By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
A hazy orange sun is inching above the Dallas skyline as I dodge through early-morning traffic on Interstate 30. It's 6:35 a.m. on a Monday, I have a date, and I am miserably late. So I weave between lanes, pushing 80, hoping those stealthy Grand Prairie cops are lingering somewhere over coffee and crullers.
I am finally going to meet Them. What will I say? Will They look anything like They sound? I've been listening to Them for three years now, but I've never seen either one. And you know how it is--a guy with the big radio voice, the Barry White soundalike who melts you down to your shoes--he never looks as good as he sounds.
Twenty minutes later, I reach a bland office tower on Mockingbird and Central Expressway, home of KTCK 1310-AM--better known as The Ticket--Dallas and Fort Worth's only 24-hour sports station.
There, on the fifth floor, I will spend the next three hours shoehorned into a broadcast studio only slightly larger than a walk-in closet. Sitting behind a long table, each tethered to a pair of headphones, are the objects of my affection: George Dunham and Craig Miller, the sexiest men on radio.
Fans of their 5:30-to-10 a.m. talk show know them better as the "Gentle Musers," a pair of longtime friends who would just as soon discuss the pros and cons of waterbeds as dissect the inherent evils of baseball's designated hitter rule. It seems there is no topic too obscure, too trivial, too mundane for the Musers to tackle.
And that is exactly why I couldn't stop listening after I stumbled across their show three years ago while station-surfing in my car. I am a "sports idiot" (a favorite Dunham and Miller term). What I know of sports could fit on a golf tee. But then along come Dunham and Miller, like Pied Pipers, melding Serious Sports Talk with minutiae--and suddenly I'm putty in their hands.
Consider these topics, which have all been fodder for recent discussions on the D&M show (which is, ostensibly, about sports): A kid's first day at school. What to do when an old boyfriend pops back into your girlfriend's life. Whether to even bother making your bed in the morning. What makes a lasting friendship.
Who ever said that sports shows can only be about sports? Not The Ticket's former program director, Mike Thompson, who recently told me why D&M--the entire Ticket talk show lineup, for that matter--work so well in one of the nation's most competitive radio markets.
"It's just a big Tupperware party for guys," Thompson said.
He wasn't kidding.
Often, the Musers invite you into their lives, like when Dunham revealed that his wife, Kelly, had in no uncertain terms banned him from ever using the word "broad" again when describing a woman. Or when Miller recalled a particularly lonely weekend--just driving around Dallas and stopping for a turkey sandwich at some "spare" fast-food joint.
Before I walked into the studio, I already knew these guys. And when at last I actually saw them, they were just about what I expected. Only better. More human. And a whole lot sexier.
That's not to say that either of them will ever grace a Chippendale's calendar. But as most women know, the real appeal is in the entire package. Dunham, 32, and Miller, 31, report to work each morning before sunrise looking like they're heading to a frat party. They wear gimme caps (classy ones, though, usually from some lush private golf course), polo shirts, and worn leather loafers sans socks. Dunham, the baritone, is 6 feet 3 inches with a mat of unruly, sandy brown hair, wire-frame glasses, and just the slightest married-with-children paunch. Miller, an avid cyclist, is the svelte single of the pair, a Peter Pan for the '90s. He has thick, wavy black hair tinged with gray at the temples. He desperately needs eyeglasses, but as anyone who listens regularly is aware, he will not let an optometrist near him.
So here I am, hanging with radio's most caring and nurturing guys. Sure, they're tough when they need to be. Sort of the Harrison Fords of the AM band. And they know their subject. Matched up against veteran sports gabbers like Norm Hitzges or Randy Galloway, the boys could easily hold their own with typical sports blather about the NFL salary cap or tired rehashes of the Pudge Rodriguez contract debate.
But nobody is ever gonna accuse Hitzges or Galloway of being sexy.
Dunham and Miller get a huge chuckle when I tell them my theory--that women should be their real audience, and that I think they're the sexiest guys on the air. That isn't an image either of them has tried to cultivate. After all, reaching the female market is the furthest thing from their minds. Women listeners barely register as a blip on The Ticket's radar. I am not part of the coveted male audience, ages 25 to 54, that Ticket advertisers lust for. In the latest Arbitron book, a quarterly ratings service and the radio industry's Holy Bible, Dunham and Miller ranked eighth of 35 stations among that audience for their time slot. KLIF's Hitzges came in seventh.