The sports broadcasting world lost a legend early Thursday morning, as Scott Miller passed away at the age of 57 after battling melanoma for the last four years.
My, oh my, Miller had painted many pictures with his words to his radio listeners, dutifully serving as the play-by-play voice for the North Dakota State football and basketball teams for 20 seasons.
“Scott was a true pro,” Jeremy Jorgenson, who is the director of sales and broadcasting at NDSU said. “He could’ve called at any level.”
Miller didn’t just know names, numbers and statistics of players and teams; his knowledge went deeper, like personal tidbits. Miller knew the birthdays of student-athletes. Jorgenson said that’s what made him so special to the Bison community.
“(Miller) was so reliable, a hard worker (and) prepared like nobody I’ve seen before,” Jorgenson said, who took over play-by-play duties for Bison basketball games after Miller called his final game on Jan. 23. “I don’t think we will see anything like that again.”
Joel Heitkamp, host of News and Views at KFGO, jokingly uses the word “anal” to describe “The Voice of the Bison.”
Heitkamp said when he went down to Frisco, Texas, for the National Championship games he would use the same booth as Miller and would tinker with all of Miller’s notes and other things.
“I knew the next day it would drive him nuts,” Heitkamp said. “He was the guy that everything had to be straight, and I loved that about him. It was great to see someone dedicated like that.”
Miller was dedicated to his job, indeed. He called the last five Bison football national championship games, many big men’s basketball victories, Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks baseball games and more, but Miller was more than just that guy with the headphones on press row talking into the microphone.
“He would remember your kids’ names … he was just one of those people who paid attention,” Chris Hennen, associate editor of the High Plains Reader said. “And (he) really cared about people.”
Hennen worked with Miller at WDAY for a number of years. Though he wasn’t necessarily that close with him, he said Miller was just the nicest person and most days of his life he wanted to make people feel good.
Miller joined the Bison broadcast set in 1996 with WDAY and 14 years later left to join KFGO.
“Many peplpe considered him this legend,” Daryl Ritchison said. “This awesome broadcaster that was a little bit above everyone else
“But not in Scott’s eyes.”
Ritchison worked with Miller at WDAY for about 15 years, but when WDAY lost the broadcasting rights to Bison football and basketball games, Miller had to move onto KFGO.
But Ritchison said after Miller left to take his talents elsewhere, their friendship didn’t stopped.
“He was a great sportscaster — one of the best — yet he was a better person than he was a broadcaster,” Ritchison said of his friend. “To me, what really sums up Scott really well is many of us live as different people. I’ll be honest there is more than one Daryl. There was only one Scott.”
He knew players front to back. He knew teams better then they knew themselves. He knew how to show, not tell.
“Scott will be deeply missed by many of our student-athletes, coaches and staff who are proud to call him a friend,” NDSU athletic director Matt Larsen said. “He was a master of the details and poured all of his energy into every broadcast.”
Behind the scenes Miller was a personable guy. He cared about how others were doing, including non student-athletes.
Amelia Pfarrer, a senior majoring in marketing, who is also a Yell Leader apprentice said it’s sad that his voice will no longer be heard during Bison athletic events.
“Even though we only met a few times, he always said hello and asked how I was and really made a personal connection,” Pfarrer said. “It’s the end of a dynasty for one of the best known Bison voices.”
Miller had built a radio dynasty. And his resume could’ve landed him a job with anyone.
He spent three years as Montana State University’s play-by-play announcer and was awarded with the Montana Sportscaster of the Year award. From 1992 to 1995 he was in Grand Forks at the University of North Dakota, and six years ago he won the North Dakota Sportscaster of the Year award.
Yet, he was, through and through, a Bison. His voice and signature “my, oh my!” call has forever altered the sports region, here and beyond.
“It’s a loss to all of us,” Heitkamp said, “not just North Dakota — the whole region.”