If you are in the business of content development, an actor or writer, you owe a debt of gratitude to Grant Tinker who passed away earlier this week.  

Tinker was the producer of The Mary Tyler Moore Show (as well as her husband) and numerous other great 70’s TV hits including Lou Grant, Bob Newhart and Rhoda. Later he transformed NBC from a perennial rating loser to a powerhouse.  In the process, many say, he was the catalyst to changing America's viewing habits.  

He rebuilt NBC with a keen eye toward nurturing talent.  He invested heavily in writers, producers, directors and storytellers.  Tinker created an environment in which they could thrive.  

Bob Newhart said in a statement that while at MTM Tinker created "this magical place where creativity and individuality (were nurtured). I was one of the people who was lucky enough to enjoy that freedom for 14 years on television."

He brought The Cosby Show, Cheers, and Hill Street Blues to NBC. Under his guidance, NBC's ratings improved and profits soared from $48 million to $500 million. 

In 1982, its first year, Cheers had poor ratings and was nearly cancelled. It was 74th out of 77 shows. Today, most shows have a short window to find an audience. Tinker stuck with Cheers and it ultimately had an 11 year run.   

In radio station conference rooms across the country when the subject would turn to brand and show development, I would often quote Tinker who said; “first be best, then be first.”  Even in today's hyper environment, it is hard to short-circuit the process.

Tinker will always be synonymous with the best of television, the best of NBC and the best in quality.  

Tinker believed in quality content.  

"First be best, then be first."  

Steven Goldstein is CEO of Amplifi Media, LLC, an advisor in strategy and content development for companies and podcasters. Steve can be reached directly at (203) 221-1400 or sjgoldstein@amplifimedia.com.

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