By Danny Priest
George Miller didn’t always fit the description of someone who would turn out to be a public-address announcer.
Of course, that makes a lot of sense given that he attended Oberlin College in the town of Oberlin, Ohio where he majored in French.
While he did not study communications, public speaking, or anything else typical of a PA announcer, there was one thing he did: he worked for the college’s radio station.
“My whole time in college I worked at the radio station for all four years doing sports,” Miller said. “I probably started a month into my freshman year, some of it was serious radio, but it was mainly frivolous. But it was still a good way just to hone your craft.”
That “honing of your craft” turned out to be important as Miller landed a job out of college as a sports director at the WHMP radio station in Northampton, Mass.
It proved to be that position which would open several doors in the announcing world for Miller as his career progressed.
“I was there for almost eight years and in addition to doing all the morning sportscasts six days a week and doing a ton of play-by-play for high school football, basketball, and baseball; I also got to do four years’ worth of play-by-play for UMass men’s basketball from ‘91-’95.”
Luckily for Miller, those years were some of the best ever for UMass basketball. Miller was able to correctly recall of the top of his head that in that four-year stretch, the team compiled a record of 111-24.
That run also included UMass winning the regular season A-10 Title and Tournament Championship each year, as well as appearing in the sweet sixteen and the elite eight during the stretch.
While UMass was busy succeeding, Miller continued to find more chances to announce.
“Along the way, during that sports director’s gig, I just picked up kind of hit and miss PA announcing gigs. A lot of high school stuff, like high school soccer, that’s probably where I started as far as PA announcing goes.”
Miller continued to bounce between play-by-play and PA assignments. After his time with WHMP came to a close, Miller spent the summer of 1997 calling games on Minor League Baseball as the play-by-play announcer for the Pittsfield Mets.
Five years later when the Mets moved to Troy, New York and became the Tri-City ValleyCats, Miller was the play-by-play man for their first year in existence.
Miller was fully in on the announcing and PA gig and hasn’t looked back since. For the past 16 years, Miller’s job has been with his family business: Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory in South Deerfield, Mass.
“That’s the real-world job, but you know when I’m not doing that in terms of the PA announcing, I had a stretch of eleven years where I did the PA for UMass men’s basketball.”
Miller had come full circle, from play-by-play to PA for the Minutemen.
“It started kind of in midseason because the guy who did it before me, Jack O’Neill, who’s a longtime sportscaster here in Western Mass. (who) worked at Channel 40, he was diagnosed with what turned out to be terminal cancer,” Miller said.
“So, I actually filled in for him starting midseason, this would have been the ‘05-’06 UMass season. I started announcing their games in January, and then I did after that for almost eleven years right up through the 15-16 season. There was some UMass hockey PA announcing in there as well which was kind of fun,” Miller added.
Fast forward to the present day and Miller is a PA announcer for Hoophall as well as the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA).
Miller has been calling MIAA events since 2005 where he’s done high school tournament games in both basketball and baseball, as well as state tournament games.
As for Hoophall, Miller is in the midst of his third year calling games. For an announcing career that’s ranged from high school gyms across Massachusetts to the TD Garden in Boston, Miller’s approach has never changed.
“I’m pretty old school as far as my style goes, I think. I’m not a monster truck pull guy, I’m not a Rucker Park guy, you know, I do it kind of the same way,” Miller said.
“Whatever exciting part or moment in a game is going on, I just try to amplify that a little bit through my work. There are some times where stuff that happens allows you to kind of riff a little bit and inject a little bit of humor, but at the same time, I don’t want what I do to get in the way of what’s happening on the court,” Miller said.
“Yeah, I like people to be listening and understanding and getting what I’m saying and hopefully that helps their enjoyment of the game, but as I see it, I never go over the top with it.”
Photo Courtesy of Danny Priest