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Lisa Miller - "How I Got Into Radio"

Saga President and CEO Ed Christian

When I began my career as an agent, Ed Christian was one of the first people I met at an NAB in the 80s. He was so nice to me that I wanted to do business with him just to spend time with him. I quickly learned that before owning stations he had worked in a similar career as me and knew a great deal more than I did. What Ed taught me was to know my client and know the product. It wasnt long before our paths crossed and one of my clients went to work for Saga Communications. 

It was a pleasure for me to place a client with a company whose leader had integrity, knew the radio business, and actually cared about talent. Twenty years later, my client still works for Saga and Ed reminds me how smart I was to place my client with his company. I think I was smarter for recognizing Eds genius and staying on the path he had blazed.

How Ed Christian, President, Chairman and CEO Saga Communications got into radio.

I never have understood where the passion came from. There was no family background in radio. All I know is that it started early and grew exponentially. My first memory was in (no kidding) kindergarten where we had a microphone on a stand and each morning a different kid was to get up in front of the dead mike and tell the rest of the class what he had for breakfast. When my turn came I grabbed the stand and mugged the mike. I guess it started there.
 
In the 5th grade I can remember listening to radio serials, many produced in Detroit about a five-minute drive from my house at WXYZ Radio on Jefferson Avenue. Lone Ranger, Sgt. Preston of the Yukon, and the Green Hornet originated nationally from there. I also spent nights listening to skywave on a tube-type radio in my bedroom and listened to everything from ballroom bands on WWL to The Mad Daddy Giggle Jiggle on WJW in Cleveland.
 
In my teen years, before I could drive I took the bus, or had someone drive me to work at FM radio stations in Detroit. This was the great time when FM was new and it seemed that in Detroit there was a new station signing on every few months. Through the beginning of high school I ended up running the board (ahh..the good old days, before labor boards, when you could volunteer to work for free) at WHFI, WABX, WQRS and WGPR in Detroit.
 
Finally when my voice "changed" I started making audition tapes on a tape recorder in my room using "start and stop" technology and holding the mike up to the radio to catch the song. I sent tapes all over Michigan, Ohio and part of Indiana and Illinois. At the end I had three stations call back, one in Gary, Indiana; Alma, Michigan and Houghton Lake, Michigan. I was applying for "summer work" as the daytimers needed an additional person because of the extended summer hours and I was still a junior in high school. I actually went to interview in Alma and Houghton Lake and struck out at both places, but on my drive back to Detroit I stopped into WMIC in St. Helen, Michigan, and visited with the afternoon jock, who was a St. Helen local. 

I actually stayed there a couple of hours and even met the owner. I left never thinking that anything would come of it but a week later I got a call on Saturday asking me if I was still available. Without even asking my parents I said "yes" and was told I could start on Monday. I went and told my mother who was a little aghast but after she recovered and resigned herself to the fact that her 16-year-old son was pursuing his dream, she lent me her car and her good wishes and sent me on my way. I was on top of the world, a mini master of the Universe. After all, I was going to be doing middays at this 500-watt daytimer at 1590 on the dial...all for the princely sum of $52.00 per week. Sadly the station left the air a number of years later. Thus, my saga began and continues to this day.

No regrets, no look backs, and only one career. I have been blessed by the magic of radio.

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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