Miller more than just a radio personality

Published 12:00 am Monday, July 28, 2008

Some things are simply synonymous with morning: hot coffee, sleepy commutes, greasy sausage, JB Miller.

OK, maybe they shouldn’t have been listed in that order, but that doesn’t change the fact that one of Ironton’s favorite son’s has been a staple of the workweek for nearly 30 years.

The legend goes that JB, inspired by older brother Bob who is still in the radio business, had humble beginnings as a 9-year-old entertaining his friends with a Radio Shack wireless microphone. JB has been bouncing around the airwaves and into your cars, businesses and homes for so long that he has just become part of the culture for many.

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With a sharp wit and snappy sense of humor, the radio DJ now the program director at Magic 97.9 FM entertains and energizes thousands of Tri-State residents.

But, part of JB’s greatest appeal is that he hasn’t changed all that much from those early broadcasts in his folks’ Liberty Avenue basement. He hasn’t forgotten where he comes from and continues to be a great community partner.

Whether it is the upcoming community yard sale to benefit the restoration of the Ro-Na Theater (an idea that JB mentioned to me months ago and for which he should get partial credit), serving as the voice of Ironton-Lawrence County Memorial Day Parade or helping to champion some other event, Miller always keeps Ironton and Lawrence County as an equal player in the Tri-State, when it is so easy for some to quickly consider it the third wheel when compared to the larger Huntington, W.Va. and Ashland, Ky.

Miller keeps things lively all week long but cranks up the mic on Fridays with his guest DJs from across the region, which I was honored to be one of a week ago.

More accustomed to doing the interviewing myself, it was fun and a little unnerving to be on the other side of the table.

Hopefully, 97.9 listeners weren’t lulled back into that morning sleep and the station’s ratings didn’t plummet.

If they did, guess what, I blame JB.

He put me a week after a psychic and a week before Marshall Football coach Mark Snyder, also one of Ironton’s hometown heroes.

Geez, why not track down Elvis or host an *NSYNC reunion (the teeny boppers loved the boy band for all of you who are pop culturally challenged), that might have been easier acts to follow.

In the near future, Ironton City Councilman and car salesman extraordinaire Butch Huff will be on the show.

That one will surely be a can’t-miss listening opportunity. Let’s just hope the Federal Communications Commission doesn’t have to get involved.

Being a DJ seemed like it was always the choice for Miller. He is one of those fortunate souls who is blessed with doing what he loves each and every day and getting paid for it. In that, I think, JB and I may be kindred spirits.

For Miller, breaking down his career path is simple.

“Ask me what has kept me in it and I will tell you it is the love of the job. I still love this stuff,” JB shared. “I’ve been known to skip vacations and never take sick days because I miss it. How many people do you know who are miserable in their jobs and hate what they are doing? And thanks to loving parents, Bob and Joan, I have four scrapbooks of memories to show that every day is a labor of love.”

And it is that level of passion that helps JB — and the rest of the Tri-State — get out of bed each morning.

Michael Caldwell is publisher of The Ironton Tribune. To reach him, call (740) 532-1445 ext. 24 or by e-mail at