Alumni Spotlight

Alumni Spotlight: Day in the life of “Today”

For Lee Miller ‘99, Saturday mornings begin at 4 a.m. He works an atypical work week, at the office by 4 a.m. on weekends and 5 a.m. on Wednesday through Friday. Weekdays are spent in meetings and prepping for the weekend where he works with some of the most famous news anchors and TV personalities in the country.

Miller directs the weekend Today Show and weekend NBC Nightly News.

“There are exceptions when I’ll direct the 9 o’clock and 10 o’clock Today Show during the week,” Miller said. “I do everything involved with the Today Show then come back to the office to put on my other hat and go to meetings to prepare for the Nightly News.”

Before launching his career in New York, Miller never actually thought he would attend Auburn. His parents met there and Auburn was like a second home for him growing up.

“I went to every home football game as far back as I can remember,” Miller said. “I just applied to Auburn for kicks since my parents went there, but then I got serious about it since I wanted to minor in music. It was actually the music department that swayed me and brought me in.”

During his years at Auburn, Miller studied Mass Communication and minored in music. He was president of the campus Student Recruiters and part of the AU Singers for all four years. He participated in AU Singer Concert Choir, the Men’s Choir and Opera Workshops.

“I’ve been in New York for 16 years and what stood out most during job interviews here were my extracurricular activities and music involvement,” Miller said.

To Miller, what stood out about his time at Auburn was the support.

“Everyone at Auburn was so supportive about my career,” Miller said. “I got a good, well-rounded picture about what the media business would be like at Auburn and when I wanted to come to New York everyone had my back 100 percent.”

Miller recalls a surreal moment from his sophomore year at Auburn. He describes signing the National Anthem at a home basketball game.

“The coolest moment was hearing the late Carl Stephens introduce me and say my name in front of the crowd,” he said. “It was so surreal to hear him announce my name after listening to him announce games for so many years.”

When it was time for Miller to apply for internships, he already had New York in mind. The summer after his junior year, the AU Singers went to New York on tour and visited the Today Show plaza one morning.

Katie Couric’s assistant was an Alabama graduate and came over to sort of heckle us,” Miller said. “I immediately asked her who I could get in touch with for an internship. After a year in the works, I did my internship at the Today Show.”

_AUP1278

Alumus Lee Miller directs the weekend Today Show and NBC Nightly News

As his internship was wrapping up, he noticed a receptionist was leaving and asked to take over the job. They hired him and he worked as a receptionist for a year before hired as a production assistant for five years.

“I mostly spent my time looking over scripts and production paperwork when I was bit by the directing bug,” Miller said. “When I finally became a director it was like this fun adventure turned into a career, then a marriage, then a baby.”

Miller met his wife, Ashley ’02, at an Auburn bar in New York. They both attended Auburn at the same time, but didn’t know each other until they met in New York.

“It’s been really nice being able to share the same roots like an Auburn background with her since we’re so far away,” Miller said.

Miller grew up watching the Today Show every morning and said everyone is exactly how he hoped they would be.

“One thing I didn’t expect was everyone being so nice and down to earth,” Miller said. “I can call the staff and crew friends now, we’re like a dysfunctional family. The staff consists of people like me who came here to try to do something big, we are from all over the country with that in common.”

Miller says that sometimes while working on a show, his favorite thing about directing happens.

“Sometimes I have to toss the script in the garbage and go with the flow,” Miller said. “I’ll be working with Kathie Lee and Hoda and something I didn’t plan on happens and it’s funny so I just listen and follow their lead.”