Known for the iconic words, "take it away," Jon Ola Sand, Eurovision's Executive Supervisor since 2011, has become something of a legend at the Contest. Now, in his last days in his position at the EBU, we'd like to take some time to thank him for all he has contributed to the Eurovision Song Contest over the last 10 years.
In his 10 years in the role, Jon Ola has overseen incredible growth and many changes at Eurovision. His optimism and perseverance led him to be a stand-out Executive Supervisor for the Contest.
In 2009, Sand was appointed as the Executive Producer of the 55th Eurovision Song Contest in his hometown of Oslo, Norway. In 2010, he was appointed as the EBU's Executive Supervisor of the Eurovision Song Contest, a role he took on as of 1 January 2011. His debut Contest in the role was in Düsseldorf.
Before becoming the Contest's Executive Supervisor, Jon Ola acted as the Head of Delegation for Norway from 1998 to 2005.
Over the past decade, Jon Ola Sand has become synonymous with the Eurovision Song Contest among the millions of viewers who have watched him begin the voting sequence with the iconic words: “take it away!” But those words have not been his only influence; here are 3 significant changes to the Contest under his leadership.
Eurovision growing strong!
Over the last 10 years, Eurovision has undergone growth in many areas, most notably in terms of its technological advancements and presence online. Over the last decade, Jon Ola helped the Eurovision Song Contest develop with the times, opening up to a younger audience with the introduction of the Contest's app and official YouTube channel.
The Contest also proved its growing connection around the world, adding Australia to its roster of participating countries. Regarding their addition, Jon Ola said: “Australia adds flavour, diversity,” he offers. “And (Australia) has sent consistently really good acts (to the contest). Australia’s passion for Eurovision, incredible history with the contest and its high fan base (make) it logical to be included.”
The running order
The way the running orders of the live shows are arranged also changed in the last decade. In 2013, it was decided that show producers and the EBU would decide the order of performances after a random draw selected which country will be showcased in which semi-final.
The intention is to provide a degree of variation in the genre and feel throughout the show. “It’s a proven formula,” Sand starts when discussing the Grand Final running order. His position on this is very clear. “(We) put the best running order together to create the best program.”
Delivery of voting results
A few years later, in 2016, we saw another change to the way the voting results were delivered in the show format. Over the last handful of years, the jury vote has been entirely separate to the viewer televote. The jury points are announced first and the televote-awarded points are then calculated together before being added to the jury points. "The way we present the voting – by splitting the jury and public vote – this creates much, much more excitement," Jon Ola said of this change.
Jon Ola will return to his native Norway to begin a new role at the head office of public broadcaster NRK, overseeing their new strategy to create a powerful, innovative and forward-looking organization.
NRK have expressed their excitement to have Jon Ola home. NRK DG Thor Gjermund Eriksen said: “It is brilliant that Jon Ola is coming home. With his background and vast experience, he will help develop NRK as a public broadcaster and production house and prepare us to move into our brand new home.”
The EBU has had nothing but wonderful words to say as they reflect on the last decade. “Jon Ola’s commitment and calm steady hand over the last decade has been invaluable to the EBU and its Members,” said Jean Philip De Tender, Director of Media at the EBU. “He has overseen the growth and development of the Eurovision Song Contest over the past decade and created, together with EBU Members, the most advanced entertainment show in the world helping to safeguard the longevity of this much-loved show that unites audiences from across the globe."
For Jon Ola, the sentiments are just as deep. On 16 May, the evening of Eurovision: Europe Shine A Light, upon handing the reign over to new Executive Supervisor Martin Österdahl, he took to Twitter to thank the fans:
Thank you, Jon Ola, for all that you have contributed over the last decade to make the Eurovision Song Contest all that it is today.
And because we'd be remiss to not end on the iconic words themselves, we leave you with this: