Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Just be ready

I used to be in the business of encouraging young broadcasters to reach their full potential in the radio/TV business.  Robin Quivers's autobiography told the story of how I helped her get her start (I had to take a Stern approach!), and there were lots of others.  I loved that job at the time.  

If I were still in that line of work, I would tell young people to follow the example of Lester Holt, of NBC News.  He recently came to town to promote his broadcast and toured the local NBC station, posing for pictures, cutting promos and so forth, and here is why I recommend using Lester as a touchstone to help guide a career.

He worked his tail off!

If you watch NBC, you've seen Lester over the years.  On Friday nights, you saw him do Dateline, which was probably taped in advance because he had to get up at oh-dark-30 to do the Saturday and Sunday Today Shows, and then he came back on both weekend nights to anchor the Nightly News and probably run out and adjust the cameras or whatever in between.

He had followed the traditional path of broadcasting success. While attending college, Holt got a job at a local country music radio station in California and did the regular DJ/Newsman-all-in-one thing, and then got into TV as a local reporter, then a local anchor, and finally got the network jobs at CBS and then NBC.

Now, Brian Williams - you've heard of him - was the Golden Boy at NBC, anchoring the Nightly News and jetting in for whatever catastrophe befell the world, to serve as anchor while wearing a fishing shirt and a layer of dust. Brian did that very well, but when it turned out that he was going on Letterman and other shows expanding his role in these past calamities, he was sent home for six months like a kid who got caught copying off someone else's paper in Algebra.

And Lester filled in and did a great job, because for all these years he wasn't sitting around NBC saying, "I'll never get the big nightly anchor job because Brian will be here forever."  Nope.  He worked and worked and when the chance came, he got the big job fair and square.

And thereby hangs a lesson for young people.  You never know when that chance, that crack of the door, will come. When your chance comes, the powers that be are not going to let you run out and get ready. Your job is to be ready for it to occur at any moment.  

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