Senior Column | DITV taught me ‘the show must go on’

Rebuilding and leading DITV has been a highlight during my time at the University of Iowa


Contributed photo of Elisabeth Neruda, DITV Director.

Elisabeth Neruda

I’m not great at letting go.

I’m a fairly anxious person in general, so worrying constantly about everything all the time is my forte. But with DITV, it is even worse. When I stepped into this role a year ago, I worried that if I was not physically there, the building would burn down or everything that could go wrong — would. To be fair, these worries are not totally unfounded.

Over the past year, DITV has dealt with more technical issues than I can count. But to my knowledge, no actual fires have ever broken out.

I worry because I care. This was a rebuilding year in a lot of ways, and I put all my efforts into making the show the best it could possibly be and for DITV to be a space for everyone on staff to become their best selves. And for a lot of that year, caring for me meant being at all the production nights and all the live shows and me surviving off of five hours of sleep most nights.

But to quote Lorne Michaels from Saturday Night  Live — “The show doesn’t go on because it is ready. It goes on because it is 11:30.” Replace the time with 8:30 a.m., and you have DITV.

For most of the past year, I held a pretty strong grip on the show. But only because I had big goals for what I wanted it to be. When we were coming back from COVID-19, I was worried about productions being shut down right as we were hitting a stride.

We were going through a lot of employee turnover, I was worried that I would have to produce a newscast with a miniscule staff. We were going back to live shows instead of shooting and editing from our phones, I was worried none of us would know what we were doing and fail spectacularly.

But the show always goes on.

It is a tough balance prioritizing DITV as a learning lab and wanting people to make mistakes so they can learn, and also wanting to achieve great things very fast. It hurts when you write and produce a great show and then the TV gods smite you with faulty mics or a broken monitor or a prompter that turns off on a whim. But that is the nature of TV. You can’t pay for the kind of experience that is troubleshooting and rewriting until the last possible second.

I had to learn to let go. To loosen the grip on the show and let it be what it is and work with the good, the bad, and the ugly.

I would like it to be very well known that I did not learn this alone, nor did I learn this fast. My coaches would constantly tell me that nothing in TV happens alone and to rely on those around me.

I had fellow directors and staff literally push me out the door of the studio and ban me from Wednesday mornings shows so I could sleep. I had an amazing, dedicated, weird, talented staff who saw my vision for the show and worked their tails off learning, growing, and changing with me. Finally it clicked.

Letting go is hard because change is hard. This building and this studio is where I have spent a majority of my time for the last two years. It is my morning and night routine. These are the people I spend most of my time with. This is where I learned what I want to spend my life doing.

But if there was ever a time to truly let go of the reins, it is now. The show has grown leaps and bounds more than I ever would have imagined and the sky’s the limit for what DITV can achieve. There is nothing else I know more in this world than the people taking over will do a great job. You will have a viewer for life.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.