Sidney Miller, founder and publisher of Black Radio Exclusive (BRE) — one of the industry’s first Black music trade magazines — died Thursday in Arlington, Virginia, following a long illness. He was 89.
Miller invested his savings and sold his house and car to pursue his dream of establishing a publication specifically targeting the Black music market. Launched in 1976, BRE became a pivotal force in underscoring the importance of Black radio and promoting the cultural and commercial impact of Black artists and Black music in the contemporary music arena.
BRE’s success also spawned what became a popular industry staple, the BRE Convention. The annual event attracted key national and international music executives and over the years boasted performances from such superstars as Stevie Wonder, Prince, Marvin Gaye, Michael Jackson, Mariah Carey, Sade, LL Cool J and Tina Turner.
Miller, a Pensacola, Florida, native and Florida A&M University graduate, was a pre-med major and trumpet player who spent weekends during his student years booking band members — including college peers/siblings and future jazz icons Cannonball and Nat Adderley — for East Coast club circuit gigs. Following a stint as an army officer, Miller began his professional music career at Capitol Records.
Miller initially headed Capitol’s Fame label imprint. He also learned A&R under legendary executive Artie Mogull, working with Helen Reddy, Joe South and The Fortunes, among others. Miller later transferred from Capitol’s Atlanta branch to its famed tower headquarters in Los Angeles. That’s where he eventually helmed the entire promotion division, which encompassed country, pop and R&B. It was during this period that Miller conceived his dream project, BRE.
Miller’s subsequent business ventures included creating Hollywood Live. Hosted by renowned WBLS New York air personality Frankie Crocker, the program was an early pioneer of the live-via-satellite syndicated radio show concept, featuring 800 call-in numbers to engage the music consumer audience. Miller also served on the boards of the Recording Academy’s MusiCares Foundation, the Living Legends Foundation Inc, the National Black Programmers Coalition, the New Orleans Music Commission and the Washington, D.C. Music Commission.
Miller’s survivors include his wife Susan, sons Paxton and Sidney III, daughter Evelyn, brother Wilmer, and four grandchildren.