So Long to a Great Local Anchor

I was wrapping up some work on the old computer this Thursday night and was looking over some emails when I noticed one from a former colleague now living in Nashville asking about a Facebook connection.  I clicked on that and that’s when I noticed that she was offering condolences about a death at WSMV in Nashville.  When I checked on who had passed, I will have to admit that I was stunned to find that Dan Miller, the long-time anchor at WSMV had died of a heart attack.  For those not familiar with Dan Miller, I always thought of him as someone who set the standard for a great local anchor.  I first watched DM as a student at Western Kentucky University in the mid-70s.  He worked with Lonnie Lardner ( I always thought she was hot and loved the way she wore her hair) and I thought they made a great team.  I wanted to be like Dan Miller.  I’m not sure but I think I had read where DM was a former weather guy who became a news anchor (and IMHO he was a very good anchor).  He generally didn’t go out and cover stories but he was a great interviewer and when I wasn’t watching him anchor, I’d watch MIller and Company which aired on Sunday nights where he would sit down and do extensive interviews with various people.  He was very good at that type format.  So it was no surprise when he went to Los Angeles and later ended up as the Ed McMahon on the short-loved Pat Sajak show which aired against Johnny Carson.  For those of you who don’t know this, Pat Sajak did weather at WSMV for many years before heading to L-A.  Dan eventually returned to Nashville where he resumed his role as anchor.   Living in Memphis, I couldn’t watch DM so I don’t know how he looked or how his anchoring gig was going.

When I told my lovely and talented bride Bethany that DM had died of a heart attack, she was stunned.  She told me that when she lived in Huntsville and worked at WHNT back in the late 70s, she would go home and not watch her station but tune in to watch DM at WSMV.   Neither of us ever met Dan Miller in person but he still managed to touch our lives in a way that we both are feeling a profound sadness tonight.  Back in the days before cable, we only had a few options for local news and that was when the local anchors were almost like family.  These days, with cable and satellite and so much crap on the air, I couldn’t even tell you who most of the anchors are and most of the time I DON’T invite them into my house.  So tonight, I hoist an adult beverage in the memory of Dan Miller, a person who is linked to a time when local anchors were special.

Explore posts in the same categories: Uncategorized

9 Comments on “So Long to a Great Local Anchor”

  1. Joe Gannon Says:

    Joe, I too grew up watching WSMV (originally WSM-TV) and Dan Miller. The old team of Miller, Lardner, Charlie Mac, and Bill Hall was my favorite. Dan left for KCBS soon after I left for college. He was going to be the main anchor in a revamped news format experiment, but shortly after he got there, CBS purged the local news managers and they abandoned the news re-formatting. He anchored for about a year, and then sat out the next two years of his contract in LA. Interestingly, one of his KCBS co-anchors was Paula Zahn.

    Dan Miller was the broadcast journalist I wanted to be like the most. My life took some different turns instead, thankfully. But I still liked and admired Dan. Even after some of the skits he did on the late, unlamented Sajak show. I remember seeing one where he had to wear a pink bunny suit. I worked with many former anchors and personalities who would have never done such a thing, even if they weren’t working in news at the time. The Sajak experience showed that Dan had plenty of self-confidence. He also obviously had a good sense of humor, and a good sense of himself. That really made him a breed apart in TV personalities.

  2. Jack Church Says:

    We just got back to Florida tonight after visiting you and our relatives in McKenzie and was shocked to hear the news about Dan Miller. Like many I grew up watching Dan and later while working in the industry I had the opportunity to meet him during a visit to Channel 4. He was in a class all his own and tonight I feel we have lost someone that went beyond simply reading the nightly news. I truly feel like we’ve lost a friend. My heart is saddened and our prayers go out to his lovely wife, children and grandchildren. Good night Dan Miller and thank you.

  3. Doug Johnson Says:

    I watched Dan and Demetria when I was at a competing station in Nashville. Dan was… comfortable. Easy to listen to, serious when he had to be, just good at what he did. It’s a true shame for him to go at his age.

  4. JD Says:

    Joe….You are in his league. Nuff said.

  5. joelarkins Says:

    JD, you are very kind with your praise but I will have to disagree. I could only hope to achieve that level.

  6. Joe, I can only ditto what has been said here about Dan. Today’s shallow anchors can only hope they will ever be in a league with Dan.

    I’ve long since left the biz and living here in Virginia have lost touch with the markets back in Tennessee. But I remember watching Dan often in the days when I would spend summers at Kentucky Lake near Big Sandy, Tennessee. He was always a class act.

    A big loss for television news. You’ll be missed Dan.

  7. BJ Says:

    It’s odd. It feels like I lost a family member. Nashville television in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s was that way. You knew everyone on the air.

    When I was a freshman at MTSU I came up with the harebrain idea for a radio project to interview Dan Miller about how news treated Gov. Ray Blanton (who was basically thrown out of office for selling pardons and paroles). It was a heady topic for an 18 year old to get his hands around. Dan agreed to the interview. I never asked him why. I was a nobody kid.

    Anyway, fast-forward two years, and as a 20-year-old, I went to work part-time at what was then WSM-TV. Miller was always gracious, patient, and he had this way of bringing you along without making you feel like you were unworthy. And when I was offered a real job on top of Knob Hill in 1983, he treated this then 23-year-old with the same respect as the experienced journalists of the newsroom.

    No real ego, he oozed this natural talent and warmth.

    Fast-forward two decades and I think the industry had passed him by. He didn’t represent what television news had become. He was an example of what it once was. Watching him during visits home was both a comfort and a bit sad because I knew he had been there long enough to see the rise and fall of an industry that has generally abandoned thoughtful journalism for celebrity, titillation, and weather bulletins.

    Yet, there he was, still on the air. To newbies in the market, he was one of the anchors at Channel 4. But for those of us who grew up in Nashville, he was Dan Miller. Jud Collins may have been first, but Dan was the man.

    As Doug pointed out, Dan was like that pair of comfortable old shoes. They fit just right. You felt better wearing them. You knew that when you had one of those days when you needed something relaxing, those shoes were going to be there — all you had to do was slip them on and life would be okay.

    I hadn’t talked to Dan in years. We exchanged a couple of emails when we connected on Facebook, but nothing deep or meaningful. I think there are icons in your life who are mainstays. They’ve always been there and you assume they’ll always be there. And despite life’s realities, you’re still stunned when something like this happens and they’re taken away.

    It reminds me that this world is harsh and unfair and that there are times when life just isn’t okay.

  8. Doc Pepper Says:

    Its amazing that so many people (like me) saw Dan Miller in College. I even go further I can remember Chris Clark on Nashville’s version that other station. At the same time the late Rick Moore made the move to WSIX as an anchor. There were brief stops for Fred Graham, John Signthaler (WSM & WKRN) both tried to jump the ABC channel, but the big boys at 4 and 5 dominated. Pat Sajack did the Weather and Bill Hall was on weekends WSM.

    Its hard to imagine Nashville news without a Chris Clark, Dan Milller of a Bill hall. but now there are none of these giats in local news.

  9. former reporter Says:

    I also attended MTSU and was lucky enough to intern at WSMV. Dan Miller was always very encouraging. He was quick to share knowledge. He genuinely wanted to bring out the best in everyone. He will be greatly missed.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: