The Oregon State University Sesquicentennial Oral History Project

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Lynne Clendenin Oral History Interview

Life history interview conducted by Mike Dicianna.

February 19, 2015


Lynne Leslie Clendenin was born in Los Angeles in 1953. Clendenin began learning about music and dance at a young age, starting violin lessons at age seven and serving as head of the orchestra while a student at University High School in L.A. After completing high school, Clendenin enrolled in the Childhood Development program at Santa Monica College, during which time she also performed in the Santa Monica Orchestra. After learning about the Preparatory School of Music at Mount Saint Mary's College, Clendenin transferred from Santa Monica College and began studies as a music student.

In the mid-1970s, Clendenin was forced to leave school because of a lack of funding. After stints living in Hawaii and Lake Tahoe, Clendenin was able to purchase land in Oregon and relocated in 1982. Shortly after moving, Clendenin learned about Wildlife Safari in Winston, Oregon, and promptly began volunteering there. During this time, she wrote about her experiences as a volunteer, work which eventually caught the attention of the park's head of marketing, who subsequently hired Clendenin to work as a spokesperson.

In 1986 Clendenin returned to college, enrolling at Oregon State University as a Zoology major with the idea that it might help her to advance at Wildlife Safari. She was also very active in campus theatrical productions, performing major roles in several plays, including The Crucible and Hair.

Clendenin likewise learned media production techniques while an OSU student, working for KBVR-FM as a jazz announcer and, eventually, as jazz director for the station. She also worked at KVBR-TV, at one point hosting her own series. The skills that she built at KBVR eventually led to her obtaining employment with Oregon Public Broadcasting. After she missed out on a position as a classical music host, Clendenin accepted a different offer of part-time announcer at KOAC, OPB's on-campus station.

Clendenin graduated in 1990 with a degree in Theatre Arts and continued to work for KOAC, at various points hosting Weekend Edition and producing the Noon Report. In 2006 she was promoted to vice president of radio programming and the next year she joined the Public Radio Program Directors board.

After more than eighty years on the Oregon State campus, OPB radio left Corvallis in 2008, choosing to move to a more advanced production facility in Portland. For several years thereafter, Clendenin continued to live in Corvallis and work in Portland, commuting between the two locations until the youngest of her three children had completed high school. In 2011 Clendenin was promoted to vice president of programming for radio and television. She has also co-hosted OPB television's Oregon Art Beat and is station manager for KMHD Jazz Radio.