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More than just talk: WOWO radio show host Pat Miller lives a full life outside the studio

Saturday, May 15, 2010 - 12:01 am

He is the self-proclaimed “ever-righteous mound of conservative sound.”

He's husband to Kim, father to Courtney and Shannon, choir director, Bible teacher, an insurance and financial planner, and a popular emcee and keynote speaker.

As of April 26, he's also the voice of the “Pat Miller Program” weekdays on radio station WOWO, 1190-AM, during the coveted 3-6 p.m. drive-time hours. Miller moved into the programming time slot formerly occupied by Pat White, who WOWO officials dismissed April 23.

Miller has taken an unusual route to becoming a weekday talk-radio show host.

The start

“The whole reason I'm here is because of the Mighty Snider Panther Marching Band,” Miller said, recalling the band banquet he emceed in 1997. “You've got to keep it going. You have all the door prizes, awards, recognitions — if you don't keep moving, you get in trouble real quick!”

Unbeknownst to Miller, Tony Richards, CEO of WOWO's owner, Federated Media, was in the audience. Impressed by Miller's handling of the event, Richards suggested he consider doing talk radio.

“I liked talk radio,” Miller admitted. “I've always been a talk-radio listener. It's part of my DNA. But to actually do it ...?”

A gentle pursuit ensued, and Miller was enticed to substitute for various WOWO personnel beginning in 1999. In April 2001, the “Saturday Morning Think Tank” debuted with Miller as host. He then emceed for Fort Wayne visits by national talk-radio hosts Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity, and Miller's reputation began to grow.

Background of faith

An Indianapolis native, Miller came to faith in Christ at a crusade at the Indiana State Fairgrounds two weeks after high school graduation.

“(I) was soon captured by the spirit of Christ and the power of the word,” he recalled. “There were about 10,000 people there, ... but when Dr. (Jack) Van Impe was about halfway through his sermon, it was just me and the conviction of the Spirit. I received Christ that night, and everything from then on was the journey of a new creature.”

He majored in theology in college, served as a church music director and directed a large evangelistic association he declined to name. In 1987, he and Kim settled in Fort Wayne, joining Brookside Church in 1990.

“I've led worship traditional, I've led worship contemporary,” he said, “and I play just enough piano to get myself in trouble. I've been a softball coach, taught Bible classes and served on several boards. To be a passive part of the church has never appealed to me. I'm not sure how you would do that.”

When asked how he balances everything, Miller said, “You make sure that everything has the same core principles. I'm no different here than I am at church.”

Miller is adamant about the hierarchy of relationships that give his life structure and meaning.

“I am a Christian first, then I am a husband, a father, a conservative (and) then a Republican,” he said. “If you get any of those five out of order, you'll mess up the ones that come after them.”

On the air

Miller rises at 5:30 a.m. to prepare for his daily show. His routine includes scouring news outlets across Indiana, national and international newspapers, and cable news sources.

“I copy and paste, add comments, and turn that into show notes for the day,” he said. He then e-mails everything to his show's producer, who has copies waiting when he arrives.

The final minutes before the broadcast are filled with good-natured banter between Miller and WOWO staff as he shuffles 49 pages of printouts from his early morning research, highlights the key portions, checks on commercial times, chooses an audio cut that he may or may not use, and searches frantically for his earbuds.

In the background, news director Andy Ober calmly concludes the 3 p.m. news and weather.

“Glad you're with us today on the ‘Pat Miller Program,'” Miller tells listeners.

He then explodes, launching into topics that run the gamut from offshore oil drilling, teacher layoffs and health care to burial practices in Fargo, N.D., the Fort Wayne Komets, and “a scented candle that is infused with the aroma of a White Castle slider.”

He rails against what he calls political correctness that trumps common sense, gives tips on bank-robbing protocol and reveals where a third VIN number is concealed on cars.

In the studio

The microphone becomes the second person in a dialogue, as he pantomimes a puppeteer, draws diagrams on his notes to illustrate a point, punches the air for emphasis, pokes the console with his pencil, and executes a dizzying array of gestures, shrugs and head shakes.

During a news or commercial break, Miller whistles, slips into an Elmer Fudd impression, shuffles more papers, discusses the timing and placement of commercials, and ad libs teasers with aplomb.

Then he announces, “That's what I think. Now what do you think?,” and a parade of callers earn his undivided attention. He is unfailingly patient, nodding and listening intently.

It's obvious Pat Miller is a man who loves what he does. And now, thanks to the Snider marching band, he gets to enjoy it five days a week.