Fox 32's Dionne Miller talks Bears Draft, Cutler and Cubs (Exclusive)

Fox 32's Dionne Miller talks Bears Draft, Cutler and Cubs (Exclusive)

Dionne Miller is a sports reporter for WFLD Fox 32. She appears regularly on the “Final Word” 10-10:35 p.m. on Sundays. She appears alongside Tom Waddle and Marc Silverman co-hosts of WMVP’s Waddle and Silvy show on ESPN radio 1000. And sometimes Barry Rozner.

Here’s a short version of the Dionne Miller career biography. She’s a Chicago Cubs and Chicago Bears expert. As it’s April, I figured it was time to talk Cubbies, what the Bears will do in the NFL Draft next week and my favorite topic: Jay Cutler.

You can follow Dionne Miller on Twitter.

PAUL M. BANKS: First tell us a little bit about your background, why you chose this business, how you got to Fox

DIONNE MILLER: For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a teacher. I was determined to have students standing on the desks quoting Shakespeare…very “Dead Poets Society,” I know. But along the way, I fell in love with writing. I added a Journalism major, then stumbled into a TV class to fulfill a communications requirement and here I am. It was love at first light- the red light on the camera that is. I was hooked. And since I was already talking about sports, it made sense to make that the focus.

After a couple of internships, I was offered my first job as a Sports Reporter/ Anchor in Billings Montana. (KSVI/KHMT) I was a one-woman-band, filming, editing, producing and delivering everything we covered– a lot of high school sports, rodeo and racing –during my 18 months in Big Sky Country.

From there, I took my one-woman show to Burlington, VT to be their weekend Sports Anchor/Reporter. Again doing it all covering the University of Vermont, as well as lots, and lots of high school sports…and of course the Red Sox- it is New England after all. After 2+ years there, I moved to San Diego, CA to be the weekend Sports Anchor/Reporter for Fox 6 (XETV). Finally stopped carrying a camera and focused on Chargers, Padres and whatever else happened to be going on.

My stay there was shorter than I wanted, but it opened a door for me to go home for a bit – freelance Anchor/Reporter in Sarasota, FL (my hometown), working at WWSB. I was there for about 7 months before an opportunity came in Columbus, OH to be a part of a brand new local sports network. I was the main female anchor there for the 18 months it lasted. But again, I was blessed with a chance to get involved with FOX Sports Ohio.

I worked as pre/post-game show host for the Cleveland Cavaliers for the next four years. Adding in a couple seasons with Big Ten Network, as sideline reporter for any and every sport they do- and its a lot.

Then in the spring of 2012, I got the chance of a lifetime, to come to the greatest sports city in the world and call Chicago home. I jumped!! I’ve been at FOX 32 for a little over a year and love it!!


PAUL M. BANKS: Any media role models or mentors?

DIONNE MILLER: My main mentor is ESPN Anchor, Kevin Negandhi. I interned with Kevin years ago and learned a tremendous amount about hard work, dedication to being good at this job, and putting people first. Jeane Coakley at SNY is also a mentor/hero in my life. Never lets anyone tell her she can’t do anything- she’s amazing.

As far as role models: Robin Roberts- Um, she’s amazing!! Dan Patrick- best interviewer in the business. Holly Rowe- incredibly talented reporter.


PAUL M. BANKS: The Bears have already addressed tight end and offensive line via free agency, but what do you think their top priorities will be in the draft? Possibly the most pressing areas of need outside o-linemen and linebacker? A lot of people are thinking defensive tackle is a huge priority now that they’ve released Toeina. Do you think they will resign Israel Idonije? Where might we expect Urlacher to land?

DIONNE MILLER: The Bears have gotten better through free agency- adding a TE, a Pro Bowl O-lineman, and a “replacement” for Brian Urlacher. But Phil Emery has made it clear, he wants his first and second round picks to contribute, right away. So, my guess is he goes Offensive lineman with the first pick- probably Right Tackle at this point. They can say all they want about faith in Gabe Carimi and J’Marcus Webb to fight for that position, but neither of them was very good last year- no matter where they played. I suspect that’s the biggest area of concern. Followed by middle linebacker. DJ Williams has the experience, now they need the longevity that comes from youth. There is no “replacing” Urlacher with a rookie this season, but they need someone to show signs of that kind of leadership for the future of the Bears.

Defensive Tackle has to be a priority too with the release of Matt Toenia, they need the depth and will likely be adding that through the draft at this point.

Hearing there is interest in Israel Idonije, but I’d like to seem him back. For what he does on and off the field. I know its more about in game production than anything for Emery, but from the outside, he is so giving and involved in the community, why would you not want that in the locker room? Truth be told, I asked the same question before they decided to walk away from talks to keep Urlacher so what do I know?

Still can’t quite believe he won’t be back. He likely can’t believe it either, considering he still doesn’t have a job. I hope he doesn’t retire, but it’d be harder to see him in purple (Vikings) or worse yet-green! I would think Rod Marinelli would want him in Dallas, or he would want to play in Arizona since he spends so much time there already.


PAUL M. BANKS: When Jay Cutler does something emotional/shows how seriously he takes the game, people criticize him for that. And then you have Bears fans/Chicagoans who find him aloof and condescending. Which is kind of contradictory and doesn’t make sense some times. What are your thoughts on the way Jay is portrayed in the media? What do you think most Chicagoans think of Cutler?

DIONNE MILLER: I am a big Jay Cutler fan, on and off the field. I understand where the reputation comes from. I do.

I certainly wouldn’t answer questions or use the body language he does in public, but it’s who he is. He is consistent. It’s not a show, it’s just who he is. I’m not going to dislike him because he doesn’t smile all the time.

I want him to be friendly to kids and the fans, but there are no rules that say he has to.

I don’t want to have him over for dinner and drinks, I want him to win. And until he wins the Super Bowl, maybe twice, he will always be high on the ‘most disliked athlete’ list. Because he isn’t like Aaron Rodgers or Peyton Manning, or even Eli Manning.

But national perception is definitely different than local perception. I think his radio show helped Bears fans in the city see him differently in a lot of ways. He’s sarcastic, funny and quick witted, but also cares about people he’s close to- and loyal. The issues come if his personality divides the locker room in anyway. If that is happening, it's not public…at least not yet.


PAUL M. BANKS: Shifting gears to the Cubs, what did you see out of this team thus far? What can Cubs fans expect this year? How about moving forward with the grand rebuilding plan of Theo Epstein? When will Chicago see the “green shoots” of growth with this ballclub?

DIONNE MILLER: Here’s what I know about the 2013 Cubs- Jeff Samardzija is a beast. I love his competitiveness and I love his personality in the clubhouse. I asked him back in Spring Training if it bothers him that everyone says they are “rebuilding.” He said that’s not even a real question, we want to win – now- despite the reality of how difficult that may be. No one shows that drive more than he does. And I love it. Cubs fans should love it. I just hope he doesn’t start the season so strong he pitches his way into a mega trade. After all he’s a one year deal.

But Cubs fans, what you see is what you’re going to get until the trade deadline. Sudden spurts of good baseball to make you forget about the bad baseball for roughly 3 or 4 innings at best. Time, patience and plenty of beer will likely be the formula for surviving 2013.

But it won’t be worse than last year. I boldly say 89 losses.

And I boldly back Team Theo. How can you not?

He is more convinced they are on schedule than ever before. And he sees everything- at every level. Fans will see some of the growth this season, as injuries and/or trades force shuffling from the minors up. And if Theo says 2015 then I believe him, that is for another 316 games…then patience will be thinner…

Paul M. Banks is the owner of The Sports, an author and regular contributor to MSN, Fox Sports , Chicago Now, and Walter Football.

Banks has appeared on Comcast SportsNet and the History Channel, as well as Clear Channel, ESPN and CBS radio all over the world. President Barack Obama follows him on Twitter (@PaulMBanks)

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