by Chuck Korbar
May 13, 1982
Dunkirk Native Van Miller ‘Voice Of The Buffalo Bills’
“I used to do play-by-play football with a hose and a funnel,” recalls the “Voice of the Buffalo Bills.”
It seems like a long time ago now for the 1945 Dunkirk High School graduate who played his share of sports in the Dunkirk-Fredonia area, had more than his share of injuries and would end up at the business end of a microphone where he’s been for the past 32 years.
Van Miller, whose mother Esther Nudd, still lives on Pennsylvania Avenue in Dunkirk, was a starter in his freshman and sophomore season at St. Mary’s High School basketball teams.
When Coach Eddie Hayes entered the service (World War II) Dunkirk High School Coach Charlie Aey had been encouraging Miller to come to DHS. “He kind of recruited me to Dunkirk High,” recalls Miller.
Van played football for Coach Carl Hoeppner in his junior year but in the spring of that year he injured his shoulder while working during an after school job.
“The shoulder was never healed surgically,” Van recalls. To this day he has to serve in tennis left-handed because of it.
Van Miller was a starter on a team that lost just three basketball games in his senior year, and the next year attended Fredonia State College, where he played a year of basketball.
But a leg injury in his senior year in high school, coupled with the shoulder injury—problem in the days of the two-handed set shot—changed Van’s direction.
“I really wanted to be a coach and athletic director, but the injuries took a lot out of me,” he admits.
It was in college that Van was listening to WFCB basketball broadcast. “They had such a terrible play-by-play man that I called up and told the manager I know I can do better than that. He hired me,” recalls Miller.
So for five years Van Miller worked at WFCB.
In 1955 he moved on to WBEN radio in Buffalo as a summer replacement. He’s been there ever since.
Television “just sort of evolved” according to Van. He’s done TV’s triple crown of news, weather and sports during his career and virtually everything else on camera at the studio.
The Buffalo Bills began in 1960 and WBEN had the contract. “I convinced them I was the guy,” he said of winning the Voice of the Bills job over Chuck Healy.
It was a different era. “I did the pre-game, half-time interviews, the postgame show… I did it all,” recalls Van of his early days with the Bills.
“It’s play-by-play where you separate the men from the boys,” says Van, who has been the first radio voice of the Bills, Buffalo Braves (NBA), and Buffalo Stallions (Major Indoor Soccer League) and has also done wrestling, auto racing, girls basketball and soap boy derbies on the air.
His only regret? “I had a hat trick, “he says of his role as announcer for the Bills, Braves, and Stallions, “but I’ve never done a Sabres game. And I’d like to.”
That’s Van Miller, the voice, as we run through 100 years of OBSERVER sports history.