Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Is Your Morning Show Safe?

The recent events at The End in Sacramento should be a bit scary to most PDs and Morning Shows. The show did a pretty typical stunt for a Nintendo Wii where you 'held your wee for a wii.' Contestants drank equal quantities of water and the last one to go the bathroom wins the Wii. The problem here is one of the contestants tragically died from drinking too much water. The intense local media coverage of the event resulted in the firing of 10 staff members including the talent on the show, PD, Promotions director, and others. It will be a challenge for the staff members to find other jobs and for the station to rebuild it's image and find another show.

The questions for the rest of us - could this happen to my show?

While this could have been an unfortunate accident it's also a style of stunt we hear on a lot of stations and usually comes off with the only damage being a bit of embarrassment. Think of all the other types of stunts that could have gone wrong. What would happen if we had the 'hands on the car game' going and someone had an allergy or medical condition that got out of control and they died or became seriously ill? Singing from the Shower - and they slip and fall? Even calling in on a contest on a cell phone and getting into a car accident could be something that gets out of control.
One of the resources you should add to the show is some kind of medical advice. It might be a local doctor that also drops in for a weekly live Q/A with the audience. Make sure you consult them before you do anything to a person's body. There are claims in the Sacramento cast that a nurse warned them of this possibility before the stunt.
Also make sure you have signed waivers and that you have talked over these types of situations with your legal team. While it might be an extra hassle in preparing a bit or a stunt - better safe than sorry. It might also be necessary to have medical histories and maybe even a doctor's permission in the legal documents in the future.
The key in managing these events on morning shows is making sure you've taken a careful approach without stifling the ideas. We've all seen the frustration and lack of creativity when you start shutting down too many ideas with 'what if' scenarios.
The reality TV shows have prompted this style of stunt and an accident like this could happen to them. I wonder if they have gone to some the measures suggested here?
The key lesson here is take a few minutes before you get into any type of physical stunt and make sure you don't end up with a career and life threatening situation.

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