Aural Sex

Holly Mullen meets Dunham and Miller, the radio jocks whose sports talk show leaves Dallas women panting for more

Both are native Texans, but they moved around a good bit with their families. Dunham's father, a commercial roofer, moved his wife and five children to Minneapolis, Chicago, and Horseshoe Bay, Texas, before settling in Farmers Branch. Dunham graduated from R.L. Turner High School in 1983.

Miller was born in Amarillo and grew up in New Orleans, Oklahoma City, and Lancaster. The son of an insurance salesman and a former Catholic nun, he graduated in 1983 from Bishop Dunne High School. He has one sister, who lives in Austin.

They met in a 9 a.m. English class during their freshman year at the University of North Texas. They were sitting on opposite sides of the room. "The second day of class, George comes over to my side and says, 'I'm going to sit on this side. It's funnier,'" Miller says. Soon after, they were roommates at UNT's West Hall, and worked alternate Friday nights hosting a call-in sports show on KNTU, the campus radio station. That was after Miller convinced Dunham to change his major from business to broadcast journalism.

"I told him he'd have more fun," Miller says simply.
After college graduation, their lives quickly diverged. Dunham got married right away. He and his wife, Kelly, have two sons, Brent, 10, and Blake, 6. They live in a quiet neighborhood in Coppell.

Miller, as they say, decided to sow some wild oats. He lived for a year in Boulder, Colorado, bicycling with a friend. Dunham, meanwhile, battened down for a serious career, and went to work as a sports reporter at KRLD in 1988.

One year later, Miller joined the crew at KRLD, and the two were together again. KRLD is where the boys paid their dues, putting in long weekend hours and manning the phones at night. By 1993 the hustle was getting old. One night, over a post-Rangers game beer, Mike Rhyner (eventually of the Hard Line) told Miller he was recruiting talent for a new 24-hour sports station in Dallas. There were serious investors, and the market seemed ripe for it. He asked Miller to come along.

Dunham was a harder sell. With a wife and two kids, it was risky. "I was just starting to climb the financial ladder," he says. "But something about it just seemed right. And now I can't imagine I ever thought twice about doing this."

KTCK's Bennett says Dunham and Miller's fans can't imagine them not doing the show, either. "It hasn't gotten tired, not even close. We keep reinventing the thing, just putting a fresh coat of paint on it. Their fans love them."

The 43-year-old Bennett also manages KLIF, where longtime sports-talk fixture Norm Hitzges goes up against Dunham and Miller. Bennett sees no serious competition between the two. "Norm has a little bit of his own shtick, but nothing like George and Craig. They both play to different audiences," he says, ever so diplomatically.

What Bennett wants from his Ticket morning team is "a guy show with the fiber of sports running through it.

"Most guys are casual to moderate fans," he says, while sitting behind a neat desk at the station's sparkling new digs on Maple Avenue in Uptown. Very few sports stations can offer up only statistics and scores and hope to survive, Bennett says. Of the 150 all-sports stations nationwide, many are like KTCK, with no broadcast rights to a sports franchise. Relying solely on the strength of local and canned talk shows, these stations simply cannot live on a steady diet of calls from sports geeks.

And that's just fine with D&M, because they--proudly--do not cater to sports geeks. Tune in on any weekday, and you'll get plenty of analysis of the Mavericks' new draft picks, or predictions on the outcome of the Texas-OU game, or ruminations on what to do about Deion. But there's so much more.

Like where to meet beautiful and intelligent women. One morning, while sitting in the studio, I suggest off the air that Miller check out the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth. The Monet exhibit there is packing in the beautiful women, I tell him. And they must be smart, or why would they bother going?

After the commercial break, this on-air exchange took place between Dunham, Miller, and wacky sidekick Gordon Keith:

Miller: "Holly has suggested to me that I visit the Kimbell Art Museum to meet beautiful and interesting women. I might try that. I would do a smart woman, a woman like Jodie Foster, a world of good. I sense that she's very...unhappy. I'm not talking about a physical relationship, of course. I'm talking about intellectually."

Keith: "Oh please. You are shallow. Off the air, you've admitted you're shallow."

Miller: "I'm not shallow! Not the on-air Craig!"
Keith: "Yeah, right. Your world revolves around sports, beer, cookies, and your guitar. What kind of books do you read?"

Miller: "Lots. Loose Balls, Bootlegger's Boy, A History of the ABA. And I just went out and bought a James Thurber collection of short stories."

Keith: "That was four months ago!"
Dunham: "This is not a good idea. You start hanging out at places like the Kimbell, and you'll lose your support system. You'll just crash and burn."

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