Neighborhood celebrities: They’re just like us! Really.

You see them on TV and listen to them on the radio. Their faces and voices are recognized, respected, criticized and even adored, but out of the studio, these neighborhood stars are not so different from us — they exercise, stuff their faces, idolize heroes, love their grandparents, and dream of faraway places.

And despite their high-profile jobs, they don’t take themselves too seriously.

Gina Miller: CBS-Ch. 11, sports anchor

She proves sports talk isn’t just for the boys. Gina Miller is part of an emerging breed of watch-worthy female sports reporters. It makes sense — what basketball fan wouldn’t prefer their news delivered by a sultry-voiced siren instead of a gruff power-forward turned broadcaster? Sweet as she is, this lake-loving neighbor is no dingbat girly girl — she asks the questions, shoots the bull, and mans, er, womans, the sports desk with the best of them.

Do people often recognize you around town?
I get a lot of “you look really familiar.”

What’s the wildest thing a fan or viewer has said to you?
I get this a lot: “You’re so tiny! You look huge on TV.” I also had a man once tell me, while he was sitting in the pedicure chair at the same nail salon I go to, that he “hated me” because I picked the Hornets to beat the Mavs last season in the playoffs. [She was right.]

Best interview?
Michael Irvin is always really good. I once did a story on an international soccer team called the Peace Team. It was a squad composed of Israeli and Palestinian boys, and their story was so interesting and compelling.

Favorite Dallas sports player?
I have to stay partial and unbiased — Randy White and Derek Harper!  (I co-host shows with them, but they are the best.)

Favorite super hero?
Wonder Woman — fabulous outfit. When I was a kid, I tried so hard to spin super fast and become my own little super hero. It never worked.

Favorite real-life hero?
My grandfather. He taught me so much and was the most selfless person I knew.

If you got trapped in a broken elevator with one work associate, who would you hope it would be (and why)?
Steve Dennis because he always has something to say. He’ll either entertain me or put me to sleep.

Where are we most likely to find you on the morning of a day off? Night?
Running around the lake or Katy Trail; on a (very) rare night off, Matt’s. My family eats there two to three times a week.

When you get out of Dallas on vacation, where do you most like to visit?
So many places! Every year, I go to Santa Barbara/Montecito for a week. I go to New Orleans about every two months — that’s a wonderful quick, easy getaway. I like to get out of the country at least once a year.

Where have you never been that you want to go?
Spanish Islands: Majorca, Ibiza, Minorca, Formentera.

What’s the last thing you read?
A slew of basketball blogs and websites — preparing for Mavs/Spurs Game 3 right now.

Top five songs on your iPod?
“Rear View Mirror”, Pearl Jam; “All These Things That I’ve Done”, The Killers; “Sex on Fire”, Kings of Leon; “Wish List”, Pearl Jam … my favorite thing to listen to, though, is NPR’s “Sunday Puzzle” podcast. Seriously, love it.

Best movie last year?
Slumdog rocked!

Any neighborhood schools or organizations that are near and dear to you?
Lakehill Prep, Class of ’92. Go Warriors!

Describe our neighborhood in one word.
Home.

Why do you love it?
It’s such a wonderfully eclectic mix of people and beautiful structures.  From the Hutsells to the David Williams- and Dilbeck-designed homes, the architecture is some of the most important and inspiring in Dallas. The passion that Lakewood’s residents have is unrivaled, and the people are fabulously friendly. It’s the best nabe.

A place in the neighborhood that inspires you?
The lake. It’s cliché, but I remember when I moved back to Dallas, I went running there one morning very early. I watched the sun come up, and it moved me to tears. The pinks and oranges peaking on the east side of the lake in the morning in contrast to the stillness and glass-like surface of the water created a magical moment, and it was so crystal clear at that moment that I belonged back in Dallas.

What would people be surprised to find out about you? Hidden talents? Unique hobbies?
I rode horses competitively as a teenager. I’m very good with voices and accents. I can break out a decent British or Bronx accent pretty well.

I read in your bio that you wanted to run a marathon — did you do it yet? Which one? Why do you want to do it?
I was training for the Oklahoma City marathon, but that was a dumb move because that particular weekend was filled with Mavs playoff madness and the NFL Draft. I have done four half-marathons (Cowtown twice, Mardi Gras and Jerusalem) and really wanted to challenge myself and get the marathon off my life-list. Or, I guess “bucket list” is the trendy term.

Tell us about the best day on the job, and the worst day?
Best: getting the chance to interview or shoot someone or something really compelling. Learning something about a person or a place is the best part of our job. Or breaking the news about a new head coach or player signing isn’t bad either. Worst: This happens more often than not, when all our preparation and hard work fails miserably because of something silly, like a technical meltdown or weather issue. I was supposed to be live in Times Square once on a Sunday night. I had a fun, visually compelling story prepared previewing a Cowboys and Giants game that included some great Manhattan flavor and great, passionate fan interviews. Right before we’re about to hit, our live truck just blows its generator. We were toast. Our story didn’t air, and by the next day it was a dated piece.

What would you be if you weren’t a TV broadcaster?
So many things I want to do … I would love to be a full-time writer or travel journalist. I would love to be a pro tennis player — I’ll keep dreaming on that one.

What are your thoughts on Facebook/Twitter and social networking sites? Do you tweet?
I love them for many reasons! They are a great way to connect and reconnect with people and old friends. I have gotten back in touch with a ton of Lakehill friends and classmates via Facebook. I love Twitter because it’s such an instant connection with viewers. We’re able to tweet during games or during interview sessions, and it allows us to communicate with viewers in a way we’ve never been able to before. I’m at twitter.com/TXAGina.

Who’s your favorite local celeb other than yourself?
Herb Kelleher, Southwest Airlines founder. I love his approach to just about everything. He’s passionate, has amazing zest for life and created a company that values its employees in a way that makes a difference. I met him on a flight once and told him how much I admired him, and he kissed me! I love it!

Alexa Conomos: WFAA-Ch. 8, transportation reporter and midday newscast anchor

Her pretty smile almost makes you forget that she’s commenting on injury-causing accidents and insanity-inducing traffic jams along I-635 or Central Expressway. Though she has a unique knack for delivering bad news with an inherently optimistic disposition — not to mention that supernaturally shiny hair — Alexa Conomos is, in many ways, just like her neighbors.

Favorite food, drink or other must-have, and where do you buy it?
We’re blessed with so many wonderful “eats” in the neighborhood. But my top spots are the Corner Market — for their wonderfully spicy Fireball sandwich — and of course, my husband’s business, Veritas Wine Room. In addition to their diverse wine selection, they offer tons of local products, from Zip Code Honey to The Grape restaurant’s pâté.

Do people often recognize you around town?
As luck would have it (not!), it typically happens when I’m in sweat pants and T-shirts. People will sometimes say, “You know, has anyone mentioned that you resemble that woman on Channel 8!?”

What’s the most memorable thing a fan or viewer has said or done to you?
When my son was born prematurely and hospitalized for several weeks, viewers reached out to our family in the most generous way … with their prayers, kind emails, even baby gifts. To this day, my husband and I are quite humbled and touched by their outpouring of encouragement and support. Our viewers are very special, caring people. They make North Texas “home” and my job a privilege.

Favorite real-life hero?
My Greek grandmother. “Gia Gia” immigrated to the U.S. from Greece as a teenage bride, leaving her family and the old country behind. She never received an education higher than the fourth grade. Widowed at a young age, she worked for years in a food processing plant so her children could pursue a college education. Like many fellow immigrants, she endured and survived. Today, she is an incredibly spry, feisty 99-year-old sage who lives independently, drives herself to church, grows her own vegetables and lately, enjoys playing field hockey with her great-grandsons.

Where are we most likely to find you on a weekend morning? Night?
We like to start our weekend mornings with a cup of coffee at the Pearl Cup and a stroll around the ‘hood, and end our day with Louie’s pizza and a visit to Sam at Premiere Video to rent a movie.

When you get out of Dallas, where do you most like to visit?
We most often travel to Northern California to visit “Gia Gia” and my family. But we also treasure revisiting our ancestral roots in Greece and France.

What’s the last thing you read?
“Anne of Green Gables” — a return to my childhood! It’s a must read for every girl.

Describe our neighborhood in one word.
Eclectic.

What would you be if you weren’t a TV broadcaster?
Honestly, I would have loved to have become an opera singer. That said, I hardly qualify. The only person who enjoys my singing is our son. But for how long? At 1 1/2 years old, he has yet to refine his tastes!

Gary Cogill: WFAA-Ch. 8 film critic, “Good Morning Texas” co-host

Whether he’s interviewing Will Smith, Robin Williams or Paris Hilton, or praising or bashing the latest release, film guy Gary Cogill keeps it real and fun. He could talk movies all day, but he’s equally as enthusiastic about his other passions in life.

What’s the first thing you do when you leave work?
When I leave the studio after hosting “Good Morning Texas”, I go straight to my real job — reviewing movies. I watch about 400 a year.

Post-Oscar season — a rough time for movie critics?
Every year at this time I say I’m going to quit. A movie comes out this time of year, usually it has problems — “Ghosts of Girlfriends Past” and it stars Matthew McConaughey … come on. It’s so insulting. There is hope in the way of documentaries and independent films this time of year … and “Star Trek” was really fun.

Is your life consumed by movie watching, or do you get to do other things?
I love the local music scene and the theater — I might be the only person you know who went to school on a wrestling scholarship then majored in theater. I follow local bands such as Naked Lunch (a Steely Dan cover band) Northern Lights, Monte Montgomery from Austin, perhaps the finest guitar player I’ve ever heard. I love to cook … love wine. Also, I have two daughters, Carley and Corinne, who are the loves of my life.

I bet they think Dad has a pretty cool job, huh?
They do, and they have had perks come of it, too. For example, Carley wanted to ask a boy to the Sadie Hawkins dance, and I got singer Pat Green to record an invitation for her to play for the guy. It went over well.

Who’s your favorite super hero?
I grew up loving Superman, though “Superman” was not the best superhero movie — that would go to the last Batman movie.

Favorite real life hero?
Willie Mays. I fantasized about being him. At 10 years old I was absolutely glued to everything he did. I had a 1962 Willie Mays bobblehead — did you know they even made those back then? — that I kept on my dresser. My sister found that thing and sent it to me a couple years ago, still in mint condition. Found out it is worth more than $1,000 now because it’s so rare, but I will keep it forever!

What is your co-host like off air?
Amy Vanderoef is wickedly funny — I throw her curve balls all the time, and she’ll catch every one.

Best, worst or weirdest interview?
OK, I’ll name a few of the good ones. Robin Williams: He always remembers my daughters’ names and asks me about them. He listens and gives a thoughtful interview, and if you push the right button, he’ll fly around the room. George Clooney: He realizes he’s incredibly famous but makes fun of it. Meryl Streep: It doesn’t get much better than that, and she is every bit as interested in you as you are in her. As for the weird ones: Chuck Liddell, an ultimate fighter who was promoting the movie “300”, fell asleep during our interview. Paris Hilton came on to promote her movie “The Hottie and the Nottie”. I was interested because, frankly, the movie was the worst I had ever had to write about. She showed up an hour and a half late, though she was staying just feet away from our studio at the W Hotel, and she rode over in a stretch limo. Her 27 or so handlers were wearing headsets — the guy with the biggest headset became very upset that I asked her about jail at the tail end of a very softball interview. It was pretty unreal.

Where would we find you on a day off?
Working on my yard.

Where do you like to go when you get out of town?
I have a friend who lets me use a house in Hawaii — I just spent eight days there. I also love fly fishing in Portland, where I grew up. I like to stand in the stream with my fly rod and quote “A River Runs Through It”.

What are your thoughts on Twitter, Facebook and the social networking realm?
I am a little uncomfortable with having “followers”. I do tweet and I have a blog — or a rant, as I call it.

Who is your favorite local celeb other than yourself?
I am a total P1 [listens primarily to The Ticket radio station]. I am particularly fond of The Musers — Craig Miller, George Dunham and Gordon Keith. Every morning I just lie there and listen to them and laugh before I get up. I really believe that is genius radio.

What would you be doing now if you hadn’t become a movie critic?
I’d probably be unloading boxes somewhere and dreaming about becoming a world-class chef.

Krys Boyd:  KERA-FM, NPR, host of “Think

As the host of KERA’s interview show “Think”, Krys Boyd tackles some serious subjects. But before she became hooked on interrogating intriguing people, she wanted to become a comedy writer. Yeah, you can see it in her eyes — that little sparkle that says she has fun with life.

What is the first thing you do when you leave work every day?
Actually, I do a lot of work from home in the afternoons getting ready for the next day’s shows, so the first thing I do when I leave work is to start studying for work. But the first (and best) “non-work” thing I do is walk down to pick my children up from Lakewood Elementary.

Favorite food/drink or other must-have. And where do you buy it?
This one’s easy. It’s the amazingly creamy hummus from Ali Baba. We could eat this every day and never get tired of it.

Most interesting guest on the show?
Honestly, I find just about all of them fascinating, which is one reason I love my job. But having Bishop Desmond Tutu as a guest was definitely an unforgettable highlight.

Favorite topic to talk about on the show?
I like discussions about culture — how our art, ethics and ideas shape the society we live in, and how our interactions shape the individuals we become. I also love talking to scientists, because they are such creative thinkers, and they love pondering questions they can’t yet answer.

Favorite super hero?
“Letterman” from the Electric Company.

When you get out of Lakewood, where do you most like to visit?
My favorite quick weekend getaway is to Austin; there’s plenty to do, and the drive is just long enough to justify downloading whatever great new audiobook I’ve been coveting. Plus, given my horrendous sense of direction, it’s one of the few destinations I can find without whipping out the iPhone GPS.

Where have you never been that you want to go?
Based on all her wonderful stories, I would love to see the little town in Ohio where my grandmother grew up. The problem is, I long to see it exactly as it looked when she was there in the 1920s and ’30s. If we’re talking about real-world, real-time destinations, it’s a toss-up between India and South Africa.

What’s the last thing you read?
On average, I read five or six non-fiction books a week for work, which leaves little time for recreational reading. About an hour ago, I finished a fascinating book called, “Finding Our Tongues: Mothers, Infants and the Origins of Language”.

Best movie last year?
I loved “Doubt”, because months later, I still can’t decide which character’s perspective I believe.

Top five songs on your iPod?
My iPod favorites change often, but right now I am stuck on “White Winter Hymnal” by Fleet Foxes, “Gotta Have You” by The Weepies, “You Never Say” by Lisa Piccirillo, “Waiting for My Real Life to Begin” by Colin Hay, and “Adeline” by Sarah Jaffe. (I’m so proud she’s a Dallasite!)

What kind of ringtone do you have on your phone?
I picked the ringtone that sounds most like the old-school telephone we had in our kitchen growing up. (Mustard-yellow, rotary-dial, wall-mounted with about 30 feet of stretched-out, hopelessly tangled cord.)

What neighborhood organizations do you most enthusiastically support?
My children went to preschool at East Dallas Developmental Center, and since it’s a nonprofit whose volunteer board is made up of parents with children at the school, I had lots of hours to grow close to the other moms and dads there, not to mention the extraordinary staff of women who love and nurture every little one as an individual. I can’t imagine a better environment for them to have spent their days while I was at work. Now they attend Lakewood Elementary, which is a wonderful place for many of the same reasons. My 7-year-old daughter lives for Tuesday mornings, when the dads’ club presides over a program called “Math Maniacs”, which brings dozens of kids to school by 7:15 a.m. to have fun playing math games, and culminates in the delightfully agonizing decision over either a glazed or sprinkled doughnut. My husband and I joke, “Go for the doughnuts; stay for the math.”

Describe our neighborhood in one word.
Home.

Do you have any hidden talents?
Hmm. Do useless skills count? I’m a freakishly good speller, but spell-check has sort of leveled the playing field for all of us beyond eighth grade. During a time when I had less “homework” in the evenings, I developed a passion for making mosaics. There’s something unbelievably satisfying about the painstaking process of hunting for the perfect piece to fit in a design. My favorite creation is propped on my fireplace mantle; it’s a tree with autumn leaves swirling around, and in among the little bits of glass, I placed some beautiful jade cabuchons I inherited from my grandmother.

How did you end up in your line of work?
In college at TCU, I studied radio/TV/film and initially hoped to work in TV as a comedy writer. But since I needed an internship credit, I spent a summer working at a TV station in my hometown, El Paso. On my first day, I shadowed a reporter working on a story at a men’s federal prison in New Mexico. The experience of gaining access to a place I would likely never have been otherwise was so electrifying that I was instantly hooked! I came back to school in the fall and immediately started taking journalism classes.

What are your thoughts on Facebook/Twitter and other social networking sites? Do you tweet?
Ack — Twitter! I can’t bring myself to sign up because I’m fairly certain I will never have anything interesting enough to convince my friends to “subscribe” to a blow-by-blow account of the minutiae of my life. I can imagine: “Krys is eating a turkey sandwich.” “Krys forgot to get Snausages for the dog.” “Krys is searching for socks eaten by the dryer.” I am on Facebook, though, and it’s been a real kick to find and reconnect with people I hadn’t seen in years.

Who’s your favorite local celeb other than yourself?
He’s not local any more, but I have a not-so-secret crush on one of my journalism idols, Bob Schieffer, who started his career at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Where are we most likely to find you on a weekend morning? Night?
My best weekend days are spent exploring the Arboretum or biking on the Katy Trail with my family. My girlfriends and I have had some great Friday evening happy hours at Times Ten Cellars, but lately when the weather is nice, we’re just as likely to meet up for an impromptu evening cookout at Lakewood Park (with husbands and kids along for the  fun).

Craig  Miller: KTCK The Ticket, morning show host

On weekday mornings, the Marconi Award-winning Musers deliver adolescent antics, bizarre bits and hot sports opinions to droves of loyal listeners. These so-called “P1s” know Craig Miller for scatter shooting, interviews with both real and fake sports figures,  and steadily encouraging the shenanigans of his co-hosts George Dunham and Gordon Keith. They also know that beneath the snark and shtick, Miller has a lot of heart.

What is the first thing you do when you leave work every day?
Work out or eat. I’ll have a couple of PowerBars for breakfast during the show (during commercial breaks), but that’s it. So I eat lunch as soon as I can. If I’m running and it’s hot, I’ll run right after work when it’s cooler. If I’m riding my bike, I’ll wait until the afternoon.

Favorite food and where do you buy it?
Chuy’s chicken burrito.

Do people often recognize you around town?
Yes, but they usually think that I’m Brad Pitt when they first see me.

Favorite super hero?
LeBron James.

Favorite real-life hero?
Who is the hero of the day, Sully Sullenberger? I’ll go with him.

Would you rather be trapped in a broken elevator with Gordon Keith or George Dunham?
I would rather have them trapped together in the elevator and me a free man.

Where do you most like to vacation?
I love the mountains of New Mexico — Santa Fe, Taos.

Where have you never been that you want to go?
Lots of places — Australia, New Zealand, South Pacific in general. Scandinavia, too.

What’s the last thing you read?
“Ski Pioneers”, a book about the history of Taos Ski Valley.

Best movie last year?
Slumdog.

How did you end up in your line of work?
Always wanted to go into sports broadcasting, since I was a kid.  Studied radio-TV at North Texas and got lucky with a couple of good jobs along the way at KRLD and then The Ticket.

Tell us about the best day on the job, and the worst day?
The answer to both would be 9/11. It was the worst day because of what we watched unfold during our shift. We were on the air doing the morning show and had the TV on in the studio (on “Good Morning America”). We saw the planes hit the towers, and we stopped talking about whatever we were talking about and just started trying to describe what we were seeing and talk everyone through it. It was also, in a strange way, the best day at work. A lot of people said that was the day The Ticket grew up. We really bonded with our listeners. They saw that we could do more than talk sports and joke around. We became a community sounding board for weeks after that, where we could all talk about this awful event and how we all felt about it. To this day people will come up to me and say, “I’ll never forget what I was doing on 9/11 because I was listening to you guys describe the unfolding of the events.”

What would you be if you weren’t a morning show host?
I would want to do something with running and cycling. I’m really passionate and interested in both sports, from the pro scenes to the local races to the technical aspects of each sport to the science of the training.

Who’s your favorite local celeb other than yourself?
I’m the president of the fan club for Channel 4 weatherman Ron Jackson.

Extra!
‘The Ticket: Full Disclosure’

Diehard Ticket radio station listeners are in on a joke that leaves the rest of the world wide-eyed, wrinkling noses and shaking heads. Scott Boytner’s “The Ticket: Full Disclosure”, which goes on sale in bookstores this month, chronicles the station and its members’ 15 years of evolution — from the fledgling days of “flailing about and playing radio” to today, where they seem to have struck a magical balance of sports, shtick and personal vulnerability that connects them to their audience in a special way. Thanks to KTCK’s pull-back-the-curtain style, listeners might think they know it all, but even fanatics will learn something new in “Full Disclosure”, says Mike Rhyner, one of the station’s forefathers. “The neat thing about the book is that you really get to know the other guys’ back stories,” Rhyner says. “My history is pretty well documented but, yeah, I learned a few things I didn’t know about some of them.” Boytner dedicates a chapter to each of the on-air personalities, including Lakewood’s own Craig Miller, and readers are sure to sense the incredible leap of faith it took to turn the “Little Ticket” into the success it is today.


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