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Lisa Miller - "How I Got Into Radio"

How Bruce Gilbert Got Into Radio


I first met Bruce at an NAB convention in Dallas. He had heard my name bandied about the halls of Susquehanna after I had finished a renewal for a client who had a long and successful run at one of their stations. After hearing my name next to several spicy four- and-five letter words in reference to my negotiations, Bruce must have thought I was a raving lunatic. I realize that management may not like everything we do as agents, but I know they respect our knowledge of the business and our desire to protect our clients while respecting the business of the station. So with a few salty words next to my moniker, Bruce and I met at last. We struck up a conversation and it flowed easily and effortlessly. And within a short period of time Bruce discovered that I wasnt a B-Queen and that I simply cared about my clients and worked diligently in getting them the best deal possible. Bruce is a smart, knowledgeable, linear, passionate, and considerate individual who truly cares about his staff and the performance of his stations. When the radio gods made Bruce Gilbert, they broke the mold. I think the world of Bruce and believe hes great at whatever he does. I am thrilled to have my clients work with him and envious of the fact that my partner Matt handles all of our sports clients.

Now, in his own words, here's how SVP of Sports Operations for CCM&E Bruce Gilbert got into radio

I was born into radioliterally. My father was the News Director for WGFA Radio in Watseka, IL, when I was born. My birth announcement was read as part of a newscast on WGFA and the actual news copy is still in my baby book.

My father became a station manager and we moved from town to town up and down the dial throughout my childhood. My sister went to 12 schools from kindergarten to high school graduation, I went to 10. Radio was always the common denominator in our lives and my dad was really cool about letting me tag along with him to the radio station where I loved hanging out in newsrooms and control booths. I was intoxicated by the magic of radio. The thought of hitting that switch, speaking into a microphone and being heard by thousands of people in real time was simply amazing to me. Plus the UPI machine was fascinating how could it type by itself? So cool.

When I was in sixth grade I got my first four-channel mixing board attached to two turntables. My dad hooked it up in a utility closet in our basement in Endicott, NY, and I DJd my ass off. I was Larry Lujack, John Landecker, Lil Tommy, Steve King -- The King of Rock and Roll, Fred Winston, and the Coyote. I was WLS, I was KAAY, I was Super CFL, and WAKY. I was in heaven. My dad bought the station engineer a six-pack of beer to have him wire it all to a cassette player so I could aircheck myself. I spent hours coding records, using a stopwatch to time intros, and talking up the posts with weather forecasts, sports scores, and Hee Haw humor. I even learned to hold my breath long enough to scream Keep Ooooooooooooooooooon Truckin over the entire intro of Kung Fu Fighting by Carl Douglas. Dont tell me that doesnt take some skill.

In the late 70s, my father fulfilled his dream of owning his own radio station when he purchased WNNO in Wisconsin Dells, WI. My brother, sister, and I all got our degree in radio broadcasting at that fantastic facility in the heart of Wisconsin, with my father insisting we all learn everything from creating a log, to production, on air, and sales. It was the best education one could possibly get. And, the studio was on the street in a tourist town where people could watch you answer request lines and play the hits. Pretty intimidating.

The bug struck us all. My sister Becky was the best jock of all of us. She just retired after 20-plus years of doing an extremely fun and entertaining hyper local Country morning show on WHPO in Hoopeston, IL. My brother Mike was a much better jock than me too, but also found a love for the idiosyncrasies and nuances of programming. He (Mike Thomas) currently is the wildly successful VP of Programming for the CBS Radio cluster of stations in Boston.

They say those that cant, teach, which is why I hung up the headphones after 13 years of music radio jocking and slid into management. As an analytical nerd I have always loved the science of radio programming, and respected, admired, and appreciated those who were the artists. Those who could communicate one-to-one and create pictures with words. In the fall of 1997 I got the break of a lifetime when I left music radio to get into this niche format known as sports radio. Outside of my family, my two passions in life -- radio and sports -- had collided and since then I have never looked back. This business has been tremendous to me and I still love going to work and learning every day.

You can email Bruce at

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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