This issue, we celebrate broadcasting execs who take risks – the mavericks who believe they know what viewers want, and are willing to climb out on a limb to provide it.
To some, risk is a loaded word. There can be a tinge of thoughtlessness to it. But that’s not how we define it. General George Patton once advised: ‘Take calculated risks – that is quite different from being rash.’ As Patton himself demonstrated on many occasions, audaciousness in the face of adversity is an acceptable and potentially winning tactic. And adversity is what the television industry is facing.
The new millennium brought with it a new media world. It’s understandable, however, if broadcasters hesitate before moving away from what has caused them to thrive. One of the greatest burdens of success is the fear of breaking with that same legacy.
But the days of shying away from risk are over. Doing nothing – relying on what is working now or what has worked in the past – has become a guarantee of failure. Eventually I’ll get tired of smacking them around, but TLC was the archetype for that sort of failure. That is, until one of our risk takers showed up. (By contrast, the music industry is still waiting for its white knight.)
You might not like how some of our mavericks operate – some execs are kind and gentle, while others arrive axe in hand – but they are now integral to the success of our industry. We require leaders with untested solutions who aren’t afraid to take us down paths we have not tread before.
One thing is certain: risks will lead to some spectacular failures, and the bigger the risk, the greater the chance of failure. But, as the great hockey general Wayne Gretzky once said, ‘You’ll always miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.’