In this episode of Senior Living LIVE!, Melissa interviews Dick Miner, Arbor Terrace resident and industry pioneer during the Golden Age of television.

He talks about his life in the TV business, the inspiration for writing his book, and what he loves about living at an Arbor community. He also shares his favorite story from working in the TV industry—you don’t want to miss it!


Video Transcript

- Hello, everyone, and welcome into "Senior Living Live." My name is Melissa. As always, I hope you are having a fantastic day today. Well, we have been checking in all summer with Arbor communities, speaking to staff, to residents all in an effort to help you get to know some of the people who live and work at our fabulous communities. Today, I am thrilled to introduce you to Dick Miner. He is a resident at Arbor Terrace Lakeway in Texas, and is in the middle of a book tour for his book that is called "Directed by Dick Miner: The Life & Adventures of a Television Pioneer." I can't wait for this interview, Dick, with my television background, I'm so excited. How are you today?

- I'm doing great. Thank you.

- Excellent.

- I hope you're doing the same.

- So tell us a little bit about yourself, your background and why you decided to write this book.

- Okay, well actually my background, I started way back in the, I was born in the depression years and during that time growing up, my mother once told me that, "You don't want to ever live like we have had to live during these years." She said, "I want you to get an education and make something of yourself." So I took her advice, and I went into the service. After the service, I decided to get into the broadcast industry. And that was at a time when it was initially getting started in the country, in the early fifties. And the rest of the book is my story on that. So that's where it all began.

- Yeah, and what was it that prompted you to put your stories about this business and what kind of was the golden age of television, what made you decide to put it all into a book?

- Well, basically it was a story for my children to start with and that's how it all started. I wanted to give them a history of my background, my children, my grandchildren and those coming further up in the years. So that was my initial reason for starting it up. And then after I got started, it developed into something a little more than that. So that's where I am today.

- And we all get to enjoy it now. So thank you for that. Now, as I mentioned, your background is very near and dear to my heart as a 20 year veteran of television. And I got into the business when we were using big Beta cameras. And these weighed about 20 pounds, the batteries, when you added that in addition to the camera, then the camera weighed about 25 to 30 pounds, and then you have the tripods that were, like, 30 pounds as well. And I know everything has just started to shrink more and more and more. Take us back to the technology and experiences that were unique to the time that you entered broadcast television.

- Well, when broadcast television started, which was my early years in it, the cameras were much more than 20 pounds. They probably weighed 200 pounds and they couldn't be carried at all. They were on tripods or on, they were rolled around in the studio, and the lenses were manually turned. You didn't have zoom lenses. You had a different lens for everything, and so you had to change cameras to get the proper lens up. We had a 35, a 50 and a 135 lens. And you had a turret that you switched it manually. No zoom lenses, no electronics for weather boards, everything was magnetic. And it was very rude compared to what we're doing today.

- Did you ever think in a million years that a reporter could go out and shoot a story on one of these and bring it back and turn it around for the five o'clock news?

- Not at all. That would have been impossible to think about that. Yeah, it's amazing today.

- Yeah. Technology is a wonderful thing. It has certainly made lives of journalists easy, and hey, technology is what is bringing us together here today for this interview. So as much as we may not like it, there are some ways that we love it. And in this way, I love having this technology to have this interview with you today. So every television veteran, and I know this for an absolute fact has a tale to tell. So can you give us one or two of some of your favorite stories that you still cherish today?

- Well, probably my favorite story is meeting with the entire Kennedy family and spending the day with them. It was interesting because they came up one at a time into the studio and I was introduced separately to first John Kennedy came in, and then his brother Bobby came in, and then his brother Teddy came in with Rose and with Jacqueline. And that whole day was kind of exciting. At the time, I didn't realize the greatness of the man I was talking to, or the people I was talking to, because that was in 1960 and it was one of his first campaigns on television for president. And it was looking back, it was a bigger experience than I thought it was at the time that it happened.

- What an incredible story. So then, as you said, you weren't quite sure how big that was until much later. Were you ever in a situation where you knew how big it was and you knew this is happening right now and I'm never going to forget this moment?

- It was, well, when I knew how big it was, was I was in broadcasting at the time that President Kennedy was assassinated. And at that time during his assassination, one of my cohorts that I worked with originally was on the scene. His name was Tom Pettit. You recall that name from those?

- Yeah. Yeah. That's old school. Yes.

- Tom Pettit was on the scene when Oswald was shot. And that all tied in with the Kennedy thing, and it was an experience. I came from a small station in Iowa, and a lot of great people came out of that original station. And because it was at the beginning, Tom Pettit, Joe Bartelmi, have you heard of Bartelmi?

- No. No, I have not.

- He was the vice president of news for NBC. Tom Pettit was also vice president of news for NBC. And other people became big. Another fellow managed WWL in New Orleans, and another one started his own television school in Madison, Wisconsin. And so being a part of that group of people was fabulous for me as I look back on it.

- Yeah. That is tremendous. And we all love those stories because everybody's got to start somewhere. And it's amazing when at the time, you're working with these people and you don't know what the future holds for them. And the next thing you know, they're working at a major network in very big roles. So, excellent. Took a little bit of something from you along the way as well. So you are a man of great faith, and I believe you talk about this in your book, how big of a role did that play personally and professionally in your life?

- My theme in life is love your neighbor. That's it. That's the role I played. And so, because I treated people properly, I could get so much done in the broadcast field. And I did love everybody that I worked with. That seems like a very simple answer, but that's what it was.

- Yeah, it's very simple, but it's also very much to the point. And I think also helps in that very short sentence to tell us a little bit about who you are as well. So thank you for sharing that. Now you did allude to this earlier, that you were, you're a veteran, served in the Korean War, U.S. Navy vet. We truly do thank you for your service. Now, you had this wild ride from that into television. What are you currently up to now besides writing a book and how is life treating you at Arbor Terrace Lakeway?

- Well, first of all, I was very concerned about giving up my home and coming to live in a situation like this. However, this is the best thing that ever happened to me. I'm getting a little emotional now, but we have a table here at dinner and I've made a group of friends that is unbelievable.

- That is just fantastic. Can I ask, when you think of these people, you are emotional, why?

- Happiness. That's the word. I'm very content and happy here.

- That makes me emotional just hearing you say that. I'm so happy. I'm so happy you were able to find this place for yourself and able to share sort of your life right now with others that you obviously care so much for.

- Yeah, I have lots of friends here and a special group of people. We have our corner table here, and it's kind of like we have a special place right here. And we do a lot together as a group. It's five or six of us here that are very close, and that's a wonderful feeling. And before, living privately in my house, it was my wife and I, and once in a while, people would drop in. But today, it's a daily thing and it's warmth and friendliness and sharing your thoughts and your life with others. And that's very important in life to share with other people. And you know, I had my wife, we shared our lives together for many, many years, however, but now we have a group of people, maybe five or six people that we're sharing our lives with and it's wonderful.

- I love hearing that. And I know you're the kind of guy that wants to help others. And sort of straying away from the initial conversation as we've had this interview, I do have one more question I'd like to ask on that end, Dick, if someone is in a situation where they were just like you, they were living with their spouse in a home, and some people came by, they maybe got to see their children or their grandchildren, but it wasn't an everyday occurrence like it is now for you. What would you say to somebody who's on the fence about making that move to senior living? I mean, is it anything they should be nervous about or is this something that boy, you don't know until you're in it that this could be a wonderful thing?

- I think it's a very individual thing. I think that people have to go back to the thing that I said before, love your neighbor. And if you can do that, coming here is fabulous because you have a lot of neighbors to love. I can't tell you much more than that.

- Yeah, no, that's great. This conversation has just warmed my heart and I know others are going to think the same way when they see it. So let's talk about those friends a little bit, because I saw the pictures recently of your book signing there at the community, and it was pretty well attended. So what was that like for you to have that moment where people can come and hear about your stories, see your book, get it signed, what was that whole thing like for you?

- That was a fantastic event to be there. And mostly, while most of the people were people that I've known before, a lot of them, and to share my experiences with those people was the greatest thing in my life. And to have a facility like living here and being able to share a lot of those good times and stories with all these people at the same time was a fabulous event. And the people here made it fabulous. It was so nice and so beautiful.

- I am so happy to hear that. Yeah, the pictures were beautiful. So I'm glad you got to enjoy that. Are there other books signings coming up on the horizon?

- Yes, there will be. I worked at a country club for a while before retiring, and they agreed to have a book signing for me at the country club and at our church, we'll do the same thing there again. And then of course, my daughter was very involved in writing the book with me. She's the one, well, my three daughters, they just kept bugging me all the time for more stories and more information and everything. But my one daughter, Carol, who lives in Fort Worth and has many friends there, and she helped me author the book, and we'll do a book signing in Fort Worth. I went to Iowa in my hometown and had a book signing there. So it's like any other kind of business, you have to promote it. It just doesn't happen. And you're much aware that, I'm sure.

- And I know you're absolutely aware of that, working in the TV business as well for as long as you did. Absolutely. So if somebody is watching this now, Dick, where can they find your book?

- Well, first of all, I have copies. Whoever I can reach personally, I will copy and sign, I will sign a copy of the book. Secondly, the book is available on Amazon, and I've sold quite a few on Amazon already I understand. So that's cool.

- That is very cool. Yes. It's amazing to see the people that you're able to reach with a book, which I know is a different platform than television. Did you ever think in a million years working in television that you'd have your own book?

- It never entered my mind. No. And I didn't mean it to be a national book or a regional book or anything. I just wanted to write a story for my family, but it's developed into much more than that now. And that's a good thing. I'm enjoying it, sharing my story with the media, other people, my family, friends and people I haven't even known yet, you know? That's a wonderful feeling.

- Now, are there any plans for a future book? I don't know if there's a followup to this one or just something completely different, if you enjoy that process.

- Well, there are no plans right now at the present time, although it has entered my mind. And I'm thinking, what could it be? But there are no plans at the present. And I'm sure that I would like to, I would like to do it again, it was fun.

- Yeah. It sounds like it. And I'm just thrilled that you were able to take the time to tell us a little bit about it. And if there's one more thing, as we close this interview, Dick, that you want people to know about you or about this book, what would it be?

- I think the book is about enjoying life, and everybody has a story to tell. I don't care what you did in life. You have a story to tell, you could write a book. Anyone in the world has a story. Their life is a thrilling thing. It's a wonderful, well, I go back to the movie "A Wonderful Life" and I've had that. And I hope that everybody who has had that would be willing to share that with other people, and other people would love to read that, I'm sure.

- I agree with that. So again, for all of you watching, write it down. Dick's book is called "Directed by Dick Miner: The Life & Adventures of a Television Pioneer" and it is available right now on Amazon. Dick, thank you so much for taking the time to join us today.

- Thank you. It's been wonderful talking with you. And you know, we're doing this electronically. Someday, I would like to meet and sit down and talk with you personally.

- I would love that. I would love that. Especially as we continue to get to get sort of out from underneath COVID, it would be wonderful to get out and meet you in person. And I've got to get that book. So, I am excited. I am excited to have spoken with you today, and thrilled that we had an opportunity to share your book with others. So thank you so much for the time.

- Well, thank you. You have a wonderful day, and I'm very pleased to have had this conversation with you.

- Thank you. Now, if those of you watching, you enjoyed this interview with Dick, you can head on over to for more of our video content, all about senior living, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. As always, we appreciate you watching "Senior Living Live." Have a great day, everybody.

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