Capital Investment Advisors

#18 – Smokin’ Hot Community Service with Craig Miller

At nearly 70 years old, my guest, Craig Miller, is one of the oldest firefighters in the world. He doesn’t get paid for it, and he wasn’t even sure he wanted to do it, but the question that gnawed at him was, “If not me, who?”

In 2023, he shared a startling statistic: “Volunteers comprise some or all of the staffs of more than 85% of fire companies across the U.S., according to an estimate by the National Volunteer Fire Council.” This eye-opening revelation highlights how much responsibility we thrust upon volunteers to keep us all safe.

The funny thing is that Craig could’ve easily been voted least likely ever to battle flames. He’s a public radio guy—you know, the coffee-sipping, tote-bag-toting, academic type. Or, at least, he was, having spent more than 40 years as a broadcaster and journalist. He launched and edited the award-winning Climate Watch multimedia initiative for KQED radio in San Francisco. He’s also an accomplished writer/producer of television documentaries and even co-created a show called “House Detective” for HGTV.

In 2019, he moved from California’s Bay Area to the Catskill Mountains of New York. The local firefighters pursued his services and eventually succeeded in attaining them. But the pleasure has been all Craig’s. Volunteering as a firefighter has become one of the most gratifying features of his entire life.

I spoke with him again after our interview, and he wanted to amend one of his answers. Rather than labeling himself principally as a firefighter, he wanted to go on the record as an “evangelist for volunteerism and community service.” I understand and appreciate the distinction, but when that 911 call rings out in the middle of the night, I’m not sure Craig the evangelist is getting out of bed, but Craig the firefighter sure is. One might even say Craig the firefighter is a damn hero.

Read The Full Transcript From This Episode

(click below to expand and read the full interview)

  • Craig Miller [00:00:00]:
    Honestly, if you were to say, what are you? In a word, how would you describe yourself now in terms of your career? I would say I’m a firefighter. It’s provided a fresh identity for me that I really enjoy, you know, and I’m proud of.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:00:15]:
    Do you ever wonder who you’ll be and what you’ll do after your career is over? Wouldn’t it be nice to hear stories from people who figured it out who are thriving in retirement? I’m Ryan Doolittle. After working with the retire sooner team for years and researching and writing about how they structure their lives, lifestyles, I know there’s more to be learned, so I’m going straight to the source and taking you with me. My mission with the Happiest Retirees podcast is to inspire 1 million families to find happiness in retirement. I want to learn how to live an exceptional life from people who do it every day. Let’s get started. Craig Miller, thanks so much for coming on the Happiest Retirees podcast.

    Craig Miller [00:00:57]:
    Ryan, you’re welcome. Except you may have me on the wrong podcast because I don’t know how happy I am, and I definitely don’t think of myself as retired.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:01:06]:
    And I should say so. You are not. You don’t really consider yourself retired, and you were still nice enough to come on the podcast anyway, right?

    Craig Miller [00:01:14]:
    I am very nice, and I don’t consider myself retired as correct.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:01:17]:
    Yes, both of those are true, depending.

    Craig Miller [00:01:20]:
    On who you ask. I’m very nice.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:01:24]:
    What if we ask your wife? What would she say, you know, under.

    Craig Miller [00:01:28]:
    Duress, she’d probably say I’m pretty nice.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:01:31]:
    Well, tell me a little bit about your story because I thought you’d still be great on the show even though you don’t consider yourself retired. Cause you have had, like, a pretty big life shift. Tell me a little bit about your.

    Craig Miller [00:01:41]:
    Story, your origin story in terms of my career, you know, really goes back to when I was in my early high school years. I’d already given up my dream of becoming a goalie in the NHL at that point, and I became absolutely smitten with the guys I heard on the radio. And I say guys only because it was mostly guys at that time. You know, we’re talking, you know, 19, early late sixties, early seventies, and I just idolized the disc jockeys and the newscasters that I heard on my. And this was the era of, you know, am top 40 radio, you know. Yeah, 2020 news, you know, and so I said, I have to do that. You know, it’s something just a switch went on in me, and I said, this is what I have to do. So I started pursuing it.

    Craig Miller [00:02:35]:
    I started, you know the scene in american graffiti where Richard Dreyfus goes to see Wolfman Jack and his dad? I did that. I was that guy. Except not because I was looking for a lost girlfriend, but because I just wanted to, like, get to know these guys and what. And, you know, what, how all of this worked. And the local guys were in Syracuse, were, like, extremely gracious, I think, partly because those air shifts can get a little lonely.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:03:01]:
    They were happy you were there, right? Yeah.

    Craig Miller [00:03:03]:
    So they would let me. They would let me hang out with them, you know, and I got more and more into it, and eventually, by the. By the time I was 17, I had my first commercial, my first job in commercial radio as a weekend disc jockey. And I said, really?

    Ryan Doolittle [00:03:19]:
    At 17?

    Craig Miller [00:03:21]:

    Ryan Doolittle [00:03:22]:

    Craig Miller [00:03:23]:
    Yeah. And then, you know, it took not long after that, graduated from high school, went into the service, did a stint in the army with armed forces radio, which by that time was already called American Forces Radio. So instead of good morning, Vietnam, I was good morning, Frankfurt. You know, I was stationed in Germany in the middle seventies. Did that for a few years, got out, went to college. I hadn’t been to college yet. Had no plans originally to go to college. Who needs college to be a disc jockey? But I had this thing called the GI Bill, which was a use it or lose it sort of proposition.

    Craig Miller [00:04:00]:
    You had so many years to use the benefits, or they were gone. So I decided, well, I got a college degree, so I threw darts at the course catalog, and it came up business and economics. I thought that was the most broadly applicable thing. So he did that, got a degree in business and economics at the same time because I was working and broadcasting the whole time I was going to college.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:04:24]:
    Oh, really?

    Craig Miller [00:04:25]:
    Transition. Yeah, I was going to college full time and working part time, first in radio, and then I also made the transition into television. Got my first job as a local television news reporter. Then, you know, after I graduated, started working my way up through the markets. Went to Pittsburgh from Rochester, where I was at the time, went to Pittsburgh, and then finally to San Francisco, and where I spent most of my career out there.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:04:54]:
    I’m always so fascinated. I’m kind of a radio junkie. It sounds like you were. But one thing I’ve noticed about radio guys is they know exactly all the city. Like, I was here, I was at KW da da da da da da, you know, like, it’s like a sacred journey.

    Craig Miller [00:05:10]:
    Yeah, I can do that. It would be boring. But I could go through the whole litany.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:05:16]:
    Yeah. Did you say, so when you were in college, was one of your studies was journalism or. No, no.

    Craig Miller [00:05:24]:
    By that time, you know, I was already pretty steeped in broadcasting. I saw no reason to study communications or broadcasting, and I was already doing it professionally. So I thought, well, you know, I mean, what’s really going to be, because the thing about middle market radio, which is where I was at the time, is it’s a revolving door. There is no job security. And I thought, well, you know, I better have a fallback. And that’s really why I went to college, is so I would be equipped to do something else if this radio thing didn’t work out, you know?

    Ryan Doolittle [00:05:54]:
    Yeah. Isn’t there a saying, I’m probably gonna get it wrong, but something like, if you haven’t been fired, you haven’t worked in radio or something like that.

    Craig Miller [00:06:03]:
    If you haven’t been fired three times, you haven’t really worked in radio.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:06:08]:
    Yeah. Everyone’s always getting fired. Like, even the top talent seemed, you know. Yeah, yeah.

    Craig Miller [00:06:13]:
    And the same might be said for tv news, local tv news, by the way.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:06:17]:
    So, yeah, I’ve never been quite so. I, you know, I interview people. Obviously, I’m interviewing you. I write, but I’m not like a journalist. So what, without going to journalism school, how did you, how were you a journal? Like, what, what does that mean?

    Craig Miller [00:06:32]:
    How does that happen? Yeah, I took a few journalism courses, a couple journalism courses in high school, which is where I got my first dose of it. And I had an excellent journalism teacher, and I really, I kind of took to it. I guess I had a natural affinity for writing, which helps, which is still what I do.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:06:52]:
    Yeah. And by the way, I like your writing. I was reading one of your articles, and I. I like your style. Thank you.

    Craig Miller [00:07:00]:
    Yes. Acerbic and so the next dose of that would have been when I was doing that weekend disc jockey. There were gig in Auburn, New York. There were times. You’re the guy, you’re the person sitting there running the station at that point. There’s nobody else around. So when it comes to be news time, a lot of times after the news guy did his shift and went home, I had to do the newscasts as well. So I was, you know, ripping and reading wire copy, you know, when it used to come off the, you know, you know, when they still had those.

    Craig Miller [00:07:35]:
    Yeah. And doing a little bit of writing around that. And I found that I actually, I really enjoyed that, and I probably was better at it than I was at being a disc jockey, which is a very, very specific kind of talent. And I was okay as a disc jockey, but not great. And I really like. Fortunately, I came to realize that early enough to save myself and moved over. So, you know. So my first exposure to journalism was really in radio news.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:08:04]:
    Okay. Which I find radio news. I mean, I don’t listen to it as much now. Cause I work from home, and I’m not for some, you know, not in the car, which is when I. But I always found it more informative than tv news in some ways. Cause there were less bells and whistles. It was like the person had to really be good at the news. I don’t know if that.

    Craig Miller [00:08:23]:
    Well, at that time, it was extremely. It was extremely immediate. It was the only immediate source of news. There was no social media. There were no 24 hours news, you know, stations or channels. There was no cable. There was barely radio. You know, Marconi and I were best friends.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:08:44]:
    Yeah, right.

    Craig Miller [00:08:47]:
    But I. But, you know, you either waited for the 06:00 news or you. Or you turned on the radio when something happened, when something big was happening. Yeah.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:08:57]:
    Because the radio was always on. So that was. You’re faster than waiting for Walter Cronkite or something.

    Craig Miller [00:09:02]:
    Exactly. It was faster. And something else about that I always retained, and that’s why I eventually moved back into radio from tv, is I never got over my real love for the fact that there are no visuals. It’s the theater of the mind. When you’re on radio, you have to create, like, if you’re listening to NPR and you’re having one of those driveway moments, they call them, where you’re already home, but you’re sitting in the driveway, you want to hear the end of this story. You’re creating the pictures in your own mind. And I love that. I love that about radio.

    Craig Miller [00:09:36]:
    Whereas tv, you’re spoon fed all of the images sometimes ad nauseum. Like, you know, like when something’s happened, you’re watching CNN, and they keep looping the same 15 seconds of, you know, video over and over again forever, you know? Yeah. So I love that about radio. I think it’s actually more flexible. It has more possibilities than things that involve video. I’ve always loved that about it.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:10:00]:
    Yeah. You know, it’s funny you say that about looping those clips. I used to work at my first job out of college. I worked at Entertainment tonight, you know.

    Craig Miller [00:10:09]:

    Ryan Doolittle [00:10:10]:
    And so it was back. This was back in 2000, so things were a lot less digital then. And so, like, say, like they wanted to talk about what George Clooney had for breakfast or something. I had to go down to the dingy tape vault and find like five clips of him showing up to award shows so they could like, you know.

    Craig Miller [00:10:31]:

    Ryan Doolittle [00:10:31]:
    So that. Yeah, I know exactly what you’re talking about there.

    Craig Miller [00:10:35]:
    In radio, all you do is paint the pictures with your own copy. And tv, they call it natural sound, and radio, they call it Ambi for ambient sound, right. So you weave those things together with your own writing and everything, and you paint that picture for the listener.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:10:52]:
    I think Ira Glass, I might get the quote wrong, but something to the effect of audio is the most visual medium, which I think pretty much what I’ve been saying. Yeah. Pretty much what I’ve been saying. Yeah. He probably took it from you.

    Craig Miller [00:11:06]:
    I’m sure he did, yeah. Because, you know, he’s. I’ve been widely imitated by people like Ira Glass and we all know, I.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:11:14]:
    Mean, list those places again. You started in Auburn.

    Craig Miller [00:11:18]:
    First radio job, weekends in WMBO in Auburn, New York, and then briefly another job in Watertown, New York. Wot before I said, okay, time to enlist and get some more experience here. Then armed Forces Radio, then wROC in Rochester, New York, then WWWG in Rochester, New York. This is all radio. Then jumped to TV WOKR, channel 13, the ABC affiliate in Rochester. And then from there it gets a little more compressed. It went to KDKA in Pittsburgh, the channel two, the CB’s affiliate, and from there to KPIX in San Francisco, the CB’s affiliate. And then, oh my God, this opens a can of worms.

    Craig Miller [00:12:04]:
    And then I went through a period where I wasn’t in television news at all. I was doing documentary work and reporting for CNN and MSNBC, and even producing shows for home and garden television for a while before finally going back into radio. When KQED in 2008, KQED called me up and I’d done some documentary work in climate, which we’re finally getting around to like what I specialize in now, you know. And KQED, the news director, called me up and said he was familiar with some of that work. And he said, you know, we’re starting a whole new initiative here called Climatewatch in which, you know, it’s a multi platform. All we’re gonna do is cover is talk about the climate and cover climate science and everything. How would you like to come in and ramp that up for us and run it? And I said, oh, hell yeah.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:12:54]:
    So, yeah, so you were already an expert in it when they asked. That’s why they’re asking you expert would.

    Craig Miller [00:13:00]:
    Be stretching the point. But I had a keen interest and a little bit of experience in reading the science, reporting it out and producing programs about it. Yeah.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:13:10]:

    Craig Miller [00:13:11]:
    At that point.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:13:12]:
    So I live in Los Angeles, but I listen to kQED sometimes. Yeah, right. The typical Bay Area attitude. La. But yeah. So I think Marissa Lagos and Scott Schaeffer, they seem to be the names that I know, my pals. Oh, really? Oh, okay.

    Craig Miller [00:13:31]:
    Oh, yeah, yeah.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:13:32]:
    Two wonderful people who are really talented. Yeah, they do great. A great job. Yeah, I love listening to them.

    Craig Miller [00:13:39]:
    Scott will never lead. Scott will be carried out feet first. And yeah, Marissa’s, Marissa’s also great. They’re two of their top political people.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:13:50]:
    Yeah. They really ask great questions. Okay, so that was when you’re at KQD. And I did want to get into some of those climate documentaries that you mentioned. I think you did one on the Sacramento river, which you called the most important watershed for all of California.

    Craig Miller [00:14:09]:
    Yeah, no, there’s no question about it. I mean, it starts up near the Oregon border and flows for 300 miles down to San Francisco Bay. It nourishes the whole, like, Sacramento, San Joaquin Delta on the way. People don’t know this. Even in California, people don’t know, you know, how critical the Sacramento river is. So I did this documentary for the public station in Sacramento, KBIE, called Sacramento river of life. And then I also did a couple of other. I did a piece specifically on climate change and another one.

    Craig Miller [00:14:44]:
    And then things that are related to that called region at risk, which is about the flood risk from the atmospheric rivers and things. And also Sacramento region from the same, has a whole colorful history of flooding. Well, yes, yes, the Sacramento river flows right through, but the entire inland valley of California, I mean, was seasonally, at least, before they built all the dams and levees and everything else. It was an inland sea for part of the year, you know, when the rains would come in the wintertime and much of it was flooded routinely. And then during the gold rush, it got worse because the guys who were up in the Sierras, the Sierra, washing all of this, all these tailings and spoils from the, from their hydraulic mining, where they blasted away whole hillsides with pressurized water that would all come down the rivers and into the central valley. And farmers would wake up and their fields would be covered with what they called slickens, this muck that would be washed down the rivers. And ultimately, actually the farmers got together and sued the gold miners. And it ended up, it led to some of the first environmental regulations and watershed protections in America, maybe.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:16:04]:
    Yeah. So the gold rush led to that, basically.

    Craig Miller [00:16:08]:
    Well, partly, yeah. To a lot of other things, too, you know?

    Ryan Doolittle [00:16:12]:

    Craig Miller [00:16:14]:
    Not all good, but, yeah. No, that was one outcome of it. They started protecting the rivers, protecting the watersheds for the first time. Really. It was a landmark court decision over this.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:16:27]:
    Can you and tell me this is such a question. I never thought I’d be able to ask somebody, why is it when sometimes when humans build dams, it’s bad for the environment, but when a beaver builds a dam, it’s good? Is that true?

    Craig Miller [00:16:42]:
    Well, let’s start with the fact that beaver dams are much smaller.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:16:46]:
    That’s true.

    Craig Miller [00:16:47]:
    They’re pretty ambitious critters, but overall, beavers are actually great for the ecosystems where you build big dams and you put them on rivers in a place like California to, let’s say, generate hydroelectricity and also store water for when there’s a drought or for irrigation. Many, many of the dams in California were built specifically to hold water for irrigation because it only rains for half the year in most of California. Right. So. But the one consequence of that, the only problem with that is that anadromous fish, like salmon, they have to get up those rivers to breed. And so when you start putting all of those dams in the way, you start endangering the salmon populations. And salmons are. Salmon is a, you know, a key player in the web of life, you know, in the.

    Craig Miller [00:17:37]:
    In the coastal, you know, river systems and out at sea as well.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:17:42]:
    And for my dinner menu weekly.

    Craig Miller [00:17:45]:
    That’s right. I mean, most of the salmon you eat these days around the country is farmed. Yeah, that’s right. That’s because the salmon populations, partly because the salmon populations out west have dramatically reduced over the years, mostly, I want to say, by human development. In fact, this year, again, I just read they may have to curtail or cancel the salmon season once again because of, you know, populations crashing.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:18:13]:
    Oh, okay. So through a lot of this science reporting and these documentaries, you ended up winning the. You ended up winning the AAAS Kavli science journalism award. Did I say that?

    Craig Miller [00:18:25]:
    Yeah, that’s actually. Yeah. One of the most gratifying things that’s happened in my career. And that wasn’t me. That was a team of people I was working with. You know, we were. We won that as a team that produced a program on 4K QED on rising sea levels on the west coast. So directly connected with climate change.

    Craig Miller [00:18:44]:
    Yeah. And I was very pleased and honored that we, you know, we actually did. It’s a very coveted national international science Journalism award. But yeah, and it was given out for a top. I mean, we were so ahead of our time. I mean, I started covering climate change intensively in 2008 and right after Al Gore came out with his inconvenient truth documentary and people were just beginning to pay attention to it and there was a tremendous amount of skepticism. And practically every post we put on our blog got trolled and pushed back on and poo pooed. But everything that the scientists have been telling us since at least 1988 when Jim Hansen went before Congress and was really the first time that brought it to broad public attention that there was this greenhouse effect that was going to be a problem if we kept burning fossil fuels.

    Craig Miller [00:19:45]:
    Here’s what the consequences are likely to be. They’ve been right. I mean, if anything, scientists have underestimated the impact of climate change over the years in their projections. Yeah, there was, there’s been no, you know, there are people who think it’s alarmism. I actually think it’s the opposite. I think that if anything, you know, the problem has been understated for too many years and now we’re really behind the eight ball.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:20:11]:
    Yeah. And, you know, I’ll say just for myself, it’s something that I’m worried about, but I’m almost so worried about it that I avoid it, which is not, I know, not a good response.

    Craig Miller [00:20:22]:
    Well, but it’s a very typical response. And it’s become an issue in climate journalism too. We’ve kind of figured out a few years ago, first of all, the scientists figured out that just giving people more information doesn’t help. Then journalists figured out that just giving people gloom and doom doesn’t help because people will tune that out at some point. Topic fatigue sets in and also a sense of futility. It’s like, well, there’s nothing I can do about this. Why should we try to do anything? Let’s just go with the flow and see if we can survive it. So there’s been a lot of attention in recent years to climate solutions reporting where we actually try to write about ways to confront this, that it’s not too late.

    Craig Miller [00:21:13]:
    Although we’re getting close, it’s not too late. We’re approaching these tipping points that have been talked about, but we have the technology and we have the means to turn things around. We just have to have the political will, which is what’s lacking.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:21:29]:

    Craig Miller [00:21:29]:
    Not just here, I should say, but globally, I’m sure.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:21:32]:
    Well, and if little, it’s like in life, you know, little, little steps are sometimes the way to go because they don’t seem as overwhelming. And my local city of West Hollywood, you know, they gave all their residences composting bins. So it’s kind of easy for me to just, like, throw my vegetables in there and, you know, that’s just a small thing. I’m not going to save the world, but it’s something, you know, can’t hurt. Yeah, right. Yeah. Yeah.

    Craig Miller [00:21:59]:
    So what we need, and unfortunately, a lot of, you know, you hear a lot of this, you know, well, if everybody did this, you know, it would reduce carbon emissions by. But the problem with that is always that everybody’s not going to do it. And so what we need are sweeping, broad policy measures to get things rolling, you know?

    Ryan Doolittle [00:22:19]:
    Yeah. Yeah. Well, you and I are going to.

    Craig Miller [00:22:22]:
    Change all the year today.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:22:25]:
    Oh, aren’t we? Yeah. After this interview, the world is fine. Okay, so you’ve also, like, you mentioned, you did a series on hdtv. I think it was called House Detective.

    Craig Miller [00:22:38]:
    Yes, that was. Tell me about that aforementioned home and garden. So I’m trying to remember, like, how this even came about. But I was. I had already been hosting a program called 20th Century Home. I met up with a guy named Todd Easton who had. He came out of ABC News. That was his background.

    Craig Miller [00:22:56]:
    And he was, you know, he was now producing cable programs like, you know, the kind you see on AC tv, you know, and he. And so we started because I had a little bit of experience with it. He said, how do you scale this up? You know, because you can’t really. You can’t really make any money doing one off specials, you know? You know, how do we get something going that’s going to generate some income and do some good? And I think I was the one who said, we have to come up with the cops of home and garden.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:23:26]:
    That’s a great pitch.

    Craig Miller [00:23:28]:
    We have to like. So, in other words, it’s whatever it is, we don’t have to make it happen. It’s already happening. All we have to do is go follow them around with a camera and document it and make it interesting along the way using various techniques. And then what we decided, what we came up with was home inspectors. We thought that that would be kind of the ideal. Follow these guys around. These are the guys who, usually in the process of a sale or listing, a real estate listing, they go around and they find the dark underbelly, the lurking monsters, you know, in these houses, sometimes for the buyer, sometimes for the seller, sometimes sellers want to have an inspection so they know what might come up when buyers come in, they start negotiating and finding things and so they can maybe fix them preemptively.

    Craig Miller [00:24:18]:
    So, yeah, we actually, you know, we launched, we sold the idea to home and garden television, and we did two or three seasons of this show, house detective. That was pretty much my. So I was involved with two different programs with, and a series of specials with home and garden television. And, yeah, then I went back into reporting pretty much.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:24:38]:
    Were you like the host of the show? Were you on camera or for house detectives? Oh, you were.

    Craig Miller [00:24:43]:
    You were the host. No, I was the host of 20th Century home, which was sort of like, you know, how the home of the future, you know, and it end, which morphed into really a show about sustainable construction. Oh, really?

    Ryan Doolittle [00:24:57]:

    Craig Miller [00:24:57]:
    Yeah. And, yeah, because there’s only so many gadgets and you can review or go over things. You can talk about how to make the house more intelligent. There are a lot more now, but at the time we were doing this, it was just in its infancy, home automation and that sort of thing. So it really ended up being a show, much to my satisfaction, about green building and sustainability, sustainable construction and renovations and that sort of thing. House detective was hosted by a guy named John Daley, who was a professional tv host. He did a great job for us.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:25:31]:
    I thought you were going to say the golfer. He seemed like he wouldn’t have done a great job.

    Craig Miller [00:25:35]:
    Well, he is an avid golfer, but not that golfer.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:25:43]:
    Also, you’ve been a narrator for some programs that maybe you didn’t even produce, right? For the what? Discovery Channel. Travel channel.

    Craig Miller [00:25:51]:
    Yes. I have done a range of voiceover work over the years. Some program and documentary narration, a little bit of commercial, and a lot of industrial. When corporations, you know, produce training videos or things like that.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:26:07]:
    Oh, the ones that we all have to go sit through, right?

    Craig Miller [00:26:12]:
    Yes, right. Or a lot of times they’re marketing videos. I used to do a number of those. My proudest moment was probably being able to say, meow mix cats. Ask for it by name.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:26:29]:
    Wow, I’m definitely gonna use that clip.

    Craig Miller [00:26:35]:
    I wasn’t the voice on the national commercials, but I did a corporate for them. And I got to say, that tag, one of my favorite taglines.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:26:42]:
    That’s amazing.

    Craig Miller [00:26:45]:
    So I’m still available for voiceover work, you know, please call this number.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:26:50]:
    A lot of our listeners are big travelers. When you did the travel channel stuff like, what kind of shows did you do?

    Craig Miller [00:26:57]:

    Ryan Doolittle [00:26:59]:

    Craig Miller [00:27:00]:

    Ryan Doolittle [00:27:01]:
    Yeah. What is that?

    Craig Miller [00:27:04]:
    A lot of the shows were things like, oh, God, they had this top ten series where they, you know, there’s like the top ten craziest roller coasters and the top ten monster trucks and the top ten, you know, and so I did a bunch of those. Now, this is going back a ways, you know, and I remember doing one on that. Walked viewers through the process of going to undertaker school. Whoa. In detail? Yes. Yeah. So pretty much, you know, whatever. Whatever the producers that I worked with were working on at the time and needed a voice for.

    Craig Miller [00:27:42]:
    But I did. I did a lot of that kind of thing for a while.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:27:45]:
    And that’s an actual undertaker. Not to be the undertaker in the wrestling federation, right?

    Craig Miller [00:27:51]:
    No, that’s a. It’s like how to embalm 101. Yeah.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:27:57]:
    Wow. Okay.

    Craig Miller [00:27:59]:
    They did a show on that undertaker school. I think it was called mortician school or something like that. Yeah, mortuary school. It was called mortuary school for the best embalming.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:28:09]:
    Fluids come to. Yeah. Very educational, I bet. Okay, so then how, as a, you know, lifelong award winning journalist and documentary maker, how did you then pick up from San Francisco and move to the Catskill mountains of New York and start your new path?

    Craig Miller [00:28:32]:
    Partially ironically, we’re climate refugees. I have to say, the biggest draw was family. And this is something you probably encounter a lot when you talk to people sort of in my demographic. I’d been in the Bay Area for 34 years. My partner had been with me for the last 15 of those. And we felt like life in the Bay Area was getting a little oppressive in a lot of ways. The traffic, the cost of living, the crime, the acres and acres of homeless encampments and things, you know, that it was just hard, in some ways, to live there, and not as hard as it was for the people in the encampments. It’s not their fault.

    Craig Miller [00:29:15]:
    But it was not the same place that I moved to in 1986 and thought, I’m never leaving here. And the other thing was fire season. Things like fire season had become extremely onerous. And wearing n 95 masks for a couple of weeks at a time in the summer and fall, even if the fire is not right next to you, the smoke would be coming from the Sierra foothills. When the Diablo winds. When the winds turn around in the fall and the Diablos blow everything out to see air quality got really. At one point, I remember one year, we were worse than Beijing in terms of air quality. That’s not good.

    Craig Miller [00:29:59]:
    They had to invent a new color for the color coded air quality maps because they didn’t have one. That was bad enough. And the ever present I’m fascinated with seismology, and that was part of my beat, too, but the earthquakes were an ever present risk, and there was just a lot about it that. But, like, when a holiday weekend came up, that was stay home for us because you couldn’t go anywhere because of the traffic, you know?

    Ryan Doolittle [00:30:26]:

    Craig Miller [00:30:26]:
    So we started thinking about getting out of the Bay area, primarily, and getting to a place that was a little, you know, with a little more relaxed, serene lifestyle. But honestly, you know, we sort of wanted to stay out west, but every place we started looking, we looked was, it was either fire country, or there gonna be water issues. There either were water issues, or there were going to be water issues, or, you know, or there were areas where the real estate boat had sailed. Any place within a day’s drive of the Bay area, as you know, the real estate prices have gone off the rails, basically. So we looked in southern Oregon, which was rapidly becoming unaffordable, a place like, if you can believe, a place called, like, Medford, Oregon, you know, was already, you know. Yeah.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:31:14]:
    Wow, I thought you were going to say bend or someplace like that.

    Craig Miller [00:31:17]:
    No, it’s. Yeah. And, you know, we looked in northern New Mexico, even, you know, a lot of different places, you know, but finally, ultimately, family was back here for both of us. We both had aging parents. We didn’t know how much, we didn’t feel like we had enough time with them, and we didn’t know how much more time we were going to have with them. So ultimately, we, you know, we said, eh, let’s go home. So we found this place, this little mountain airy, you know, in the Catskills, and then we moved back here.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:31:48]:
    And the Catskills about, what is that about 3 hours north of New York City or just.

    Craig Miller [00:31:55]:
    Right? That’s about right, yeah. If you’re driving it, it’s just about 3 hours. Yeah.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:31:58]:
    Okay. Stand up comedy got its start in the Catskills. Yeah. Right.

    Craig Miller [00:32:02]:
    Well, I don’t know if it got its start here, but for many decades, you know, it was the summer vacation destination for jewish families in New York City and New Jersey and places like that. They’d go to the Catskills for a week or two weeks or whatever in the summer. That was their big, their great escape. And so you had big resorts like grossingers and places that became famous like that and brought in the stand up comics, which was part of the regular entertainment fair. You had people like Shecky green.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:32:36]:

    Craig Miller [00:32:38]:
    And, yeah. And it’s just, you know, there is a legacy there, which is pretty much died out. Now, most of those resorts are closed, and people started doing different things with their time off. But the Catskills are coming back. We’ve noticed just since moving here that it seems to be, like, one of the new, hot new refuges for disaffected Hollywood types, you know? Really? All the places? Yeah, yeah. People are, like, well known actors and directors, and people like that are, like, buying up all these places. And the cat skills, we’ve become trendy again.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:33:11]:
    Yes. And the trends follow you.

    Craig Miller [00:33:15]:
    I think that must be it. Yeah.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:33:16]:
    Yeah. Okay, so you’re up in the cat skills now. And that was. You moved there about three years ago.

    Craig Miller [00:33:23]:
    I think in 2019. So it’s actually more like four now. Yeah.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:33:28]:
    Okay. Do you mind saying your age when you moved?

    Craig Miller [00:33:32]:
    I guess I would have been. Let’s quickly doing the math. Yeah, I guess I would have been 65 ish. I’ll be 69 in a couple of months.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:33:42]:
    Okay. And you didn’t retire. I don’t know if you’re still doing any radio or broadcasting stuff, but you don’t consider yourself retired, but you did kind of find yourself thinking, this is a little bit lonely. Cause everything’s changed, and I don’t have my normal routine. Is that true?

    Craig Miller [00:34:00]:
    Well, it’s definitely been an adjustment. There’s no question about it. There are things. I mean, we have, you know, acreage and woods and pond and waterfalls and a lake across the street, and we were never going to have that in California, you know? And a few people who do have that in California, you know, have either had it for generations or they have a lot of money. So part of it was the life. It was a lifestyle, you know, it’s like we knew, you know, we wanted to kind of get out of the. Neither one of us are urban animals, really. You know, we liked the country.

    Craig Miller [00:34:32]:
    We liked it. We liked the mountains. We liked. And so part of it was just that being the kind of surroundings we wanted to have for this next phase of our life. And we were fortunately in a position when we could do it. But I knew that I never wanted to retire in the traditional sense and go, you know, fishing or play golf or whatever. And I really kind of. I do neither of those things, really.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:34:58]:

    Craig Miller [00:34:58]:
    So in my case, let’s say, you know, I don’t want to go just kayaking for the rest of my life. I love writing. I mean, even through all of the years that I was in journalism, whatever the medium happened to be, radio, tv, Internet, whatever. It’s the writing, really, that I enjoyed probably more than anything. So I still do that. People ask me when I plan to retire, and I say, when I die, take my last breath. You know, up until then, I hope I still have an outlet for my writing because it really does feed me. It keeps me connected, it keeps me alive.

    Craig Miller [00:35:34]:
    It keeps me from atrophying, both mentally and in some cases, physically. It helps. It’s one of the things that makes me. Allows me to continue to feel like I’m making a contribution, having a positive effect on the world around me, that I’m not just breathing the air, you know?

    Ryan Doolittle [00:35:53]:
    Yeah. Yeah. So at one point, you realized, I’m gonna get more involved, and that’s when you decided to become a volunteer firefighter. Or. Tell me more about that.

    Craig Miller [00:36:03]:
    Interesting segue. Great segue, right? Because the writing. The writing led directly to the fire service. We got here, we learned we’re in this tiny rural community that’s all volunteered fire. But most firefighters in the United States are volunteers. Most people don’t realize that.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:36:24]:
    Yeah, I did not realize that.

    Craig Miller [00:36:25]:
    A lot of people don’t even realize there’s such a thing as volunteer fire. They just assume that we’re all paid professionals. Well, we’re unpaid professionals for the most part. 60, I think the latest number I saw was like 65% of, of firefighters across the country are volunteers, highly trained volunteers, but for the most part. But volunteers. So. But I was driving around, you know, I would drive by our firehouse and through all the other little towns and counties around here, and every firehouse had a sign outside desperately seeking new, you know, fresh, fresh blood, basically, you know, new members, new volunteers. And I’m like, this is interesting.

    Craig Miller [00:37:03]:
    I should write about this, you know, so I wrote a piece for this PBS website that I write for regularly now called dot.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:37:12]:
    Yeah, yeah, we’re very aware of that one.

    Craig Miller [00:37:14]:
    Yeah, I imagine so. Which is aimed at 50 plus demographic. And the reason it was such a good fit is because guess who’s manning all of these volunteer fire departments? They’re all fifties, sixties, not all of them, but. And the reason for that is because we’re just not getting the influx of young 20 something and 30 something volunteers for whatever reason. I think the reasons are complicated. We can go through some of them, but. So it’s really, it’s the graybeards, you know, and with apologies to the women, because we have great women firefighters, the gray heads, you know, who are carrying the whole first responder fire emergency medical structure in this country is basically, right now, is. Is continuing to work on the banks of people who are in my demographic or maybe the next generation, one generation younger.

    Craig Miller [00:38:12]:
    This is a problem. It’s a national crisis. People assume when there’s. And because, you know, we live in an age going back to climate change again, you know, where there’s more and more extreme, you know, weather incidents. Events. Weather events, more extreme precipitation, more flooding, more wildfires. And people, we live in a society where people assume that if, when they call nine one that help is on the way. But I think there’s a very real danger that we’re going to reach a point where we’re not going to be able to necessarily assume that because we’re just the volunteer fire and EMS force in this country is aging out.

    Craig Miller [00:38:55]:
    I wrote about it. I started by writing about it and then, you know, within a year, I was, like, in it.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:39:01]:
    You were doing. Within a year you had the big suspenders on and you’re on a truck.

    Craig Miller [00:39:06]:
    That’s right. That’s right.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:39:07]:
    Yeah. Well, did I hear that if you call 911, it forwards to your home phone number? Did I hear that right?

    Craig Miller [00:39:15]:
    Yeah. Better not, because people are in real trouble if that. When that starts happening. Yeah.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:39:20]:
    Yeah. So tell me. So you wrote about it and then the next thing you knew, you were, like, training for it or what’s the next step? What do you.

    Craig Miller [00:39:30]:
    Yeah, well, you know, from the moment I got here, members of the local fire company were, like, actively recruiting me. And I was already at that point saying, you know, I don’t know, I’m in mid sixties. You know, it’s like, and they’re like, don’t worry about it. You know, we have a job for everybody. You don’t have to become, which is true. You don’t have to become an interior firefighter and strap on an air pack and run into burning buildings. Not everybody has to do that, although there is a bit of a shortage of people who can do that and want to do that right now. But there are so many other paths you can take.

    Craig Miller [00:40:03]:
    There’s so many of the jobs to be done within the context of a firehouse or a fire company of any kind. In my case, partly because my partner Heidi was kind of adamant about me not becoming an interior firefighter in my fifties. So, you know, an interesting point about that is take a guess at what the number one cause of line of duty deaths is among firefighters.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:40:31]:
    Your wife being angry at you for signing up. Is that heart attack? Heart attack, really?

    Craig Miller [00:40:38]:
    Yeah. It has nothing to do, you know, with getting, you know, getting smoke burned, you know, smoked out or burned out or any of the other myriad of things that can happen to you when you’re on, you know, on a fire incident, although the heart attacks are often related to the stress and the exertion of the work that needs to be done on the fire ground. But, yeah, it’s the number one, you know, so it’s not necessarily recommended for somebody in my situation who’s in my late sixties and on the first name basis with my cardiologist, but it was a matter of, you know, if not me, who, you know, somebody’s got to be doing this. And there are, as I was saying, there are other paths you can take, which in my case, ended up being driver engineer. So I drive the engines and I operate the pumps, and if I’m in a situation where if I need to pull out a hose, you know, and lay and, you know, get on an attack line, as they say, I’m happy to do it, but it’s not, you know, or throw a ladder up against a building, you know, or whatever it may be, you know, I’m able to do that and happy to do it, but I think there’s a misconception, you know, that everybody who’s a firefighter has to, like, strap on a mask and, you know, run into burning buildings. It’s not really the case.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:41:51]:
    Yeah. You don’t have to base jump with an axe into a forest or something.

    Craig Miller [00:41:55]:
    Well, yeah, you have to do that.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:41:57]:
    Oh, that’s the initiation. Okay. Well, tell me a little bit more, though, about the heart attacks, because I. I was hoping part of this could be a clarion call if I’m using that. Right. For other people who might be interested in becoming volunteer firefighters, but I want to make sure they don’t all have heart attacks. Yeah, me too.

    Craig Miller [00:42:17]:
    No. Well, I hope it is. I hope I didn’t scare anybody off with that by saying there were so many other things you can do, so many other ways to contribute. You know, that that was an effort to, like, not scare people off.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:42:28]:
    Okay. Okay. Yeah.

    Craig Miller [00:42:30]:
    But, yeah. The limitless number of range of tasks, I cannot believe. The learning curve has been remarkable, and I just cannot believe what it takes to smoothly operate and professionally run a fire company and respond to the calls and do the training. And, I mean, it’s a lot, and we need all the help we can get.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:42:55]:
    And like you said, there’s a role for everyone, so if you. If you don’t want to do one thing, they need this other thing done.

    Craig Miller [00:43:03]:
    That’s right. And there’s even a whole. If you don’t want to do any of that, that’s okay, too, because there’s a whole administrative side. We need a president and a secretary and board members, and there’s a whole auxiliary side, which is a division of the fire company that doesn’t fight fires, but they’re primarily engaged in fundraising for the fire company. And then there’s another division called fire police, at least in New York state. They have these people called fire police who are essentially in charge of traffic control at incidents. Right. So there’s just a whole range of things that you can do.

    Craig Miller [00:43:41]:
    I mean, if all you want to do is go down on Saturday mornings and wash the engines, we would love you for that, you know?

    Ryan Doolittle [00:43:46]:
    Oh, okay.

    Craig Miller [00:43:47]:

    Ryan Doolittle [00:43:48]:
    Okay, well, what about as far as. Is there, like, a 60 plus sexy firefighter calendar? And if so, how do people get involved?

    Craig Miller [00:43:58]:
    I hope not.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:44:00]:
    Sounds like it could be a money. A fundraising tool. Yeah.

    Craig Miller [00:44:05]:
    What was that movie where they did that? Yeah. They weren’t firefighters, but, you know.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:44:10]:
    Oh, I think I. Yeah. Were they astronauts or. Oh, no, no, it was. I know what you were talking about. Yeah, yeah, the full monty.

    Craig Miller [00:44:18]:
    Yeah, the full monty. Yeah, yeah. It’s been considered and quickly rejected as a potential fundraiser.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:44:31]:
    Okay, well, we’ll put it on the back burner for now.

    Craig Miller [00:44:34]:
    I look bad enough. I look bad enough in my turnout, which is the term they use for the firefighting in structural firefighting apparel. It’s not too bad when I have my jacket on, but when I take my jacket off and I’m just standing there in the big trousers with the suspenders, I look like a rodeo clown. So, you know, I don’t think there’ll be any calendars.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:44:54]:
    Well, tell me without the suspenders, you might end up accidentally on the sexy calendar, because. Tell me about how those work, because I think most of us think they’re just, like, a funny part of the costume or something, but they’re very useful. Right. You have multiple suspenders in your.

    Craig Miller [00:45:11]:
    Well, I do. I mean, I’m at that age now where actually, I’m double suspender, because I quickly found out in the course of my training that if I didn’t wear suspenders on my regular trousers underneath my turnout, that they would quickly end up down around my knees, which makes it very difficult to climb in and out of engines and climb ladders and, you know, all of the things that are necessary to fight fires.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:45:34]:

    Craig Miller [00:45:34]:
    So now I’m actually double suspendered. Yeah.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:45:37]:
    Right. Okay. You don’t actually have to slide down a pole or anything like that, do you?

    Craig Miller [00:45:43]:
    No, we have no pole, sadly. We don’t even have a second floor.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:45:47]:
    So a pole would be kind of useless on a pole would be stories.

    Craig Miller [00:45:52]:
    But it is interesting. I mean, it is interesting. The. I have to say I’m amazed. I live right above the firehouse. You know, when the siren goes off. Well, yeah. Not above it, like on the.

    Craig Miller [00:46:04]:
    You know, on the same building, but up the hill from it. So when the sight. When the siren goes off, you know, I used. You know, I usually come like this, like 2ft off of my chair or my sofa or wherever I happened to be. Well, the first thing that happens is this goes off. You know, the pagers go off your pager. Yeah. Which is.

    Craig Miller [00:46:20]:
    I’ll reset it here so you can. Okay. And then you hear that. And then you hear the series of tones, you know, like you’ve seen in the movies. You know, beep, beep, beep. You know, and then you hear the dispatcher. Come on. Who says, you know, Rensselaerville fire respond to whatever.

    Craig Miller [00:46:41]:
    And by the time they’re saying that, I’m usually halfway out the door.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:46:45]:

    Craig Miller [00:46:45]:
    So I think I respond pretty quickly, and I’m never the first guy there. You know, I get down to the firehouse, there’s already a couple who always manage to beat me, and they’re both my age, so, you know, it’s like. Yeah, so, I mean, I’d say I’ve been pretty impressed with the response of these people, these really dedicated people that I work with, that I work with down there.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:47:07]:
    Yeah. I was going to say, we don’t.

    Craig Miller [00:47:09]:
    Slide down a pole.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:47:11]:
    Well, how does it work? Are you on call at all times, or you have designated days?

    Craig Miller [00:47:17]:
    You’re on call. In a company my size, we can’t afford to have shifts. It’s all hands on deck every time. We’re always on call, quote, unquote. But there’s no ironclad expectation. No one will ever ask you, at least in my company, no one will ever say, where were you? You know, okay, we had a call the other day. You didn’t show up. What’s, you know, what’s the deal? You know that you’ll never hear that in my company, and especially when you enter the fire service.

    Craig Miller [00:47:47]:
    At my age, I learned very quickly that I had to set limitations. You know, I had to create some boundaries for myself, and I knew that. I know there’s things that I can do. There’s things that I can’t do. There’s times when I can go and times when I really shouldn’t go. And I had to learn that, and it’s taken a long time. I still struggle with it when the pager goes off and I, for some legitimate reason, don’t go. Maybe having to do with my own limitations at the moment.

    Craig Miller [00:48:16]:
    It’s hard to deal with that, but you have to. You have to set those boundaries and not feel guilty about it.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:48:24]:
    Yeah, I mean, let’s say you wanted to take a week off. It sounds like you don’t have to put in for vacation. You just don’t show up. Is that how it works or.

    Craig Miller [00:48:32]:
    Yeah, well, I might want to tell, you know, I might want to, you know, we train every Monday night. You know, I might want to. I might want to mention to my colleagues down there, hey, you know, we’re going to. We’re going to go to the Gulf coast for the month of February, you know, so don’t look for me. But no, there’s no formal, you know, it’s. Being a volunteer firefighter is like being retired all the time. You know, you go when you go when you want. You go when you want and when you don’t.

    Craig Miller [00:49:00]:
    Yeah, you can go on vacation whenever you want.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:49:02]:
    I think that might also be appealing to someone that might think about doing it. They don’t have to feel pressured that it’s like you can’t also live.

    Craig Miller [00:49:11]:
    The only pressure, I think I can probably speak for most houses, the only pressure you’re going to feel is going to be self imposed guilt or whatever for not going when you think you should be down there supporting your crew, but you do have to set those boundaries and stick to them.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:49:30]:
    Yeah. Would you say overall, it’s been very rewarding?

    Craig Miller [00:49:35]:
    One of the most gratifying things in my life, and I’ve done a lot as a journalist. I’ve been able to get, you know, I’ve been on tv, I’ve been nationally, you know, I’ve been. I’ve been on the deck of an aircraft carrier during flight operations. I’ve been in. I’ve had. Because I’m a journalist, I’ve had access to a lot of things that people don’t normally get access to. I’ve seen things and done things that most people never get to do. But this, and I also did a six year stint in California on a sheriff’s search and rescue team.

    Craig Miller [00:50:11]:
    And that and this, I think, are two of the most gratifying things I’ve ever done.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:50:17]:
    Wow. If you had to say why, it’s because of giving back or.

    Craig Miller [00:50:22]:
    Yeah, yeah. It’s because I’m really proud of the contribution that I’m making to the community and that I’m here to protect the community on their worst, you know, on your worst day, I’m gonna be there for you. Yeah, for me, that may not float everybody’s boat, but for me, it does. You know, for me, it’s one of the things that feeds me.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:50:45]:
    Would you say if, for someone who feels lonely in that stage of their life, becoming a volunteer firefighter is almost like the jaws of life to get you into happiness?

    Craig Miller [00:50:59]:
    It’s actually a great point because, as you and I both know, one of the biggest issues with elder Americans is isolation, is social isolation, especially when you move to a small town like this in the middle of nowhere, don’t know anybody. It’s a tremendous way to engage with the community and to get almost immediate respect from people. You know, if you just come here and retire, it may take you a while to sort of win the trust and the respect of your neighbors, but if you come here and join the fire company, they know you’re for real.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:51:35]:
    Yeah, we talked to a lot of retirees, and I know you’re not a retiree, but they. I think a big problem is when you, sometimes you don’t go to the office every day, you kind of lose an identity you had, even if you didn’t realize that was a big part of it. But you’ve changed a lot. Your life has changed a lot since you moved to the Catskill area. How have you either recreated your identity or maybe you didn’t. Maybe you just kept the same. I don’t know what you did, but how would you describe that process?

    Craig Miller [00:52:08]:
    Well, I was able to sort of cheat that a little bit by the fact that I’m still engaged in journalism. So, you know, I haven’t really forfeited that part of my identity. But honestly, if you were to say, what are you, you know, what do you, in a word, how would you describe yourself now in terms of your career? I would say I’m a firefighter.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:52:31]:

    Craig Miller [00:52:32]:

    Ryan Doolittle [00:52:33]:
    I love it.

    Craig Miller [00:52:34]:
    It’s become more important to me than all the other things that I do, as much as I love writing, and I’ll write until, like I said, until my dying day, I hope. But I really have sort of. I feel like it has given me a fresh identity, not a substitute identity, but it’s provided a fresh identity for me that I really enjoy and I’m proud of.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:52:57]:
    Yeah, you know, that’s so touching to hear. And the contrast to me of this guy sitting in the kind of stereotypical public radio station who’s like, I’m a firefighter is beautiful. You know, like, that would be a great visual for you. If you write a book or something, you’re sitting there, you know, with a cup of coffee, but in, like, a full firefighter suit or something. You know.

    Craig Miller [00:53:24]:
    There was a, there have been a few. NPR has run a few pieces, actually, about this problem that I described, you know, the volunteer crisis. And I think the last guy that I heard do one was a, he was a volunteer firefighter. So it’s definitely top of mind. It’s top of mind for us, you know, who are straddling both worlds.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:53:44]:
    Also, there’s something to be said about how you had an open mind to try it. An opportunity came along and you. And you tried it. And if you hadn’t.

    Craig Miller [00:53:53]:
    Yeah, well, that’s right. This is something that they teach you during your, when you’re training you for search and rescue, too, is to get out of your comfort zone, I think. You know, like, you know how they say, like, sitting is the new smoking? Oh, yeah, it’s kind of like that, you know. I mean, I think the more you stay embedded in your comfort zone, I think the, you stop growing in a lot of ways, and you stop. And maybe growing is even not that you stop thriving. You know, you’re existing, but you’re not thriving necessarily. So, I mean, when the pager goes off at 230 in the morning and it’s seven degrees outside, you know, it’s like I’m in my comfort zone. I’m in bed, you know? You know, I don’t want to, but I’ll tell you, you know, there are unforeseen rewards, you know, to forcing yourself out of that.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:54:46]:

    Craig Miller [00:54:46]:

    Ryan Doolittle [00:54:47]:
    Well, kind of as we get towards the end here, Craig, do you have any other core pursuits that, which we’ve kind of coined that term as, like, you know, the hobbies you have that you’re very passionate about? Do you have any others besides, you know, volunteering as a, as a firefighter?

    Craig Miller [00:55:04]:
    The fire service actually takes up a lot. I wouldn’t say that in my own case, only because, you know, you can. It’s another nice thing about, you know, volunteering is that you can sort of choose your level of involvement. You can reserve bandwidth for yourself as needed or as desired. I’ve sort of gone all in, so I spent a lot of time doing things like writing grants for the fire company and getting involved in fundraisers and in a couple of, I don’t know when you’re going to run this, but in a couple of weeks, I’ll be driving the Easter bunny around town in one of the engines visiting the cats.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:55:42]:
    That’s great.

    Craig Miller [00:55:44]:
    So it’s like, I mean, for how many get to meet the Easter Bunny? But, yeah, so you can, you can do as you can kind of like set your own level of involvement like that. And I have to say, for me, it takes up a lot of bandwidth. It’s. I give it willingly, but that’s. That’s kind of become my core pursuit. When you describe by your definition, which is something beyond just a hobby, you know, that’s. That’s the main thing for me right now, I think.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:56:10]:
    Yeah, it almost feels like, I mean.

    Craig Miller [00:56:12]:
    I love to get out on the lake in my kayak, sure. But I would call it a core pursuit.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:56:17]:
    Well, it almost sounds like your volunteer firefighting is like three or four core pursuits all in one. And then you love the writing, so it often feels like you’re covering.

    Craig Miller [00:56:29]:
    Often feels that way, yeah.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:56:33]:
    Well, Craig, if people want to find out more about you or read more about you or about how to become a volunteer firefighter, do you know where they should go to look?

    Craig Miller [00:56:44]:
    Well, like in the moment, there’s an organization called the National Volunteer Fire Council, which a great start would be to go to their website, and that’s just dot, and there’s all sorts of information there. But honestly, the best way is to go down to your local firehouse, find out when they have their monthly meetings, when they have their trainings, and just show up, just to observe, to ask some questions. It’s like the old commercials, no obligation and no salesman will call. You’re not. Don’t worry. But that’s the best way to gather. It also gives you a sense of the other people who are already there doing this work, and you can see what terrific people they are, which is an attraction, too.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:57:35]:
    And it doesn’t come with a mandatory timeshare that you have to pay for for the rest of your life. There’s no commitments.

    Craig Miller [00:57:42]:
    The timeshare you pay, the freight you pay is in time and occasional sleep deprivation.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:57:51]:
    Okay. Okay. Well, speaking of that, I will let you go. And I really appreciate you coming on the happiest Retirees podcast, even though you’re not a retiree and I think you’re.

    Craig Miller [00:58:04]:
    Happy I’m still working on that, too.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:58:07]:

    Craig Miller [00:58:08]:
    Aren’t we?

    Ryan Doolittle [00:58:09]:
    All right, well, you have a great day.

    Craig Miller [00:58:12]:
    Okay? You too, Ryan.

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