Matt Weber ’06 and Oprah Talk ‘Like Old Friends’
Providence, R.I. — Matthew Weber ’06 has met many famous people in his job as new and social media officer at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, but none compared to the celebrity he interviewed earlier this month — Oprah Winfrey.
Winfrey, the talk show host and media icon, visited Harvard to help launch singer Lady Gaga’s anti-bullying “Born This Way Foundation.”
Winfrey was surrounded by tight security and cheered by large crowds, but still found time to grant Weber a 10-minute interview for his weekly iTunesU podcast, Harvard EdCast, a program of the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Weber described it as a thrill.
“Oprah is that unique balance, being both incredibly warm and comforting, yet also intimidating, based on her many accomplishments and celebrity status,” said Weber.
Nevertheless, “It was one of the most pleasant interviews I’ve conducted,” said Weber. “She spoke eloquently and with true conviction and passion. During the 10 minutes, it felt like talking to an old friend as we laughed, joked, and enjoyed a good conversation on education, bullying, and inspiration.”
Weber also made sure to turn the tables on Oprah. At the end of the interview, he added that he was “motivated by your generosity of giving away gifts on shows.”
Winfrey caught on right away, asking, “Is there something under my chair? Is it under my chair, for real? There’s something under my chair!”
The gift was a Harvard identification card containing Winfrey’s name and photograph — the perfect gift for the “woman who has it all,” as Weber said.
“After the interview, we hugged and she told me that I did a good job,” said Weber.
For past Harvard EdCasts, Weber has interviewed columnist David Brooks, composer Wynton Marsalis, former Florida governor Jeb Bush, and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. He also produces videos for the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where he has worked since June 2010.
Outside Harvard, Weber produces segments for CatholicTV, a 24-hour network based in Watertown, Mass., including the weekly "A Word with Weber." He blogs for The Huffington Post and has written a book, Fearing the Stigmata, which will be published in the fall by Loyola Press.
Weber was an American studies major at PC. His mother, Margaret Weber ’76, and his sisters, Kerry Weber ’04 and Elizabeth Weber ’10, also are alumni.
Weber earned a master’s degree in higher education administration from Boston College in 2008 and a master of education degree in technology, innovation, and education from Harvard in 2011.
He helped produce Rescuing Russia, a documentary that is part of PBS’ American Experience series, and has worked on projects for the National Science Foundation and WGBH, the public television and radio affiliate in Boston.
On his Huffington Post blog, Weber wrote about interviewing Winfrey: “It’s also worth noting that on a day compressed with countless events and media engagements, Oprah Winfrey was able to find time to sit down and thoughtfully discuss education. To the Harvard EdCast, this was one of our ‘favorite things.’”
— Vicki-Ann Downing