What Radio Can Learn From The Grammys


(By Randy Lane) During a coaching session this week, I heard a familiar response about awards shows: “I stopped watching awards shows years ago.” As ratings sharply decline post-pandemic, it’s become a popular refrain for the media to trash awards shows.

This year’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.

What Radio Can Learn from the Grammys


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!

How to Host

This year’s host, comedian Trevor Noah, 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 also 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 Remains 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.

There’s Such a Thing As Too Polished

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. Yet, critics considered the show too well produced and lacking spontaneity.

The takeaway for 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.

There’s Always Room For Improvement

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.

Randy Lane is the owner of the Randy Lane Company, which coaches and brands radio and television personalities, business professionals, sports personalities, entrepreneurs, and pop culture artists, helping them master communication skills to have an impact on their audiences. Read Randy’s Radio Ink archives here.


  1. This is an excellent article! The comparisons are good. I’m not sure we can still use the Casey Kasem parallel without asking talent of younger generations “Do you know who Casey Kasem was and what he did?” and even then, we probably have to explain about his masterful story telling. Just thinking that through. Thanks Randy!


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