More than 20 years ago, creating awareness for charitable causes wasn't the top priority for George Dunham and Craig Miller. Way back then, the hosts of "The Ticket" KTCK-AM (1310)'s morning show were just beginning to live out their dreams of working at an all-sports radio station. Simply staying employed was their primary goal. Well, that, and:
"All George cared about back then was getting drunk," Miller says with a smile from a meeting room inside the Ticket's studios in Victory Park in Dallas. Dunham is quick to point out that, now, he's focused on bigger causes.
"In our 20s, we were just starting," he says. "And I remember seeing other radio guys being philanthropic and thinking, 'Well, that's cool, I guess,' but along the way, it finally hit me that there's so much need out there and we're in a position where we can help a lot of people, so we need to do that."
The former college roommates at University of North Texas have promoted a sort of "charity week," for the past several years, with both hosts' primary personal charity events taking place a few days apart from each spring. Dunham's annual Jub Jam concert, an all-star country gig benefiting the Senior Source, and Miller's Swing for Hope golf tournament, which benefits the Hope Supply Company, have been sold-out successes as long as they've been around.
In an unplanned, intriguing bit of symmetry, the locally based organizations care for two areas of the population gravely in need of assistance: senior citizens and homeless children.
For Miller, it was a simple request from his aunt 15 years ago that led to his involvement with Hope Supply Company (formerly known as Captain Hope's Kids), a local organization dedicated to helping homeless children by providing diapers, clothing and much more.
"That realization really hit me hard and made the cause very important to me."
A lifelong music lover, Dunham finally started his own country band, the Bird Dogs, in 2009, and hosted the first Jub Jam in 2012. For more than 50 years, the Senior Source has been a resource for older adults in need of a wide array of care. Like Miller, Dunham drew inspiration from his own family as he connected with the charity's cause.
Before Dunham's parents passed away over a decade ago, both battled debilitating conditions in their final years, he said. The heartbreaking memories of those declining times have motivated Dunham.
Both events, along with the many others hosted by Ticket personalities, have become major marks on the annual calendars for local golfers and music lovers. Given the station repeatedly enjoys the highest ratings in North Texas, the power of the P1 (the nickname the station has given its listeners), is an invaluable tool.
"I think we have a responsibility to do something worthy, aside from making funny sports jokes," George Dunham says.
"And our audience is amazing, because when we hold up a banner and say, 'hey, these guys need some help,' the response is overwhelming. The P1s make it all happen."
Going back to the very first golf tournament they hosted in 1994 as twentysomethings, for Special Olympics, Dunham and Miller knew they could help people. And that sense has grown as the appreciation for what good they can do has come into sharper focus with age.
"All of us here at the Ticket will admit we are blessed," Dunham says. "Going back to our days as roommates in college, it's cool to see how Craig and I have grown, and how, at this point in our lives, we care about more than just the next funny story."
Jub Jam is on Thursday, April 13 at 7 p.m. at the Kessler Theater, 1230 W. Davis St., Dallas. Sold out. (We said it's popular!) Details here.
Craig Miller's Swing for Hope is on Monday, April 17 at 9:30 a.m. at the Las Colinas Country Club, 4400 N. O'Connor Road, Irving. Details here.