He played the drums, rocking many events at SC&I, and even at the Annual Conference of the International Communication Association, as a founding member of the band The Professors. He was a mentor to generations of students, and a well-respected colleague and scholar. His pioneering research on television addiction, which was published in Scientific American, is still making an impact today.
Professor of Journalism and Media Studies Robert Kubey, who died on September 19, 2017, after a long illness, leaves behind many friends and colleagues who will deeply miss his presence at SC&I.
“Merge the two stereotypes of a fractious faculty meeting and prima donnas in a rock band fighting over status issues and you will gain a glimpse, but just briefly, of the worst moments of the first five years of The Professors,” Kubey wrote about The Professors. “In reality, the great percentage of the time, it was a terrific creative experience of exciting performances, camaraderie, and regular escape and tension release from the daily conflicts and minutiae of academe.” (From Radford, G. P., Cooper, S. D., Kubey, R. W., McCurry, D. S., Millen, J., and Barrows, J. R. (2002). Collaborative Musical Expression and Creativity Among Academics: When Intellectualism Meets Twelve Bar Blues. American Communication Journal [Online] Volume 6, Issue 1, Fall 2002.)
Learn more about Kubey though a collection of memories and remembrances from a few of Kubey’s closest friends and colleagues below, as well as from a list of links to information and recordings of The Professors, and an interview he gave with Rutgers.
Memories and Remembrances of Professor Robert Kubey
Gina Marcello, (Rutgers College 1993, M.C.I.S. 1995, Ph.D. 2008), Assistant Professor & Program Director, Digital Communication, Department of Communication, Graphic Design and Multimedia, Georgian Court University:
“During my time as a graduate student at SCILS (MCIS and Ph.D.), I worked with Bob Kubey on many initiatives. The highlights include: legislation for establishment of the Center for Media Literacy (Senator Diane Allen was the sponsor of the bill), a grant for the Discovery Channel measuring the effectiveness of media literacy education in the Maryland public school system, the development of language arts standard 3.5 for the NJ Department of Education, and we facilitated numerous workshops. He was my dissertation advisor, my mentor, and a good friend. I’m very heavy hearted he’s gone.”
Dennis Mumby, a former SC&I assistant professor, currently Cary C. Boshamer Distinguished Professor, Department of Communication, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill:
“My friendship with Bob goes back over 30 years; we were Assistant Professors together in the Department of Communication. I began my position in the Fall of 1984, while Bob arrived on campus a semester later. We quickly became firm friends, even though we were quite different people—me the reserved Brit, Bob the gregarious and loquacious Californian. It was an exciting time to be at Rutgers, and Bob and I spent many hours together talking about shared research interests (even though he was a media scholar and I was an organizational communication scholar), politics (he was a political junkie), and “palace intrigue” (what junior faculty don’t bond around department politics?) But it wasn’t just a department friendship. Bob would regularly invite me over for dinner, and I got to know Barbara and Ben well (Daniel wasn’t around back then). Indeed, I spent many happy hours “chez Kubey” just hanging out with my surrogate family. Bob and I also had friendly rivalries on the tennis court and the golf course and, of course, drank a lot of beers together. In many ways my friendship with Bob was a defining part of my time at Rutgers.
“Although I left Rutgers in 1989, Bob and I remained firm friends. We regularly roomed together at conferences, and I even took him to meet my family in the U.K. when ICA was in Dublin in 1990. Bob was big hearted, funny, and one of the smartest and most interesting people I have ever met. He was a good friend and colleague who left us much too soon. He will be greatly missed by everyone who knew him. Rest in peace, my friend.”
Professor of Journalism and Media Studies John Pavlik, SC&I:
“Bob Kubey was an exceptional scholar, teacher and friend. As a scholar, his research frequently pushed the boundaries of the field. His pioneering research on television addiction as more than a mere metaphor stands out in this regard. Not only did he provide new insights for the scholarly community in the communication and media fields. But through his publication in Scientific American he enriched understanding in a much wider audience (see https://www.simpletoremember.com/vitals/TVaddictionIsNoMereMetaphor.pdf).
“Collaborating with Bob was also an extraordinary opportunity. Drawing upon his training in psychology, Bob and I worked together on a study examining the role of Freud and psycho-analysis in television program narratives. We presented this research in Vienna, Austria, in the Freud Museum, once Freud’s home and office. Our joint presentation there is a very special memory in deed.
“Bob was also a great friend whose interests enriched the entire SC&I community. His band, The Professors, more than once provided exceptional musical entertainment for school gatherings (see http://www.theprofessors.net/kubey.html). His skill on the drums was impressive. And having lost to him on more than one occasion at ping pong, I know well the breadth, depth and quality of his athletic ability.
“We will all miss Bob’s leadership, vision for the field, and gift as an engaged teacher. I will miss especially his friendship, dedication to and passion for the study of journalism, media and communication. Play on, Bob!”
Gary Radford, Ph.D. ‘91, Professor and Chairperson, Department of Communication Studies, Fairleigh Dickinson University:
“I stepped off the plane at Newark in August 1986, a green, star-struck Brit from Nottinghamshire, England, about to begin a Ph.D. program at SCILS. I had no idea where I was or what I was doing. I spent my first culture-shocked days sleeping on the couch at Dennis Mumby’s place. My first contact with SCILS faculty was Bob Kubey, through his friendship with Dennis. He was the most wonderful host and I spent many evenings at Bob and Barbara’s apartment in those first few days and weeks. He must have taken pity on me, or perhaps he was fascinated by my British background and sense of humor. We were watching a live band at the Court Tavern when I mentioned that I played guitar. Bob stored that nugget away for nine years and in 1995 he dug it up again and invited me to jam with him and Tomasz Imielinski. Bob banged his drums and Tomasz and I turned up the distortion in Bob’s living room in Highland Park. I am sure Barbara and young Ben were thrilled! Bob’s love for the band was total. He recruited other Rutgers-SCILS students to play, in particular John Barrows, Steve Cooper, and Jennifer Lehr. Within a very short space of time, The Professors had performed in Chicago and New York and had entered the recording studio to lay down 4 tracks of original music. The band was even the subject of a short article in The Chronicle of Higher Education, along with a photo and a quote from Bob. He was so proud of that. The Professors is still playing today, with every performance being a reflection of and tribute to Bob’s joy, love, and endless enthusiasm. “
Professor of Library and Information Science Marie Radford, SC&I:
“One memory I have of Bob is his enthusiastic leadership of the annual ‘SCILS Bowl’ an academic trivia competition that pitted teams of faculty, students, and alumni against one another to vie for the coveted ‘SCILS Bowl Trophy.’ Bob was the guiding force who organized the event. He wrangled first Professor/Interim Dean Todd Hunt (who had previously hosted a College-bowl type of televised competition at Rutgers. Note from Director of Undergraduate Studies in Journalism and Media Studies Steve Miller: ‘Todd hosted the Rutgers Bowl. It was a quiz show that tested the knowledge of N.J. High School students that was taped at the Continuous Education studio (then known as the Office of TV and Radio)’), and later Professor Jack Grasso to be the announcer and quiz master. We had up to 8 teams, with three rounds of play. Bob bought a large supply of various noise makers to ‘ring in’ to answer questions and provided gag gifts for all teams placing in the top 3 slots. Gag gifts included rubber duckies, fake medals, and the like. Bob (very vocally) made sure that the competition was fair and teams kept in line with the rules. Questions ranged from SCILS trivia, to current events, to how to spell ‘millennial.’ It was great fun for all and Bob was ever at the center, often jumping up to match wits with any hecklers in the audience. Only Bob could pull this off with such good spirits, competitive joy, and lots of laughter.”
Distinguished Professor of Communication Brent Ruben, SC&I:
“As a colleague in the Department of Communication, and later as a member of the School faculty, Bob was dedicated and influential in a great many ways. He was one of a select group of notable scholars whose work extended research on media “uses and gratifications” to probe more deeply into the psychological dynamics associated with the creation, interpretation and use of mass mediated messages. He was one of the few scholars who looked at these dynamics from the perspective of audience members, and also message producers. His interest in media-use led also to his important work on media literacy. For those of us who remember Bob during these years, we of course, appreciated the impact of his writings. But, beyond his contributions as a scholar-of-record, he was also truly, a scholar-in-residence, and a significant intellectual force among his colleagues and students. He was enthusiastic member of departmental committees, always willing to take time to engage with colleagues about topics of mutual interest, and never too busy to encourage students and younger faculty to vigorously pursue their intellectual passions, as he so clearly did himself. Those who worked closely with him during those years remember him with fondness, and will long remember and appreciate the significant role he played within the history of the school.”
The Rutgers Office of Media Relations interviewed Kubey.
The Professors (with many thanks and gratitude to SC&I alumnus and band member Gary Radford, ‘91). The band began in 1995 and is still playing (Professor Marie Radford is a member of the band as well, on Keyboards).
Of special note, is this video, which Gary Radford explains, “features Bob very significantly in the opening scenes, both in interview and band situations.”
Photo credit: Barbara Kubey. Photo courtesy of Gary Radford ‘91. Pictured: the three “Founding Fathers” of the band The Professors. Middle: Bob Kubey, Drums; Right: Tomasz Imielinski, Lead Guitar; Left: Gary Radford, Rhythm Guitar. While in the band, Imielinski was Professor and Chair of the Computer Science Department at Rutgers.
Updated October 9, 2017
There will be a memorial service for him on Saturday, Nov. 4, at 3:30 p.m. at The Unitarian Society, 176 Tices Lane, East Brunswick. His family particularly wanted to let his SC&I and Rutgers colleagues know and they hope people can attend.
An obituary about Bob appeared in the October 8 Home News Tribune.
A fuller tribute, including reminiscences from some Rutgers faculty, staff, and former students, appears on The Professors' website