December 13, 2012 4:30 pm

President Bob Miller (Part 1)

Here is Part 1 of my conversation with Hall-of-Famer Bob Miller…he talks about his association with the Southern California Sports Broadcasters…

JF: What are you most proud about regarding your position as president of the Southern California Sports Broadcasters (SCSB)?

Bob Miller: Well I think I was proud of the fact that at one point they saw fit to put me in the Southern California Sports Broadcasters Hall of FameStu Nahan was president then and then he asked me to be on the Board of Directors and he was president for a long time and I was happy to serve in that role. And then when Stu passed away, I was proud of the fact that the guys on the board really said ‘Bob you’ve got to be president of this organization’ and they all help out and so I’m proud of that. I’m a little disappointed in what it has become which is for the most part–kind of a social gathering and more of the people that attend the luncheons are not necessarily people who are on the air in radio or TV in LA anymore, but they are associate members who are important to the club and people who are interested in sports. My downfall I think as president has been that we just can’t seem to get some of the younger people who are on the air in this area interested in joining or attending, you know it’s amazing when I put the ballot together who we vote on for awards, I was amazed when I counted one year–about a 105 or 110 people in the LA area that do sports on the air. It’s just amazing to me that there’s that many people and includes of course play by play or nightly sports shows or sideline reporters and reporters that do sports updates on scores on the air, interview shows, pre and post game shows so like I say we have those nine categories and of course you’ve got a lot of foreign language announcers too who unfortunately for them don’t always get a lot of our awards because quite frankly a lot of us can’t listen to that and really judge since we don’t talk the language, can’t judge whether they’re really good or not.

JF: Can you please give us some historical background on the SCSB?

Bob Miller: Yeah it was in 1958 when, in those years the electronic media, radio, TV were not allowed to go into team’s dressing rooms–bringing cameras and microphones until all the writers finished interviewing the players and Tom Harmon really started this, because he got shut out of a World Series locker room and said ‘this isn’t right that radio and TV have to wait until the writers are through and some of the players are gone before they’re allowed in the room’–so he decided that they should form the Southern California Sports Broadcasters to try and change that directive from teams and be more on an equal footing with the newspaper guys, of course Harmon was a Michigan football star and a Heisman Trophy winner and at that time he was a broadcaster in Los Angeles on KNX radio, on TV it was KNX TV at that time not KCBS so he got the Southern California Sports Broadcasters organization started to change those rules set forth by the teams as far as access to the dressing room.

JF: Then the next step was to have a central location so to speak, I believe it was on a weekly basis back then, for broadcasters to conduct general interviews or feature interviews, with athletes or sports figures at a “central” location?

Bob Miller: Yeah right–in those years because they couldn’t do live remotes from the stadiums, the announcers would, as far as I know, meet once a week and even when I started with the Kings and for several years we had weekly meetings and the broadcasters would bring their cameras and their microphones and tape recorders and they’d have three or four different speakers—athletes and coaches and they would interview them and they’d have all of their interviews for the whole week. They got support back in those years from the teams that were here at the time, the Dodgers, the Rams, USC and UCLA and some of the charter members back in 1958, included in addition to Tom Harmon, Chick Hearn, Vin Scully, Fred Hessler, who was doing UCLA, Elroy “Crazylegs” Hirsch, the great receiver with the Rams who was then on TV, Bob Kelley, Gil Stratton, Jim Healy, among some others and they would be as far as I know, meet once a week and the radio and TV guys would get all the interview they needed for the week, what changed of course now at this point is that the announcers no longer need to do that because you just go out to STAPLES Center or Dodger Stadium or wherever and put your antenna up and you get live interviews so the reason for the SCSB organization has changed down through the years and actually not for the better in my opinion because we have trouble getting guys who are on the air to come to our meetings I think probably because they feel there’s no reason they have to be there to interview someone when they can do it live.

JF: I know that SCSB has monthly luncheons or special event luncheons. Can you take us through the format of the luncheons and also touch on the annual awards luncheon?

Bob Miller: Yeah for a while we used to do one a month for about ten months of the year and then take the summer off, a couple of months in the summer we didn’t have them and we would have coaches and athletes as guest speakers, maybe two or three at one luncheon and the attendance was dwindling and so we decided maybe not to have them quite as often–so what we’ve gone to now, as you said, is special event luncheons where we’ll have maybe a bigger name in sports come in and speak and feeling that maybe we can increase attendance that way and there was not that monthly commitment by anyone so that, we still have that and we’ve had speakers like Tim Leiweke came out to talk about Farmer’s Field and Ed Roski came out to talk about his City of Industry football plans…

…we had Keith Jackson the former great voice of college football and Roy Firestone interviewing him and Don Ohlmeyer will be our speaker on December 12, a Hall of Fame producer, a winner of 16 Emmy’s, involved in three Olympic telecasts and Monday Night Football and golf’s Skins Game–he had a great Hall of Fame career so he’ll be the speaker and then our biggest luncheon of the year and the best attended on is in late January when we have our awards luncheon and we name a Hall of Fame member, this year it’s going to be on January 28th, it is available only to paid up members of the club and their guests and we award awards for broadcast excellence in nine different categories, those are voted on by members and then we also give out some special awards of achievement…

…we name a Hall of Fame inductee every year, this year it’s going to Joe Cala of KNX radio sport…

…Lifetime Achievement Award is going to go to Don Ohlmeyer for his Hall of Fame sports producing…

…the President’s Award is going to go to Larry Merchant, Hall of Fame TV boxing commentator

…Outstanding Achievement is going to go to the LA Kings for winning the Stanley Cup Championship

…we’ve got Special Achievement Award winners, Olympic gold medal winners Allyson Felix, Misty May Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings

Peter Smith and Steve Johnson of USC, they’re the NCAA tennis champions for four years in a row and Steve Johnson never lost a match in four years…

…the Galaxy winning the MLS soccer championship for the second consecutive year will get a Special Achievement Award…

…and the Prep Sports Award will go to Jim Watson the announcer on Fox Sports West and Prime Ticket of high school sports.

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