Pandemic inspires broadcaster to create “Todd Talks”

 Payne Moses

Assistant Sports Editor 

Todd Miller, a play-by-play radio broadcaster for Oklahoma Baptist University since 2015, has lived amidst his passion: sports.

A native of Blackwell, Oklahoma, Miller attended Blackwell High School and currently resides in Oklahoma City. 

Beginning radio broadcasting at the end of his high school tenure, Miller has 30 years of experience in play-by-play announcing and freelance work.

Miller highlighted the fact that he began his career in his junior year at Blackwell High School.

“I’ve been really lucky,” Miller said. 

“I started at my hometown radio station in Blackwell, Oklahoma in high school, and they gave me a lot of opportunities not a lot of young, inexperienced people get. I started doing color work for their high school football broadcast. I did some play-by-play, and to be honest with you, it was woeful. But that’s kind of how I got my start.”

After high school, Miller went to Northern Oklahoma College-Tonkawa and then transferred to Northwestern Oklahoma State for his remaining two years. 

He graduated in 1992 from Northwestern Oklahoma State with a bachelor’s degree in mass communications.

While at NWOSU, Miller described the job position he earned and how it turned into a long career in Alva, Oklahoma.

“I was a sports director at KALV which is a radio station in Alva,” Miller said. 

“I did out of high school; I did Northwestern play-by-play. I did the high school and college 20 years combined, and then I did another year with the Rangers, and that’s when my wife and I moved to Oklahoma City.”

When the year 2015 rolled around, Miller found his place at OBU as a radio broadcaster for basketball, baseball, softball and then the following year was asked to cover football.

“I was brought to OBU in part because of the former sports information director Ray Fink,” Miller said. 

“He and I had a long working relationship when I was, at the time, at a fellow conference school when both were in the NAIA, Northwestern Oklahoma State University. So, through Ray I made some connections.”

Miller then discussed how important OBU’s addition of football was for the greater community.

“I thoroughly enjoy doing OBU football,” Miller said. 

“I think it’s something of a gathering point for the campus and the community. I think it was a great decision by Oklahoma Baptist to reinstate football. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time with the football program and I’m hoping, sooner rather than later, we’ll get to get back together and enjoy some Bison gridiron.”

In the past, Miller was in charge of conducting one-on-one interviews with coaches and some players at OBU, but with the COVID-19 pandemic another strategy had to be used. 

Staying in contact with assistant athletic director James Hill, Miller was asked to keep the OBU community in the know by an alternative medium: “Todd Talks.”

“During this pandemic, you have to keep things fresh, you have to keep your out there,” Miller said. 

“I think this [“Todd Talks”] was one way they felt they [OBU athletics] could do that. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it because I’ve interviewed all of the coaches, many of which I have never interviewed before. I found it delightful to get to know people I don’t work with on a seasonal basis. They all have great stories.”

“Todd Talks” only began back in May 2020, but Miller speaks to how the Zoom-driven program has grown significantly in a short period of time.

“It started out as this little thing, I think, to promote programs, to keep programs in the limelight,” Miller said. 

“I think it’s something that has grown now to where you can reconnect with a lot of people. I hope that [“Todd Talks”] has enabled the fanbase at OBU to engage with other sports that maybe they don’t necessarily think a lot about.”

Other than being involved in “Todd Talks” the past few months, Miller also gave an update on how he has tried to stay working at a time where many in the United States have lost their jobs.

“I’m doing some freelance work for an online streaming app called Skordle,” Miller said. 

“I’ve done a couple of games for them. I did the All-State game for Skordle that was hosted at OBU. They’ve been very, very kind to throw some work my way because man, it’s tough for people in our industry. If sports is what you do for a living, there’s no sports for you to go out and call,” he said.

“So, I’ve been fortunate with some friends of mine through Skordle. It’s not like working full-time for OBU and going from one sport to the next, but I’ve enjoyed getting back into the high school game, which I haven’t covered in quite some time.”

Though Miller has never had to remotely broadcast a sports game, he recognizes the switch to remote sports broadcasting as an inevitable trend.

“The way I call a game, I feed off the emotion of what’s going on right in front of me,” Miller said. 

“To me [sports broadcasting] is a little bit de-sanitized when you’re sitting there looking one-on-one at a picture and trying to call a game. So, it’s going to be difficult. I hope it’s not going to be a trend that continues, but I’m afraid that maybe someday it will be at higher levels of broadcasting.”

Miller, having spoken to a great level of appreciation for the opportunities provided to him in radio broadcasting at such a young age, contributes the best advice he can give someone who is pursuing a career in broadcast.

“If you’re getting into business, learn as many different things as you possibly can to make yourself as attractive to an employer as possible,” Miller said. 

“You may not like a certain sport, but you need to learn how to cover it. You need to be as diversified as you can. The other is you just not going to make everybody happy, you can’t please everybody.”

Racking up some 34 years of radio broadcasting and freelance, Miller shared some of his greatest memories. He recounted calling play-by-play in Northwestern Oklahoma State’s men’s basketball first round win against Wisconsin-Eau Claire in the 1992 national championship. 

 It had been their first championship berth since 1947. In his OBU career, the stand-out broadcasts came from just this previous spring semester.

“I think the run last year, to be honest with you, with our men’s basketball team was really, really special,” Miller said. 

“I thought all along that team had a chance to be really good, but you never know because the league is so good. And then to put the run together that we had put together in Bartlesville, where we probably shot our best two field goal percentage games back-to-back to get to the finals,” he said.

 “That was special to be there [GAC conference final] for the first time.”

Besides the fact that “Todd Talks” have grown in popularity and have covered coaches and topics such as recruiting, Miller suggests a near future possibility.

“Now that student-athletes are back on campus, maybe at some point we need to start talking to student-athletes,” Miller said. 

 Besides the fact that “Todd Talks” have grown in popularity and have covered coaches and topics such as recruiting, Miller suggests a near future possibility.

“Now that student-athletes are back on campus, maybe at some point we need to start talking to student-athletes,” Miller said. 

“You could probably try to get ahold of some past OBU greats and start some type of series like that. There’s just a lot of different things from what the initial intent was of this series.”

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