Robert “Bob” Weaver
(Submitted Oct 2012)
The “Short” Version
I was dragged into WBRU in 1967 by Ralph Begleiter (later a room-mate) and briefly served as interim news director when Ralph gave up the position. After school, I headed home to the Northwest as an archaeologist: did my field school at one of our most famous sites, Ozette, which was a 60-foot Native American longhouse that had been buried in a 1700 earthquake and mud slide… the first to be found with preserved wood, baskets, and many other amazing artifacts. The rest of the ‘70s were spent in grad school: archaeology and then architecture, with summer jobs like climbing and documenting the Klondike Gold Rush trails.
I then stumbled into the job world directing archaeology and historic preservation surveys for several variants of the MX missile (Ronnie R. renamed it the Peacekeeper missile). That led to more EIS and survey work with multidisciplinary firms…which lead to something totally different (if not all the same). Most of my career has been assisting large or complex environmental cleanups…working with engineers and attorneys. I’ve researched historical technologies (a late-1800s milk plant will have lead as the primary contaminant); learned about groundwater dynamics and conceptual site models; and helped prove up (or balance) corporate responsibilities for making the mess. I worked on the Montrose Superfund site…the LA sewer system’s outfall field off of Palos Verdes as well as a number of the Superfund sites in the Seattle region. In reality, the investigations are nothing but historical archaeology…my specialty.
On the side, I’ve also occasionally been able to continue with the “pure” archaeology. Excavated two gold rush saloons and the waterfront in Fairbanks, AK and am just finishing up a major mitigation dig covering the original town of Sandpoint, ID (the transpo department has run a highway over half the place).
As can be seen from other’s bios, Seattle became a WBRU mecca in the ‘70s. It was a blast (and surprise) hearing Corddry, Kertzer, Gregutt, Corry, and others on the air-waves or visiting them at KOL and KZAM. Still read Paul’s wine reviews in the Sunday paper.
For the last 10 years, I’ve run my own company, the
Environmental History Company; best thing I ever did. I just finished up
another large (mining) environmental case; Sandpoint will be my swan song in
archaeology. Time to “retire” and focus on other pleasures like visiting my
kids in Japan and Beijing, re-restoring the 1966 Sunbeam Tiger that I had back
at Brown, and enjoying life with my wife of 38 years.
The Long Version
Ok. Time to emerge from the wilderness. Well, maybe not so much in terms of wilderness as in terms of the Pacific NW where I grew up and went back to; we seem to be a still somewhat obscure region in the eyes of the rest of the country. But we have our strengths…especially it seems in music and books (Amazon) and computers (Microsoft et al), and especially coffee. And here in the Pacific Northwest we have had, and continue to have, WBRU West…in one form or another, although now only more in spirit. It was quite the shock to come back home only to hear KOL and KZAM (noted in other’s bios) with familiar sounds and voices carrying over the air. I actually did my last programming at a volunteer renegade station KRAB (“in the air; in your hair; everywhere”), but that was a long time ago.
I joined WBRU in the transitional phase of 1967-1968…and remember the debate well. Such days. The mania of Paul Payton and the leap of faith that made BRU one of the best “progressive rock” stations of the country…at the time (who knows now? I’ve listened to the streaming broadcast in the past, but am so far “out of it” as my kids would say that I can’t judge). My involvement kicked off when a “pushy” BDH “reporter” inserted himself into my room after my room-mate “disappeared” a month into freshman year. Ralph who? And why did he choose Ralph Edwards as an air name (briefly) after the fact?
I briefly served as news director after Ralph “the famous one” (Begleiter) decided to focus on academics…a maintenance job when everyone was down on the news (it had been cut to 15 minutes at 6:00); but I remember damned fine jobs under Ralph’s guidance for the ’68 and ’70 elections. At least we didn’t smile while (or not) reporting blood and guts stories like WJAR. There was, however, bloodshed. I remember hitting a basement beam between Casewell (was that Stuie’s room) and Hageman after drowning our sorrows in “fine alcohol” in 1968.
So what has happened since? I graduated in archaeology…no, “historical archaeology”…which was in it’s infancy at the time. Heck, Brown was one of about 5 universities at the time that offered the discipline (under the charismatic Jim Deetz). Now there are over 70 programs. And (more or less) I’ve been on that track ever since.
After school, I went on to the “Pompeii of the West,” the Ozette archaeological site, the first “wet site” found with Native American organic preservation. It included remnants of a 60-foot long house on the coast of Washington, which had been buried in a mud slide created by the earthquake and tsunami of 1700. I went to school in “western” archaeology (still love Plimoth more, but what can one do when one is in “home country”?): went to grad school, first in archaeology and then architecture (historic preservation…a building is just another artifact), and have made a career out of all elements (including having started at Brown in Engineering…take that Corry!). I have traveled from Barrow, Alaska to Antarctica in my career, the latter to preserve the US pre-WW II outpost of East Base, which is the oldest standing (abandoned) US post in Antarctica. You can catch a glimpse of me working down there in the March 1993 National Geographic.
A lot of my learning and experience has been transferred to what I call “applied archaeology,” namely dealing with understanding the history of “releases to the environment” better known as the history of polluting our world and how to deal with it. I’ve worked for Earth Technology, URS Corporation, and a smaller Seattle firm, Hart Crowser helping design investigations of contaminated sites and identifying the companies that caused the mess (so they can pony up some of the cleanup funds). I actually have enjoyed working with the attorneys better than I have with the professionals in archaeology and preservation (don’t get me going about the 40 year growth of what is known as Cultural Resources Management). Always get a rise from stating my preferences, but since a lot of the Brown crowd went into the law, it shouldn’t raise an eyebrow with this crowd.
I enjoyed the preparing and delivering the news and it has shaped my ability to parse what passes for such these days. Would have liked to program, but never made the leap. Dave Corry in the days labeled me “Mr. Mushmouth”; he was right, but I think I was on the right track in promoting in-depth writing. Frankly, my best memory back at WBRU was when I was off in one of the “ancillary” studios; putting together a tape I’ve called the “Brown Blues” for then girlfriend and current wife (god help us 38 years of marriage and 45 years “together” (not the time for the story about Spring Weekend 1968). I still treasure Dave’s comment of “Damn Weaver…you actually can program.” He had been listening in from the engineering room. Frankly, that meant a lot.
Memories? Andy and his two finger ability to type faster than I could with QWERTY; Don Bernstein destroying the teletype…physically lifting it up and slamming it down after a night of spewing garbage; the teenage groupies for Roger (Norton) coming up to the station, peering into the broadcast window. Asking for “Rodger”; and being told he was “on the air” and saying “but he’s black” :that can’t be Roger; Ralph with his total “confidence” (later on at a late dinner to say “you don’t understand inside the beltway; I’m late because Madelaine Albright called me for an interview; we of the back country understood; so sorry); Schantz’s ability to call a hockey game on BRU. ..I still don’t know how some people can keep a dialog going and tell la story. What can I say? I can do it on a computer, but play by play?
For the here and now. I have my own firm (the Environmental History Company). It has done better for me than all of the “big firms” I’ve worked for in the past. And I feel like I’ve contributed. I’ve helped balance the BS environmental stuff and helped focus cases and investigations toward what we really need to be concerned about; I’ve done “pure” archaeology from Antarctica to many nebulous and many meaningful areas.
The lesson I learned; the experiences I had with all of you…coming from so many disciplines; those adventures have made me who I am and the career I’ve had. Thank you, even if we haven’t had contact for 40+ years.