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Ray Miller (Texas journalist)

Ray Miller (ca. 1919September 27, 2008) was the creator and host of The Eyes of Texas (19691999), a television anthology series, syndicated through KPRC-TV, a NBC outlet in Houston. A native of Fort Worth, Miller began his career in radio there in 1938 and thereafter relocated to Houston. In 1951, KPRC Radio bought the first television station in Houston, which became Channel 2, owned by the Hobby family. Miller was known for his journalistic intensity, black horn rim glasses, and an elegant speaking voice in his narration of the history and culture of Texas.

The Eyes of Texas

The Eyes of Texas examines such topics as unique Texas residents and out-of-the-way attractions. It remains the longest-running local program in the history of the Houston television market. In addition to his anthology, Miller was the news director at both KPRC radio and television for more than four decades.The Eyes of Texas has been loosely compared to the long-running syndicated program, Texas Country Reporter, hosted from Dallas by Bob Phillips. On his retirement from television, Miller was a tour guide in Houston. He also wrote ten books, Eyes of Texas travel guides and other works on forts and parks in Houston and nearby Galveston. One of his best known books is Ray Miller's Houston, published in 1992.

Miller joined the staff of Harris County Precinct 3 County Commissioner Steve Radack, a Republican, who described Miller as "so compassionate, loyal, had an incredible ability to give people inspiration to live." Radack appointed Miller to head special projects, many of which served senior citizens. Miller was still skiing well into his eighties, Radack said.

In 1979, Miller retired as Channel 2 news director, but he continued to work as the host of another series Ray Miller's Texas until the late 1980s. In 1999, veteran journalist Ron Stone succeeded Miller as host of The Eyes of Texas. Stone died some five months before Miller. Ray Miller also worked with the Harris County Historical Commission to procure historical markers for several sites. Miller donated his extensive book collection to Harris County.

Mentoring other journalists

In 1976, Miller hired then 25-year-old Phil Archer as a KPRC reporter. Archer recalls that Miller had "incredible intellect, practically glowed in the dark. . . . To be hired by Ray Miller was like winning the lottery. He was just the best." Archer noted too that Miller viewed journalism as a higher calling and as a public service, Archer said. Baseball announcer Mike Capps said that Miller was "the epitome of a hard-line newsman. He was spit, polish and shine." During his storied career, Miller served as a mentor to hundreds of journalists, including former CBS anchorman Dan Rather and United States Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, a Texas Republican who was the first female television newswoman in Texas. Rather said that Miller was "so honest that you could shoot dice with him over the phone." In a prepared statement, Hutchison said that Miller "gave me my first job, taking a chance on a new law school graduate who had never had a class in journalism. I learned more from him than I could have ever imagined possible. He impacted me in many ways: to strive for excellence, to be the very best, never take 'no' for an answer."

Family and legacy

During World War II, Miller met his wife, the former Veronica Gray (1921-2008), a native of Australia. He also served in the Korean War and covered the Vietnam War for KRPC. The couple had two sons, the late Geoffrey Miller and Gray Hampton Miller (born 1948), a United States District Judge in Houston, appointed in 2006 by U.S. President George W. Bush. Miller died of natural causes after a lengthy illness; Mrs Miller succumbed at the age of eighty-seven on August 27, 2008, exactly one month before her husband's passing. Services were held on October 3, 2008, at St. Michael's Catholic Church in Houston. Interment was in Glenwood Cemetery in Houston. Miller received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from the University of Houston. The Texas Association of Broadcasters designated him as a "Pioneer Broadcaster." While at KPRC, he won a Peabody Award, the broadcast equivalent of a Pulitzer Prize. He was a Knight of San Jacinto. The Texas State Legislature named him a "Texas Legend". Radack proposed the naming of Ray Miller Park at 1800 Eldridge Parkway in west Houston and presided over the dedication ceremony. Meanwhile, a new version of The Eyes of Texas has returned to the Channel 2 lineup. Repeats of Miller's series run on KUHT-TV, as the archival series Texas: Our Texas.

Houston newsman Dave Ward recalls Miller as "a true professional. He wasn't an easy man to work for. He demanded excellence. . . . He usually got his way. He was a great news director in television. The Houston market was very lucky to have him.


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