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Lisa Miller - "How I Got Into Radio"

CBS Radio President Dan Mason

11-9-2012

For those of us who are lucky enough to be in the radio industry, we meet new people every day. Whether its on a sales call, meeting with a vendor, interviewing a new employee, or just walking through the halls of the station or the offices in which we work. Our industry is ever-changing, and by the time we've reached the milestone of several decades in the business, we've met hundreds of people. The one thing we all share is the story of how we found our way into the business." 

Each of us has a tale unique to our location, history, consequences, or the collection of circumstances that started us on our career path, which is itself the common bond. Knowing how wonderful these stories are, I asked my friends, associates, co-workers, and peers the question we are always interested in hearing them answer: How did you get into the radio business? 

Over the next weeks and months, Radio Ink will open its online pages so we can share these great stories from people we know, people we have yet to meet, and people whose stories compel us to get to know them. As for me, Im just the lucky one who gets to read the stories first and pass them along to the publication; so with that being said, let the entertainment begin.

I met Dan Mason in 1977 when my husband went to work for him at WPGC AM/FM, in Washington, D.C. In 1982 I worked with Dan when he launched WUSN-FM in Chicago. Dan is clearly one of the brightest and most intuitive people I've had the pleasure to work with. His instincts and clarity are unmatched and his decisions are always spot on. He's someone I admire as his work ethic is beyond reproach. Dans passion for the radio industry is evident in everything he does, he truly believes in the power of the medium and fights each and every day to ensure its growth.

MASON: The title should be more like How I Pushed Myself Into Radio. I knew at age 12 that I wanted to be on the radio after winning about 1,000 contests as what programmers know as a contest pig. As far as getting into radio, you had to have a third-class FCC ticket to be on the air. But to get a third-class ticket you had to have a person with a first-class ticket to sign the application. I didnt know one person like that. After about six months of making calls, I got Mason Dixon, the overnight guy at WAKY in Louisville to sign my application.

I sent Johnny Randolph, then the PD at WAKY, critiques of his jocks. He told me later he used to post them on the DJ bulletin board. I was pretty critical which is funny because I was a kid who didnt know anything. Id stand for hours in front of the showcase window watching the DJ on the air at WKLO, also in Louisville. Youd think after a few hours they would feel sorry for me and let me innever happened. The job as a disc jockey had to be the most glamorous job in the world. Id see the jock behind the glass and all of the control lights that sparkled like lights at a carnival. Id tell my parents thats what I wanted to be. They would nod politely. My Dad, God bless him, wanted me to be a security guard at International Harvester which was in Louisville at the time. He said it was warm inside the guard booth and Id never get too cold. 

I would have worked anywhere. In high school, at 14 years old, I finally found a directory of all of the stations in Kentucky. I sent letters to radio stations 100 miles away trying to find a job just to see if they would write me back. I had no transportation to get there but just wanted to see if someone would write me back. I remember a station in Manchester, Kentucky, replied and asked if I would send them a tape. Well it ended there because I didnt have a way to make a tape. I thought maybe I could read them ads from the newspaper over the telephone.  But that was long distance and my parents would kill me. But it didnt matter because I couldnt drive a car to get there. For now, Id have to settle as my high school reporter on WKLO. They had a reporter from each high school and wed call in to tell the radio station what was going on at our school. I wish I had one of those tapes. Finally, by the time I got to college I had a car, a way to make tapes, and was a lot smarter about how to approach a radio station on how to get a job.

Lisa Miller is the President of Miller Broadcast Management in Chicago. She's also one of Radio Ink's Most Influential Women in Radio. Miller can be reached at Lisa@millerbroadcast.com or 312-454-1111.
So, how did you get into radio? We'd love to hear the story about why you're passionate about radio.



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