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Second Line Parade Host Drew Miller: Ten Years and Counting

On February 11 during the countdown to Mardi Gras Drew Miller will celebrate his tenth year as host of the Second Line Parade on KSDS Jazz 88.3 FM. As a whole, the Second Line Parade features authentic New Orleans funerary music which is what a true second line more or less is - a roving funeral with a brass band. In the fickle world of broadcast does the ten year run surprise Miller at all?

“Yeah, but mainly because of how quickly a decade can flash by. I’ve been at the station for 12 years, and I’ve been doing the show for 10.” He thinks about it for a minute more, then says “It amazes me that there’s enough audience to support the show. You know, it’s pre-recorded.”

Miller, a native San Diegan tapes each one-hour show Friday morning for playback on Saturday night. “I try hard to make it sound like I’m actually there in the studio, live, shakin’ my rump.” How does he get his Saturday night mojo going on a Friday at 11:30 in the morning? “I dim those studio lights, first of all. I thought about burning some incense to get a real swampy feel going, but I haven’t done that yet. 11:30,” he says. “I’m not an early riser.”

That’s because Miller works as a mobile deejay by trade and has since 1989. To do both jobs, he has to tape his show. There is no other way. “I’m usually working on Saturday nights doing events or weddings.” Radio was always his passion (he interned at KPRI in 1982) but it's been club work that has paid the bills.

“I was a nightclub deejay for 12 years. I was at the Rodeo in La Jolla from ’83 to ’84. In 1985 I went to Diego’s, then Carlos Murphys, then Moose McGillycuddy’s. I did seven years at that place.”

Miller’s New Orleans connection is his wife. She was born there. “We went down there for the first time in 1996 and her mom showed us around.” He says he felt some deep and abiding connection to NO, as if he’d been there in a past life or something. He came home with hundreds of dollars worth of CDs. They went again in 2001 and Miller says he once again returned to San Diego with hundreds of dollars worth of CDs.

“It dawned on me when I was talking to our [Jazz 88] program director Joe Kocherhans one day. I said, I’ve got all this music. What about doing a show?” The year was 2002. Kocherhans green lighted the concept and programmed the Second Line Parade into a midday air slot on Mondays.

“After a year of doing the show we thought maybe it was a little wild for that day part.” Miller says station manager Mark DeBoskey came up with the idea to move the show to Saturday nights. “It used to be on 8pm-9pm. We shifted it to a 7pm start.” Miller says yes, he gets paid to boogie. “I started out as a volunteer. But about five or six years ago, DeBoskey got us on a pay schedule.”

It was fortuitous perhaps that Bonarama, a brass funk rock band from New Orleans and other similar hipster Second Line artists were taking off around the same time that Miller was launching his broadcast. “My first interview was with those guys.” Groups such as these pumped new life into the traditional form and, most importantly, they attracted new and younger listeners.

For each broadcast Miller says he has total autonomy. He picks his own music, calls the process of programming his show organic. “I let one song roll into the next. From that first song [of the show],” he says, “I’m in the vibe. That music speaks to me like nothin’ else.”

But he says his biggest grin of satisfaction comes when post Katrina transplants get word to him at the City College-based radio station or recognize him at a concert (he plays bass drum in the Euphoria Brass Band) and describe the hometown comfort they derive from listening to his show.

“That makes me feel like I’m doin’ it right.”

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On February 11 during the countdown to Mardi Gras Drew Miller will celebrate his tenth year as host of the Second Line Parade on KSDS Jazz 88.3 FM. As a whole, the Second Line Parade features authentic New Orleans funerary music which is what a true second line more or less is - a roving funeral with a brass band. In the fickle world of broadcast does the ten year run surprise Miller at all?

“Yeah, but mainly because of how quickly a decade can flash by. I’ve been at the station for 12 years, and I’ve been doing the show for 10.” He thinks about it for a minute more, then says “It amazes me that there’s enough audience to support the show. You know, it’s pre-recorded.”

Miller, a native San Diegan tapes each one-hour show Friday morning for playback on Saturday night. “I try hard to make it sound like I’m actually there in the studio, live, shakin’ my rump.” How does he get his Saturday night mojo going on a Friday at 11:30 in the morning? “I dim those studio lights, first of all. I thought about burning some incense to get a real swampy feel going, but I haven’t done that yet. 11:30,” he says. “I’m not an early riser.”

That’s because Miller works as a mobile deejay by trade and has since 1989. To do both jobs, he has to tape his show. There is no other way. “I’m usually working on Saturday nights doing events or weddings.” Radio was always his passion (he interned at KPRI in 1982) but it's been club work that has paid the bills.

“I was a nightclub deejay for 12 years. I was at the Rodeo in La Jolla from ’83 to ’84. In 1985 I went to Diego’s, then Carlos Murphys, then Moose McGillycuddy’s. I did seven years at that place.”

Miller’s New Orleans connection is his wife. She was born there. “We went down there for the first time in 1996 and her mom showed us around.” He says he felt some deep and abiding connection to NO, as if he’d been there in a past life or something. He came home with hundreds of dollars worth of CDs. They went again in 2001 and Miller says he once again returned to San Diego with hundreds of dollars worth of CDs.

“It dawned on me when I was talking to our [Jazz 88] program director Joe Kocherhans one day. I said, I’ve got all this music. What about doing a show?” The year was 2002. Kocherhans green lighted the concept and programmed the Second Line Parade into a midday air slot on Mondays.

“After a year of doing the show we thought maybe it was a little wild for that day part.” Miller says station manager Mark DeBoskey came up with the idea to move the show to Saturday nights. “It used to be on 8pm-9pm. We shifted it to a 7pm start.” Miller says yes, he gets paid to boogie. “I started out as a volunteer. But about five or six years ago, DeBoskey got us on a pay schedule.”

It was fortuitous perhaps that Bonarama, a brass funk rock band from New Orleans and other similar hipster Second Line artists were taking off around the same time that Miller was launching his broadcast. “My first interview was with those guys.” Groups such as these pumped new life into the traditional form and, most importantly, they attracted new and younger listeners.

For each broadcast Miller says he has total autonomy. He picks his own music, calls the process of programming his show organic. “I let one song roll into the next. From that first song [of the show],” he says, “I’m in the vibe. That music speaks to me like nothin’ else.”

But he says his biggest grin of satisfaction comes when post Katrina transplants get word to him at the City College-based radio station or recognize him at a concert (he plays bass drum in the Euphoria Brass Band) and describe the hometown comfort they derive from listening to his show.

“That makes me feel like I’m doin’ it right.”

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