OnMedia: Mike Miller is hanging it up
Mike Miller, the only person to have anchored at Channels 12, 4 and 6, will anchor his final Channel 12 weekend newscast on Saturday, May 29.
Miller, 58, tells me he's retiring after three decades in the anchor chair -- or chairs.
"It's just time," he said. "My wife's been a kindergarten teacher for 35 years. We just decided, while we're both still healthy, it's time to hang it up."
Miller calls it a retirement -- but only a retirement from TV news.
"I might still keep my hand in somewhere, voiceovers or whatever. I've been thinking about it for a while, it's just time now.
"There are no plans. I just wanted not to have to do what I've been doing all this time. What I'm going to do, a little free-lance work -- maybe. But I don't want to do much of that; have my band play more often on the weekends, which I haven't been able to do; travelling, volunteering, just a whole bunch of stuff," he said.
One thing the Oconomowoc native isn't planning is a move out of the area. "I've been here my whole life," he said. "I hope to be here the rest of my life."
He joined Channel 12 in June 2003, as his Channel 4 contract expired. He had been anchoring the morning news since joining the NBC in 1990, after leaving Channel 6.
"It was totally unexpected," he said of Channel 4's decision not to renew his contract. "The way it turns out, it was a godsend. I was waking up at 1:30 in the morning. I'd have to go to bed at 7:30. You have this constant jet-lag experience."
Channel 12 snatched up the likable Miller, making him a weekend anchor -- and a promotional tool in a smart move by the ABC affiliate. He was one of a series of familiar faces recruited by the ABC station, including former Channel 6 anchor Joyce Garbaciak and Channel 4's big dog, Mike Gousha.
"I was here within an hour after leaving Channel 4," he said. "And they had a promo on the air on the 'Oprah' show the same day, three hours later.
Miller's biggest Milwaukee TV achievement is the triple crown, anchoring at the market's big-three TV news operations.
"That is a fact, and I don't think that'll ever be done again. Well, I had to beat one no-compete clause to do it."
That rare achievement came in 1990, when he made the move from Channel 6 -- where he had started in 1978 -- to Channel 4.
He had begun at La Crosse's WKBT-TV before coming home to southeast Wisconsin. His career began in the days before videotape.
"In La Crosse, we were still film," he recalled. "Those were the days, no teleprompter, just a script."
Reporting has continued to be a part of Miller's duties. At Channel 12, he anchored weekends and did reporting several days a week.
Miller prides himself on telling stories -- whether as a reporter or an anchor -- without offering any of his own opinions.
"I remember way back at Channel 6, I'm gonna guess late '70s, early '80s, when the first abortion clinics started up around Milwaukee," Miller said. "I did a story on one of the first ones, and the big protests."
"Ten people called me about that story," said Miller, noting that viewer calls on a specific story are rare. "Five of them thought I was pro-abortion, five of them thought I was anti-abortion.
"I was right down the middle," he said.
Here's a look at Miller from a quarter century ago on Channel 6. He pops up at about a minute and three quarters into the newscast:
Bart Adrian moving on: In case you missed yesterday's blog post, Channel 6 has announced the departure of weatherguy Bart Adrian at the end of August. He joined the station in 1982.
News director Jim Lemon says the decision was "mutual." Adrian hasn't commented.
Talking with Ted Perry: The latest edition of the weekly TV version of the OnMedia column features a conversation with Channel 6 anchor Ted Perry. Among topics we cover is "Ted's Take," the regular opinion piece Perry does on the 10 p.m. news.
Time Warner Cable digital customers can watch the on-demand program on Wisconsin on Demand Channel 411.
Class act. Milwaukee TV viewers will miss him.
Nope, Dusty. TV's a business. HD's an expense without a return right now. The economic problems in the TV biz have slowed down capital improvements. It's coming, but it's hardly vital, as the ratings have shown. If Channel 4 had shown a ratings advantage by selling its HD conversion, it would have sped up the process. By the time HD is a business necessity, Channel 12 will have had it for a long time.
I would think they wouldn't necessarily need a financial impetus to switch to HD. You'd think they would want to make the switch if for no other reason than to be perceived as a local news leader (never mind that they're already more than a year behind on that). Nowadays, standard def might as well be black and white.
I liked him, he was a good anchor. Speaking of WISN, please tell me they're going to broadcast in HD soon. I'm so tired of seeing the littler bars on the side of my screen all the time. For a news organization that wins every ratings race, I can't believe they haven't made the change and let both channel 4 and 6 beat them.
BDG, if they're doing well in the ratings without broadcasting in HD, what's the financial impetus to upgrade to HD? Of course, they will upgrade in the near future, but there's no race other than to be first.
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