The CMA Awards on Wednesday night is expected to be both a celebration of country music and an entire industry’s take on recent natural disasters and shooting tragedies. The man tasked with performing that balancing act is David Wild, the writer whose words presenters will read off of scrolling teleprompters.
Wild has taken on tragic events as a TV awards show specialist in the past, but he admits he has not seen a time so divided.
“It’s never been like this," he says. "The funny thing about doing the CMAs for 16 years is it’s almost always an election time, which always makes things more interesting-slash-complicated. It can be very difficult. But walking that tight wire is kind of exciting.”
Wild was originally recruited by the Grammys and the CMAs because of how deftly he handled a broadcast just days after 9/11.
This year’s CMA Awards show is expected to include a tribute to country music fans killed and injured during the mass shooting in Las Vegas. While that incident reignited discussions about gun control, few in the country music industry have been willing to touch the topic.
Wild was in Nashville on Sunday when news of the Texas church shooting began to spread. The moment reminded Wild of other times when tragic events forced him to make changes on TV, like a plane crash that made disaster jokes suddenly become inappropriate.
“You have these difficult and sometimes surreal discussions about what to do," he says. "How do you respect what’s going on in the world, and how do you also do your job? So (for) those of us lucky enough to be here, life goes on."
Wild says he aspires to make something "life affirming" while building "some consensus and common ground."
Last week the CMA encountered its own controversy after asking journalists to refrain from red carpet questions about Las Vegas or politics. That policy was reversed which Wild says he supports adding that he believes in "freedom."