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Born and raised in Whitter, California, Dean was fortunate to have his extended family, mother’s side, in the same town; his mother’s parents and her 2 sisters’ families lived in Whitter. His mother’s family was orginally from the Midwest - Kansas - but went to California in 1917.

Dean’s family was of modest means. His father, who only finished 9th grade in school (he later got his GED), had a small store-front insurance sales business. But he died when Dean was 16. Dean’s mother then took over the business.

Dean’s grandmother’s family, father’s side, came from Sweden and initially settled in southern Minnesota in the 1880s; then they moved to California.

As Dean likes to say: “But early in the 1980s, I rectified that family mistake and came back to Minnesota!”

Whittier College - B.A. Here Dean benefited from one of the great inspirations in his life: Prof. Ben Burnett, who taught him much about political science and even more about good values, living an honorable life, and contributing to society. Prof. Richard Harvey did much the same. At W.C. Dean was President Pro Tem of the student senate, was varsity track & field, and sang in the college choir. He spent a junior semester abroad at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark. After graduation from W.C., he spent 6 months in special “post-graduate” study at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. He then went to grad school: University of California, Riverside - M.A., Ph.D.


Dean first came to Minnesota in 1982 as Assistant Professor of Political Science at Moorhead State University. He was there for 10 yrs. In later years there he was pleased that many students came to see his Media and Politics course as “the best course on the entire campus,” along with high course evaluations in general.

He married Minnesotan Sara Nelson in 1987. She was Lay Campus Minister for the Lutheran Student Center at MSU, and she was active in community affairs. But tragedy struck in May 1988: Sara died suddenly of complications from Type 1 diabetes.

While in Moorhead, Dean also served extensively as a political analyst for various media, as well as doing other public affairs work.

In January 1989, Dean’s first book was published: The Media and Politics.

For most of 1993 Dean was a Fellow in the Shorenstein Center on Press and Politics in Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. While there, he was also co-directing the major study which, in book form, is called CROSSTALK - Citizens, Candidates and Media in a Presidential Campaign. At the Center, Dean had the opportunity to experience another great influence in his life: Shorenstein Director Marvin Kalb, who had previously been Chief Diplomatic Correspondant for CBS News for years. “Marvin’s deep commitment to quality news and the democratic process are a model for all of us,” says Dean.


Also while in the Shorenstein Center, Dean got to know and be good friends with another Fellow, Dr. Michael Milburn - who was also a guitarist. They played music together for a couple of Shorenstein and Kennedy School events and became known as “The Blues Brothers of the Kennedy School.”

In late 1998 Dean’s 4th book was published: MEGAMEDIA - How Giant Corporations Dominate Mass Media, Distort Competition and Endanger Democracy. Bill Moyers - another inspiration - praised the book and included Dean in his PBS documentary “Free Speech for Sale.” Moyers said MEGAMEDIA was an inspiration for the documentary.

In 2000 Dean served as Minnesota director for the Alliance for Better Campaigns, a media and election reform initiative, with Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford and Walter Cronkite as national co-chairs.

In 2002 Dean was a candidate for Secretary of State in Minnesota, nominated by the Independence Party. He didn’t win, but got over 100,000 votes despite the failure of the news media to cover the race.

In fall 2003 Dean married Rena Dundovic of the Twin Cities. They met as a result of Dean using Bill Hillsman's North Woods Advertising to make his TV ads for his 2002 campaign for Secretary of State of Minnesota; Rena worked at North Woods.

In January 2004 Dean started actively working on his book on musical great, Lonnie Johnson. (See Music Writer, Musician page for details.)

(See Public Affairs Consultant, Media Analyst, Political Scientist, Writer page for notable developments during 2004-2008.)

In his research for his fifth book, THE ORIGINAL GUITAR HERO and THE POWER OF MUSIC – The Legendary Lonnie Johnson, Music and Civil Rights, Dean has had many mervelous experiences, from interviews with B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Robert Lockwood, Jr. (step-son of Robert Johnson), and other major figures in the Blues, as well as leading writers on blues and jazz, to fascinating research trips to New Orleans (shortly before Katrina go there!), St. Louis, Chicago, the Mississippi Delta area, Cincinnati, and other places. In each place he met and learned from interesting people.



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