Live For Live Music spoke with longtime New York deejay Carol Miller about her new book Up All Night (My Life and Times in Rock Radio), and her legendary career in rock radio, as well as her popular Get The Led Out program on Q104.3. Anyone growing up in New York listening to rock radio can likely close their eyes, and hear her unique voice announce the station’s call letters (she has worked for WPLJ, WNEW, and now Q104.3). Carol was approached by publishers at HarperCollins to tell her story, and she held true to not wanting to simply dish gossip about rock stars she had known over the years. Instead, she relates what she has seen and heard, and how she came to her lofty perch in the medium in the largest radio market in America.

For starters, Carol described her attendance at a Beatles show at Forest Hills in Queens, New York in the mid-1960′s when we spoke. “Concerts” was a term for classical music at the time, and she informed that the performance at this venue was known simply as a “show”. Many have said that they could not hear the Beatles, but Carol assures us that she could hear them, and hear the Fab Four’s conversation during the music. “We were waiting for the helicopter to fly them in, like in ‘A Hard Day’s Night'”, she described. And finally the group did make their appearance via the chopper as excited teenage girls squealed.

Carol’s strict Yiddish background growing up in Lefferts House gave her a strong foundation to work in the wild world of rock n’ roll. Family members had lived through the Holocaust, and she describes World War II as being a defining event in her outlook of the world. Many female family members lost their lives to the horrors of cancer, and she often felt that this specter would claim her at a young age.

In her book, Carol describes not being very impressed with Elvis Presley when she saw his early appearances on television. When asked, she extrapolated that her perception has changed, and she admires The King greatly now. Carol finds Frank Sinatra to be the “ultimate interpreter of songs”. The cultural clash of the 1960′s cast a shadow on artists who sang, and did not write their music, like say a Bob Dylan, or Lennon/McCartney. But that “elitist attitude” overlooks the power a gifted singer has, and what they add to the creation of a piece of music. Carol made a point to mention that Mickey Dolenz of The Monkees “is a very good friend of mine”, and that for a good portion of their early career, The Monkees “were playing all of their own instruments.” Further, the songs the group recorded were penned by the likes of Neil Diamond, and Boyce and Hart.

Her enthusiasm about pop music is enough to turn anyone who listens into a “believer”. Anecdotes of relationships with Steven Tyler and David Coverdale may initially lure us in to opening the book, however her depth and insight into rock history supersedes the initial soap opera-like stories that always make the headlines and draw attention. Steven Tyler almost overdosing in Carol’s presence in a hotel is added to the lore of rock history now, and maybe the first thing people will recall when mentioning this book. The person behind the microphone, though, is far deeper than that, and has a deep reverence for the art and joy of rock music.

Today, Carol has great respect for the recording artist Adele, and finds hope in the likes of such for the industry. “Adele writes her own music”, and performs it. This brings hope in an overly corporatized industry seeking to propel the next American Idol to lofty grandeur. Adele “does not fit in with all of the categories”, and that is a good thing which may break some hard fixed molds music is entrenched in today. And here in New York especially, we find “too big a market” to often offer fertile soil for seeds of creativity to sprout.

Carol’s Get The Led Out segments are going strong today, and her love of the group has not faded at all. “You never heard anything like that before”, she relates as to her first listen to Zeppelin. Jimmy Page’s love of the blues brought about a new genre of rock, as his stint in the Yardbirds ended. She found much about their personal lives to be nearly frightening, but as a fan of the music,she finds them a wonderful and fun escape. The sub-plot here is that this intelligent woman with the looks of a model, is also vulnerable and scraping along. She has brought a tremendous amount of joy being an on-air friend to her listeners over the years. You may open the pages to hear about her encounters with a McCartney, Paul Stanley, Bruce Springsteen or Meatloaf. You come away from the read having felt that you like your friend from the radio even more than you had before you cracked the pages.

Carol can be heard today on Q104.3 in New York city, Sirius/XM Satellite Radio, and nationwide through the United States. Her GET THE LED OUT SHOW is a must for fans of Led Zeppelin. And we wish her the best in her current battle overcoming “the Big C’. She is truly a New York Doll.

Carol Miller’s Up All Night (My Life and Times in Rock Radio) is a must read for any true fan of rock.  You can purchase the book at Amazon here.

-Bob Wilson
Published by Ecco, and imprint of HarperCollins -2012)