How To Get on the Radio, With KXT’s Amy Miller

KXT 91.7 program director Amy Miller has sound advice for musicians hoping to get on the radio.
KXT 91.7 program director Amy Miller has sound advice for musicians hoping to get on the radio.
Kim Leeson
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If she listens closely, Amy Miller can still hear the sound of her friends’ giddy excitement as the disc jockey of the Bay Area’s Live 105 announces the winners of the latest contest. As a teenager, the KXT program director was a “radio junkie” fascinated by the medium, the contests and the DJs, who were her first idols. Miller was enthralled by them and envious of the power they held to sway opinion, introduce the world to new music and new artists, and dole out concert tickets to lucky contest winners.

“We were constantly calling in to radio stations to see if we won tickets,” Miller recalls. “Most of the time we didn’t.”

But once, she did. The concert was a collection of rising stars, including, as she recalls, Garbage, Fiona Apple, No Doubt, Radiohead and Beck. It was one of her first shows, and it helped her realize that her dream was to work in music.

“I wanted to be a part of something like that,” she recalls of the concert that highlighted the then up-and-comers. “I just never knew radio would be my way to do that.”

Miller’s first radio gig came in college at UC Santa Cruz, where the musical multi-hyphenate ran a jazz show while working toward a degree in classical piano and playing guitar in a slew of bands.

“I saw the flyer advertising radio volunteers, and the light bulb just went off,” Miller recalls. “I remember thinking, ‘I love music, so maybe this is what I want to do.’”

The college gig led to an internship in San Francisco, which, in turn, led to public and commercial radio jobs on the East Coast. After working in radio in Virginia for three years, Miller took a career detour to Philadelphia, where she worked as a music publicist. But the allure of radio was never too far away.

“Even though I was still in the music business, I felt really out of the loop,” she says. “When I worked in radio, I was constantly being exposed to new music, and nothing beats that.”

In particular, she missed public radio

“There’s a broader diversity as far as the music being played, and more freedom to play what you want,” she says of her preference for public over commercial. “For commercial stations, a lot of the time it’s a guy in NYC who programs for a bunch of stations across the country. But when you’re public, you get to support the local guys.”

So when she saw a posting for a radio job in Dallas, Miller saw it as a way back in the game. Miller got the job as 91.7 KXT’s program director and made the move to Texas in late 2014. In the five years since, Miller has hosted many shows like the current The Local Show, where she gets to do what she loves most: support local music. Yet she is always looking for more, and for artists looking to get on the radio, her advice is simple: Reach out, but make sure your recording is solid.

“Whatever you do, don’t send us a YouTube clip or an iPhone recording,” Miller says. “Make sure you have the highest quality recording you can get.”

Mailed submissions are suitable, but Miller prefers digital submissions on KXT’s website or sent via email to thelocalshow@kxt.org.

”Digital saves money ... it’s better for the environment, and it’s easier and quicker for everyone. Plus, even big record labels are doing it digitally now.”

Whichever route you choose, make sure you keep it short. KXT receives hundreds of submissions per week, so listening to an entire album is impossible. Miller recommends choosing one or two songs alongside a download link, a .wav file and a bio.

“Believe it or not, when people submit music they sometimes forget to include info about their band,” she says. “Since this is probably our first time meeting you, it’s important to tell us a little about who you are when you reach out.”

Miller is tight-lipped about what she's looking for in particular. She loves all kinds of music and is happy to hear from alt rockers and country crooners alike. But she does have one wish for the rest of 2019 and beyond.

“I wish more hip-hop artists would submit music for The Local Show,” she says. “I know there are so many great hip-hop artists in Dallas, and we want to play them on their local station.”

Thus far, Miller has enjoyed her time in Texas. Every week, she heads to the studio, sits down for a show and gets to be on the other side of the radio that she and her friends clung to throughout high school. While she loves interviewing artists, fans occupy her mind most often.

“I love getting emails from listeners saying they discovered an artist on the radio station,” she says. “For me, that’s the best part.”

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