The Responsive Chord

The essential guide to how media shape our lives.
The Responsive Chord (2nd Edition)

By the creator of the most talked about political commercial in television history.

The Second Edition (2017)!

Featuring audio and video content and a new foreword by John Carey, Professor of Communications and Media Management, Fordham University, who worked for Schwartz during the writing of the book.

“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

Host & Creator of 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

“Here’s the still-true story about how a media environment can shape our thoughts, our purchases and, yes, our votes. It’s not just the content that influences us; if only it were that simple. Maybe reading this book about the way media was instrumentalized in the 1970s will prepare us to think more critically about the way social media is used on, and against us today.”
Douglas Rushkoff

author of Program or Be Programmed and Present Shock

The Responsive Chord had a profound impact on me when I first read it as a teenager, and it sparked a lifelong interest in the impact of media and technology in education. Re-reading it today, Tony Schwartz’s observations about education in a media-saturated environment are deeply prescient and more relevant than ever.”
Luyen Chou

Chief Product Officer, Pearson Education

A chance meeting in high school with this exceptional maker and thinker changed how I would think about the world and my work.
I think about Tony Schwartz’s influence and vision on every film I make.”

Benita Raphan

Flimmaker & Guggenheim Fellow

“Tony Schwartz was a genius in his understanding of 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

Journalist, Political Commentator, White House Press Secretary

“I enjoyed it enormously. This is a totally untouched field and Tony Schwartz has a monopoly in this area.”
Marshall McLuhan (1973)

“I keep talking to Tony, learning from Tony, practically every day. Radio and audio are Tony’s World. We just live in it.”
Christopher Lydon

NPR host, New York Times journalist

“I am ALWAYS telling my students that The Responsive Chord is the true bible for honest graphic communicators. It certainly changed my thinking and understanding of how design truly communicates.”
Kevin Gatta

Distinguished Professor of Design, Pratt Institute

“Tony Schwartz changed my life. Forty years later his voice and lessons still echo in my ears and imagination. I give a copy of The Responsive Chord to each and every new person who joins the team.”
Joe Slade White

Media Strategist, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden

About The Responsive Chord

Tony Schwartz drew on his unparalleled experience in the communications industry to give us The Responsive Chord, an engaging read and one of the seminal books on media. Schwartz came to understand that most advertisers, politicians, and educators―in fact, most all of us―use a model of communication long outmoded by the coming of electronic media. A model which has made us blind to many of the inner workings of modern communication. In The Responsive Chord, he puts forth the resonance principle—that the meaning of an ad (or any other piece of communication) is not present in the ad itself but rather in how the ad relates to the vast array of knowledge and associations already held in the mind of the viewer―both factual and emotional. Thus, audience members do not merely digest a message; they are an essential force in creating it. Schwartz guides us through the many fascinating consequences. The implications for anyone looking to impart a message or influence decisions are enormous.

With so many people now getting their information through social media and “fake news” sites, it is crucial that we understand the strong forces by which these outlets act upon us and, yes, manipulate our ideas and actions. The Responsive Chord reveals these forces in a captivating and eye-opening read.

About John Carey (author of the new foreword)
John Carey, Professor of Communications and Media Management at Fordham University, was a student at Fordham in the late 60s, when Marshall McLuhan and Tony Schwartz lectured there as holders of 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.

Professor 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. He was a commissioner on the Annenberg Commission on the Press and Democracy, has been an invited lecturer in more than a dozen countries and has presented his research to the boards of major media companies in the United States. Before coming to Fordham, he taught at Columbia Business School and at New York University.

Professor Carey’s direct experience with Schwartz, McLuhan and The Responsive Chord, as well as his subsequent decades of work in the media industry, give him a uniquely insightful perspective on the ideas of the book and their importance to the current media landscape.

Licensing & Quantity Purchases

Educators may license portions of The Responsive Chord and Media: The Second God easily and inexpensively for reproduction. Visit Copyright Clearance Center.

For large quantity purchases please contact Anton Schwartz.