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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

2-26-24 PDF
February 26, 2024
An inside look at Bobby B. Beacon’s insides. Illustrated by Bianca Oppedisano/ Mass Media Staff.
Bobby's Inside Story
February 26, 2024

For the Love of Music

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Wayne Miller, in the capacity of chair of Budget & Finance, stands behind the Senate Speaker, Jeff Krumrine, watching him sign off on the 1987 budget. 

Super senior Wayne Miller needs six classes to graduate as a Sociology major, with a Spanish minor. 
“Waving my finger in the air, I’ll be back,” Miller says. “I’m not going to let 112 credits go to waste, I can tell you that. I intend to put a bow on it and wrap it up into a degree.” 
It’s been difficult for him to find time to finish his final few requirements because he has been touring around the world to sing with Herb Reed’s group, The Platters, for the past 23 years. Reed, an original member of the group that preforms Great Pretender, the 360th greatest song of all time according to Rolling Stone, died in 2012 and passed the rights to the name on to his group, of which Miller is now a senior member.
“I’ve been traveling around with the group and I guess I’ve run out of financial aid options according to what I’m being told from the financial aid office, so I gotta figure out a way of getting in there financially.”
As a student at the University of Massachusetts Boston, Miller was hyper engaged. He was a leader on the Student Senate, and Associate Director of the Black Student Center among other things. 
“It certainly was not a waste. It was a very enlightening experience for me. The people that I met, and the professors that I had, I just learned so much.” 
After graduating from high school in 1977, Miller worked for seven years as a bank teller, and then cashiered at Brigham’s Ice Cream before following his sister, who graduated in 1979, to UMass Boston. 
He matriculated in January of 1984, and the last class he took ended in June of 1990. 
“I really can’t say enough about the professors. There were really some top notch people doing instruction in that place, so that can’t be underscored enough.” 
He particularly enjoyed his Spanish classes, and studying music with Professor Samantha Spencer.
“The Professors were always accessible. If I ever had any issues with anything, I could always go to the head of that particular department and sit down with somebody, and they were very helpful. They wanted their students to succeed.” 
Miller studied abroad three times as a student, first to Spain. 
“I wanted to be conversational in Spanish, so when I found out that my second year Spanish teacher was the director of this program that convened in Salamanca, Spain, and I applied and I got accepted. I had to pick myself off the floor.” 
He flew to Salamanca in 1987. 
”I had never been on an airplane,” he says. “I never used my Spanish outside of the classroom, so that was enlightening for me to actually get on a plane and go to Spain and study Spanish.” 
Addicted to world travel, Miller spent an entire semester abroad at Universidad Argentina de la Empresa in Buenos Ares, Argentina, and the next year he got to be a student delegate at a conference that convened in Japan. 
“I learned about a lot of different nationalities, the differences and the similarities that I shared with people of different races, because there was a lot of diversity at UMass. It’s like a melting pot.” 
Before the Student Senate existed, Miller worked with Robert George on the Budget and Finance Committee for Student Activities. On his way out George recommended that Miller take over leadership of the committee. 
“I was horrified. I didn’t think I could do it, but he had a lot of faith in me, and I guess I had some support among the student population, because when I went to run for it, I won in a landslide. I got a lot of votes.” 
“As a freshman I essentially had my own office, until I was a junior, and I only stepped down when I went to study abroad in Argentina.” 
Miller also swam on the swim team, and guided campus tours for the Student Activities Office. 
“I was like a brick in the university,” he says.
On the Student Senate, Miller remembers seeing plans for a student union building as far back as 1985, and protesting at the statehouse to try to get new buildings. 
“I’m happy to see that the student union got built, not where we had planned for it to be,” he says. 
Originally it was going to be next to the Quinn Administration Building, where the Integrated Science Complex is located now. 
“The first time I went into that building it was emotional. I had feelings about it because I remember a time when we were trying to get that to happen, and now there it was. Things are going in leaps and bounds.”
Working with the Budget and Finance Committee, Miller remembers one meeting where someone asked what had happened to the revenue from the game room. 
“We all looked at each other and we’re like I don’t know. We thought, well aren’t those student generated funds? 
Miller asked then Vice Chancellor Charlie Desmond where the money went. 
“After a lot of back and forth and putting pressure on them, we got those funds, and we used them to have an end of the year student party. We had Lisa Lisa and the Cult Jam.” 
It was one of the first major concerts at UMass Boston. Lisa Lisa and the Cult Jam had just released their R&B classic album Spanish Fly.
“That was an amazing experience for me, just going over all of these proposals that the clubs were submitting, and deciding how money should be allocated, and who deserves what. Attending the senate meetings, and the minutes, and the kind of infighting that you might have if somebody doesn’t agree on something and trying to round up votes for this, and seeing who’s going to support that.” 
Within reach of his degree 1990, music gigs started interfering with his classes, and he made the choice to pursue music. 
“I was in the middle of a Motown review production, and that just was starting to take off, so I ended up taking a little leave.” 
A few years after he stopped taking classes, in 1993 he got an opportunity to audition for an open tenor position in Herb Reed’s spin-off group of The Platters. 
“They were the first black group to have international fame, and kind of opened up that door for Black artists to be accepted world wide.” 
A friend called Miller, and invited him to Reed’s condo in Arlington for a tryout. Over the next few weeks he filled in on a few gigs. Soon he was touring full time as a permanent member of the group. 
“In UMass and outside, music was always in my mix,” Miller says. “I was in the Jazz Ensemble pretty much for the whole time that I was there.” 
He might have taken enough music credits to be a music minor as well. Miller is set on finishing his degree at UMass Boston, 25 years later. 
“There’s a commitment there that I think is unique,” Miller says. “You’re working with children and family, and you’re still trying to get a higher education. It’s tough, but people at UMass do it.” 
“I’m happy with the growth. I would like to see the tuition come down. I would like to see it easier for people to pay back their student loans. It’s a struggle. I want to see more support for financial aid, and just making it easier to get an education there.”

About the Contributor
Caleb Nelson served as the following positions for The Mass Media the following years: Editor-in-Chief: Fall 2010; 2010-2011; Fall 2011 News Editor: Spring 2009; 2009-2010