About Robert K. Elder

Robert K. Elder is an experienced tech and media executive, the award-winning author of seven books and founder of Odd Hours Media. He also serves as a mentor at TechStars and 1871 in Chicago.

Elder specializes in launching new products, expanding brands and developing corporate innovation strategies. Elder particularly enjoys assembling teams and working with artificial intelligence technology to enhance personalization and engagement. He also has experience in building podcast networks, video platforms and user-generated interfaces.

Elder is also the founder of Odd Hours Media LLC, which specializes in crowdsourcing, social media and TV production. The company is represented by William Morris Endeavor and has partnered with Towers Productions, GRB and the Michael Group to produce unscripted television projects.

In 2015, Elder joined Crain Communications Inc. and became the company’s Executive Director of Digital Product Development & Innovation. At Crain, Elder spend  two years opening Crain brands in 32 new international markets. He also identified opportunities and led the development of new Web, app, mobile and social products to expand the company’s digital footprint until 2017.

Elder is also the author or editor of several books.

Pulitzer-winner Studs Terkel calls Elder “a journalist in the noblest tradition” in his introduction to Elder’s book, Last Words of the Executed.

His latest book is Hidden Hemingway: Inside the Ernest Hemingway Archives of Oak Park, which won a Gold Medal at the Independent Publisher Book Awards.

Author Scott Turow (Presumed Innocent) called Hidden Hemingway, “An invaluable book for anyone interested in Hemingway or the development of a major creative mind” and Garrison Keillor lauded the work, writing: “…it’s a privilege to look through [Hemingway’s] closet and read his stuff and discover him as a mortal man.”

Elder’s 2013 book, The Best Film You’ve Never Seen, was championed by film critic Roger Ebert, who wrote: “How necessary this book is! And how well-judged and written! Some of the best films ever made, as Elder proves, are lamentably all but unknown.”

Dead Man Walking author Sister Helen Prejean called Last Words of the Executed, “a dangerous book.” Last Words of the Executed received rave reviews in The Economist, Harper’s Magazine, and The New York Review of Books, among many other outlets. The New Yorker called it, “…A harrowing portrait of our justice system.”

Praise for Elder’s 2011 book The Film That Changed My Life came from the Chicago Tribune’s Michael Phillips, who called the book, “A great and provocative read…it’s addictive.” Film critic Leonard Maltin also said, “You’ll have a hard time putting this book down.”

Elder’s work has appeared in The New York Times, The Paris Review, MSNBC.com, The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, Salon.com, The Oregonian and many other publications. For more than a decade, he served as a staff writer at the Chicago Tribune and from 2010 to 2012, he worked as a regional editor for the AOL Huffington Post Media Group’s hyperlocal news initiative, Patch.com. In 2012, Elder served as the founding managing editor of DNAinfo Chicago before joining the Chicago Sun-Times in 2013.

In June of 2013, he was named editor-in-chief of Sun-Times Media Local, overseeing 36 suburban Chicago publications, including: Aurora Beacon News, the Naperville Sun, the Elgin Courier News, the Lake County News-Sun and the 32 weeklies of the Pioneer Press group. In 2014, he was named Vice President of Digital Content, founding a guest editor program featuring people such as Smashing Pumpkins founder Billy Corgan, comedian Bert Kreischer and astronaut Jim Lovell. Elder also started a podcast network at the Sun-Times, hosting “The Big Questions,” one of four initial shows.

His company Odd Hours Media produced the user-generated sites ItWasOverWhen.com: Tales of Romantic Dead Ends and ItWasLoveWhen.com: Tales from the Beginning of Love. Both sites went viral very quickly, attracting more than 1 million hits within a few months. In late 2009, Sourcebooks signed the sites to a two-book deal.

Elder is also the editor of John Woo: Interviews, the first authoritative chronicle of the filmmaker’s life, legacy and career. He has also contributed to books on poker, comic books and film design. A former member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and film reviewer for the Chicago Tribune, Elder has taught film classes at Facets Film School.

He serves on the boards of the Society of Professional Journalists' Headline Club and the Chicago Writers Conference. Elder is a member of the Hemingway Society, the Melville Society and the American Historical Association.

He has taught journalism at Northwestern University’s Medill School and Columbia College Chicago.

A Montana native and graduate of the University of Oregon, Elder lives and writes in Chicagoland.

He has been known to carry a digital voice recorder.

 

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