Q104.3’s Carol Miller ‘Just as Enthusiastic’ After Nearly 40 Years on New York Radio

Her voice has been synonymous with Classic Rock in New York for four decades. Carol Miller, with a one-part powerful, one-part silky voice, has been a distinctly unique combination for the genre. DJs are taught to speak to their audiences individually, but Miller mastered that trait.

After a brief stint at WNEW-FM, she established herself in the mid-1970s at WPLJ. The 1980s, and through the 1990s, meant a return to the legendary WNEW. That led to her current run at Clear Channel’s WAXQ/Q104.3 since 2004.

Her radio journey began as a girl growing up on Long Island, hearing the WMCA Good Guys and WABC All Americans.

“I was one of those kids that listened to my transistor all the time …I really loved it, but I never thought of it as a career because it was not what a girl would do—be a fun Cousin Brucie type of person.” By the time Miller arrived at the University of Pennsylvania that all changed—sort of.

“I joined the school radio station, not so much originally to be on the air, but the whole Progressive Rock thing was starting,” Miller remembers. “I thought that I could get a job as a secretary to the rock director.”

However, a funny thing happened on the way to the steno pool. “Once I got to the school radio station… [I thought] maybe I can actually get on the air.” That led to Miller’s first job at WMMR in Philadelphia, while still in school.

Even though Miller was continuing her education, ultimately earning a law degree from Hofstra University, she sought a New York return on the air as well. In 1972, while working as the ‘MMR music director, she connected with the WNEW-FM music director. “Dennis Elsas…said, ‘Why don’t you come up to the Christmas concert and meet the staff?’” Miller recalls.

By July 1973, New Yorkers would hear Miller for the first time when she joined the ‘NEW-FM staff as a part-timer. During that time, she remained at WMMR in Philly. Her initial stint at ‘NEW lasted about one year. Miller would turn up next on the short-lived WQIV. (Ironically, it would be a frequency she’d call home later at WAXQ 104.3.)

At ‘NEW, she worked with the trailblazing “Nightbird,” Alison Steele. “The only woman on the radio that I’d heard in this country was [her] … She was a very glamorous person with an image and I was just a kid,” Miller admits. “I sort of had the idea of, ‘If guys can go on the air and be your friend, maybe I can just be a girl who’s your friend.’”

She took her “befriending” style to her biggest radio exposure to date at WPLJ. Miller was hired at the Album Oriented Rock station in 1975 and stayed until 1983 as the station transitioned to Contemporary Hit Radio.

Program director Larry Berger, who joined ‘PLJ in 1974, built an all-star jock lineup that featured, along with Miller, Jim Kerr, Pat St. John, and Tony Pigg.“That was really the best,” Miller says. “I really learned everything from Larry Berger.” With the format change, Berger did bounce her and most of the on-air staff. “He felt that I was too associated with …rock, which perhaps was true.”

So, Miller found a new home in an old one, returning to WNEW-FM. With it, she had the longest tenure of her career—16 years. While playing Progressive Rock (first at ‘MMR), at ‘NEW, Miller tried to differentiate herself from the other well-known jocks. “I tried to make it listener-oriented and I also tried to put little bits of information over the music, which is kind of pretty much what we do now in Classic Rock and what’s left of AOR.”