Media History

On The Media

The History of the Quiz

Friday, March 28, 2014

The BuzzFeed quiz is ubiquitous; it seems as irresistible as it is inescapable. But when did we first start taking quizzes? Writer Sarah Laskow recently embarked on a quest to find out. She takes Brooke through her search for the Ur Quiz.

Try On the Media's first (and maybe last) quiz: Which 19th Century Media Baron Are You?

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On The Media

The Retro Report

Friday, September 06, 2013

Beginning its second season this week, The Retro Report is a video series that looks at reporting from the past to re-examine its accuracy, and follow up on what happened after the media moved on. Bob talks to Retro Report publisher Taegan Goddard about the stories the Retro Report has looked back on.

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On The Media

The Collaboration

Friday, September 06, 2013

In the 1930's, Hollywood studios agreed to censor and sometimes cancel films in order to remain active in Nazi Germany. Bob talks to Ben Urwand, author of The Collaboration: Hollywood's Pact With Hitler about this oft-forgotten chapter of American history.

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On The Media

The Stories They Carried

Friday, August 16, 2013

The Federal Writers' Project put thousands of people to work including Zora Neale Hurston, Stetson Kennedy, and John Steinbeck. They recorded oral histories, folkways, music and wrote everything from state guides to children's books. In an interview that originally aired in 2008, Bob speaks to Jerrold Hirsch, author of Portrait of America, who describes the legacy of "introducing America to Americans," and how the program upended the American story.

Lunasa - Killarney Boys of Pleasure

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On The Media

Axis Sally

Friday, July 19, 2013

More than fifty years ago, Mildred Gillars was released from prison.  Known more widely as Axis Sally, Gillars broadcasted pro-Nazi propaganda during World War II on German state radio.  After the war, she became one of the only women ever convicted of treason in the United States. In an interview from 2011 Brooke talks to historian Richard Lucas, who wrote Gillars’ biography, about her broadcasts, her trial, and her quiet life in Ohio after her imprisonment.

Toots Thielemans - La Vie En Rose

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On The Media

Missile Crisis Memories

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Cuban Missile Crisis was one of the most politically tense moments of the Kennedy presidency, and one of the most memorable media moments of the Cold War. In an interview which originally aired in 2002, Fred Kaplan talks about how the media covered the crisis then, and how that coverage led to people drawing the wrong lessons from the crisis.

Bauhaus - Bela Legosi's Dead

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On The Media

The Gentleman Hacker of 1903

Friday, January 13, 2012

Hackers frequently release insecure information to demonstrate the vulnerability of new technologies. It's a novel approach, but certainly not new. Bob talks to New Scientist's Paul Marks, who tells the story of Nevil Maskelyne, and magician and inventor who, in the interest of exposing the technology's insecurity, hacked Guglielmo Marconi's first demonstration of the wireless telegraph.

Quantic And His Combo Barbaro - Cancao Do Deserto

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On The Media

Remembering Stetson Kennedy

Friday, September 02, 2011

Author, Journalist, historian, and activist Stetson Kennedy began his long career collecting oral histories for the US government's Federal Writer's Project during the great depression. Kennedy passed away last Saturday at the age of 94. Peggy Bulger, director of the American Folklife division of the Library of Congress, talks to Bob about Kennedy's life and accomplishments.

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On The Media

The Media and the West Memphis Three

Friday, August 26, 2011

In 1994, three teenagers were convicted of killing three second graders in a supposed Satanic ritual. Last week, the men now known as the West Memphis three made a plea deal that secured their release. Brooke talks to Mara Leveritt, author of the book The Devil's Knot about the "Satanic Panic" that precipitated the case, and the media's involvement after their conviction.

Song: Dial

Artist: Deaf City

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On The Media

The Love Triangle, Murder and Missing Head that Sparked a Tabloid War

Friday, July 22, 2011

In the summer of 1897 the story of a dismembered body and a sordid love triangle wasn't likely to dominate the papers.  But William Randolph Hearst saw the story as an opportunity for his newly launched New York Evening Journal to beat out its major competition, Joseph Pulitzer's New York World, and a tabloid war ensued.  Bob spoke with Paul Collins, author of The Murder of the Century: The Gilded Age Crime That Scandalized a City and Sparked the Tabloid Wars.  He says that in their quest to cover the story, the papers employed tactics reminiscent of today's News of the World phone hacking scandal.

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On The Media

Calvin Trillin Looks Back on The Freedom Riders

Friday, July 22, 2011

Covering the Civil Rights movement for Time's Atlanta bureau taught reporter Calvin Trillin some important lessons. How to report in a place where you're not liked (he says he felt 'a little like a foreign corespondent' in the South), the importance of knowing the subject (race) of your reporting very well, and the importance of not just giving every side of an argument equal weight. Brooke talked with Trillin about his piece "Back on the Bus" which will appear in the July 25 issue of the The New Yorker.

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On The Media

What Does a Pie to the Face Really Mean?

Friday, July 22, 2011

Earlier this week, Rupert Murdoch joined a long list of powerful people who’ve had pies thrown in their face. Thomas Friedman, Bill Gates, and Anita Bryant have all been victims of the classic prank. Brooke talked with Jacques Servin (a.k.a. Andy Bichlbaum) of The Yes Men, a group with a long history of executing public pranks on the mighty, about why pie-rs pie and what pie-ing does to the pie-d.

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On The Media

Happy Birthday, Marshall McLuhan

Friday, July 22, 2011

Marshall McLuhan, born 100 years ago this week, became an academic celebrity by examining our relationship with media. He argued “that we shape our tools and thereafter our tools shape us.” WNYC’s Sara Fishko looks back at the hugely influential ideas of an enigmatic man.

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On The Media

How Nintendo Saved the Video Game Industry

Friday, July 01, 2011

The original Nintendo console, the NES, turned 25 this year. OTM producer PJ Vogt reports the cautionary tale of Nintendo’s rise and (relative) fall, and why both were good for video games.

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On The Media

Infant Mortality

Friday, March 26, 2010

During debate last weekend on the health care bill, Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas) yelled out "It's a baby killer!" on the House floor and, in doing so, joined legions who have invoked this powerful defamation. American University professor Allan Lichtman says the phrase holds a prominent place in the catalog of ...

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On The Media

Sex.com

Friday, February 26, 2010

On March 18th, a public auction will be held in Midtown Manhattan. On the block? Sex.com, one of the most coveted pieces of internet real estate, ever. But be warned. Sex dot com comes with a long and troubled past. It’s all chronicled by Kieren McCarthy in

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On The Media

The Protest Psychosis

Friday, February 12, 2010

Schizophrenia has appeared in each edition of the DSM, but its definition has undergone significant change. While once seen as a disease for docile white women, by the 60s and 70s schizophrenia was a diagnosis increasingly used for violent black men. Psychiatrist Jonathan Metzl argues in

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On The Media

Better Safe and Sorry

Friday, February 12, 2010

In recent weeks Toyota has struggled with the mechanics and the mea culpas of a successful product recall. What’s a global company to do when faced with a high profile consumer crisis-of-confidence? Veteran PR crisis manager Gene Grabowski says look no further then the ur-successful ...

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On The Media

Pulp Non-Fiction

Friday, January 22, 2010

For five scandal-ridden years in the mid 1950’s, Confidential was the most popular, pulpiest, dishiest, Hollywood-shaking, gossip rag in the nation. And it insisted that its stories, no matter how sensational, be true. Confidential defied the studios, exposed the foibles of Hollywood brightest stars and laid the groundwork ...

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On The Media

Game Changer

Friday, June 12, 2009

25 years ago the Russian computer programmer Alexey Pajitnov created the ur-video game Tetris. Simple to play, hard to win and ubiquitous, the game continues to frustrate and entertain the masses. We speak with Pajitnov about how he started the shapes falling.

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