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About Tony Schwartz
Tony Schwartz, master of electronic media, created more than 20,000 radio and television spots for products, political candidates and non-profit public interest groups. Featured on programs by Bill Moyers, Phil Donahue and Sixty Minutes, among others, Schwartz has been described as a "media guru," a "media genius" and a "media muscleman." The tobacco industry even voluntarily stopped their advertising on radio and television after Schwartz's produced the first anti-smoking ad to ever appear (children dressing in their parents' clothing, in front of a mirror). The American Cancer Society credits this ad, and others that followed, with the tobacco industry's decision to go off the air, rather than compete with Schwartz's ad campaign.
Born in midtown Manhattan in 1923, a graduate of Peekskill High School (1941) and Pratt Institute (1944), Tony Schwartz had a unique philosophy of work: He only worked on projects that interested him, for whatever they could afford to pay.
For thirty one years (1945-1976) he created and produced a weekly radio program of people and sounds of New York on WNYC (AM & FM). For over 15 years he wrote a weekly column for Media Industry Newsletter (MIN).
When Marshall McLuhan met Tony Schwartz, he said he met "a disciple with twenty years prior experience!" Later, McLuhan and Schwartz shared the Schweitzer Chair at Fordham University.
For many years he was a Visiting Electronic professor at Harvard University's School of Public Health, teaching physicians how to use media to deal with public health problems. He also taught at New York University and Columbia and Emerson colleges. Because Schwartz was unable to travel distances, he delivered all out of town talks remotely. Schwartz was a frequent lecturer at universities and conferences, and gave presentations on six of the seven continents (not Antarctica). He was awarded honorary doctorates from John Jay, Emerson and Stonehill Colleges.
Designated the year's "Best Social Studies Teacher in the United States" because of a Sociological Communications course he taught to high school students, Schwartz explained, "I merely taught them how to document the life around them in sound and pictures."
"Documenting life in sound and pictures" is something Tony Schwartz begin in 1945, when he bought his first Webcor wire recorder and began to record the people and sounds around him. From this hobby developed one of the world's largest and most diverse collections of voices, both prominent and unknown, street sounds and music, a collection that resulted in nineteen phonograph albums for Folkways and Columbia Records.
Schwartz began to do commercials for national advertisers, in which he revolutionized the industry: he was the first ever use real children's voices in radio and television ads, as opposed to adults imitating children. From commercials involving children, he moved to general advertising, everything from Coke to airlines, political campaigns and public interest media -- every ten years, Schwartz's sphere of interest expanded to include new directions and new challenges, as well as continuing the old.
Credited with the single most effective and talked about ad ever produced, Tony Schwartz created the Daisy Ad, as it has become known, to highlight the dangers of nuclear arms. It was used by the Johnson campaign in 1964 to clearly illustrate his position on the use of nuclear weapons. Considering the extensive discussion that the ad has sparked, it is remarkable that the ad ran only once.
Schwartz created the media campaigns of over 200 candidates, including the winning 1976 presidential campaign of Jimmy Carter, the 1964 Johnson presidential election, the campaigns of Abe Ribicoff (Connecticut) and Daniel Moynihan (New York), and selected campaigns of Tom Foley (Washington state), Mike Gravel (Alaska), Bob Hattfield (West Virginia), Edward Kennedy (Massachusetts) Tom Lantos (California), Warren Rudman (New Hampshire) and Andrew Young (Georgia), to name but a few.
The entire body of Tony Schwartz's material is now housed in the archives of the Library of Congress. States Gerald Gibson, Curator and echoed by Daniel Boorstin, former Librarian of Congress, "Your collection...is truly phenomenal. Its scope, from political spots through documentation of speech development, commercials and interviews, to folk material, makes it one of the truly unique...collections...of mid-20th century thought and work yet put together. When one realizes that...your collection documents the work of one individual, its importance and usefulness to future research is almost unimaginable. It will enhance the Library's collection far beyond anything that I am honestly capable of perceiving!"
The photographer Edward Steichen has called Tony Schwartz the man "who moved sound recording into the realm of the arts." And the artist Ben Shahn told a friend, "Tell Tony, he's my kind of artist, hard boiled and beautiful!"
Awards and Honors:
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- Winner of the 1990 International Radio Festival for Best Public Service Radio Ad (subject: drinking and driving)
- Prix Italia for the Best Documentary
- First Place in the Cannes Film Festival four times for Commercials
- First Place in the Venice Film Festival
- Academy Award twice in the category of Best Short Subject
- United States and North American entry to the
World Radio Festival for Best Documentary for more than ten years running.
- Grand Award for public interest spots (last four years),
and First Place honor (eight times) in the New York Market Radio Festival (NYMRAD)
for the New York City market area.
- Recipient of the World Health Organization's first World No Smoking Day medal,
in recognition of his dedicated work against cigarette smoking and the tobacco industry (1988).
- Distinguished Service Citation of the American Foundation for AIDS Research,
presented by Elizabeth Taylor to Schwartz for his work against AIDS (1989).
- "The New York Taxi Driver" was one of the first 100 records inducted into the U.S. National Recording Registry (2003).
Books by Tony Schwartz
Tony Schwartz is the author of two books, and a subject of many others.
||THE RESPONSIVE CHORD (1973 paperback) defines
the resonance principle in communications. Says McLuhan, "This book
is the only one...which even begins to approach the problem of human
scale in relation to electronic media. This is a totally untouched
field and Tony Schwartz has a monopoly in this area."
||MEDIA: THE SECOND GOD (1983 paperback)
describes how media has changed our society and how to use it to
change our society. Of Schwartz, upon reading the book, Daniel
Patrick Moynihan said, "Who else could write more brilliantly
about media as a second god than one of the few human beings who has
learned how to use it and control it?!"
||MEDIA: THE SECOND GOD (1981)
Hardcover first edition copy.
Book purchases outside the USA.
Please purchase from Amazon.com.
Licensing Schwartz's books.
Want to use parts of the books in a class or seminar you teach?
You can obtain rights online, easily and inexpensively, by clicking below...
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Sound Recordings by Tony Schwartz
|The New York Taxi Driver
|Conversations and stories recorded with taxi drivers while riding in their cabs during the 1950's and 60's.|
|That's My Opinion and it's Very True
||More conversations with New York taxi drivers.|
(Folkways FP 58/2)
|A tape documentary about the migration of Puerto Rican people to New York City.|
|Music in the Streets
(Folkways FD 5581)
|A documentary of the different outdoor musical environments in New York City.|
|French Folk Songs
(Folkways FP 832)
|One, Two, Three and a Zing Zing Zing
(Folkways FP 703)
|Street games and songs of the children of New York City.|
|Sounds of my City
|The stories, music and sounds of the people of New York.|
|A Dog's Life
|The sound of the first year of the life of a dog; all the people the dog meets and all the situations a dog goes through in his first year.|
|New York 19
(Folkways FP 58)
|A tape documentary of the non-commercial musical life in New York City's postal zone 19 during the 1940's and 50's.|
|The World in my Mailbox
|Tony exchanges wire and tape recordings with people from all over the world.|
|You're Stepping on my Shadow
(Folkways FD 5582)
|Sound stories that were first presented on Tony Schwartz's WNYC morning radio program.|
|Millions of Musicians
(Folkways FP 60)
|Examples of the innate musicality of speech and sound in everyday life.|
|Sound Effects Volume 1: City Sounds
|The sounds of different indoor and outdoor environments around the city of New York.|
|Another version of "The World in my Mailbox.|
|Children and God
|The Sound of the Family of Man
||A documentary of sounds, songs and games of people from all around the world; based on the concepts of Edward Steichen's book Family of Man.|
|The Sound of Children
(Folkways FH 5583)
|Sound stories of individual children and groups of children.|
|Standing Here at the Present Time...
||Sounds of New York City originally played as background to an exhibition of great photographs of New York City.|
|If He Asks You Was I Laughing
||Private recordings of work songs and music of an oppressed minority in the United States.|
You can find Schwartz's Folkways recordings online for listening and purchase at Smithsonian Folkways.
In addition, some are available for digital download at MSN Music and the iTunes Store.
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DVDs about the Work of Tony Schwartz
A guerrilla, by definition, is one who wages irregular warfare. In this ground-breaking program, Tony Schwartz shows how individual citizens can overcome media indifference by using irregular methods to craft their messages for radio and television inexpensively and effectively.
Distilling his experience over three decades in advising major corporations, presidential candidates and non-profit groups, Schwartz shares "extraordinary principles and case studies not found in any of our textbooks," according to Kathleen Jamieson, Dean of the Annenberg School of Communications, University of Pennsylvania.
Guerrilla Media is divided into three parts:
Produced by David Hoffman
(120 minutes, color)
- Basic Guerrilla Awareness (understanding the opportunities offered by media)
- Creating Guerrilla Media (messages that will work); and
- Getting the Message Out (techniques that will make the target of the message respond).
Media in Politics
No politician can successfully run for office today without the use of electronic media.
And to do this properly, one has to have an understanding of how electronic media functions.
No professional in this field is more respected than Tony Schwartz,
the man who devised the famed atomic bomb commercial
(the little girl picking daisies in a field) for President Lyndon Johnson.
In this three-part program, Schwartz illustrates the media concepts which he
has employed successfully on behalf of candidates before and after they took office.
These include both Republicans and Democrats (e.g., Sen. Warren Rudman,
New Hampshire and Sen. Pat Moynihan, New York.)
Schwartz's casebook approach offers practical examples of media use to
advance political candidates and causes. Media in Politics confirms the usefulness
of unconventional thinking in resolving political issues and communications problems generally.
(90 minutes, color)
Secrets of Effective Radio Advertising
Tony Schwartz believes one cannot fully understand electronic communications without
fully understanding the use of radio. Because it is less glamorous than television,
its potential for persuasion is often overlooked. Schwartz believes radio can be
the medium of choice for advertising, politics, and public interest groups;
particularly those with specific messages and lean budgets.
In this three-part program, Schwartz compiles a veritable encyclopedia of
radio messages that work -- commercials and announcements that are written by a master,
placed deftly where and when they will do the most good, all on penny-wise budgets.
Again, Schwartz demonstrates that creative analysis of the environment for the
message and emotional addressing of the message to the proper target can achieve
After watching and digesting Schwartz's examples, communicators and social activists,
teachers and students will perceive unrealized possibilities for the use of radio --
and all forms of verbal expression - in their daily lives.
(75 minutes, color)
We all know cops to be tough in the face of death.
This program shows how a New York City cop responded when told that he had terminal
lung cancer -- that he was dying from his cigarette habit.
With failing breath and growing determination, Ken McFeely teamed up with well-known media guru
Tony Schwartz to make some of the most successful public service messages ever aired to
warn people about the hazards of smoking.
If you love someone who smokes, make sure they see this program.
(52 minutes, color)
An educational video program hosted by Tony Schwartz that exposes the
subtleties of cigarette advertising. Using Frank dialogue interspersed
with his own hard-hitting anti-smoking spots, Dirty Business drives home its message:
If you smoke, stop. If you don't smoke, don't start.
For junior, senior, youth groups, college and adult.
(24 min. color)
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For questions regarding Tony Schwartz's recordings or commercials, please contact the Recorded Sound Reference Center at the Library of Congress: (202) 707-7833 or www.loc.gov/rr/askalib/ask-record.html.
If you would like to leave a message about Tony Schwartz (or see what others have written), feel free to visit the Tony Schwartz Memorial Guestbook.
For other inquiries, you may contact