to do.

Our stories are always interesting, sometimes offbeat. Warning: After listening, you will come away with a new and fresh perspective.

Shaping Opinio‪n‬ Tim O'Brien

    • Personal Journals
    • 5.0 • 72 Ratings

Tim O'Brien from O'Brien Communications helps you immerse yourself in a story, a time, a place or just an idea that has shaped the way we think. Each episode will make you see things a little differently about subjects and ideas you thought you knew. Shaping Opinion resides at the intersection of history, communication and culture. Each episode tells a story through conversation. Tim O'Brien is a veteran public relations professional who has handled a wide range of complex PR matters for clients and organizations. Good PR sees the big picture and that's what this podcast is designed to do.

Our stories are always interesting, sometimes offbeat. Warning: After listening, you will come away with a new and fresh perspective.

    Encore Presentation: The Story Behind the Family Road Trip

    Encore Presentation: The Story Behind the Family Road Trip

    This Encore Presentation features advertising veteran and author Richard Ratay (from Episode 21). He joined us in 2018 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 Rich’s book, “Don’t Make Me Pull Over: An informal history of the family road trip.” We release Encore Presentations to revisit special moments for listeners who may have limited access to our earlier episodes on their podcast channels.


    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.


    * The Original Episode Page - Shaping Opinion

    * Don't Make Me Pull Over: Informal History of the Family Road Trip, by Rich Ratay (Amazon)

    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.

    • 36 min
    Ron Coleman: Free Speech on Trial

    Ron Coleman: Free Speech on Trial

    Attorney Ron Coleman joins Tim to talk about his U.S. Supreme Court victory for an Asian-American rock band called The Slants over the issue of free speech. Ron details a case that is now a landmark Supreme Court victory for freedom of speech.


    In June of 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court made a decision that marked the end to an eight-year legal battle that pitted the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office against a four-member rock band over their right to choose and trademark their name. The name? “The Slants.”

    Officially, the case is called “United States Patent and Trademark Office versus Tam.”

    The issue was the Trademark Office’s decision to prohibit the registration of a trademark “which may disparage…persons, living or dead, institutions, beliefs, or national symbols or bring them into contempt, or disrepute.”

    We’re going to talk to our guest Ron Coleman today about precisely what that means in everyday language.

    But the key thing to remember here, as in so many cases where the Supreme Court has come down on matters of free speech – it has come down on the side of protecting freedom of expression even if that expression is offensive to some.

    Ron Coleman is careful to point out, that an idea cannot be prohibited just because that idea may be offensive to some.


    * Dhillon Law Group

    * First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution

    * Inside Asian-American Band the Slants' SCOTUS Win, Rolling Stone

    About this Episode's Guest Ron Coleman

    Photo by Steve Hockstein/HarvardStudio.com

    Ron Coleman is a Partner at the Dhillon Law Group and resident in its New York office. Ron is a commercial litigator with extensive first-seat trial and appellate experience who focuses on torts of competition such as trademark infringement, unfair competition and consumer law.

    He is known for his First Amendment advocacy, regarding both religious and free speech rights, including his representation of Simon Tam and “The Slants” in the watershed free speech case, Matal v. Tam, in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the prohibition against registration of “disparaging” trademarks was unconstitutional.

    An alumnus of a number of major commercial firms in New York and New Jersey, the states in which he is admitted, Ron maintains a leading-edge media practice representing political and new media figures in defamation and intellectual property claims, challenges to social media “cancel culture” or “deplatforming” cases as well as traditional intellectual property litigation on behalf of both plaintiffs and defendants in federal and state courts throughout the country.

    Ron has been perennially listed in the World Trademark Review’s “WTR 1000 Top Practitioners” guide for his trademark litigation work in New York and the World Intellectual Property’s Review’s “WIPR Leaders” directory, as well as Super Lawyers; he is AV rated in Martindale Hubbell.

    He received the American Bar Association IP Section’s 2018 Mark T. Banner Award for Impact on IP Law for his work on Matal v. Tam, and his blog, Likelihood of Confusion,

    • 44 min
    Gimme a Break: A Jingle Story

    Gimme a Break: A Jingle Story

    Music composer and arranger Michael A. Levine joins Tim to talk about one of his most famous works, one that you are no doubt familiar with, which came early in his career and has stood the test of time.  While Michael has won his share of awards for comprehensive and high-level works of music, the subject to this discussion is the story behind an iconic jingle he crated for a familiar candy bar brand: Kit Kat’s “Gimme a break” jingle and ad campaign.


    So, let’s talk about some of Michael A. Levine’s accomplishments. He scored the hit series called Siren, writing the project’s memorable work, “Siren Song.” He recorded his song “Running” with legendary vocalist Roberta Flack for the feature film 3100.  He’s won awards for TV shows like “Cold Case” and “Close to Home.” He scored the Lego DC Supergirls film “Brain Drain,” and another yet to be released Star Wars parody that is produced by George Lucas. That film is called “Star Wars Detours.”

    He’s worked on such films as “Dunkirk,” “The Simpsons Movie,” “Batman: The Dark Night,” and numerous other projects.

    Yet it’s something he did early in his career that may have had the most lasting impression on the world. He composed the classic advertising jingle for the Kit Kat candy bar.


    * Kit Kat Bar

    * Michael A. Levine

    * Malcolm Gladwell

    About this Episode’s Guest Michael A. Levine

    Awarded eight ASCAP awards for his work on the Jerry Bruckheimer/CBS dramas Cold Case and Close to Home, Michael A. Levine also scored the Lego DC Supergirls film, Brain Drain, the George Lucas-produced Star Wars Detours animated Star Wars parody, and the award-winning documentary, Landfill Harmonic, for which he wrote its Oscarshortlisted song, Cateura - Vamos a Soñar. He composed the featured Siren Song and score for Freeform’s Siren and recorded his song Running with legendary vocalist Roberta Flack for the feature documentary 3100: Run and Become. His theme song (Go Tell Aunt Rhody/Everybody’s Dead) for Resident Evil VII Biohazard became a viral hit as was Lorde's version of Everybody Wants to Rule the World which he produced along with chart-topping records for Nat and Alex Wolff. Michael also composed the theme for Scrat, the sabertooth squirrel featured in the Ice Age shorts.

    Levine provided additional music and violin on a number of Hans Zimmer scores, including Dunkirk, The Simpsons Movie, Batman: The Dark Knight, Megamind, and Rango. Michael's choir arrangement of Spider Pig was conducted by Hans at the Hollywood Bowl in 2015. Levine’s concert music includes Anthem, performed by piano virtuoso Lang Lang in 2014 in Beijing and, Double Crossings, an album of duets with percussionist great Evelyn Glennie on mallets and Michael on electric violin.

    Michael began his career in advertising where he composed the classic Kit Kat candy bar “Gimme a Break” jingle.

    Levine is a former Governor of the Television Academy (Emmys) Music peer group.



    • 48 min
    Emmet Cohen: Next Generation of Jazz

    Emmet Cohen: Next Generation of Jazz

    Rising jazz phenom Emmet Cohen joins Tim to talk about a music, jazz and how he’s part of the larger continuum of the jazz lineage. He describes how the music is timeless and has appeal for generations to come.


    Photo Credit: Taili Song Roth

    When you listen to Emmet Cohen play jazz piano, he’ll take you back to another time.

    Never mind that that time was well before his own. Emmet is a millennial, a generation that has embraced a myriad of musical genres, but they aren’t known for their love of jazz.

    Emmet is not only an exception, but he just may be one of the reasons new generations will rediscover the beauty and artistry of jazz music in years to come.

    Gratitude and Credits

    * Our thanks to Emmet Cohen and Mack Avenue Records for providing Emmet's music tracks for this episode. All are from his album "Future Stride."

    * Credits to Taili Song Roth for all of the photography of Emmet Cohen used here.


    * Emmet Cohen (website)

    * Review: Ragtime and much more from jazz pianist Emmet Cohen, AP

    * Jazz Pianist's Emmet Cohen's Keys to Success, New Jersey Monthly

    About this Episode’s Guest Emmet Cohen

    Multifaceted American jazz pianist and composer Emmet Cohen is in the vanguard of his generation's advancement of music and the related arts. A recognized prodigy, Cohen began Suzuki method piano instruction at age three, and his playing quickly became a mature melding of musicality, technique, and concept. Downbeat observed that his "nimble touch, measured stride and warm harmonic vocabulary indicate he's above any convoluted technical showmanship." Cohen notes that performing jazz is "about communicating the deepest levels of humanity and individuality; it's essentially about connections," both among musicians and with audiences. He leads his namesake ensemble, the "Emmet Cohen Trio," is a vibrant solo performer, and is in constant demand as a sideman. Possessing a fluid technique, an innovative tonal palette, and an extensive repertoire, Cohen plays with the command and passion of an artist fully devoted to his medium.

    Emmet Cohen is committed to the intergenerational transfer of the knowledge, history, and traditions of jazz. His signature professional undertaking is the "Masters Legacy Series," a celebratory set of recordings and interviews honoring legendary jazz musicians. He serves as both producer and pianist for each album in the series. This landmark, ongoing project provides musicians of multiple generations the means to share the unwritten folklore that is America's unique artistic idiom. Cohen has observed that jazz "is enriched immeasurably by connecting and studying with jazz masters, forging backward to the very creation of the art form." Four volumes of the "Masters Legacy Series" have been released, spotlighting Cohen's collaborations with Jimmy Cobb, Ron Carter, Benny Golson, Tootie Heath, and George Coleman.

    Emmet Cohen is the winner of the 2019 American Pianists Awards and the Cole Porter Fellow of the American Pianists Association, and Artist-in-Residence at the University of Indianapolis. He placed first in both the 2014 American Jazz Pianists Competition and the 2011 Phillips Piano Competition at the University of West Florida and, as a finalist in the 2011 Thelonious Monk International Piano Competition, he was received in the Oval Office by President Obama. Cohen has appeared in varied international jazz events, including the Newport,

    • 40 min
    Cordia Harrington: A Self-made Symbol of the American Dream

    Cordia Harrington: A Self-made Symbol of the American Dream

    One of the most successful self-made women in America (according to Forbes) Cordia Harrington joins Tim to talk about her journey and how it exemplifies the American Dream. Cordia is the founder of The Bakery Companies. It’s a Nashville-based group of companies that have made baked goods for restaurants and food companies like McDonald’s, Five Guys, and Pepperidge Farm. Last year, Forbes Magazine ranked Cordia among America’s top 100 Self-Made Women.


    If I were to ask you to define the term, the “American Dream,” your answer may be different than the next person, but there is something that both definitions will have in common. It’s the assumption that thanks to the freedoms we enjoy in the United States, thanks to the Constitution that protects our freedoms, we can achieve our dreams so long as we have the right ideas and are willing to do the work.

    Most people see the American Dream as a set of principles or aspirational ideals that give us the platform to achieve our own individual goals. Democracy, rights, liberty. Through the exercise of these rights, we have the chance to change our place in society and in life.

    We can be upwardly mobile. We can become more prosperous and successful. And with that, we can provide for our families, our communities and live the life we want.

    People who study the American Dream say its origins can be traced to the Declaration of Independence, where it says that “all men are created equal,” and that each of us has the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

    But to better understand the American Dream, it is sometimes good to hear the story of someone who has lived it in a way that few have done.

    Cordia Harrington is one of those people.


    * The Bakery Cos. (website)

    * McDonald's (website)

    * Young Presidents' Organization (YPO website)

    * Cordia Harrington: Forbes Self-made Woman Ranking, Forbes

    * Cordia Harrington: Tennessee Bun Company, Breakthrough Master

    * How She Became "The Bun Lady," CBS News

    About this Episode’s Guest Cordia Harrington

    Cordia Harrington is CEO and founder of The Bakery Cos., a highly-automated, high-speed baking company that bakes over 10 million baked goods daily and employs more than 800 people, serving elite customers in the United States, South America and the Caribbean. As CEO, Ms. Harrington guides the executive team to successful planning, business development, sales and marketing, and brand management.

    Ms. Harrington serves on the Ascent Global Logistics Board of Directors and the Belmont University Board of Trustees. She is President of the Chief Executives Organization Board of Directors and a member of the American Bakers Association Board of Directors (President-Elect). She serves as a judge for the EY Entrepreneur of the Year National Award judging panel.

    Under Ms. Harrington’s leadership, The Bakery Cos. have received many awards, including the 50 Fastest-Growing Women-Owned Businesses, Business with Purpose Award, and Nashville Business Journal’s Best in Business Award. They were recently awarded Conagra Brand’s Supplier of the Year award and O’Charley’s O’ver & Above Partner Award. Ms. Harrington was listed at #93 on Forbes magazine’s list of 100 wealthiest self-made women in 2020. She was named Nashville Post’s 2020 CEO of the Year an...

    • 42 min
    Dr. Judy Ho: Social Media & Mental Health

    Dr. Judy Ho: Social Media & Mental Health

    Dr. Judy Ho joins Tim to talk about something that could affect all of us: social media and mental health.  You may have seen her on the TV show called The Doctors, or on the CBS TV network’s Face the Truth. Or, you may have listened to her podcast called Supercharged Life. Judy is a licensed and triple-board certified Clinical and Forensic Neuropsychologist, she’s an author, and she’s a professor at Pepperdine University.


    Did you ever notice when you’re on the Internet, your computer seems to know about what you’re looking for even before you type it into the search box? Or when you’re on social media, how some subjects or people you know tend to pop up in your feed more than others?

    The algorithms that are built into the online platforms you use are sophisticated, and that’s an understatement. The whole purpose of social media is to get you to log on and stay on for as long as possible. In the process, the platforms watch you. They collect your data and sell it. They use your patterns to help advertisers sell to you. Some critics say they even use your data to manipulate you.

    That’s why it costs you nothing to join most social media platforms. You aren’t the customer. You are the product.

    So, to keep you engaged on social media, and coming back for more, the platforms employ some complex psychological techniques to give social media a certain addictive quality. You find yourself checking in on your Facebook, Twitter or Instagram accounts anytime you have a spare moment. And sometimes, when you really should be paying attention to the people or things that are right around you.

    This leads to some questions. Is social media good for you? Is it helping or hurting? Are you better off with it, or would you be better off without it? Just how does social media affect your mental health?


    * Dr. Judy Ho (Website)

    * The Doctors, Syndicated TV Show

    * Supercharged Life Podcast, Apple Podcasts

    * The Pomodoro Technique Explained, Forbes

    * Here's How Social Media Affects Your Mental Health, McLean Hospital

    About this Episode’s Guest Dr. Judy Ho

    Judy Ho, Ph. D., ABPP, ABPdN, CFMHE is a licensed and triple board-certified Clinical and Forensic Neuropsychologist, a tenured Associate Professor at Pepperdine University, television and podcast host and published author.

    She conducts neuropsychological assessments and serves as an expert witness in her private practice, hosts an active research lab, provides expert commentary to media, and is a sought after public speaker.

    Judy is the author of Stop Self-Sabotage, published by HarperCollins; a book detailing a scientifically driven six-step program which has been translated into 7 additional languages around the world. She maintains a private practice in Manhattan Beach, CA where she specializes in comprehensive neuropsychological assessments and expert witness work.

    She is a co-host on the Emmy Award winning syndicated daytime television talk show The Doctors, and co-host of CBS’s Face the Truth. Her podcast,

    • 45 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
72 Ratings

72 Ratings

Beccaaz746 ,

Very good

Detailed, professional, fun and informative of a wide variety of topics.

Listened to many episodes and only found one that I had a problem with (Marilyn Monroe - implying that her problems were mostly due to misogyny (and noting that women still don’t have a voice). Her problems were probably mostly due to her own mother being emotionally abusive to her.

Ya Jagoff ,

Love the podcast!

Always interesting... and fun! Thx! John from YaJagoff Podcast!

Sean Faust ,

Detailed and interesting!

Tim is one of those host that I just want to keep listening to!

I chose to listen to the episodes that awakened my nostalgic inner child and I was pretty much hooked on each of the 4 episodes that I just listened to today!

Great show! Definitely recommended!

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