This year’s show promises to be one of music’s most memorable nights for fans and artists alike. With music superstar and dancing phenom Jason Derulo hosting and iconic artists like U2, Justin Timberlake and Taylor swift in attendance, you can bet the third iHeartRadio Music Awards is going to be one hell of a show.
We sat down with the executive producers of the iHeartRadio Music Awards, John Sykes and Tom Poleman – presidents of Clear Channels entertainment enterprises and national programming platforms, respectively. Fun fact: Sykes was also a co-founder of MTV and VH1 , so it’s safe to say his love of music runs deep.
What can we look forward to seeing at this year’s show?
Tom Poleman: You can look forward to a lot of stuff. This is our first year at the Forum and it’s an unbelievable venue. We moved here from the Shrine, I think, because we kind of outgrew the last venue. The set is amazing, as you can see. We have this massive fan pit surrounded by the huge [iHeartRadio] heart; we have tables surrounding the heart where all the celebs will be hanging out and interacting. I think it’s so iconic at this venue – to do an awards show at a venue where these artists play everyday.
John Sykes: You think about iHeartRadio – there [are] 850 radio stations across the country and 80 million users on the digital app, and this is the night where it all comes together. This is the night where every song you listen to, every artist you love on your iHeartRadio station really gets their due and gets recognized for the incredible year they had. For fans who listen to the radio every day and discover these artists, this is the night. And that’s why the artists show up: because they know, really, this is their connection to their fans…[Sunday night], the fans will be right across from their heroes.
As the EPs of this show, what’s the most important thing for you when putting it together?
TP: I think it’s to represent the music that has been so big over the last year and at the same time, come up with pop culture moments. There’s a lot of firsts: Meghan Trainor performing ‘No’ for the first time, having DNCE doing a collaboration with an icon, which we can’t tell you now, but there’s going to be a cool moment there. It’s blending what’s been big over the year with new moments. And, of course, it’s the awards we’re giving away and the drama and the anticipation that happens before all the awards are handed out.
JS: I think this will be – wherever you are with your Sling, make sure you put it on TNT, truTV or TBS, any one of those three networks is carrying it, and you’ll be able to see some of the biggest songs – really, the biggest songs of the year and some from the past that you may have loved that you’re going to get back in interesting mashups on the show. Without giving away any surprises, this is really about the greatest artists that we’ve heard about and some that are breaking right now you’re going to hear over the next year.
How has it been working with Jason Derulo as the host? I know Jamie Foxx did it last year, so how is he stacking up?
TP: Jason, he’s like our little brother. He’s been hanging out at our radio stations for the last several years and he’s done so many things with us, and over the last year we said not only is he this great singer and dancer, but he’s also really fun. He’s a funny guy and when we were thinking of who would be good to host, he’s kind of like that triple threat that does it all and he said “Hell yeah” and by the way, I’ll start looking at stuff – I think we told him on a Thursday and by Monday we had our first promo, which is great. He jumped right in.
JS: He grew up with iHeartRadio. He literally has and now he’s a giant, giant superstar and he feels so comfortable working with us and vice versa. He really is an artist that can do it all – he can sing, he can dance, he’s funny, he perform, he can host.
I know you can’t tell me surprises, but is there anything else you can tease for us?
TP: Demi Lovato is going to have a cool moment, we have a collaboration there –
JS: That you’d never expect, you’d never expect it.
TP: It’s one of those cross-genre moments. What else can we say?
JS: The great thing about this show and live radio and television is that you never know what you’re going see and what’s going to happen when you put the biggest artist in the world on one stage – you can plan all you want but what will happen will be a surprise to all of us and that’s the great thing about this show. We hand it off [to the artists] and they take it and make unbelievable moments.
I know Bono and The Edge are being honored. Can you talk a little bit about that?
TP: When we were looking for who should win the Innovator Award, you look for somebody who transcends a lot of different things. They’ve stayed musically relevant over four decades they also always push the edge when it comes to how they put together their tours and then their role as social activists, I think, is unprecedented. They do such amazing things. To have Pharrell who won the Innovator Award in year one to give them the award is going to be pretty special.
JS: I think U2 started out as a punk band and it’s never left their blood. I think they also want to be shaking it up, they always want to be different, even at the risk of losing popularity at times along the way they didn’t care. They are not ready to sit back and be a cover band or a greatest-hits hand. They want to write new music and be connected to pop culture in every way. Musically, politically, and socially.
Is there anything we should know ahead of Sunday’s show?
TP: Just that this is one of those pop culture moments that we’re excited to be a part of. When you tune-in, you will not be disappointed. We have a lot of fun stuff planned, so thanks for being here with us.