Bob Garfield isn’t exactly a media whore, but he’s extremely promiscuous. The dashing, arthritic co-host of WNYC’s On the Media, is a critic, essayist, pundit, international lecturer and caster both broad and pod. Beyond OTM, he created Audible’s podcast series The Genius Dialogues. To do that, he ditched the wildly popular Lexicon Valley podcast which he co-hosted for Slate. It was a money thing, really.
For a dozen years, Garfield was a commentator/correspondent for NPR‘s All Things Considered. Dubbed by The New York Times “the Charles Kuralt of Bizarro World,” he specialized in quirky Americana. A 1997 collection of his roving weirdness, Waking Up Screaming from the American Dream, was favorably reviewed and quickly forgotten.
For 25 years, he wrote the AdReview column in Advertising Age, which generated fear and influenced careers and business decisions, but never fixed what ails the creative process. Garfield was a longtime analyst for ABC News. He’s been a regular on Financial News Network, CNBC’s Power Lunch and Adam Smith’s Money Game on PBS. He also served as a political-advertising analyst for CBS, before being bounced in 1992 following an unfortunate Green Room incident. It was his most traumatic TV experience since Oprah in 1991, when he was humiliated by Mr. Whipple before a live studio audience.
At the moment he is a columnist for Folio. He’s been a contributing editor for the Washington Post Magazine, Civilization and the op-ed page of USA Today. He has also written for The New York Times, The Guardian, Playboy, Atlantic, Sports Illustrated, Wired, the Mainichi Shimbun and many other publications.
Garfield is the author and performer of Ruggedly Jewish, a theatrical one-man show on intermittent tour throughout the United States. Check out the dancing sequence; it is memorable.
As a lecturer, panelist and emcee, he has appeared in 37 countries on six continents, including such venues as the Kennedy Center, the U.S. Capitol, the Rainbow Room, Broadway’s Hudson Theater, the Smithsonian, Circus Circus casino, Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium (Grand Ole Opry), the United Nations, Harvard, Yale, Columbia and Princeton universities and, memorably, a Thai Kickboxing ring in Cape Town, South Africa. He’s been a visiting lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communication and is a senior fellow at SEI Center for Advanced Studies in Management at Penn’s Wharton School.
He is founding director, in association with Annenberg, of the annual Media Future Summit and co-founder of The Purple Project for Democracy.
Garfield’s 2003 manifesto on advertising, And Now a Few Words from Me, is published in nine languages (although, admittedly, one is Bulgarian). His 2009 book, The Chaos Scenario, accurately predicted the agonizing death of the very industries that constitute his livelihood. His prescription for salvation, Can’t Buy Me Like, was published by Penguin Portfolio in 2013. His first novel, Bedfellows was published in the fall of 2012. Garfield co-wrote “Tag, You’re It,” a snappy country song performed by Willie Nelson, and wrote an episode of the short-lived NBC sitcom Sweet Surrender. It sucked.