The morning after the Academy Awards I tuned in to three morning shows in three different markets to hear how they were discussing The Slap — the most talked-about Oscars moment ever.
This is what I heard.
Morning Show 1 — It was clearly their top topic, talked about or mentioned in every quarter hour over the 45 minutes I was tuned in. They mixed Oscars audio with caller comments and informed discussions about witnessing (as one host stated) “an act of violence on another human being.” The hosts were prepared. Grade: A
Morning Show 2 — Over the course of 35 minutes there was no mention of The Slap, not even in the news. Grade: F
Morning Show 3 — How the conversation went:
Voice 1: And so at the Oscars, if you missed it… WOW. Crazy, right?
Voice 2: Cray-zee.
Voice 1: I mean, OK, if you missed it basically Will Smith walked up to Chris Rock, who was on stage—
Voice 2: Chris made a joke about Will Smith’s wife’s lack of hair. She’s basically bald—
Voice 1: She’s got alopecia, which causes bald spots or something, and Chris joked about how she’s going to star in G.I. Jane 2 and, boy, wow, Will Smith—
Voice 2: I had to google what G.I. Jane was.
Voice 1: It’s an old, old movie with, um, Demi Moore in the military and she shaved her head for the role.
Voice 2: She looks bad-ass.
Voice 1: And I guess Will Smith was thinking, “You’re picking on my wife and so I have no choice but to slap the snot out of you.”
Voice 2: Shocking!
Voice 1: Crazy.
Voice 2: So crazy. Now we have to check in with meteorologist [John Doe] for a look at our forecast…
How to elevate a C- break to an A break
• Most of your listeners didn’t watch the Oscars, so inform them. “In case you missed it” says you’re about to share the big news, so treat it like a news story (details, sequence of events) before moving into the conversation.
• Audio. The entire Oscars incident — bleeped and unbleeped — can be found with a quick internet search. The sound of Will Smith’s hand meeting Chris Rock’s face is shocking. Add Smith’s screams from the audience and you have some of the most compelling audio a morning show could want.
• Opinion. To stand out you have to have an opinion, but the opinion I heard was ‘it’s crazy’. You don’t have to be an award-winning New York Times columnist to craft an opinion worth sharing. Pro Tip: Grab a pen and paper and let your thoughts flow out. Write until you run out of ideas. As you sleep on it more thoughts will come to mind, but at least you’ll have the foundation for your opinion.
• Drop the weather. You don’t “have to check in” with your meteorologist. The Slap was the number one topic the morning after the Oscars. Unless your city is facing a weather event you are under no obligation to put the TV weatherman on your show.
Preparation begins immediately
This was a big event that required morning shows to begin preparation during the Oscars telecast.
• Get your thoughts and ideas on paper or in your Notes app.
• Touch base with your team and exchange ideas. Get them on paper or in your Notes app.
• Update your show clock with all good and great ideas. You can update in the morning.
• Get audio from the internet right away. Don’t wait for a prep service to deliver it — find it, edit it, share it with your team, come up with some companion audio elements that will your show stand out.
• Encourage every show member to form an opinion and to bring it in the following morning.
• Seek out audio by Chris Rock and Will Smith that might tie in with the event, like Smith talking about the world needing more love.
One step more
What’s the show down the hall going to do in a situation like this? Or the format competitor across town?
Be the show that handles topical events like The Slap with deeper preparation, better audio, and informed opinion.