10 Questions with ... Scott R Miller
November 19, 2013
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
I started at 12 years old working personally with the LEGENDARY DJ Dick Biondi. I produced and co-hosted nights on Chicago's CBS FM Talker 105.9 WCKG. I hosted Rock mornings for Clear Channel of Southern Illinois on Rock 105 TAO. I was one of the original eight to launch Oprah Winfrey's XM satellite radio station, and I produced Oprah Winfrey, Gayle King, Dr. Maya Angelou, Nate Berkus, Marianne Williamson and Peter Walsh. I produced The Gayle King television show on OWN. I was one of the original news anchors and reporters for Randy Michaels' FM News Chicago/New York. I had a part time job doing morning drive traffic in Chicago, Indianapolis, Minneapolis and Des Moines. I am now an Executive Producer at WGN Radio in Chicago.
1. Well, a year ago, you were featured in All Access' "On the Beach" interview. Now, you're off the beach and in the studio at WGN. How did the new gig come about?
I was out of full time work for 19 months, I kept a positive attitude and consistently reached out to all of my contacts. I had multiple interviews at WGN and another station in town during the months of July and August. In September I received an offer from both stations. I 100% believe in what Larry Wert, Jimmy De Castro and Todd Manley are doing at WGN and I wanted to be a part of the team. Pete McMurray and I worked together at WCKG over a decade ago and have been friends ever since. Pete was working part time at WGN (now full time), and I was producing his show for free, from homeâ€¦ booking guests and writing content. WGN management saw my dedication, passion and hard workâ€¦ and they invited me onto the team.
2. Let's go back to the beginning. How and why did you go into radio in the first place? What was your goal in starting a radio career?
At 12 years old I met ICONIC radio DJ Dick Biondi during a live remote at the auto show in Chicago. I asked for an autograph; There was another Scott Miller on WJMK at the time, Biondi thought it was fun to have another Scott Miller on, and said "get up here, I'll let you do the weather." In my prepubescent voice, I said it was 22 at O'Hare and 24 at Midway. Biondi invited me to his remote the following weekendâ€¦. I showed up and he let me do the weather again. From 12 until 18 years old I did the weather at almost every Dick Biondi remote on Saturdays from 2-6 pm.
I have a photo of the first time I was ever on the radio, Biondi holding the mic to my faceâ€¦ it's the moment I knew what I wanted to do with my life. I am proud to say, over 20 years later, Dick Biondi is like a second father to me. At 81 years old, he is still on the airâ€¦ in direct competition with me! I wouldn't have it any other way!
3. You were an anchor at Merlin's all-News station in Chicago, a station that drew a lot of attention in the relatively short time it was in the format. What was the most lasting impression you took from your time there -- what was the most memorable thing about working there?
I was working at Harpo Studios at the time, producing Oprah Radio, with hosts like Ms. Winfrey and Gayle King. John Gehron hired me at Oprah Radio in 2006; he left in 2008. In 2011 John and I had a meeting, and he told me about an opportunity I might be interested in with Randy Michaels' new station in town. I went in for an interview, 50th floor of a high rise office building in the heart of Chicago, floor-to-ceiling windows looking over the city I loveâ€¦. and at least 6 staff members sitting around an enormous table ready to talk to me about Merlin Media and FM News 101.1. It was the most relaxed interview I have ever been in. I wasn't leaving Harpo unless it was going to be an advancement in my career. They made me an offer that I'd be crazy to refuse.
Most lasting impression: The excitement of the first few months. Creativity flowing morning, noon and night. Ideas pitched and on the air in the same day.
Most Memorable Thing: Management hired industry veterans and people that just graduated college. WE all learned from each other. The station didn't work for MANY reasons, but we had fun trying.
4. You've done on-air and producer jobs, and you're now a Executive Producer at WGN - what makes a good producer? What are, in your mind, the most important things you can do to make a show and host better?
Never stop thinking. Be 2 or 3 steps ahead of the host at all times. Think of the worst thing and the best thing that can happen and be prepared to handle it in the appropriate manner. Cherish and nurture every contact you have ever made. Have fun. Over prepare. Go in with a map and understand its ok to throw the map out the window and go with the flow. Make the show: Relevant, Relatable, Unpredictable and FUN.
5. You recently won the title of "Chicago's Funniest Media Personality." Did the experience make you want to pursue stand-up comedy further? And what or who makes YOU laugh?
I hosted stand up for a number of years when I was morning host at WTAO. I only did stand up twice in Chicago, both times at Laugh Factory. The second time I was on stage, I won "Chicago's Funniest Media Personality." Jamie Masada, the legendary owner of The Laugh Factory, said I have what it takes to make it in stand up and he has offered to fly me to L.A. for gigs. Right now I am 100% immersed in WGN, but once things calm downâ€¦ maybe I will do a few gigs.
6. Maybe this is in the same ballpark, but if radio hadn't been an option, what do you think you'd be doing right now?
I'd love to teach, but my main passion since the age of 12 has been radio. I love it more than just about anything.
7. Who have been your mentors, inspirations, and/or influences, in or out of the radio business?
Dick Biondi has shown me the good, bad and ugly of radio. I owe him everything.
I grew up listening to Jonathon Brandmeier, Steve Dahl, Howard Stern, Kevin Matthews, John Records Landecker, Robert Murphy and many others. They have inspired me for years, and I am proud to say I have gotten to know some of them off the radio as well.
8. What role do you see social media playing in your process of producing, if any? Is it a show prep tool, a way to engage listeners, a way to reach guests for booking, all of the above, or none of the above?
Radio should be: Relevant, Relatable, Unpredictable and FUN. Facebook and twitter are a producers gold mine! If your friends and family are talking about it, you should be talking about. Take the links and stories that are posted all day and make them Relevant, Relatable, Unpredictable and FUN for your audience.
It is also a way to reach your listeners where they are hanging outâ€¦. Twitter, Facebook, instagram. Why make them come to you, YOU GO TO THEM!
I have also booked guests directly from Twitter and Facebook.
9. Fill in the blank: I can't make it through the day without ____________.
...laughing. Life is short. You need to make your time here as fun as possible.
10. What's the best advice you ever got? The worst?
Best: Newsman Bluesman Buzz Kilman told me once, "Never piss off the station engineer and ALWAYS go to the company Christmas party."
Worst: A college professor once told me, "Because your allergies are so bad in the summer, it's going to affect how you sound on the airâ€¦ you will never make it. You should find another career."