The Oregon State University Sesquicentennial Oral History Project

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Dick Weinman Oral History Interviews

Two life history interviews conducted by Janice Dilg.

October 2014 - January 2015


Richard Jay Weinman was born in New York City in 1933, growing up in the borough of Queens. Interested in radio from a young age, Weinman left for Indiana University in 1951, where he studied radio and television media. While there, he also gained his first experience of working at a radio station. After changing his major to speech and theatre arts, Weinman graduated with a bachelor's degree in 1955. That same year he married Virginia F. Hoy, a fellow Indiana undergraduate whom he had met on a blind date three years before.

That fall, Weinman enrolled at Columbia University, where he pursued a M.F.A. in Dramatic Arts and continued to find part-time employment in local radio. He completed his master's studies in 1956, writing a thesis titled "The Life and Works of Georg Buchner." After a stint teaching at Bucknell University, Weinman returned to Indiana as a Ph.D. student. He earned his doctorate in Dramatic Literature and Criticism in 1959, writing a dissertation on the tragedies of Maxwell Anderson. Weinman spent the next eight years in faculty positions at the University of Georgia and Iowa State University, teaching speech, theatre, and telecommunicative arts, and pursuing side jobs in radio and television as well.

In 1967 Weinman accepted a position as an associate professor of speech at Oregon State University. In this capacity, he focused on radio and television with an eye toward preparing his students to understand and use these evolving forms of media. Around this same time, he began working as the on-air voice of Oregon Public Broadcasting's Morning Edition, a role that he filled for nearly twenty-five years.

Weinman helped to form KBVR-TV in 1968, marrying the station's production needs with the curriculum of his broadcast media communications classes. He also created what he called "Allied Areas," a series of courses in sociology, psychology, business, writing, and English literature that were meant to hone the skillsets of students intending to enter into the field of professional broadcasting. Another of Weinman's early projects was the Minorities in the Mass Media workshop, in which students of color spent eight weeks learning about media production, with an ultimate goal of attaining internships at broadcast companies.

Over his years as a member of the faculty, Weinman was involved in the organization of numerous symposia, the production of several documentary films, and the continued growth of KBVR-TV. He also served as head of the Broadcast Media Communications department until the program was cut in 1992. Not long after, Weinman became interested in online education and subsequently taught multiple courses that required students to use email and internet chat rooms as fundamental components of their coursework. In 1998, after thirty-one years on faculty, Weinman retired from OSU, in part to care for his wife, who was suffering from Alzheimer's disease and who passed away in 2013.

Weinman's life changed radically in 2005 when a severe car accident left him bound to a wheelchair. His physical limitations did not get in the way of his continuing to teach and write, and in 2010 he self-published his memoir, Two Different Worlds. In recent years, he has become an activist and spokesperson for people living in long-term care facilities. His blog, The Thin Edge of Dignity, focuses on his experiences in assisted living and is published on the website of the Oregon chapter of AARP.