Two Millers on the radio
Tuesday, September 21, 1999
J.B., the younger of the two broadcasting brothers, hosts the No. 1 morning program in the Tri-State for WKEE-FM. His older brother Bob left for the coast years ago and is the host of the No. 1 morning program in Portland, Ore,. at 50,000-watt KEX 1190 AM.
Recently the Ironton natives teamed up for a special broadcast at WKEE, marking the first time the brothers had worked together locally.
"He has done my show in Portland a couple of times, but this is the first time I’ve been able to do his," Bob said. "There is a sibling rivalry. He’ll do something and I’ll think ‘Hey, we could do this’ or he’ll send me a clip and I’ll say ‘Well, let’s see what I can do with this.’"
Although they insist it is a fun rivalry, both agree it is another factor that keeps them fresh even if they are separated by a country.
"We always look to do something fresh and always keep an eye on each other," J.B. said. "This week has been a blast. We’ve been telling stories and reliving the past."
According to Bob, the visits he has made home over the years have not always been pleasant – usually prompted by illness or a death in the family. This trip was different.
"This is the most fun I’ve ever had coming home," Bob said. "I’m just glad the Shake Shoppe has its old recipe back. I miss home, but I love Portland."
It has been a couple of years since J.B. has lived on the road, but he agrees there is nothing like home.
"When I lived in Cincinnati I’d take back a quart of Shake Shoppe hot dog sauce, Snyder’s Potato Chips and Heiners bread with me," he said.
The pair should have plenty of stories to swap considering the number of on-air antics they have pulled over the years.
Bob has called the Eiffel Tower for a French Dressing recipe while J.B. has plunged from an airplane while broadcasting.
"I thought this would really be a neat idea," J.B. said. "When I decided to parachute 5,000 feet from a plane and broadcast the jump I thought ‘How cool.’ Mom listened and she was terrified."
Though not a family full of performers, the Millers do sort of have other radio employees in the immediate family.
"We always have two program managers, the one at the station and Dad," Bob said. "Once, I can remember, I got a tape with whistles, bells and an ooga car horn on it. I wasn’t on the air for an hour when Dad called and said it sounded awful. Mom and Dad have always been critical but supportive.
"It’s neat now because of the Internet. Mom and Dad can listen to us. I have to stop and think sometimes, ‘Mom and Dad might be listening.’"
"Dad and Mom have always been there, they are our biggest fans," he said. "Whatever we have done in our careers, they have it in a scrapbook somewhere. Dad always got upset when we changed jobs or the station changed call letters because he always had the latest bumper sticker on his car."
Bob and J.B. worked locally at WGNT in Huntington more than 20 years ago. Bob moved on to Portland and J.B. eventually filled his spot at the station.
"I was hired by my brother for my first job when I was 15," J.B. said. "No one else would do the Sunday morning shift.
J.B. went on to work on a talk show in Cincinnati that would lead to an appearance on the (Phil) Donahue Show. He then moved on to Grand Rapids, Mich., and then closer to home when he came to work at WTCR in 1994.
WKEE came calling in 1996 and asked if he would be interested in the morning job there.
"I was excited about working at WKEE. It is a heritage station like the old WGNT," J.B. said. "There are an awful lot of people out there who do not enjoy what they do. To be able to wake up and talk to thousands of people, how can you beat it? Life is good."
Bob landed his first radio job working for Ken Auble at WIRO in Ironton.
From 1971-72, he was a "groovin’ Kee-Jay" in Huntington.
"I was hungry. I would eat, sleep and drink radio. I would have done anything for a little attention," he said. "I have calmed down a bit but you still have to listen to what others are doing out there."
"I definitely love what I do," Bob said. "Portland is so beautiful. It truly is God’s country."