OTM Beshirted

Friday, August 29, 2008


After months of competition and weeks of Bob going shirtless the OTM T-shirt contest has finally concluded. Phil Mastman is our proud winner and he joins us to bask in the white-hot glory and explain his design.

Comments [43]

paul prosseda (pro-said-uh) from san francisco, ca

when can i order my shirts...and please have them in xxxl for us fuller figured folk. i would like two and i just need to know when they will roll of the presses!

thanks for the wonderful show, i mostly podcast it, and talk about it incessantly to friends and coworkers who politely listen, smile and nod.

thank you
415 845 5634

Sep. 22 2008 05:28 AM
Todd Patrick from Oakland, CA

Just checked back to see how the comments went after the initial shock. Glad to see Katya took the time to respond, and of course we really shouldn't be ganging up on Phil for not following rules that didn't exist. The outcome doesn't really embrace the mantle of change, but it works on a certain insider level (which if you look at other NPR swag, like the TAL shirt, isn't uncommon).

I'm sympathetic to Katya being sick of the old logo, and had this been a call for new logo ideas (not a contest, and a longer deadline), I'd have jumped at the chance to design for my favorite NPR program. I think after this experience, that's more than a little unlikely in the near future, but I'll keep my ears open, and a sketchbook handy in case inspiration strikes while listening to Bob or Brooke taking the media and those who abuse it to task.

Sep. 06 2008 06:37 PM
josh levine

i'd friggin wear it. (and i'm cool.)

Sep. 05 2008 01:37 PM
TC from Orange County, CA

Phil...who thought when we were at SDSU you would be causing such controversy some 30+ years later? Congrats on the design. Having been the only one posting that didn't actually read the rules or enter the contest, I think the shirt looks great. But what do I know?

Sep. 04 2008 12:57 AM
Chris Gray from New Haven, CT

Brooke's comment reminding us that Bob did OTM shirtless for a time while she was gone brought back another memory of Daria Marmaluk-Hajioannou, the woman who introduced me to the story of Fannie Lou Hamer, of whom I wrote in another comment here.

Besides working at the Yale radio station together, we both worked at Down To Earth, a collective vegetarian restaurant where one hot evening several male workers decided to doff their shirts, supposing that their full aprons retained decorum. Daria followed suit, leading to a strenuous discussion that week at the collective meeting where it was affirmed that neither men nor women restaurant workers should work shirtless.

Had the issue come up at the radio station, I still hope we would have opted to remain fully clothed. If for no other reason, I'm sure this stunt of his added to other program staffers' relief that Brooke is back.

Sep. 04 2008 12:29 AM
April Silver from Brooklyn, NY

I just listened to the podcast of this past week's show and came to the website in a jiffy to see the design. When I saw it, I immediately hit a shift-reload, assuming I was seeing a placeholder image. Pretty infuriating. I'd post a longer comment, but others before me have already pretty much said it all. Cutting and pasting skills, using the existing OTM logo, obscure inside joke, etc.

Suggestions for next time: consider letting listeners vote, consider posting submitted designs online whether or not you allow voting (if I'd known you were getting such pitiful designs, I would have submitted something better), be better organized. A great tshirt can bring in a lot of money; this one probably won't.

Sep. 03 2008 09:08 PM
Craig Federhen from Kingston, NH

Amusingly enough, the first sentence in the "Press Time" paragraph just below the "OTM Beshirted" paragraph is "There's no shortage of contests that outsource the design process to the masses." The word "contests" is highlighted, and links to a much better-run contest than this one was.

(You know, I have to suspect that a psychoanalyst in Aspen probably already has all the potential clients he needs.)

Sep. 03 2008 08:00 PM
Jack from Chicago

Boring. OTM really went OuT on a liMb with this choice. I'll be waiting by my local Big Lots for all the unsold inventory.

Sep. 03 2008 05:55 PM
Silver from Richmond, Virginia

I agree with the majority of the comments. As a person who entered the contest, I was extremely disappointed with the selection. I could deal with losing but when I saw the winning design with its "joke" in clear violation of the rules. My feelings were hurt. I spent over 20 hours on my design.

With my entry, I sent along a link to a story on Morning Edition about crowd sourcing. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=93495217

In that story, it says the norm is to accept submissions from the public, then let the public vote for their favorite. Instead the design was selected by OTM staff and it appears the staff loved the smug, self referential -- "and edited by Brooke."

I love the show. I'm sure you learned a lot from this experience. I'd say it warrants its own story.

Sep. 03 2008 02:35 PM
JFH from washington, d.c.

i must join the list of perplexed and bewildered and frustrated folks who entered the contest in good faith that the rules would be followed. Otherwise I woulda been tempted to manipulate the current logotype on a t-shirt and call it a day. The winner's design is clever and witty (albeit "inside baseball" in content) but it violates the rules.

i agree with comment 31 above: Show the other entries.

Sep. 03 2008 10:36 AM
Greg from Aspen

This is fun! Very sensitive people! I am a psychoanalyst here in CO and I'm glad to see there are many potential clients out there!

Sep. 03 2008 09:34 AM
peet from st. louis

Somewhat of a let down... That is all that came out of 25 yrs in the ad biz? Sorry winner dude, but my design killed yours.

Sep. 02 2008 08:35 PM
let us vote from NYC

I think OTM should post the top designs on this page - are the top three designs any better? We can put it up to a vote on which is the best design.

Sep. 02 2008 01:39 PM
angry young man

Where and when can I buy this t-shirt?

Sep. 02 2008 12:19 PM
Joe Sagnugnu

When I checked the website to see the winning entry I was pleased with the design I saw--simple, clean, good colors.

Then I read the comments section wondering what others thought of the design. How surprised I was to see what people had to say.

If this was really just a contest to craft something Brooke would wear, you should have left it as an inside job, something to be unveiled at the next office party.

For as much as Bob has been pushing this contest you really owed it to the participants to take this as seriously as they have.

Sep. 02 2008 01:33 AM
ted, who says 'chill out' from california

i can't believe how bent out of shape people got over this contest.

yes the winning design violates some key rules, a few of which i'm happy about. i failed to understand why TAL or OTM would suggest that the tshirt should appeal to everyone, even a non-listener. what's the point? i believe that phil was mistaken in thinking that these shirts would be primarily for OTM and its staffers... it's for the diehard listeners who will donate a pretty penny during pledge week[s] and choose to get a clever tshirt that shows the world they are hip to great radio programming. i agree with the comment that proper design credits need to be given to the designer of the original logo, as the website implies that phil created both. anyone who feels burned from the contest should research the ethics of 'spec work' and consider that the majority of great design out there have broken a few rules.

if OTM would like to continue the borrowing of contest ideas from TAL, i would suggest they post a selection of their favorite runner-ups, regardless of whether they followed the rules or not.

design + concept first.

Sep. 01 2008 07:15 PM
Robert Torres from Boston

With no disrespect to the winner of this contest because it wasn't his fault that the OTM staff disregarded the rules of the contest and chose his design, I believe the harsh criticism for the design is a result of people who followed the restrictions posted in the guidelines - which the winner just said if he had to follow them wouldn't have participated - and spent a lot of time imagining something outside the box. The winning design is fine but it's in no way a design which follows this idea of imagining something totally different from the current look. It's the same elements just reorganized regardless of whether they had to be recreated from scratch. So the design is fine but in this context, considering what the rules were and what was anticipated as a winning design, it was a huge disappointment.

Sep. 01 2008 03:08 PM
Phil Mastman-Contest "Winner" from Cincinnati, OH


I would like to address some of the criticisms of my design... Some commenters called it a 5-minute cut and paste job. I can assure you that it was not. Because I had no access to a high-resolution file of the OTM logo, I was forced to recreate the logo entirely from scratch. I had to search the web to find the original photograph, carefully match the duo-tone effect used in the logo's photo, and painstakingly match the layout, proportions, colors and fonts to give me a starting point that matched the original logo. If you look very closely, you'll see that I didn't get it perfect, but it's close. It did take hours.

For those who thought the concept lacked creativity, I respectfully disagree. In using Bob's phrase "Edited by... Brooke", I wanted to capture an element of the program that would make staffers and regular listeners smile with recognition, and simply puzzle non-listeners. I thought it would be a nice bit of subtle irony to merge the phrase with the show's logo. You can disagree and hate the idea and that's OK, but to say that no creative thought went into the design is unfair.

This will be my only comment on this topic.

Sep. 01 2008 01:17 PM
Phil Mastman-Contest "Winner" from Cincinnati, OH


Nobody was more shocked than me when I received notification that my design from last year actually won the competition despite its clear violation of the contest's rules. I truly sympathize with those competitors who DID follow the rules and didn't win. But on the other hand, the shirt is supposed to be for OTM and its staffers... they're the ones who have to be seen in the thing, and if they overwhelmingly decided that they'd rather wear a design that reflects what they desire in a T-shirt, despite the contest rules, I can relate to that.

But that does not address the fairness question. If I had spent hours designing a shirt for a contest, painstakingly following the rules and subsequently lost to someone who wasn't tied down by those restrictive rules, I'd be upset too. My solution: Re-judge the contest based on the rules, and allow the new winner the same opportunity I got... to discuss the contest (and if you like, its unfairness) on the air with Brooke and Bob.

Sep. 01 2008 01:15 PM
Phil Mastman-Contest "Winner" from Cincinnati, OH


I wasn't going to get involved in this fray, but I feel I must break my silence.

Last November, at the tail end of an OTM program, Brooke put out an appeal for someone, anyone to design a T-shirt for the show. It wasn't really a contest... there were no prizes and there were no rules. It was just a plea for help. I thought designing a shirt would be a fun challenge and a nice opportunity for me to give something back to the people who produce my favorite NPR program. So I fired up the Mac, and went to work.

I sent in my design, and for months and months heard nothing. Then, last month the new contest appeared. I immediately realized that my original design violated at least five of the new contest's rules and wouldn't be eligible. I thought about starting over with a new design, but I considered many of the rules to be too restrictive... Call me old-school, but after 25 years working in advertising it makes very little sense to me to develop a piece of advertising that doesn't contain the client's logo. So I let it go.

Sep. 01 2008 01:14 PM
Craig Knaak from San Diego

I have another idea for you in regards to your moniker:


Old. Tired. Media.

and your new tagline:

Making paper-mache' from rummage bin cliche'... Each and every day.

Sep. 01 2008 12:21 AM
Craig Knaak from San Diego

This shirt captures perfectly the fire and passion of NPR radio. Innovative, original and highly creative.
As a contributor to this design contest, I take my hat off to this winner, who has proven that in order to progress into the future, we must draw upon the past.
And, draw upon the past, he has, and perfectly. And, I mean perfect to the pixel.

Bravo to the brave souls bringing us the... never old... news!

Sep. 01 2008 12:12 AM
Ken Diamond from Brooklyn, NY

Add me to all the commenters who find this a very disappointing result...Light, dark, black, white...who cares? But this is just copying. I can understand that the designer is not at fault but this was not what this contest was meant to produce. It won't stop me from contributing to NPR (or listening to OTM) but I'll be checking the "send no premium" if this shirt is the offer.

Also disappointing is Ms Rogers response... maternity leave, too many e-mails, borrowed rules nobody really bothered too read closely, etc etc... basically adds up to "oh well, my bad." I realize this is just a "for fun" contest and not all that important, but given how often OTM stories are on the subject of accountability, I think loyal listeners who took the time to contribute deserve more than a shrug and a "hey, it's not my job."

Aug. 31 2008 11:07 PM
Dominic Sirianni from Miami, FL

I wonder how this plays into the website comment story you guys ran the other week?

Are you familiar with the threadless site? That might be a way to go next time.

Aug. 31 2008 09:17 PM
Craig Federhen from Kingston, NH

Page 1 of the "On the Media T-Shirt Contest Winner" slideshow still has the existing OTM logo (complete with two registered trademark symbols) on a black T-shirt, with the words "Designed by Phil Mastman" underneath. Whoever actually designed that logo must be pretty angry right now.

If Katya is "seriously sick of that circle-around-the-word-media thing," then why did she vote for a (very) slight modification of it? Was Brooke's name on an apparently Brooke-required black shirt all it took to beat out Goldilocks and the Three Bears to win this contest?

Aug. 31 2008 09:11 PM
katya rogers, senior producer, OTM

I want to thank everyone who entered, who took the time to sit down and think about what a great OTM t-shirt would look like. We had some fun ones, some quite good ones and some totally oddball ones: goldilocks and the 3 bears with the words "we can't bear to miss OTM" (we actually kind of liked that one!).
I hope you all can overlook this, our first (and likely last) attempt to have a t-shirt design competition. Now we'll go back to what we do best - producing our weekly show.
thanks and sorry,

Aug. 31 2008 08:05 PM
katya rogers, senior producer, OTM

Now about the 2 rules that pissed everyone off: The light vs. dark background thing was something to do with the cost of printing but if anyone knows Brooke they'll know she would only ever consider wearing a black t-shirt so we ignored that rule. However, I'm pretty sure the final thing will have to be white or grey. The rule about not using our logo was my stupid contribution: I've been on the show a LOOOOOOOONG time and I'm seriously sick of that circle-around-the-word-media thing. I thought this may be a good time to get rid of it. I didn't think it would be a factor in your creative process or indeed, in the winning design!
What happened next was that we printed all the designs out including whatever was in our inbox from the earlier attempt at a competition back in '07 (which happened to include phil mastman's design) and every producer put stickers on the ones they liked. We got it down to the top 3 and then we unanimously picked Phil's design.
I know, I know - it seems like such a safe choice what with it basically being our logo and everything, but maybe thats because its our first time doing this kind of thing?
Phil feels awful that he unknowingly broke the rules - but since he entered when there technically weren't any rules I've assured him that the only shenanigins were on our part, not his.

Aug. 31 2008 08:05 PM
katya rogers, senior producer, OTM

Hi all - I'm the senior producer of OTM and as such I am going to take the blame for this mess. First I'll explain how it all went down, then I'll beg your forgiveness.
So when I was on maternity leave last year the producers came up with the idea of holding a t-shirt contest. They announced it on air but they were a bit understaffed and maybe underfed since they ended up leaving the entered designs languishing in our in-box. Months later I get an email from the person here at WNYC who is in charge of creating premiums - the fun items we push during pledge drives as incentives. She brought up the t-shirt contest again and we decided to go all out with it this time. She and I kind of drew up the rules - we hadn't done anything like this before so we asked the "this american life" team if we could borrow their rules and adapt them to our competition.

Aug. 31 2008 08:04 PM
Funkfugiyama from Northern Idaho

As an avid listener and a frequent t-shirt wearer, I love it.

I didn't read about the rules and didn't care to attempt a design, but I want to buy this shirt. I'd buy it right now if I could. *waves a fresh ATM $20*

Aug. 31 2008 12:24 PM
Dominic Sirianni from Miami, FL

Wow. Wow. Wow. This has to be the most boring and plain t-shirt design I have ever seen. This is such a good show; it deserves an ounce of creativity in the t-shirt design.

Amazingly bad shirt. I am curious how terrible the other designs were. I can't even imagine how bad they were.

If you wanted to just go with snarky, a plain font 'edited by brook' wold be fine I guess.


Aug. 31 2008 12:23 PM
Patricia Lazere from Salem, NH

What's at stake here is the principle of this contest AND the integrity of OTM and its staff. The guidelines were obviously a joke, and I'm disappointed that my nephew had wasted his time with this contest. OTM has lost my support.

I agree with Very Disappointed's comment. One of the guideline says "The shirt should be something that someone would want to wear even if they don't know the show." What's so universal about an inside joke?

Aug. 30 2008 11:15 PM
Very Disappointed from New York City

It really wasn't nice to waste peoples' time, when they were willing to design an entry within the rules you yourselves created. And if you wanted to use your logo, then certainly even with OTM's staff's busy schedule, they could have come up with this solution themselves. You really got a tag line and not a very good one at that, being that it's an inside joke.

Aug. 30 2008 09:15 PM

First time commenting on this site, can't help it.

Is this really the BEST design you could pick? If it was a runner up, I could understand. But first place? Seriously??

I just took a "Photoshop for the Web" class this summer, and I could probably do a better copy/past job than this! 30 minutes, tops. This shirt really doesn't offer that much in originality. Especially comparing to this http://www.thislife.org/graphics/kass_lg.jpg

I also want to see other entries.

PS I never entered this contest so I'm not commenting because of sour grapes (but seeing the low bar set by the winning entry, I might have entered the contest).

Aug. 30 2008 06:51 PM
Stacy McNichol from Austin

Ummm. Is this for real?

Aug. 30 2008 05:19 PM
nathan haenlein from Healdsburg, California

Wow.....I have to say OTM just went down a notch in my book. I thought nepotism was something OTM tried
push against. I have an idea for your next tee, an image of Bob shirtless.

Aug. 30 2008 04:52 PM
Yvondedge Kieslowski from Gary, Indiana

I completely agree with the previous comments. Let's see the runner-ups. In light of the situation, OTM should redo the contest and let the listeners vote on what was submitted. After all, we're the ones who support the show. Next time have the guidelines actually mean something!

Aug. 30 2008 03:23 PM
Robert from Boston

yeah, i was shocked to see the winner and I had to reread the guidelines to see what I missed. I understood them to say that one could create a new logo but not to use the old one or even to resemble the old look and feel. This is really a cut and paste rehashing. I don't get it.

Aug. 30 2008 12:29 PM
Jaime Dufromage from Maynard, MA

What exactly was the point of posting the rules of the contest? The winner was rewarded for following none of them! I'd love to see some of the runner-ups....perhaps some of the designs that weren't ripped off the website?

Aug. 30 2008 12:19 PM
Dennis from Houston, TX

Cute. However, it does use break the rules already mentioned plus it bypassed the suggestion of using a light colored shirt.

I call shenanigans.

Aug. 30 2008 10:59 AM
Pirko from Cleveland

Wow. A black t shirt. Just what I need to go down to the Cleveland Agora for the Rick Springfield concert.

Aug. 30 2008 09:31 AM
Jeff from Cambridge, MA

I'm afraid I'm in agreement with the other comments here: kinda cool, but not really within the spirit of the contest. With a bit of wariness about sounding like a sour-grapes naysayer, I have to ask how the winning design fits the very first rule of the contest:

Your design should include the words “On The Media.”

(Full disclosure: despite being in the same city, I don't know Canteloupe Chow.)

Aug. 29 2008 10:40 PM
Todd Patrick from Oakland, CA

Have to agree with Chow. Hopefully, this won't be your last shirt design contest, because this design doesn't follow the spirit of the rules. Love the sentiment, however, without using the existing OTM artwork, it falls flat to anyone not in the know.

Aug. 29 2008 09:03 PM
Canteloupe Chow from Cambridge, MA

The design is a fabulous example of precision cutting, copying and pasting skills!

The contest guidelines state "Do not include existing OTM logo" and "Design must be wholly original." If the blue OTM logo is already on your website before the contest was announced, how is the t-shirt design original? I'm sure it is discouraging for people who followed the rules and spent hours working on an original logo. In all fairness, I think you should clarify what is your definition of "existing OTM logo" and "wholly original."

Aug. 29 2008 06:09 PM

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