Hearne: Can Radio Disc Jockey Randy Miller Rise from the Dead?

913707_10151622936236145_528747567_oIs there life after death for legendary Kansas City radio disc jockey Randy Miller?

For more than a decade the former ZZ99 and Q104 radio bad boy has been on ice – as in off-the-air – after a two decade career punctuated by high profile firings and paychecks that dwarfed that of other local radio personalities.

Randy Miller was the man here yet at the same time his own worst enemy.

I recall attending a press conference staged by Q104 in 1998 in which Miller inked what was touted to be the largest contract in Kansas City radio. A contract insiders estimated to be north of $300,000. I also remember writing about Miller getting fired by Q104 in 2002 before being fired by the WHB guys for a short-lived run on Hot Talk 1510 AM and sister FM station The Planet.

At Q104 Miller antics – such as an on-air giving away free house painting and then surprising the St. Joseph woman who won with an in-house striptease by the painter – preceded his firing. Police calls about roving, faux convicts in prison jumpsuits ringing doorbells in Mission Hills on Halloween reportedly lead to his departure from the Planet.

Combined with dramatically lower ratings, local radio then turned its back on Miller.

Until now.

With Miller back in action on tiny Warrensburg station 98.5 The Bar, the jury is now debating whether the once controversial “shock jock” can reclaim his thrown from afar and possibly branch out and syndicate into smaller markets. A feat which both Miller and Rock 98.9 superstar Johnny Dare contemplated – and then failed at – years ago.

Longtime KC radio kingpin Bob Zuroweste‘s take on Miller’s return to area airwaves:

Eh,” he says. “You’ve got a couple things going on. It’s been 10 years and if he didn’t make it on the Planet with a full signal…Because No. 1, you’ve got to reach the market – and not just in the car – you’ve got to have a good signal.”

a randy miller(1)As evidenced by Jon Hart‘s much ballyhooed station The Bridge‘s feeble 0.0 share rating in adults 25-54 during the holiday book (with a piddling 1,800 listeners).

“Randy may do well in Warrensburg, but that signal is not going to make an impact on Kansas City,” Zuroweste says. “It can’t. It’s like if a tree falls in the forest, does anybody hear it? Does it make a noise?  Of course it makes a noise, but hardly anybody in Kansas City will be able to hear it.”

As for Miller himself, “Certain personalities have star power,” says a source who asked not to be named. “Randy had it, but it’s gone. He doesn’t have it anymore, it’s gone. He was out there; he was creative, but once you don’t have it…How many people have walked out on their own in the entertainment business at the top of their game? Very, very few.”

The odds of Miller playing with fire again at The Bar?

“Who knows?” says the source.  “What I think I do know is, what are the odds of Randy being successful? Nil. I mean, if he didn’t make it in Kansas City, what makes you think he’s going to make it in some little town?

“Randy Miller is no longer anybody. His 15 minutes of fame has passed. His 15 minutes of fame in Kansas City is gone and he’s probably not going to make it in Warrensburg.”

The odds of Miller resorting to his old ways – prankwise – and getting fired again:

“Hopefully he’s gotten smart and won’t do that again. At some point you have to wake up and smell the roses. So no, I don’t think he will…but I could be wrong.”



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26 Responses to Hearne: Can Radio Disc Jockey Randy Miller Rise from the Dead?

  1. hot harley says:

    regardless of what the “old experts” say..
    regardless of what the people who themselves were fired manytimes say
    those who know miller hope he does well.
    his story is one about the roller coaster ride of life.
    show me a successful man and i’ll show you a man who’s been up and
    down athousand times….personally…financially….emotionally.
    the so called “experts” hearne turns to for quotes….I’m sure if they’re
    experts…they’ve been told “you’re not going to make it”…”we don’t
    needyou”….”you’re fired”…..”we need to make a change…and it starts
    with yu”…..many many times!
    everyone has a role in life…randy played his to the hilt…
    but as I’ve always said about the glaze…and now about miller…
    they don’t give up…they get up after being knocked down and
    dustofff their back and get back up and roll it again!!!!!
    goodluck mr. miller!!!!!!

    • admin says:

      Actually Mr. H, it may surprise you to learn that many of the people who knew Miller best – those who worked with him – would likely be among the last to wish him well.

      • kansas karl says:

        Randy has a fond place in my memory, one of hypocrisy and deceit. Did he lose Crowley?

        You just had to give KTBG a shot using commercial ratings to put them down. You want to desperately compare the Bridge to commercial operations that is like comparing the Kemper Museum to Kincaid, art is art but some art is sofa art and other art brings about more art. For years the only “alternative” music was KKFI and the blues ruled the roost and it showed in the number of clubs featuring the blues. Since the Bridge has come along live music in KC has broadened becoming more diverse, the kind and independent nature of acts showing up on the right of the screen says much about the influence of the Bridge. The ratings may not show, but the people who listen show up at clubs and venues to spend money listening to music played on the Bridge, check with the guys who spend money with you and ask why they spend way more at the Bridge. They don’t have to return 20% on investment, they are non-profit something Z knows nothing about.

        • admin says:

          With all due respect Kansas Karl, the days of lofty notions at public radio and television stations has and is passing us by.

          These guys are borrowing millions of dollars that have to be paid back if they want to stay in biz. They’re selling actual ads – not just the feel good billboard mentions they used to be limited to – to businesses that want an actual bang for their bucks.

          The CEO is taking down hundreds of thousands of dollars and the on-air staff have families to feed and Volvos to buy (try buying one for less than the mid-$30,000 range these days).

          Don’t kid yourself, these companies are not-for-profit in name only because they don’t want to end up like KKFI. And I think most of us with any interest in radio or the media know exactly what that means.

          You think the people who listen to The Bridge – like 1,800 total in the holiday book – are packing places around town on a regular basis? Older people like Jon Hart, who I can’t recall seeing at a single alt rock show club or otherwise when so many of the bands The Bridge is playing like the Pixies were at their peak?

          Life is quite a bit more complex today than it was in the “good, old days.”

          The head dude at KCPT and The Bridge is taking down around a quarter of a million bucks a year.

          And don’t tell anyone, but there is no Santa Claus.

          • kansas karl says:

            What is your point? You have only talked to a washed up commercial radio hack, you ignore one big aspect of the non comm business model, and your assumptions are based on no real understanding of how non comm broadcasting works. Call Kliff up, if not him then the guy at KCUR or the folks over in Topeka or anywhere, it’s probably a free call. What about pledges? the “ads”, they cannot have a call for action so are they really “ads”, are less important and the rates reflect the difference. Volunteers……a good bit of what a commercial station pays for promotion work is done for free by folks who support the works of the public, get that, broadcasting outlet. Kliff’s salary is covered by the $5 mil a year TV station that is now putting money in the bank, the IRS forms are available on line to confirm. When you add up the revenue sources for a public station, TV or radio, from pledges to underwriting revenue, grants, federal subsidies for upgrades and maintenance So how about you actually spend some time and talk to someone other than z about KC radio, he is out of management for a reason, and knows nothing about the public broadcasting model.

      • hot harley says:

        alays the case hearne…jealousy….

  2. hot harley says:

    hearne….”the much ballyhooed”….where.?..a small station with no audience
    and a worn out format being much “ballyhooed” ? did you think they’d
    really take off? what were you or anyone inthis town thinking?
    stick to working your trust fund!!!!!!

    • admin says:

      Well let’s see…

      He got a front page feature in the Star and some other coverage. Including here. Not bad for a minor league Warrensburg, Mo. radio station before he even went on the air.

      • hot harley says:

        for fathers day have your daughters get you some glasses.
        my much ballyhooed comment was to the bridge in kc…
        not to randy miller in warrensburg.
        special at cvs…readers for $5.96!
        randy had a great prank with the phone booth on the
        plazaacrsso from his office. He’d call the phonebooth
        and when someone ansered tell them he was a man
        who accidentially got shut in the car trunk right in front fo the
        phone booth….hilarious gig…..
        so much talent…if not in warrensburg….put him on
        610 where they could use a boost of excitement from
        the slumbering talent that is on the air there.

        • admin says:

          Sorry H,

          I find it difficult to wade thru your diatribes to seek out the “sweet spots.”

          The Bridge got even more media coverage. The FYI section has ballyhoo on the brain lately!

  3. Derp says:

    Reclaim his “thrown?” His THROWN?

    And you call yourself a journalist, Hearne? Do you even use spellcheck?

    I enjoy your site, but your articles consistently have error after error after error. I should think after such a long career in the business, you’d take a little more pride in the work you publish.

    • admin says:

      Sorry Charlie, but sometimes that throne has very little time and generates typographical errors, just like the one in Dave Helling’s front page story two days ago.

      And Dave is paid a full time salary and has at least two other editors – possibly as many as three or four – pouring over his copy for typos, factual errors, etc.

      And yes, last time I check, he still calls himself a journalist.

      Oh the shame, Dearest Derp

  4. Duke says:

    Another crash and burn sequence ahead.

    Does he have that Rooney guy to fetch his coffee?

    • admin says:


      Last I checked Dennis Rooney was on Linked In describing himself as an advertising and marketing professional.

      Don’t tell Derp, but even he doesn’t call himself a journalist anymore!

  5. paulwilsonkc says:

    Frightening, I’m kind of with Harley on this one. There comes a point in time, with massive rises and falls in one career or not, that you just kind of want to change gears and do what you like.
    My “career” started in high school and college in Carthage at KDMO/KRGK FM learning radio under Ruth Kolpin, the goddess of small town stations. I went two or three directions along the way, but could easily see resting back in that role….for fun. Not a meteoric rise up the books.
    Same reason I started writing for this rag; out of the love for doing it. I’ve made a lot of money, lost a lot of money, my retirement is in place when that day comes; maybe that’s where Randy is, settle into an old love that fits like and old shoe and just have fun with it. No dragons to slay, no point to prove, just return to what you love. For me, that would be my old buddy Tom and me restoring vintage race cars, profit motive; unimportant.
    I hear Randy went through a number of personal, spiritual changes along the way. Maybe he’s comfortable in his own skin now; wow, what a rare and admirable state of being…..

  6. CG says:

    It’s odd, all competing Radio Jocks usually hate other. No real reasons, just different ballclubs who compete. Like the Chiefs and Raiders used to be…Johnny Dare and Mankow are enemies or where, no real reason…just same place same time stuff….Dare took over KC and Mankow Chicago and more for a time…Dare and Miller were not close but not hard core enemies…I did both shows back when Randy was hot, but Dare overcame him as well…and so it goes…same with 610 and 810 no love lost there…

    Randy was a very good on air man…he reminded me of Dennis Miller..he may have been too smart for the room sometimes in KC….not sure…Mike Kennedy is much more Kansas City and has replaced Miller for over a decade at Q and is right behind Dare as a big name in radio today, where there are few…

    Randy even did stand up at Stanfords a couple years ago, Mike had him on Q and I think maybe Dare did, I can’t remember on Dare…but Randy did ok, Stand up takes years and Randy needed to do something ASAP…

    I did his show for years…he was well Randy to me…We got along ok, he did make fun of me when I was unfairly charged with a crime in 2001…I did not appreciate that from a so called friend and at the time fellow party boy…but I let it go and tried to help him with things he wanted to do later…hey its a tough gig…entertainment. I hope Randy does well.

  7. mike t. says:

    never was a big fan of miller’s, but I’m with paul on this one. ya know, jon hart rose from the ashes of some pretty acrimonious stuff at ky102, maybe randy can do the same. best of luck to him.

    • admin says:

      Jon did rise from the ashes, but he was pretty much low man on the totem pole at KY to begin with.

      My take is, he’s at his zenith now.

      The $64 million question being, can he make The bridge into something besides something that a segment of people have warm feelings about (and hopes) or will it continue to be a doormat…albeit a very expensive doormat that could be a significant drain on Channel 19

      • mike t. says:

        late in responding…. everyone has their ups and downs. jon may be have been low man, but my understanding was that he was treated pretty shabbily too.

        I’ve been listening to the bridge a lot more lately and my take is that it’s on the way down, getting stale. so while jon made it successful, without changes I doubt he can keep it there. (and that also depends on who jon has to report to at KCPT and how much free reign he has.) I don’t see it, however, as a drain on KCPT right away. they have a lot of ducks to put in order and, to my knowledge, not one person at KCPT knows how to run and program a radio station, let alone “bridge” the gap between TV and radio programming, fundraising, etc.

        anyway, we’ll see. should be interesting…

  8. radio dude says:

    Cannot argue with anyone who is wishing Randy Miller well. The man has gone through many ups and downs (albeit from his own hand). If Randy can find happiness at “The Bar” then I hope he finds it.
    I do wonder if Randy will be happy on a stage the size of Warrensburg. Maybe any success he has there can be parlayed and can be a relaunch to his next step back to KC airwaves. If that is to happen, Randy cannot burn another bridge…..do a crazy stunt…get fired again….which will end any chance of continuing a career in radio….even in Warrensburg.
    Let’s hope his spiritual reincarnation really is Randy Miller being reborn.

    • admin says:

      You nailed it, Radio Dude…

      Turns out it’s not the size of the stage, but the size of the man on the stage.

      From all appearances, Miller felt it was too small time and bailed.

  9. Bill says:

    And, he’s gone. That lasted exactly one week.

  10. KC Radio Dude says:

    He quit after a week. Probably not a big-time enough deal for him. He’s already off the gig.

  11. admin says:

    You can check my story (if you haven’t already) with the skinny on Miller’s departure, courtesy of the station’s owner.

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