The Nation’s Largest African American Video Oral History Collection Mobile search icon Mobile close search icon
Advanced Biography Search
Mobile navigation icon Close mobile navigation icon

George L. Miles, Jr.

George L. Miles, Jr. was born on November 13, 1941 in Orange, New Jersey. He is one of Eula and George Miles’ seven children. In 1963, Miles earned his B.A. degree in accounting from Seton Hall University and his M.B.A. from Fairleigh Dickinson University in 1970. He also became a New Jersey-licensed certified public accountant in 1972.

Following his graduation from Seton Hall University, Miles worked for the Department of Defense for six years in the Defense Audit Agency as a contract auditor during President Kennedy and President Johnson’s terms in office. In 1969, Miles began work with Touche Ross & Company in New York City. In 1972, he left as an audit manager. While at Touche Ross, Miles studied at Fairleigh Dickinson University to earn his M.B.A. He joined KDKA-TV/DKDA-AM/WPNT in 1978, working as a business manager and controller. From 1981 through 1984, Miles served as station manager for WBZ-TV in Boston. In 1983, assigned by Westinghouse Broadcasting, Miles served as Chief Administrative Officer for National Public Radio (NPR), in order to analyze, develop and execute plans and procedures which allowed NPR to obtain relief from fiscal difficulties. Between 1984 and 1994, Miles became Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer of WNET/13 in New York. In 1994, Miles was appointed President and CEO of WQED Multimedia, a public broadcasting media company which encompasses WQED-TV, WQEX-TV, WQED-FM and PITTSBURGH magazine.

Miles has received Honorary Doctorates from Robert Morris University, La Roche College and St. Joseph’s College. He is also a recipient of the Pinnacle Award for Outstanding Achievement as an alumnus of Fairleigh Dickinson University. In 2006, The New Pittsburgh Courier named him one of the “Fifty Most Influential African-Americans.” Miles was also the 2007 Recipient of the Point Park University Performing Arts Partnership & Achievement Award.

Miles sits on the boards of American International Group, Inc.; Chester Engineers, Inc.; Equitable Resources, Inc.; Harley-Davidson, Inc.; HFF, Inc. and WESCO International, Inc. He also served as a former Chairman of the Urban League of Pittsburgh.

Miles lives in Pittsburgh and is married to Janet L. Miles. They have a daughter, Tammy and granddaughter, Taylor.

Miles was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 12, 2008.

Accession Number

A2008.103

Sex

Male

Interview Date

8/12/2008

Last Name

Miles

Maker Category
Middle Name

L.

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Orange High School

Oakwood Avenue Community School

Lincoln Avenue School

Orange Preparatory Academy

Seton Hall University

Fairleigh Dickinson University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

George

Birth City, State, Country

Orange

HM ID

MIL07

Favorite Season

Spring

State

New Jersey

Favorite Vacation Destination

Anywhere Warm

Favorite Quote

Wonderful.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Pennsylvania

Birth Date

11/13/1941

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Pittsburgh

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Snack Foods

Short Description

Broadcast executive George L. Miles, Jr. (1941 - ) was the president and CEO of WQED Multimedia, a public broadcasting media company which encompasses WQED-TV, WQEX-TV, WQED-FM and PITTSBURGH magazine.

Employment

WQED Multimedia

Young Men's Christian Association

Otis Elevator Company

Defense Contract Audit Agency

Touche Ross and Co.

KDKA-TV

Westinghouse Broadcasting Company

National Public Radio

WNET-TV

Favorite Color

Red

Timing Pairs
0,0:1500,26:7222,97:10376,148:11040,157:11538,164:12036,177:23024,397:26796,433:33028,667:33356,672:41881,747:42266,753:42959,763:44191,789:44499,794:47964,872:52725,909:53325,918:61862,1124:62676,1141:63120,1149:65932,1297:66894,1385:89314,1619:89788,1626:92632,1689:94765,1741:95081,1750:95476,1756:98241,1822:98952,1832:99663,1843:101164,1872:101717,1880:102191,1916:104956,1952:112145,2156:118760,2162:119318,2172:121426,2225:121798,2303:124392,2328:132850,2396:133340,2404:142970,2598:145792,2699:152432,2818:154590,2850:155005,2856:155752,2866:162589,2953:163087,2960:164249,2977:164830,2985:174658,3155:178746,3192:181089,3266:181657,3301:192932,3470:198935,3605:199280,3611:199901,3621:202868,3671:204248,3700:205007,3717:205490,3725:206939,3754:209147,3780:214590,3805:215150,3813:215710,3822:216830,3839:217390,3847:221630,3923:222910,3951:224750,4008:228840,4042$0,0:237,5:7031,187:14154,355:17731,452:23278,527:24298,595:26814,763:34512,839:35135,847:47765,1063:51592,1139:52838,1155:53283,1161:59910,1241:61174,1268:62043,1287:65756,1418:70856,1453:75758,1567:77134,1593:78768,1618:84405,1740:85680,1773:92820,1983:94010,2002:105862,2224:122774,2497:126050,2612:129982,2669:133366,2751:133798,2761:134590,2780:135670,2881:147204,3037:154887,3166:159194,3257:164479,3294:164874,3300:166217,3334:167876,3373:173485,3516:173880,3522:174749,3536:175223,3543:176724,3567:177356,3577:183418,3605:185140,3620
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of George L. Miles, Jr.'s interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - George L. Miles, Jr. lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - George L. Miles, Jr. describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - George L. Miles, Jr. talks about the close relationships within his maternal family

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - George L. Miles, Jr. remembers his mother's accomplishments

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - George L. Miles, Jr. describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - George L. Miles, Jr. recalls lessons from his father

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - George L. Miles, Jr. describes his likeness to his parents

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - George L. Miles, Jr. talks about how his parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - George L. Miles, Jr. describes his earliest childhood memories, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - George L. Miles, Jr. describes his earliest childhood memories, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - George L. Miles, Jr. describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - George L. Miles, Jr. describes his experiences at the Oakwood Avenue School in Orange, New Jersey

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - George L. Miles, Jr. recalls his early work experiences

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - George L. Miles, Jr. remembers his teachers at the Oakwood Avenue School

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - George L. Miles, Jr. talks about his early interest in sports

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - George L. Miles, Jr. talks about his family connections to Dionne Warwick and Cissy Houston

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - George L. Miles, Jr. talks about his interest in doo wop music

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - George L. Miles, Jr. describes his extracurricular activities at Orange High School in Orange, New Jersey

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - George L. Miles, Jr. describes his decision to attend Seton Hall University in South Orange, New Jersey

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - George L. Miles, Jr. recalls how he paid his tuition at Seton Hall University

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - George L. Miles, Jr. describes his work and study habits at Seton Hall University

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - George L. Miles, Jr. recalls his professors and peers at Seton Hall University

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - George L. Miles, Jr. describes his struggle to find a position as a certified public accountant

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - George L. Miles, Jr. talks about his U.S. Army service in the Vietnam War, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - George L. Miles, Jr. talks about his U.S. Army service in the Vietnam War, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - George L. Miles, Jr. describes his position at Touch Ross and Co.

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - George L. Miles, Jr. remembers meeting his wife

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - George L. Miles, Jr. recalls his introduction to the media industry at KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - George L. Miles, Jr. describes his experiences at the Westinghouse Broadcasting Company

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - George L. Miles, Jr. talks about the reorganization of National Public Radio

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - George L. Miles, Jr. talks about his operational strategy for public broadcast stations

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - George L. Miles, Jr. recalls joining WQED Multimedia in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - George L. Miles, Jr. describes his success at WQED-TV

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - George L. Miles, Jr. talks about the programming on WQED-TV, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - George L. Miles, Jr. recalls the production of 'The War That Made America'

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - George L. Miles, Jr. talks about the programming on WQED-TV, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - George L. Miles, Jr. remembers 'Mister Rogers' Neighborhood'

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - George L. Miles, Jr. talks about the future of WQED Multimedia

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - George L. Miles, Jr. reflects upon his life

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - George L. Miles, Jr. describes his role as an advisor for public broadcasting stations

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - George L. Miles, Jr. describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - George L. Miles, Jr. talks about his daughter

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - George L. Miles, Jr. describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - George L. Miles, Jr. narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$4

DAStory

3$6

DATitle
George L. Miles, Jr. talks about the reorganization of National Public Radio
George L. Miles, Jr. describes his success at WQED-TV
Transcript
Then one day I got a call from a, the, my boss in New York [New York] asking me if I would go to Washington, D.C. for a six month stint to work for National Public Radio [NPR]. This is 1983. And would I, will I, if I would go and go to Washington, D.C. as a chief administrator officer for National Public Radio. Because they were going, they needed a temporary management team down there, 'cause they were going through these major fiscal crisis (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) They were going through a big crisis, yeah.$$Big time crisis.$$Reagan [President Ronald Wilson Reagan] I think cut it 90 percent or something.$$Well, it was about cutting back, but it was also about mismanagement, just mismanagement. A guy named Frank Mankiewicz and, chief financial officer there, and it was just like they had setup these great programs of 'All Things Considered,' 'Morning Edition' and, and there were just no business acumen whatsoever. So I went down there with a team headed up by a gentleman by the name of Ron Bornstein [Ronald Bornstein] out of Wisconsin, I was his chief administrator officer. Went down there for six months to get it back on track, we did a lot things. It gave me, first of all I didn't know anything about public broadcast, I didn't even know where it was on the dial. So that when I left Boston [WBZ-TV, Boston, Massachusetts] a friend of mine had to show me where public broadcasting was on the dial. And I went down to work there 'cause it was something new and, and I worked for six months and we got a lot of things accomplished. You know and they had all sorts of problems. Everybody had credit cards in the company, we had--took credit cards, we had to lay people off, we had to fire the president. We had to fire the chief financial officer, but I got involved with stuff, we had to put a budgeting process in place. I got a chance to, to testify before [U.S.] Congress, and many of Congress. Never would have had that opportunity before, and got to know a whole new business. After we finished, we put in an old, Mel Ming [HistoryMaker H. Melvin Ming] as a matter of fact.$$Yeah Mel--$$Hired Mel Ming, put Mel Ming as the chief financial officer down there with another guy and I left, went back to Boston [Massachusetts]. And I was in, and I was having a good time in Boston, then get a call, then they also, National Public Radio made me the chairman of their finance committee, on the boards. I sat on the board there and I was back up Boston, so now I was like straddling two worlds, I was straddling public broadcasting, I was straddling also public, public, public broadcasting on one side and commercial broadcasting. And I was in and out and I knew, I knew this, I could see the difference. Then one day I get a call from a headhunter in New York, wanted me to take a look at this job in New York as, as the chief operating officer of Channel 13 [WNET-TV] in New York. This company was going through some major fiscal crisis and major working capital deficits, it had all sorts of non- they were just not being run like a business. All, it was a major, hundred million dollar company being run like a mom and pop operation. So I said this is a great opportunity, my wife [Janet Miles] is in New Jersey, New York. I can move back to my house, and move into my house and then move down to this big entity, which I know nothing about and see if we can straighten those problems out. And we did it, came back, one of the persons I, first person I recruited to come up to New York was Mel Ming. Mel, bring him in, brought him out, NPR brought him up here to become my chief financial officer at in New York. And we spent, I spent ten years there, we moved from a company that was working capital deficits of about $7 million to a company that working in the red. To a company that was prospering, to a company that was built an endowment of almost seventy mil- had started an endowment process. Hired a lot of new people, put a whole new memberships in, to the place was really good shape after ten years.$What national programs are being produced here--$$Well--$$--when you--$$Well, you had 'Infinite Voyage' ['The Infinite Voyage']; you had 'Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego,' National Geographic [National Geographic Society] started here. You had--'Mister Rogers' ['Mister Rogers' Neighborhood'] was here, many, many (unclear) people, all big national things had started out as--but what happened in Pittsburgh [Pennsylvania] was a lot of these big corporations had left Pittsburgh, so Pittsburgh didn't have the sort, this station [WQED-TV, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania] didn't have the sort of funding as a New York [New York] or Boston [Massachusetts] or D.C. [Washington, D.C.]. So that's, they, but they were still committed to these big projects, so that's, that's a part of the problem.$$Okay.$$So that's, that's, that's what you're dealing with, so what I had to do, I had to first of all, first of all (laughter), had to do was let everybody know there's a new sheriff in town, that we gonna do business differently. And had to go back to my roots of New Jersey and had to shake it up a little bit, I mean--here the first week and literally fired three people, straightaway. Had to let them know that this is no longer gonna be this quiet station, we're gonna change.$$Were they business, I mean management, management type--$$Yeah.$$Okay, all right, okay.$$Didn't need them, didn't actually didn't need them, they were just here. And so we did that, then we set a direction, we had sit down worked out a plan on where we gonna go. We said we're gonna be the local, we're not gonna be national, we're gonna be local, and then we had to go. Then I had to go out and sell, that's why I brought Mel [HistoryMaker H. Melvin Ming] in, I said, "Mel, you take care of the inside, I'll go take care of the outside." Then I had to go rebuild the creditability, 'cause a lot press had been written about QED [WQED Multimedia, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania] and, and how bad it you know had turned and all the other things that had gone on. Management had kept themselves focusing in on their, on their perks as opposed to their, their organization, didn't keep its eye on the marketplace, but just kept itself on its own self. And that was a problem. So what happened was I had to go back and rebuild the creditability, all sorts of negative stories about this place. So I had to go out and meet a lot of people, I was everywhere, everywhere in this community I was there. "Hi, how you doing, I'm George Miles [HistoryMaker George L. Miles, Jr.], I'm here, I'm the new president of WQ, by the way, I'm here, I was here before. I'm the lo- I was a local guy," so let them know that I'm still part of them, so just started building your credit. You gotta give people to like you, you, get people to understand you.$$Was, was the station seen as elitist or snobbish or, or, I, I don't what, what was the--$$All of the above (simultaneous).$$--(simultaneous) what was the negative, yeah--$$It was lot, I mean it was elitist, it was, it was wasting money, it was, it was not iden- it didn't have the common touch. In fact one of the things I continue to say over and over again that I didn't want this to be your grandfather's publication, public service media, public media company, I wanted this to be a place that belong to the community, the entire community. Not just part of the community on the East End [Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania], this is a, gonna belong to everybody. And the program that we're gonna be developing was about people in the entire community as opposed to folks who were just part of a certain economic class.