By Jeff Holt
Published March 9, 2023 in The Burg
Growing up in Galesburg, everybody knew her as Amy Daves.
But it's amazing how an introductory book about radio journalism in college propelled her career to a big-time status.
Several of you in the Galesburg area remember her, too, as the on-air personality of Vickie Vale on Power 98.9 in the 1990s.
Her full name now is Amy Daves-Miller and she's been in radio for 33 years. Just a few of her awards are: ROSE award winner (Recognition of Service Excellence), St. Jude Rock Radio Station of the Year in 2021. Recipient of the "Arts, Athletes, and Entertainers of the Year" Award for 2020, 2021 and 2022.
Q: Can you talk about what you've enjoyed about being in the radio business?
MILLER: It's funny actually--I never in a million years thought I would work in radio. I graduated from Marycrest University with a double major in Broadcast Journalism and Broadcast Production with a minor in Psych and the only book I never bought for a class was 'Intro to Radio' because I never had a desire to work in radio at all! Once I popped a mic on Power 98.9 as Vickie Vale back in 1990, the rest is history, The radio bug bit me. I've loved every minute since. Radio isn't always a smooth ride, but the love is in your blood.
Q: When you were in Chicago, you said that you worked the sports beat and were able to work alongside some pretty famous people. What was that like?
MILLER: I did my internship at WQAD-TV Quad Cities in the sports department. I covered everything from Bears training camp in Platteville to the Cubs. That opened up so many opportunities to learn and really cut my teeth on how to interview, edit, write and report. I was lucky enough to spend my 21st birthday covering a Cubs/Reds game at Wrigley. I remember pre-game warmups as I was standing on first base chatting with Mark Grace like he was my 'buddy'. It was unreal. To this day in my 'she-shed', I have some pretty cool pics from that day including a great photo of Bob Costas, Harry Carrey and Pete Rose sitting in the Reds dug-out. Paul O'Neil played for the Reds that year too, so it was cool to follow his career as he became a World Series Champion with the Yankees. That same year, it was also Matt Suey's final year in the NFL playing for the Bears, so I was determined to get a story on the air, but still needed a soundbite from him or the story was a 'no-go'. After I secured many great sound bites from teammates and coaches regarding his stellar career, I learned Mr. Suey wasn't giving media interviews that season because he needed to focus on the season, not his 'last year', etc. I was super bummed, but was still able to befriend many of the players that year including the great Dan Hampton, Steve McMichael, and Mark Bortz just to name a few. Thanks to Dan Hampton, he helped me secure the sound bites I needed to get the story on the air. He wasn't practicing at camp that season, so he 'snuck me' to the back of the building where he brought Matt Suey out for me! JUST FOR ME! I nearly died. Of course, I asked him like 3 questions and could see the rest of the media running my way. I thanked him for his time, and he was on his way. I'll never forget on his way back. he grabbed my elbow and said, 'it was a pleasure talking with you' and THANKED me for letting him bolt before the media storm rained down. As I was walking past the media who was rushing to the back, I was on my way to the parking lot which was quite a way away. I couldn't believe my luck when Mike Singletary and his wife pulled up to me in their convertible and offered me a ride to the media lot since back then the camera equipment was big, bulky and heavy. I thought it was all a dream. A pretty incredible day for sure.
Q: Every reporter or radio voice - who has been in the field awhile - has a certain story or two that they hold onto with great pride. Can you elaborate on one?
MILLER: It was pretty cool having lunch in the Wrigley Field press box when Harry Carrey came in and sat at the same table. I was in complete awe. He had a chicken salad sandwich, chips and at least three Budweiser's and this was still about two hours before game time. I've never really witnessed anyone who commanded a room quite like he did. I would also be remiss if I didn't mention the hundreds of bands I've had the opportunity to interview and interact with over the years. A few stand outs would be Kid Rock, Darius Rucker (when he was with Hootie and the Blowfish), Motley Crue (Nikki Sixx calls me Nikki Seven to this day), Brett Michaels from Poison, the late great, Chris Cornell, and the list goes on and on. I've been very fortunate.
Q: Who is one of your favorite people that you have interviewed and why?
MILLER: I would have to say Randy Owen--the lead singer for Alabama. What an incredible man! It was his driving force that got radio involved with St. Jude Children's Hospital over 30 years ago. It has been an honor and a privilege to be able to be part of these nationwide radiothons to raise money and to help in any way I can to help the kids at St. Jude. There's no better place on earth.
Q; It seems like what you studied (and majored in) during college was spot-on for the radio business. Plus, you played college volleyball. What was that college schedule like as a student athlete and how did it help you in the working world?
MILLER: I absolutely loved being part of a team! Being a college athlete is no joke. You practice long hard hours, but the true reward is the comradery amongst players, coaches and other teams. Much like the real world, you work with the same team every day, pick each other up after a fall and celebrate the wins when they happen.
Q: What would you say your proudest accomplishment is in the field of radio and why?
MILLER: The proudest accomplishments for me are the good we do for our communities. Radio was built as a community service and when we collaborate to provide the community with needs and a little entertainment along the way, that's what it's all about! Awards and recognition are nice for sure, but they don't mean anything unless we've done our job to enhance our communities.
Q: Growing up in Galesburg, who is someone that you looked up to and why?
MILLER: I always looked up to all of my coaches along the way. From Coach Campagna to Coach Cooper and all in between, each one gave me the opportunity to develop life lessons and learn what true teamwork is, through the love of sports. I always gave 100 percent and expected 100 percent from my teammates on the court and in the studio. That drive and desire has always helped me become a better team player.
Q: What's a favorite memory you'd like to talk about from growing up in Galesburg?
MILLER: I loved growing up in Galesburg! Everybody waves and is friendly in a neighborly way. Smaller town respect is something that will never be replicated in a big city. Way too many good things to count. Everything from celebrating family birthdays, being in all the parades to being part of the Sandburg Mall Fashion Shows. Hahaa! It was all so much fun! And the hair was always SO BIG! lol.
Q: Is there anything else you'd like to add?
MILLER: I was Vickie Vale in the Quad Cities at Power 98.9, moved on to Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1994 where I was part of the Morning Show who debuted the first Alternative Rock station in the Midwest. Soon after that, Indianapolis, IN called on me in 1995 to help them debut Indy's New Rock Alternative where I stayed for 11 years. A no-compete contract kept me from working in Indy for six months, so I waited it out and then debuted Indy's Classic Hits on a cross town competitor where I programmed and took the station to No. 1 in the city while being No. 1 in afternoon drive for 16 years running.
Q: Will Indy be where you retire?
MILLER: Who knows what the future holds as I just feel lucky to still be in the business! Whether I decide to stay in Indy or move, I do know that I'll never be too far away.