Archives For Neil Portnow

Now that I’ve had a few days to process everything, some news and notes from my first ever GRAMMYs red carpet…

– The GRAMMYs red carpet is reminiscent of one for a big movie premiere in that it’s quite expansive, filled with top level stars, chaotic in spurts and covered by outlets of all shapes and sizes. Jayde Donovan and I were holding down the fort for our radio network, Westwood One. We were towards the end of the media lineup – to our left were The Garden social media team and WWD.com. To our right? A Japanese TV outlet that is clearly big across the Pacific because seemingly everyone stopped or attempted to stop and say hi to them.

– Always appreciate Scott Borchetta, the head of Big Machine Label Group, making a few minutes for us. He joked that NARAS had quite the wildcard on their hands sitting country group Midland in the front row. On a more serious note, he thought Taylor Swift had a good chance in both categories she was nominated, especially Best Country Song for writing Little Big Town’s “Better Man.” She came up empty for that along with “I Don’t Want To Live Forever” from “Fifty Shades Darker” in the Visual Media category, one that Borchetta believed is a “flip of the coin.”

– When we flagged Victor Cruz over and he revealed to Jayde that he was presenting the “Despacito” performance, my first thought was, “Oh, the irony!” Of course, it was two seasons ago that Cruz along with Odell Beckham Jr. and other Giants players flew to Miami the week before a playoff game to hang with Justin Bieber in Miami. Not only would the G-Men lose to the Packers, but some would point to the incident as the reason why Cruz wasn’t brought back to the team.

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– Speaking of “Despacito,” I think anyone and everyone who had anything to do with that song and wasn’t named Justin Bieber was on the red carpet. The producers, the artists, the principle songwriter, the guy who opened the studio door… it was incredible!

– The white roses Jayde and I wore were donated by 1800Flowers.com and the whole movement was championed in part by one of our colleagues, Melony Torres – very cool.

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– It always amazes me that sometime the biggest stars are the ones most generous with their time. With that said, it was cool to see Tony Bennett spend a few minutes chatting with Jayde.

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– Loved catching up with Long Island’s own Hoodie Allen, who told me he knew about his buddy Ed Sheeran’s engagement for a whole and to him and those around Ed it came as no surprise. I wonder if Hoodie is in charge of the bachelor party…

– Mayor Bill de Blasio and his wife told us that city officials worked hard to get The GRAMMYs to The Garden. Later, when I asked Recording Academy President Neil Portnow about New York as a host city, he went out of his way to mention the administration sang a rather different tune, stating tonight wasn’t the time to address the challenges working with them.

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Although for me, the best part of our interaction with Mr. Mayor was after I shook his hand, when I told the Boston-born lifelong Red Sox fan, “Let’s go Yankees.”

I’m sure the Mayor appreciated it as much as Mr. Portnow’s comments.

I don’t like holding on to a lot of physical mementos, especially ones that would require a UPS label or a potential over-packed suitcase.

This is primarily in reference to the award shows that I cover but extends to any other trip I make or event I attend. First, I have the priceless memories of those experiences. Second, if I do save something, it’s usually a hotel room key, a press credential or a ticket stub. I’ve saved the latter since first attending baseball games and wrestling matches as a kid. I read in Rolling Stone once that Springsteen also saves his room keys and I thought to myself, “If he isn’t too cool for that then neither am I.” Press credentials are also nice because like tickets and room keys, they are small, but they are also unique.

But this past GRAMMYs, something changed. It started on my first day in Los Angeles. I attended an event that Wednesday night (something I have never done before) so I could speak with Recording Academy President Neil Portnow and Conan O’Brien. Afterwards I had drinks with a colleague and we talked about all of the various award shows and “radio rows” that I’ve had the privilege of covering. I always tell people that despite the fact I’m at a lot of these, I never assume that I’ll be at the next show and I never take any of them for granted.

The conversation I had with that co-worker drove those points home on to a different level. I hope it reflected in my work, but I and my producer can tell you it was definitely reflected in my work ethic. Don’t get me wrong, I always bust my butt on the road. But this time there was a different pace and diligence to the process. I covered events, conducted interviews, hosted shows, Skype’d in a few TV hits and edited, edited, edited which was only followed by more editing… and a lot of distribution throughout the social networks, our dot-coms and most importantly, the airwaves.

We wrapped radio row that Friday – its official title is “Westwood One Backstage” – and my producer Jay asked me if I wanted an official GRAMMYs poster that he had all of the interviewees sign. We’ve done this in the past and I almost never take it home. First, I can’t be bothered with anything that doesn’t involve completing my work for the week and second, it’s not like I can shove it in a suitcase.

But again, this time was different. And I thought to myself that a year from now, I might not be at The GRAMMYs. So maybe I should take a second to reflect, be thankful and perhaps take another memento home – one that would look pretty cool on the wall framed, I might add.

On Sunday Jay and I attended The GRAMMYs, and as we walked out he handed me a program. The GRAMMY program is more encyclopedia than playbill in size. The old me would have discarded it; but this time was different. It found its way in to my luggage, which I had to check anyways because that’s what happens when you travel across the country for a week to work.

The poster made it home too thanks to the J.W. Marriott’s business center and the aforementioned UPS. It’s hanging in my bedroom.

When I had that chat with my colleague the night before radio row began, I retired back to my hotel room and told myself that no matter what happens, I better push myself to new limits and leave it all out there.

And by the end of the trip, I felt I had at the very least accomplished that… so I wanted to make sure I took a piece of it back with me too. I’m glad I did.

On my first day of coverage in Los Angeles for The 59th GRAMMYs, I attended The Recording Academy Producers And Engineers Wing 10th Annual event which honored 12-time GRAMMY winner Jack White. The artist’s friend Conan O’Brien was on hand and stopped to chat about his Patriots winning Super Bowl 51. I also spoke with Regina Spektor and Academy President Neil Portnow.