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Lisa Miller - "How I Got Into Radio"

Steve Czaban


Years ago, my business partner Matt Miller came to my office and said, I want you to take a look at Steve Czaban.  I said, Who? Matt said, Youll love this guy; hes hilarious and incredibly talented. Since Matt is a guru when it comes to spotting great sports talent, my ears perked up. So after listening to Steve on WTEM-AM in Washington D.C., we agreed that Steve was smart, quick, entertaining, irreverent, and clearly one of the funniest guys in Sports Radio. Steves dry sense of humor and brilliant style made listening to Sports Radio enjoyable. Dont get me wrong, I love sports. Im just a believer that Sports Radio should be informative and entertaining. As one of the hardest-working men in radio, Steve hosts a national morning show on Yahoo Sports Radio Network and a local afternoon show on WTEM-AM. His following is huge and his fan base as loyal as it gets. If you listen, youll be hooked too.

Now, in his own words, Steve Czaban tells us how he got into radio

My love affair with radio really began at our student-run radio station at UC Santa Barbara, a veritable powerhouse of wattage blanketing the entire four square-mile area of campus. It was the perfect place to start as I had zero experience. I had already signed on with the college newspaper, covering the sports beat reporting on the various UCSB athletic teams. The student-run radio station was in the same building as the newspaper, so I figured as long as I was there I would check it out. The next thing I know, some idiot let me check out the equipment, and I was off and running!

The first game I called was a water polo game. Yes, water polo. What did I know about the sport? Nothing. Could I make out the names of the players as they splashed about the pool? Barely. So what? I had equipment and a buddy doing color commentary, and the students walking to class listening to the station (all seven of them) had live water polo action, poolside! Life was good.

From there we started covering nearly every school sport. I remember coming back from a time-out during a volleyball game and literally freezing, watching the clock tick by as I remained inexplicably quiet for what was about 30 seconds or so, but felt like a lifetime. About 20 seconds into my Marcel Marceau impression my on-air partner elbowed me in the ribs and mouthed AREYOU...HAVING...ASEIZURE?!!

I was energized by the medium of radio. While my sports column in the student newspaper stood among countless other articles and photographs, radio was literally an empty canvas that required great creativity to fill. To me, it was by far the most challenging and rewarding of the sports media outlets.  

They would let us broadcast sporting events at the station when possible, and they even had a little kitty of money to allow us to travel to report on school sporting events. When their Division III football program was re-instated, I would travel with them. Im pretty sure the student radio station had more money than the football program. The team got a batch of day-old sandwiches from the dorm cafeterias (free!) and we'd stop at a state park to eat them on picnic benches. There we were, some 90 or so mediocre football players, and one aspiring play-by-play man stretching out in the middle of a 12-hour bus trip to Chico, California. Beautiful.

I went back home to the D.C. area after college, still not sure what to do. But before I had left school I put my hat in the ring for the UCSB basketball play-by-play job on KTMS-AM. In 1992, KTMS hired me to do the Gauchos' play-by-play, doing morning sports updates and a one-hour daily talk show from 6-7 p.m. In Southern California there was a great mix of sports and sports stations, including the Mighty 690 and Hacksaw Hamilton. Later, when I joined One-On-One Sports, I was able to hear local Chicago shows like Steve Dahl who became a big influence stylistically. Already a fan of Don & Mike from back east, I could feel all the early influences melding together into the style of Sports Talk I enjoy doing to this day.

You can email Steve at

Lisa Miller is president of Miller Broadcast Management
in Chicago and can be reached at or 312-454-1111.

Read more of her feature How I Got Into Radio Sponsored by  HERE

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