Oh Lord It’s (Not That) Hard to be Humble

Posted on May 17, 2011


Yesterday I referenced a New York Times article about the retirement of Garrison Keillor as a jumping off point to discuss how hard the greatest radio hosts all work behind the scenes to make their shows great.

But I also noticed another interesting theme woven into the article; gratitude.

According to the article the reason Keillor wants to find a new host for the show when he steps down after 39 years is that he has,  “‘a ‘moral obligation’ to the show’s technicians, musicians and actors to keep the program going.”

Keillor also says, ““A lot of work went into getting the show to this point, over 30-some years, and why should one waste all of that work simply because one person, the weak link, the host, decides to go off and sail the Caribbean, or go off and write his memoirs that nobody would particularly want to read, why should this come to an end?”

It’s probably safe to discount some of the, “aww shucks” attitude in Keillor’s comments. Nobody gets to his level of success without a relentless work ethic and some amount of ego.

I have no doubt that at time Keillor been incredibly tough on that crew of technicians, musicians and actors he feels obligated to. That’s to be expected from a leader who wants to achieve and maintain success.

What pushes people like Keillor into the stratosphere above other talented hosts however, is that commitment to the people who work hard for him week after week. He understands that he couldn’t have gotten to where he is on his own and wants to payback the debt he owes to people who helped him along the way.

While your show may not have a staff the size of Keillor’s, consider the people who help you make great radio. Promotions staffers? Production people? Engineers? Interns? Friends and family?

Whoever it is, remember the obligation Keillor talks about. Don’t let ego or success make you forget the people who helped you out along the way.