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Lisa Miller - "How I Got Into Radio"

Randy Lane


There are some people in this world who are always happy and they make you happy just being around them; their contagious smile, genuine style, and honest warmth makes you feel good merely by their presence. One of those rare individuals is the consistent and credible Program Consultant and Talent Coach Randy Lane, who is today president of the Randy Lane Company. I've known Randy since the mid-70s when he did mid-days at 96 KX  in Denver. Randy was far from the sulking, sad, and depressed jock of the mid 70s that, with the advent of Rock on FM, crowded the airwaves with the angst that was a requirement of the days of depression rock. Randy couldn't have been further from this. His happiness made all of his disciples extremely glad to work with him. His ability to speak, and to be heard; to direct his co-workers and followers in a positive manner, was refreshing. Randy made each day better, and he's continued to do it brilliantly for radio stations and talent for the past four decades.

Now here's the man himself to tell us how he got into radio

I know that I dont want to be in radio. That was the answer I gave when people asked me what I was going to do when I graduated college. I knew I didnt want to be in radio because my brother was in radio. At Memphis State University (now University of Memphis) I tried Physical Education, because I was an All-State Basketball player in high school. That was freshman year, and by sophomore year I had switched my major to Political Science, because my interests had changed to history and politics. My brother Ron Lane managed a small station in Camden Tennessee and by the end of my sophomore year he had offered me a summer job at his station, the dynamic WFWL-AM a day-timer that signed off at sunset. I still had no interest in radio but I needed the money for college and had nothing else planned for the summer.

My first assignment was to clean the radio station: mop, dust, scrub, and do the bathrooms; hey this radio thing is pretty glamorous. My second assignment was the God Squad: running the religious programs on Sunday mornings. The station paid local ministers to come in and do thirty-minute live shows back-to-back all morning long. In between the sermons they would let me play vinyl gospel records. I was blessed, not by the job, but by the preacher who called for the song I had cued up, which turned out to be the wrong song, he cussed me out.

Quickly, I was removed from the Sunday Sermon stint to Monday through Friday where I was in charge of running the program Our Changing World by the success guru of the 70s, Earl Nightingale. The show was comprised of three ETs (electronic transmission), the Intro, the Body, and the Close. On the first day, I managed to play the close from the day before, sweating like a 300-pound linebacker in August, I cracked the mic to apologize and proceeded to drag the needle across the vinyl through the body of the copy. After that fiasco, I was promoted to light production, reading, and recording commercials.

One afternoon after the station was closed, the DJ on duty asked if I wanted to read a live spot in his show. In order to make me feel relaxed, he suggested that I go to the front lobby, sit in one of the over-sized chairs and get comfy. His rationale was that if I was at ease I would sound more natural. Oh, I was relaxed alright, I sounded very natural; particularly halfway through the commercial when the front door of the station flew open and a very loud woman came through the doors yelling and screaming about a prize she had won and why she needed to pick it up and how she left work early and on and on and no matter how much I waved my arms and physically begged for her to stop whaling she wouldnt stop! So I turned around and ran toward the control room motioning to the PMD jock to cut, cut, cut and the more I motioned and begged the harder he laughed and continued to let me stumble through the copy, with the screaming lady in the background. After butchering the second half of the spot my brother called and wanted to know what was going on. I calmly replied, I forgot to lock the front door of the station.

My self-esteem was sinking faster than this seasons performance by the Lakers, but, after all of the small market calamities, I had caught the radio bug. I went back to college and changed my major to Radio, Television and Film. I spent my junior and senior years driving around Memphis listening to WHBQ and WMPS and trying to mimic the jocks in every day-part. One day, during my junior year, the night guy from WMPS, Super Shan, came by to speak to our class. Appearing among us baby DJs as he coined us, decked out in our classic cut-offs and best Tees, here came Scott Shannon in a pinstriped Edwardian suit. We were mesmerized by his look, manner, and speech and hung on his every word and followed his every move. We all wanted to be him.

I spent two years at the college station trying to hone my skills and graduated walking into my first real, full time gig at WMC AM/FM where Jack Parnell was the PD. I had finally made it into a job that I thought I never wanted. WMC was a real radio station, on the air 24 hours a day, seven days a week. I couldnt do better than WMC.

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 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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Thanks Dave. The decision to go into radio enabled us to work together in Dallas!

- Randy Lane

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