BILLINGS — It’s hard to find a name more synonymous with Billings than Major Dan Miller.
Miller has spent 64 years on the radio in Yellowstone County and was still going strong on his 90th birthday Wednesday, making a rare weekday appearance with his good friends Kurt Anthony and Charlie Fox on the MOJO 92.5 morning show.
"What’s that old saying?" Miller asked. "Find a job you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life, and that’s me.”
Miller didn’t know a thing about Montana growing up in Cincinnati, Ohio, but he did know where he wanted life to take him.
"At 15 years old I saw a radio announcer in Cincinnati, broadcasting remote in the window of a store," he said. "And I thought, ‘Gee, that’s fascinating.'"
His first job out of broadcasting school was at KOOK Radio in Billings in 1958, and he's since spent time at a number of stations across the city. The question he gets more than anything - how did he get to be called 'Major' Dan?
He was in the U.S. Army in the 1950s but never rose to that rank. No, he earned this one from his time as an "astronaut."
"The Russians beat us in space," Miller said. "So the radio station did a big promotion, where people would see me blast off in this rocket. Everyone who went up was a colonel, so that's what they called me.
"But when it got to 1 (on the countdown), I came running out of the rocket and said, ‘I don’t want to die yet! Get someone else to do this thing!’ And I took off and was gone for three days. Because of that, I was demoted from Colonel to Major, and the Major Miller stuck. They had jingles made - 'Major' Dan Miller - so that was it. It's been that way ever since!"
You can still hear the jingle - and "Major" Dan - every Saturday morning on his Miller’s Gold program, because well…
"To be honest with you, I’m afraid to retire," he said. "What do you do?”
So he rolls on, excited to tell more stories and take more calls.
"It’s therapy to me," Miller said, fighting back tears. "When I get on set, you hit it and you go."