Bob Miller-Finale!

In the final segment with Bob he talks about his favorite interview…a smooth and versatile broadcaster and a few things he has learned about play x play over the years…

JF: Of all the interviews you have done over the years, which one are you proudest of, your favorite interview of all-time?

Bob Miller: It was an interview I did with great track star Jesse Owens, I saw him at a track meet in Milwaukee when I was working there and he was the most gracious person, we were shooting film in those days so you’d have about 12 minutes on 400 feet of film and he was so good that we must have changed film about four times, and I kept asking him, ‘is it okay if you stay and we do some more’, and he said ‘anything you want to do’.  He was just perfect and he gave such great answers.  Unfortunately when I left that TV station I didn’t take that film with me, I wish I had because it’s one I think about as the most satisfying that I’ve ever done–we talked about his Olympic records, we’d talked about Hitler not shaking his hand…

…we just ran the gamut on why some of his records that he set–five in one day in the Big Ten and lasted so many years and then started to be broken and I thought he’d give me the typical answer ‘records are made to be broken.’  I asked him why his records were starting to fall and his answer blew me away.  He said because there’s better prenatal nutrition now for babies than there ever was in his era and he said they come into the world in better shape and with better advantage physically then athletes in his age ever had and so down through the years, those kids with that advance that they had born, got bigger and stronger and faster and started to break his records.  It was really an unbelievable answer he gave, but he was really I think of all the interviews, and I’ve had a chance to just interview so many guys, Mickey Mantle and Sonny Liston, Rocky Marciano, Vince Lombardi—that interview with Jesse Owens still stands out in my mind as the most impressive to me because of his answers.

JF: Any current broadcasters, outside of the L.A. market, that when you listen to you go ‘wow’, that person really does a good job and is really on top of things?

Bob Miller: Well I’ll tell you one, I think, really seems to be versatile enough to be able to almost handle any situation and that is Bob Costas.  When I watch him he’s up to date and that impresses me that someone can be that up-to-date on all the different sports they assign him to and usually he’s the host of the Olympics, the host of the Kentucky Derby or working on the Stanley Cup playoffs and I think that’s a tough thing to do to keep up-to-date on all of those sports and switch from one sport to the other…

…he started out–really when I first heard about him he was doing St. Louis Blues hockey and I was doing a game for the Kings–the Blues were in Hartford and that’s where the Kings were going to play the next game but we got there early so I went to the game and Gus Kyle was doing color and I said to him, ‘who’s working with you tonight?’ and he said, ‘well I don’t know, there’s a young kid named Costas but he doesn’t always show up,’ and I thought, what?  And I guess what happened was they assign him to other assignments so Gus Kyle was doing color and the Blues didn’t know whether he was there that night or not but I look at someone like that who’s really very smooth every time I see him the air.

JF: We all hope to learn from our mistakes, can you remember any mistakes you made early in you career that really taught you a lesson and made you a better broadcaster?

Bob Miller: Well I remember the first play by play I did, I was doing a high school game in Moline, Illinois and I thought I was really ready to do play-by-play, I thought hey I’ve watched football for years and I’ve heard those guys and I got out there and about three plays into the game, in my mind, I thought holy cow, I am lost and I just did an awful job.  I would describe he’s in the clear and then he’s tackled and I’m thinking, well how could you say he’s in the clear and then he’s tackled? The game kind of overwhelmed me and taught me that you can’t do too much, when you do play-by-play, you do a certain description of certain plays but you can’t let the game overwhelm you, you can’t let the game dictate what you’re doing, you want to kind of dictate the way you’re going to do it and I did one other game…the station manager came to me and said we’re going to have to make a change, and I knew who he was and I got fired first job I had and luckily this man, his name was G. LaVerne Flambo

…he was the station manager in Moline, Illinois station and he said come back—I was a student at Iowa at that time …come and do basketball I think you can do that so I’m always so appreciative of the fact that he didn’t say look, ‘we’re going to make a change, you’d better find a different profession’, he was good enough to say, ‘look I think you can do basketball come back in the fall and lets do that’ and I did and just started from there, so he gave me a second chance to realize what type of preparation I had to do and how sharp and ready you have to be for every situation in a game and how you had to manage the broadcast yourself and not get overwhelmed by the game.  I think that was a lesson back in about 1958, and it’s a lesson that I’ve never forgotten to this point.

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