Chris Levoie, Faith Lamont,
Randy Newell and Stephanie Miller
is one of the most difficult things to do on radio,
because radio is a medium in which
the listeners demand that the person they are hearing is
On the TV set of
"The Stephanie Miller Show"
She predicts that
will fade out.
In the "Zone" studio
"The Stephanie Miller Show"
The feminist/comedian talk host
She drives men wild when she purrs; so they listen
when she roars. Stephanie Miller is single-handedly
holding up the women's side in the afternoon fight for
listeners' attention. The station that's "not just a
guy thing anymore" has pitted her against KFI's John
& Ken, KABC's Larry Elder, KLSX's Conway &
Steckler and KIEV's Ray Briem. You can find her defending
her gender from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m on KTZN 710 AM, "The
The comedian/actor and new afternoon-drive talk host on
the "lifestyle" station champions liberal
causes - defending gays, women, Hillary Clinton and the
President. Her polar opposites on the dial are found on
the FM talk station 97.1. Tim Conway Jr. and Doug
Steckler are the founders of NOM - National Organization
of Men - and the membership list is growing
geometrically. They even established a NOM website.
What's Miller's view
of the FM talk station?
"Sounds like a boys' locker room over there."
Although the new Zone talent insists she's "not
into radio wars," she keeps playing her theme song,
Helen Reddy's '70s anthem, "I Am Woman." But
she's not a broken record. Just like all the other talk
hosts, she tackles the hottest issues of the day. Her
right-hand woman and executive producer, Faith Beth
Lamont, finds topics that are "relevant to the
audience, unbelievable, controversial or funny."
Even if the topic isn't intrinsically funny, the comedian
finds a way to get a laugh. At her new home on the Zone,
the structure of the three-hour show at 3 p.m. is similar
to her evening gig at her former address, KFI 640 AM, now
her competition. She opens with a rousing dance song,
followed by "Stand-Up News," comedy sketches
inspired by the day's headlines and Hollywood gossip.
She's famous for her exaggerated impersonations. Her
favorite targets are: Cher, Sharon Stone, Katherine
Hepburn, Valley Girl "Clueless" types and
Roseanne - even ardent feminists aren't immune.
When a guest or caller offers an idea, Randy Newell - her
"comedy genius"- often plays a famous line from
a movie coupled with a line from a well-known song to
express Miller's thoughts. On a recent show, the new city
law on panhandling was the hot topic. Newell cut to the
'50s Silhouettes song with the famous chorus line:
"Get a job, doo, doo, doo, doo, get a
job.""I'm the only person in this time slot -
and maybe in talk radio - who's really doing a comedy
show," she declared.However, a national expert on
talk radio and editor of Talkers Magazine warns that her
approach is perilous.
"Stand-up is one of the most difficult things to do
on radio, because radio is a medium in which the
listeners demand that the person they are hearing is
real," Michael Harrison said. "There's
something about stand-up - although it may work on TV or
stage - it comes across on the radio as contrived shtick.
That's what makes Stephanie Miller very special and
different. She's still able to do shtick on the radio and
still meet the medium's requirement for realness."
The executive producer of "The Stephanie Miller
Show" is familiar with Southern California's
reception of Miller. Lamont reported that Miller was No.1
in the Republican stronghold of Orange County when she
was at 640 AM. "The people you think would
absolutely hate her absolutely loved her," Lamont
recalled. "When I worked at KFI, we did a lot of
research; and she was No. 1. She was also voted basically
the most entertaining person on radio in L.A."
"Howard Stern was No. 2; I was No. 1."
The popular host is affectionate with her team in the
studio, often engaging them in her conversations during
the show. Lamont loves to kibitz with the boss - both on
and off the air. She met Miller when she screened calls
at KFI, where she worked with such heavyweights as Dr.
Laura Schlessinger. A de facto member of the team is
Beverly Gagliano, the news, traffic and weather reporter
whose calming voice darts in and out every 15 minutes.
"I tell her my policy is: It's your show; I will
jump in when you tell me,"
Gagliano explained. But the self-proclaimed feminist host
doesn't discriminate against the opposite sex in her
hiring practices. Three young men even the gender score
in the studio. Randy Newell is the comedy writer/producer
and screener; Jeff Shade is the "comedy voice guy
extraordinaire" and assistant production director.
Chris Levoie applied for the engineer position on
Miller's show from Chicago, where he worked at an ABC
station. His boss playfully calls him her "engineer
sex toy," about whom inquiring women want to
know."She did take me out dancing once," Levoie
Members of the group have been straining their batteries
since the show debuted on 710 AM June 2. "I got here
the day before the show," said Levoie, who worked in
Phoenix while Miller was at KFI, which has a mega-signal.
"I was learning everything at once." He added,
"I've been a huge fans of hers; driving across the
desert, I'd listen to her show and just laugh." Her
listeners do the same.
They often mimic her
But they are not all
by any means. Many conservative male callers
are charmed by the radio feminist.
"They don't agree with anything I say,"
Miller explained. "There's a sexual edge; there's
always a chance. They don't get the shtick - that I'm
just kidding. They think I might go meet them somewhere
if they ask." She titillates the collective
erogenous zone of her audience. She joked that her show
is half issues and half phone sex. "I think some
people think I'm truly a raging slut," she said.
"But I'm really not; I'm kind of a good little
Catholic girl. But that's the thing: We like to talk
dirty. It's because we've been told since we're very
young that we can't. This is why you become kind of a
But it's all just talk." Although she's a big
talker, she didn't have to talk her way into television.
The powers that be courted her. "It's funny: At the
time, I actually thought, 'Who's going to turn down an
opportunity like that?' " she reminisced. "But
I really should do more in radio, like national, like
Stern and Limbaugh." Leaving talk radio after a year
and a half was not in her career scheme. "It
happened so fast," she explained. "I got the TV
deal when I'd been on KFI doing weekends for a month. By
the time I had signed, almost everyone in town had called
to offer me the same thing: a TV late-night talk
show." Her tube gig incorporated elements of her
radio show and was reminiscent of Tracey Ullman, the
"I never thought it would become a TV show,"
Miller said. "I thought, 'What kind of shot do I
have? I'm a complete unknown. I'm kind of feeling like a
dream deferred. "In TV, that [personality] can
really get watered down. That's what I heard over and
over: I loved your radio show. O.K., now don't do
anything like that on TV." In the tube biz, she
explained, new shows must become blockbusters in 13
weeks. She said her ratings had surpassed her predecesor.
"But it wasn't enough because it wasn't a huge hit
in 13 weeks," she lamented
However, she was a huge hit with TV Guide critic Jeff
Jarvis. He wrote: " 'Saturday Night Live' would be
lucky to have somebody with her octane. I'd say she has
enough energy to outrun big ol' Jay and weary ol' Dave.
She has a dry, honking delivery and good material. She
has a touch of the Dennis Miller (no relation)
don't-put-anything -over-on me-attitude." When she
returned from her foray into TV Land, her listeners
welcomed her back to her radio home. Before throwing in
their two cents about the topic de jour, they still say,
"I missed you" or "You're the goddess of
radio." It's not unusual for men and women to
profess their love for her. One can almost feel the
healing from the death of her TV show. Now she uses her
test tube experience as joke material.
"There's a million cooks in the kitchen; I had more
hands up my skirt than Miss Piggy," she quipped.
"That's what I love about radio: You have more
control over what you're doing." She always has
acted as her own career counselor: "I used to be in
music radio, and I always thought, 'What's the point?'
They basically told you to shut up and play the music.
Morning radio was: Be funny for about 30 seconds, and
then go right back to the music. Talk was so much more
That's why I left New York. I did morning-drive there for
three years, and I ultimately felt like, 'Where I am
going with this?' I felt like if you're going to be a
star like Limbaugh, you have to be in talk." The
path to her status as a professional entertainer began in
Buffalo, N.Y., where she was born and raised and snagged
her first radio job. Growing up, she never listened to
the radio. She always wanted to be Carol Burnett. When
she was about 27, she DJ'd on "Hot 97" in her
hometown. She moved to Rochester, N.Y., then on to
Chicago and New York City, and ended up in L.A. Music
radio is her choice for relaxation: "I like fun,
frothy music - KIIS 102.7, KBIG 104.3, Star 98.7, Arrow
The single 35-year-old's self-deprecating humor includes
poking fun at her single status. She likes to tell this
joke to explain her situation: "I don't think women
get career and marriage. It's like we're on some giant
game show somewhere and lost: 'Do you want career or
both? Can I have both?No, I'm sorry, you loser. You only
get one, and here's some cellulite as a parting gift.'
" Her recent celebrity dates include parody
songwriter Weird Al Yankovich and Barry Williams of Greg
He escorted her to the Emmys. But her main objects of
affection are her three dogs: a Great Pyrenees, a Lancier
Newfoundland and a toy Pekipoo. Unlike her Pekipoo, she's
purebred from successful stock. Her father, William E.
Miller, was a New York congressman and Barry Goldwater's
vice-presidential running mate; her two sisters are TV
newscasters, and her brother is an attorney.Now their
youngest sibling is going to be syndicated: ABC Radio
Network is taking on the feminist comedian this fall. Her
vision for radio's future? "I think whatever's
successful will spawn more of the same kind of
thing," she said. "People don't care that much
about heavy politics. I think that it's going to move
toward entertainment and toward what people are talking
about." She predicts that Rush Limbaugh will fade
out. "You can't take away fromsomebody's
success," she said. "He's obviously speaking
for a lot of people. But everything's cyclical. People
don't stay on top forever."
vision for radio in a perfect world?
"All-Stephanie, all the time."