Cancer claims the voice of ‘Bison Nation’

There aren’t a lot of radio broadcasters left who can be called legends in their community, but Scott Miller certainly qualified as one.

Miller, the voice of the North Dakota State University Bisons, died today of the skin cancer that was diagnosed in 2012. He was just 57.

“He was really a witty guy,” Fargo Forum columnist and writer Jeff Kolpack said. “I just don’t think that came out in his radio stuff because he was so professional.”

Miller was quick with a quip, and was a huge fan of the Seinfeld television series, capable of reciting dialogue from the comedy at length, he said. But those were diversions from what—and whom—he cared most about.

“I think he liked being around the coaches and players,” Kolpack said. “They were like his family.”

Daryl Ritchison, formerly a meteorologist for WDAY and a friend of MIller’s since both were hired at almost the same time 20 years ago, agreed that Miller, a lifelong bachelor, in essence was married to his work.

“It was almost like he was married to Bison Nation,” Ritchison said. “So many people loved him because of that. It gets said too often, but he really was an amazing person. The world could use a lot more Scott Millers.”

Mike McFeely, a broadcast partner, called Miller “one of the best, kindest, gentlest, humblest, purest, most genuine souls any of us could ever know.”

Not long before his death, while he was lying in a hospital bed with all kinds of unhappy things happening and all kinds of critical things about which he had to think, he looked at me and asked about my family.

“Where are the girls tonight?” he asked, that once-strong voice reduced to a weakened whisper.

He was asking about my wife, Michelle, and our daughter Emma, who he never failed to ask about because he adored them. I told him Emma had confirmation class and Michelle was picking her up at the church. And Scotty smiled because he always smiled when I told him what Michelle and Emma were doing, even though he was in about the worst spot a person could be in.

That was the kind of man Scott Miller was, asking me about my family when anything other than himself should’ve been a million miles from his thoughts. A damn good man.

“You knew Scott, too,” McFeely said. “He was your friend, too. That’s the way radio works. You invited him into your pickup or living room or man cave or garage or combine every time you flicked on a Bison or RedHawks game. Like all great play-by-play guys, he had you pumping your fist and screaming with joy during the triumphant moments—’My oh my!’—and swearing through gritted teeth at the disappointing ones.”