Radio Lessons #82 – Titanic’s Thomas Andrews Jr.

Last week is the 20th anniversary of the release of James Cameron’s Titanic. 20 years since we first saw Leonardo DiCaprio win his ride on the doomed ship, woo a rich girl, announce he was King Of The World only to freeze to death because Rose couldn’t scooch over and make even a bit of room for him on a wooden plank.

Alas, he perished; but at least he went out to the dulcet tones of Celine Dion.

The movie still stands up today in terms of filmmaking. The scenes of the ship striking the iceberg and the various systems failing that led to the ultimate demise are so wonderfully captured, they are still harrowing to watch today. Cameron’s work has proved itself timeless because it is so much more than just a disaster movie; he filled it with rich, humanised characters that gave it depth (excusing the pun).

One of those characters is Thomas Andrews Jr. – an Irish employee of Harland and Wolff and the ship’s designer.

He declared his plan was a flawless masterpiece and coined the phrase ‘unsinkable’. His pride was palpable, as was his tragic realisation that the Titanic would, in fact, sink after the collision with the iceberg. His arc was one of supreme confidence to devastated horror. He was blinded by his creation and couldn’t, or worse, wouldn’t, see the errors and miscalculations in his design.

Is your station or show the Titanic? What can’t you see?

Survey results can inhibit our vision. Streaming numbers and Facebook likes do the same. The pride you feel in the car on the drive home can lull you into a false sense of security that your product is perfect, or near perfect, and requires little or no attention. The reality is, it is never perfect.

Not only is it virtually impossible to build a flawless product 24/7 – the audience’s needs are constantly, subtly changing and the competitive landscape is likely also in a never-ending state of refinement as well.

Be Zen about the realisation that your plan has flaws, be open to adjust to new nuances, to shift and pivot as you need to and always be on the lookout for icebergs.

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