Even though he once dropped a tray of hamburger patties at the White Center Lou's Drive-In and got fired the same day, Tiny Miner overcame this lapse and went on to win multiple national broadcasting awards.
Radio newsman has fond White Center memories
By Ken Robinson
(Editor’s Note: Ken Robinson is substituting for Jerry Robinson this week.)
In New York City, standing on the podium next to Katie Couric and other luminaries of the broadcast world, Tony Miner was about to receive an award. It was 2008 and Tony was honored for Best Newscast In America for his “Big Show at Six” program on KIRO Radio.
"I have never forgotten where I came from. And I said to myself, 'You've come a long way.'"
His journey began in White Center on 14th Avenue Southwest in the town he lovingly calls Rat City. Along the way, Tony, now 60, has earned two Best Newscast awards as well as seven Murrow awards for broadcast excellence.
Since 2000, Tony Miner has been the familiar voice to many as KIRO Radio's news anchor and reporter and lately, afternoon co-host on the “Ron and Don Show.”
He attended Mount View Elementary, Cascade Junior High and Evergreen High in the Highline School District.
During his school years, Tony was a busy guy. He used to hang out with buddies at Lake Hicks, White Center's best-known lake, looking for tadpoles. As a teenager, he and friends played a game called "Spotlight." This involved hiding on a hillside above the lake and trying to elude the spotlight the local deputy sheriff shined their direction. If caught, they would 'wave' at the sheriff, then hightail it. This was fun until one night four deputies showed up.
At Evergreen High, Tony played football and basketball and wrestled and was also on the city park league basketball team. And, he claims, he was once the ping-pong champion of White Center.
When he wasn't chasing a ball of various sizes, he worked on the school newspaper, The Timberlines, and with school pals, started a fake radio program called station KEHS.
When he was a senior, he grew his hair long. It was 1971.
"I drifted in between groups,” he said, from jocks to greasers. His name did not appear on the honor roll. He worked after school, always. One of his jobs was at the local high school burger joint hangout, Lou's Drive-In. Tony's sister had worked there and he got a job too. On his first day, he was told to carry a big tray of burger patties. He dropped the tray and got fired the same day. Still, his more responsible sister would bring home the extra burgers that had sat under the heat lights but not sold. And the next morning they would relish them as a big treat--especially the ones in gold foil, which denoted a cheeseburger.
Tony also worked at the Gull gas station and delivered papers at Kingston Village. If he had any free time, he spent it at the White Center Fieldhouse playing pickup basketball.
He needed a job to put gas in his baby-blue 1953 Chevy with the peace sign in the rear window.
"The car was a two-door with post and 'three on the tree," Miner recalled fondly. He eventually sold that car and hitched a ride with Janelle Anderson, also a junior at Evergreen and Janelle Miner for the last 38 years. She had a 1966 Mustang.
After high school, Tony attended Highline Community College in Des Moines, then Green River Community College where he worked on the campus radio station, KGRG. He also worked on the school newspaper.
"I wanted to be a New York Times reporter, but I fell in love with radio," he said.
He transferred to Washington State University where they have a broadcast sequence .He worked on the NPR affiliate KWSU and managed the off-campus station KUGR. In the summer, he interned at station KAPY in Port Angeles under the tutelage of noted Northwest broadcaster Charles Herring, then in semi-retirement from television.
When he finished college, he was hired on at a radio station in The Dalles, Oregon. Then on to KPUG in Bellingham and in 1980, got a job as a news reporter at KIRO Radio in Seattle. He moved around a bit from station to station over the next two decades but came back to KIRO in 2000, to stay.
For a news junkie like Tony Miner, things have changed significantly in his line of work. "Now, reporters are taking photos, doing live feeds from the scene, posting to Twitter and Facebook and to our websites. Everything is moving so much faster. I watch the Twitter feed in the newsroom and everything is going much faster on a twenty-four/seven basis. You have to adapt and be able to embrace the technology. You have to have a mentality that you have to keep going."
At age 60, Tony Miner is the second oldest person at the station. He said he has asked show host Dave Ross to stick around, as he is one year older than Tony.
"Will I be around as long as Andy Rooney? I don't know. But I think I'll be around for a long time."
His day begins at 4:30 or 5 a.m. at his home in LaConner. He begins by scanning websites and putting together a list of stories. On the commute in his Hyundai Accent, (about one hour and ten minutes each way) he listens to the radio and scans news sites. At the office on Eastlake Avenue, he meets with Ron and Don, usually for about an hour, assembling content for that day's show, piecing together stories and the best sound and then checking to see what their CBS affiliate has.
Then he is on the air at 3:03 p.m., doing a segment on the top and bottom of the hour, through 6:03 p.m. "I am on the way home by 7," he said.
"I've always been a news junkie. I've always wanted to keep up with the world, ever since I watched Charles Herring do the TV news."
Miner is not sure what impelled him to his career choice, but said "It may be in my blood.' His dad was a good singer with rich voice, he told us.
This award-winning broadcast veteran is enthusiastic about the future of radio. "People are using radio differently now, " he said. "If they miss it, then they can go home and download a program.
As for himself, "Instead of being an older guy pining for the old days, I love what's going on now and am excited about the future."
Though he spends most of his time in the studio these days, he still likes to get out in the field when he can. He had an opportunity to do this when the Skagit River Bridge fell into the river May 23. Tony was on his way home when "my phone blew up" with news that the Skagit River Bridge had fallen. He told his producer "I'm ten minutes away. I'm going there."
He was the first major reporter on the scene and was on the air for two-and-a half hours as the dramatic story unfolded. Because he knew the local roads well, he was able get close give a first-hand report.
"I love doing breaking news," he said.