New Book Publication Announcement: THE RESPONSIVE CHORD (2nd edition) by Tony Schwartz



“The essential guide to how media shape our lives. By the creator of the most talked about political ad in television history.”

The Responsive Chord outlines the way our ways of thinking and communicating have been shaped for centuries by written language and by the difficulty of transmitting information over long distances… and how those habits have been outmoded by instant communications such as television, radio and telephone. Schwartz explores in depth the failure of techniques in advertising and education that are based on the old methods and explains how we must understand the new media, as well as how best to make use of them, giving numerous examples.


  • Foreword by John Carey, Professor of Communications and Media Management at Fordham University. Carey worked for Tony Schwartz in the late 60s and early 70s, including the time when he wrote The Responsive Chord. He is intimately familiar with the book and with Tony Schwartz, so the foreword contains both analysis from a current-day perspective and a number of inside anecdotes (see excerpt below)
  • Updated design, several new illustrative figures.


  • Election 2016 and President Trump: We are constantly bombarded with media, and never more so than in an election year. The book focuses on how media work on us to drive our actions, with special emphasis given to political media. The book has been especially relevant this political season given Trump’s highly unconventional relationship with the media.
  • Fake News & Truthiness: So many people have been sent reeling by the extent to which truth itself has been damaged since the 2016 election—from the egregiously untrue statements made by candidates and government officials to the proliferation of “fake news.” The Responsive Chord gives us an alternate understanding of the media according to which our notions of truth and falsity are not even relevant. It shows how, even back when we had seemingly much higher, shared standards for truth (think Walter Cronkite and David Brinkley), the most effective processes of communication completely bypassed truth/falsehood… and the book explains how those processes continue to operate.
  • Election 2016 (Daisy ad): There have been regular mentions throughout the news media of the 1964 Daisy Ad, both because of the parallels between the 2016 election and the 1964 election, and because of the regular talk of creating a similar ad for use today. Schwartz was the creator of the Daisy ad (see below), and The Responsive Chord presents and discusses the ad (pp. 89-92).
  • “DAISY” Play. Tony Schwartz and his ideas are the subject of a play by Sean Devine that premiered at Seattle’s ACT Theatre in July-Aug, 2016, to nightly standing ovations. The play is about the creation of the “DAISY” ad (see ABOUT below). Discussions are underway for it to be staged in NY and Chicago, as well as several Canadian locations.


  • Tony Schwartz is equally famous, in different circles, for (1) his pioneering work recording music and documenting the audio life of New York City in the 1950s and 60s, (2) his advertising work, including the Daisy commercial and (3) his theories of media and communication.
  • Creator of the Daisy ad—the most talked about political ad in television history, despite having aired only once. He was hired as a consultant by the DDB agency and created the concept of the ad for them, based on an anti-nuclear ad he made for the U.N. in 1962.
  • Winner of multiple Academy Awards and Toni Awards. Four-time first place winner at the Cannes Film Festival. Created over a dozen commercial recordings, one of which was among the first 100 recordings inducted into the National Recording Registry.
  • Taught media studies at Harvard, Columbia, Fordham and New York University. Lectured around the world by telephone and satellite.
  • Created commercials for over four hundred corporations, including Coca-Cola, American Airlines, Chrysler and Kodak. Created the first anti-smoking commercial (1963, for the American Cancer Society.)
  • Produced television and radio commercials for the campaigns of two U.S. Presidents, as well as hundreds of U.S. candidates at all levels of government.
  • His collected works were acquired by the Library of Congress in 2007, just before his death. Transporting all the audio & video recordings & papers from NYC to DC required three trucks. See
  • Created and hosted a weekly radio show on WNYC for over 30 years (1945-1976)


“The Responsive Chord certainly gets a big response from me…. I enjoyed it enormously. This is a totally untouched field and Tony Schwartz has a monopoly in this area.” — Marshall McLuhan (1973)

“Tony Schwartz was a genius when it came to understanding the communications revolution of the 20th century. My interview with him was one of my favorites and one of the most important of my own long career in broadcast journalism.” – Bill Moyers

“I read The Responsive Chord as a freshman in college and it affected everything I’ve ever made since. Its message is practical and deep. I’d recommend it to anyone.” — Ira Glass, Creator & Host of NPR’s This American Life

“Tony Schwartz was not only an original theorist but a master persuader whose must-read book is brimming with indispensable insight about how humans construct meaning through media.” — Prof. Kathleen Hall Jamieson, Director, Annenberg Public Policy Center ( is one of their many projects)

Obama Team. In the foreword, John Carey relates, “I was told by a senior member of the Obama campaigns for the presidency that The Responsive Chord was a must read for all senior members of their communications team.” Unfortunately, he has lost contact with the person. I have been working to corroborate that claim and get one of the Obama team on record.

See a more extensive list of quotes at


As a communication professor who teaches about new media and a researcher who has studied new media technologies for companies such as Google, Comcast NBC Universal and the New York Times, why do I rely so heavily on a book written decades ago? It’s because The Responsive Chord describes with great clarity how media affect our lives and gives us practical guidelines that are just as relevant today as when the book was first published.

The Responsive Chord analyzes how and why our modern media environment works on us and in us. For example, why do some video bloggers who talk about things of little importance to anyone attract millions of followers? Tony Schwartz explains, “People are more likely to choose programming on the basis of some personal function it serves, rather than for specific content. In many instances, it does not matter what a program is about.” (p. 51) As Sam Roberts of the New York Times writes, “Mr. Schwartz presciently anticipated camcorders and also cellphones, iPods and other [modern] electronic devices.” Insights from the book also help us understand current media phenomena such as viral media, social media, virtual reality, and mobile media.


John Carey, Professor of Communications and Media Management at Fordham University, was a student at Fordham in the late 60s, when Marshall McLuhan lectured there as the Albert Schweitzer Chair in the Humanities. He subsequently worked for Tony during a time that included the writing of The Responsive Chord. He went on to work in the media industry for many years, with clients including Google, American Express, AT&T, NBC Universal, The New York Times, Primedia, A&E Television Networks, Digitas, The Online Publishers Association, PBS, Cablevision, Rainbow Media, Scholastic and XM Satellite Radio. Carey has served on the advisory boards of the Adult Literacy Media Alliance, the Annenberg School for Communications and Fordham’s Donald McGannon Communication Research Center.

See also On Tony Schwartz on this blog: 

More About Tony Schwartz, Media Pioneer & Audio Documentarian (1923-2008): 


Tony Schwartz in his media lab, New York City, 1982

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