When legendary rock jock Carol Miller was approached to write her memoirs, she knew it couldn’t be a tell-all book. But the introspective broadcaster would have to open up about her life. She agreed and Up All Night: My Life and Times in Rock Radio by Ecco Press was created. The autobiography has two recurring themes: her serious health problems, that were hereditary, and the lighter dalliances with famous rockers.
Miller has been part of New York radio at WNEW-FM, WPLJ and WAXQ/Q 104.3 since the Watergate scandal grew forty years ago this summer.
“I realized if I was going to do it that I would have to get more personal,” Miller tells FishbowlNY. “But on the other hand, I really didn’t feel that I, for the most part, had to say anything embarrassing.”
When a sensitive topic was broached, an alleged case of sexual harassment by a program director, she left out the name.
Miller made the decision to create a cultural chronicle through her eyes of the last half of the 20th Century.
“It was about a person from a particular ethnic background, who jumps right into the frying pan with the media and everything that’s going on in this country,” Miller says.
Although not from an orthodox home, Miller had a traditional Jewish background growing up in Queens and Long Island. Still she saw many of the earmarks of the more religious.
“Your first date is supposed to be your wedding–that’s it,” Miller recalls.
With that family influence, Miller’s unique juxtaposition was set.
Miller writes about an on-and-off relationship with Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler. She portrays him as needy, child-like, to her mothering. She also was involved with Poison’s David Coverdale. But Miller says her most real “celebrity” relationship was with Paul Stanley, an all-important Jew, in her parents’ eyes.
“What I was trying to show was the kind of experiences a person would get into,” Miller says. “Everybody I went out with, I was looking for a husband, see that was the point, because that was how I was brought up.”
Perhaps another irony was Miller was supposed to settle down with a “nice Jewish guy.” But under the surface was an illness that struck in her 20s, causing her continual angst and worry about not having time to start a family.
At first all she knew was it was bad, striking most of the Miller ladies by 40. It’s finally revealed to her and readers that the culprit is breast cancer, which she has battled almost as long as she’s been on in New York. After multiple surgeries throughout the decades, Miller faced another dreaded diagnosis in 2009 with uterine cancer.
There were not many surprises for her mom, who turns 90 in July, and apparently compartmentalized the family’s tragic past until reading the book.
“She’s the only one. Everybody else did die of the health issues, her mother, grandmother, aunts, everybody. She, I think, blotted it out of her mind that I had gotten sick when I was very young,” Miller admits. “I think that threw her for a loop. And [when] I had gotten sick recently I never told her… that I had more surgery and my insides taken out. She didn’t know that until she read the book.”
But Miller says that wasn’t the hardest part to relive for the book. The veteran WAXQ nighttime air personality points to her parents’ attitude with regards to her social life.
“Especially my father, because their rejection of me was very painful because they really hated what I was doing,” Miller admits. “I never really got over it or ever really will.”
Miller says her dad, a physician, could be disparaging.
“It was his disappointment, because of his expectations,” Miller says. “As it turns out, in the later years he realized that I was his best friend.”
Her father died in 2010 just two weeks shy of his 92nd birthday, and before Miller’s book could be published last fall.
“I think that he would have maybe understood me a little bit better and I think that he would have been very proud that I have him and the family in the book,” Miller says.
“It was really terrible at one point, he was in the hospital and I had my computer there, and my mother was sitting there with him, things were not good,” Miller recalls. “I was actually sitting there looking at both of them as very elderly people, writing the chapter at the beginning when we’re in the Army base. It was really hard for me to stop crying.”
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