What Radio Can Learn From the Grammys

 In Blog

During a coaching session this week, I heard a familiar response about awards shows: “I stopped watching awards shows years ago.” It’s become a popular refrain for the media to trash awards shows, AND ratings have sharply declined since the pandemic.

Last Sunday’s Grammys were an exception. The show averaged 16.9 million viewers and peaked at 18.25 million, up 36 percent from last year and the highest since the pandemic. The 18- to 49-year-old demos jumped 40 percent from last year.

To put those ratings in perspective, the Grammys ratings were almost double the average top-rated weekly television show. The NFL regular season games averaged almost 18 million viewers, and the playoffs rated much higher.

What Radio Can Learn from the Grammys

Storytelling: Luke Combs started the Grammys storytelling with his backstory about being inspired to record Fast Car after listening to Tracy Chapman’s song with his dad when he was five. Most of the show’s performances were skillfully set up with a backstory that primed viewers to want to enjoy the song.

  • Music station talent: channel your inner Casey Kasem when introducing songs. Backstories make it an experience!

Be like Trevor. He was confident, enthusiastic, fun, and positive – an element people need today. He kept the show flowing at a fast clip; he read the room. Unlike many past hosts, Trevor interacted with the audience and didn’t make it all about himself.

He took a few chances with his jokes and was funny enough. However, some critics thought he should have injected more humor.

Trevor emphasized the empowerment of women. Female artists dominated almost all the major categories, including many women of color.

  • When hosting an event, make your personality and presence known, and be happy to be there. Focus on why you’re there and the audience.

Content is still king: The Grammys benefited from stellar content highlighted by a mesmerizing performance by Tracy Chapman and Luke Combs, a stirring first and likely last Grammy performance by Joni Mitchell, SZA’s Kill Bill and Snooze, and Billie Eilish’s haunting rendition of When the Party’s Over.

  • Create innovative, killer content, and you will generate an audience regardless of the platform.

Production value: The lighting, stage, backdrops, and props gave the artists space to showcase their music. We were treated to a performance by U2 with a rare inside view of the Las Vegas Sphere.

Critics considered the show too well produced and lacked spontaneity. 

  • The takeaway for Award shows and radio personalities is to balance production value and spontaneity. Underproduced radio shows can fade into the background, while over-produced shows can be noisy and fatiguing.

Was the Grammys too safe? Critics felt the Grammys were too safe for rock ‘n roll and lacked compelling disruptions. The only off-script moment was Jay Z calling out the academy for not getting Hip Hop right and for snubbing his wife Beyonce’ for Album of the Year.

  • Every show can be improved. The Grammys didn’t need Kanye interrupting Taylor Swift for again winning Album of the Year. At the same time, future Grammys could add more edge. 

    The same is true for your show. All shows need edge and unpredictability.

Photo by Rob Laughter on Unsplash

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