Or: “10 Things Radio Can Learn From The Oscars.”
1. Be ready for prime time. (Or “Don’t hesitate to turn down a bad gig.”) – Being host of this show is a high wire-no net act. Most cannot pull it off, given the three audiences – egomaniacal stars in the room, millions watching at home, and a few million making snarky remarks on Twitter. Seth MacFarlane came up short. WAAAAY short, but then again, what’s the upside of taking this gig?For talent at many local radio stations, the same rules apply. You have to have great stuff, but not every job can be accomplished. Bite off what you can chew.
2. Don’t overdo a good thing. We’ve all learned over the years that if the Beatles A-to-Z works, you don’t turn around and do Z-to-A. Someone on the programming committee of the Oscars should have realized that a few musical segments could be captivating but it got way out of control. Sometimes too much of anything is a tune-out – or worse, makes you wonder what you were watching in the first place.
3. Let the good ones talk. The Oscars fixation on brevity is reminiscent of applying harsh PPM rules to everyone. The fact is, some talent can handle the moment and others cannot. But when you’ve got talkers like Daniel Day Lewis, Quentin Tarantino, and Ben Affleck, you’ve got to let ‘em go. All three were entertaining. Not all jocks and hosts are created equal. Some can handle more mic time and make it work. Knowing the capabilities of your talent is an important element in being a great PD.
4. Get back up. Speaking of Affleck, he gave a great speech that was a reminder to all of us in the entertainment business that success is fleeting, so you have to work hard and rely on others in order to be a winner. As he told the Academy and all of us, “All that matters is that you gotta get up.”
5. Get back up – Two. Knockout actress Jennifer Lawrence actually fell down on her way up those grandiose stairs to accept her Best Actress Oscar. She made a joke of it, got back up, and gave a heartfelt speech that very likely endeared her to millions more viewers. Bad things happen – even on a national stage – but the real pros get up, keep moving, and don’t let it break their flow. This moment was a lesson in grace and keeping focused on what was important.
6. Do one thing and do it well. No matter what you think of her music, Adele knocked it out of the park. As I mentioned in this blog last week, “Skyfall might not have been my favorite Bond film, but the song and her performance lit it up on an otherwise weird Oscar night.
7. It is about casting. You can have a great idea for a format, test your music, and even plan out some great marketing. But ultimate success is all about knowing and recognizing the right people for the right roles. Quentin Tarantino acknowledged this in his speech where he pointed out, “I have to cast the right people to make (the) characters come alive….” It’s about talent whether you’re making movies, doing TV news, or putting together a music or spoken word radio station.
8. If you don’t want to be there, don’t commit in the first place. Kristin Stewart absolutely didn’t want to be there – or perhaps wasn’t really there at all. But her awkward, indifferent approach to being a presenter at this amazing event made you wonder what the Academy was thinking. Similar to a situation with a member of your airstaff, get the commitment and establish a level of passion upfront. The audience can tell whether a celebrity is “into it” or not. If someone really doesn’t want to be there, they can stay home.
9. Don’t hold grudges. Back to Affleck, he was bluntly honest about marriage in his speech, but also reminded us all, “It’s hard but you can’t hold grudges.” I know that is difficult for a lot of people, especially those who have suffered, lost their jobs, and endured heartache especially these past few years. I see that anger and bitterness come up at times in comments to this blog and to topics that embroil the rank and file of radio, from consolidation to Pandora to short playlists to HD Radio. As Affleck has no doubt learned, grudges don’t make you better, they just hold you back.
10. Twitter magnifies it all…in real-time. Gone are the days when a flub, off-handed remark, or bad joke simply disappears into space. The moment anything odd, wonderful, or bizarre happens, it first ends up on Twitter, and then makes it way to YouTube. Even radio DJs are under the microscope so be aware of what’s coming out of your mouth on the air and at events. Everything you do or say will be held against you.
It was not a great Oscar show but that’s to be expected. But it was a unique window into how the biggest and most visible entertainment machine actually looks and feels on a night when we get a glimpse inside. It is always amazing to watch people who get paid to read scripts actually try to adlib their way into our homes, laptops, and tablets. The great ones always find a way to impress us.
What did you see and take away from the Academy Awards?