They're the Gentle Musers--said so right on Laura Miller's T-shirt. But on Tuesday morning, George Dunham and Craig Miller, the morning-show hosts on sports-talk station KTCK-AM (1310), played gatekeepers of local politics. The highly rated Dunham and Miller show gave way to the--oh, dear God, no--"Dunning and Miller Show" as mayoral wannabes Tom Dunning and Laura Miller played sports-radio hosts for 15 bizarro minutes and displayed all the chemistry of a cracked test tube.
"I thought that it was just god-awful radio," Craig Miller said later, "but that's what made it great radio...But, yes, we are the gatekeepers. People don't realize that. They think all we do is talk sports and girls, but we're as deep as any political analysis you'll find on Channel 8. We just don't let it show."
Chasing that elusive P-1 vote (for Ticket virgins, P-1 stands for the most hard-core listener), the two who would be mayor were sequestered in the studio and forced to make with the banter. Each offered their top five things no P-1 knows: Miller insisted she doesn't hate sports, even if she was opposed to public financing for a new arena; Dunning said something about how he and Tom Hicks used to sleep with Bevo, the University of Texas mascot.
Bevo is a steer. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
"So what's the deal with Ken Hitchcock anyway?" Laura Miller mused about the recently canned Stars coach, as she gamely tried to talk game. After all, this whole experiment was her idea.
Buttoned-up and uptight in coat and tie, Dunning sat beside her wearing the look of a candidate struck by a Nolan Ryan fastball; at one point, he couldn't even read his own handwritten jokes, which was just as well. "I need the canned laughter," said the admittedly "charisma-impaired" candidate of the station's blessedly piped-in yuks. (Oddly enough, Dunning, who speaks as though he's low on RAM during televised debates, is articulate and affable away from the microphone. He should look into lip-synching during the final days of the campaign. Or becoming a mime.)
The candidates sucked up to the Ticket audience, one-upping each other with inside jokes (at one point, Laura Miller said she'd like to be known as "the Dallas mayor who's so good-looking you have to watch out for her because she's so good-looking," a reference to a long-running Craig Miller bit) and taking calls from listeners who wanted to know whether they could get rid of Cowboys mascot Rowdy (a Ticket whipping boy...or thing) or Dallas police Chief Terrell Bolton.
Better yet, maybe Bolton could become the new Cowboys mascot. We could call him Sheetrock.
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The highlight came when the candidates later chatted with the real hosts and their sidekick, Gordon Keith, who called into the studio as Domingo Garcia.
"You're not in the runoff," Dunham told the, ahem, former candidate.
"No, but I'm in the payoff," said "Garcia." Laura Miller laughed. Tom Dunning did not.
To use Ticket parlance, wheels were shooting everywhere.