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Lessons From Woody Allen

4-9-2012

If you're responsible for managing a creative process at your radio station, or you are in charge of talent management, a viewing of the DVD “Woody Allen: A Documentary" would be well worth your time. No one's humor is more neurotic than that of Woody Allen. From his sex life to religion to his childhood, virtually any topic has been fair game. In radio, we've all joked about ourselves, or our staff and talent, as being neurotic at one time or another.
 
As a tribute to Woody's way and the business we are in, here are some neurotic takeaways that I pulled from "A Documentary" that might benefit your creative radio output:
 
Neurotic Takeaway Number One: Embrace being neurotic
This is the basis of Woody's creativity – his “content management” – and the enduring wellspring of his humor. He wears it proudly. We all know radio talent is neurotic, so let's embrace it as a method for helping them reach greater heights.
 
Neurotic Takeaway Number Two: If a business has been in your blood for many years, embrace it!
Woody has been involved in creating content since he was in high school. In those earliest days, he was writing and selling up to 50 jokes a day for newspaper columnists and comedians. Many of us have been slugging it out in radio for years. That's something to be proud of!

Neurotic Takeaway Number Three: Reinvent frequently.
Woody started as a joke writer, advanced to stand-up comic, became an actor, and then eventually became a director. In radio, it's more important than ever – whether as individuals or an organization – to reinvent.

Neurotic Takeaway Number Four: Produce ideas in mass volume.
Woody's catalog of movies, plays, and short stories is massive. He works obsessively. Great radio content rises out of constant production.

Neurotic Takeaway Number Five: Have a thick skin for criticism.
Woody has taken his lumps from both the public and critics. In radio, in case you haven't figured it out yet, you have to take your lumps.

Neurotic Takeaway Number Six: When managing talent, give them some creative breathing room
This is the toughest one, and the one I'm most neurotic about being misunderstood.
 
As a director, Woody is well known for fostering an air of freedom and creativity for his actors. Those actors speak very fondly of his open-minded approach to directing. As managers of radio talent, we need to manage closely but we also need to allow talent to blossom and "find their voice." If you give these six tips a shot, you’ll create a more productive, inspired environment at your station. And it’s fine by me if you call me crazy.

Buzz Knight is the Vice President of Program Development for Greater Media and he can be reached at bknight@greatermediaboston.com. Knight was named among “Best Programmers” by Radio Ink Magazine in 2007 and 2010. He has served on the programming subcommittee of the National Association of Broadcasters(NAB) and is currently a member of the Arbitron Radio Advisory Council and the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) COLRAM Committee.




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With the exception of the zany antics of some morning drive personalities, I think the argument can be made that the rest of the performers on all the other day parts are already well and truly neurotic. But, for different reasons. This, because they are engaged in profoundly limited on-air exercises that do not comprise meaningful work for a grownup.

If Woody had to do afternoon drive based on the models of today's Music Radio, there would be gun-play. Fumbling and inaccurate, to be sure - but weapons would be discharged.

- Ronald T. Robinson

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