Van Miller

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Miller in November 2008

Van Miller (born November 22, 1927 in Dunkirk, New York[1]) is a retired former radio and television sports announcer from Dunkirk, New York, where he began his career at Dunkirk radio station WFCB calling play-by-play for high school football games. In the 1950s, he moved to Buffalo where he became the chief play-by-play announcer for the Buffalo Bills Radio Network, the official radio broadcasting arm of the Buffalo Bills of the National Football League from the team's inception as an AFL team in 1960 to 1971, and again from 1977 to 2003. At the time of his retirement in 2003, Miller was the longest-tenured commentator with one team (37 years) in pro football history.

Career[edit]

On July 30, 1960, Van Miller debuted on the air at War Memorial Stadium to call play-by-play for the Bills' inaugural contest against the Boston Patriots. In his 55 years in the business, Miller has earned legend status in Buffalo by doing everything imaginable behind the microphone. Besides his status as the "Voice of the Bills," Miller was the sports director for WBEN-TV/WIVB-TV for many years. During that time, he served as a sportscaster, weather reporter, and as host of the local version of It's Academic and Beat the Champ (a ten-pin bowling show), among other shows. He also hosted a popular afternoon program for many years on WBEN radio.

Miller has also called Buffalo Braves and Niagara University basketball, Buffalo Bisons baseball, Buffalo Stallions soccer, University at Buffalo football and, in his early years, high school sports.

With the exception of a seven-season hiatus from 1971 through 1977, when the Bills were being carried on rival station WKBW-AM (and Miller was covering the Buffalo Braves), Miller covered the Bills for most of the team's existence, including the AFL championship in 1964 and 1965, and the Super Bowl run of the early 1990s. He shared the booth with color men Stan Barron and (after Barron's passing in the early 1980s) John Murphy, who succeeded Miller as play-by-play voice in 2004 following Miller's retirement.

After 43 years, Miller called his final broadcast for the Bills as they lost 31-0 to the New England Patriots (the same franchise Buffalo had faced for Miller's first broadcast in 1960) in the last game of the 2003 regular season.

Life After Retirement[edit]

Miller is now largely retired and lives with his wife, Gloria, in the town of Tonawanda, New York, although he's still heard on the air on occasion in guest sports commentary appearances or voicing commercial announcements for some Western New York retail businesses (notably the Grapevine Restaurant, where he's known as "Van the Grapevine Man"). The Pro Football Hall of Fame presented him with its Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award in 2004. He is an inductee in the Buffalo Broadcasting Hall of Fame (1998),[2] Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame (1999), and the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame (2002).

Signature calls include: "Fandemonium" – often referring to the celebrations after big Bills wins, and "Do you believe it?" after an exciting and often game-changing play. Miller also had a custom-made routine he used when being interviewed on radio shows, in which he called a fictional game in which the host of the show carries the ball just short of the end zone only to fumble on the goal line, after which Miller mocked anguish.

Miller was inducted onto the Buffalo Bills' Wall of Fame on October 19th, 2014.

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Preceded by
first
Buffalo Bills announcer
1960–1971
Succeeded by
Al Meltzer and Rick Azar
Preceded by
Al Meltzer and Rick Azar
Buffalo Bills announcer
1977–2004
Succeeded by
John Murphy
Preceded by
Chuck Healy
WIVB-TV Sports Anchor
–2000
Succeeded by
Dennis Williams