YouTube killed the video star?

Ciara Berry 9 February 2014

Despite the maxim proclaimed by The Buggles that “video killed the radio star”, it seems as though, these days, it is YouTube and catch-up sites such as BBC iPlayer who have the monopoly.

Watching where you want, when you want is much more appealing than rushing home to catch the latest episode of The Bridge. It also offers the opportunity for grumpy teenagers to lock themselves away without having to spend time with people in order to watch their favourite programme.

Clearly this argument about the ‘anti- social’ aspect of portable multimedia (most often espoused by mothers) is valid. Gathering around the telly is a nice way to socialise without having to make extensive conversation. Watching Doctor Who and Downton Abbey at Christmas, snuggled up with Quality Street and leftover turkey, is a perfect example of television-assisted family cohesion. However, this is Christmas. An exception. On any normal day there will be arguments over which programme to watch: a documentary on treefrogs, Jackass, or Keeping up with the Kardashians. In this respect, TV on the laptop seems like a tranquil solution. There is a greater choice of programmes, as well as a plethora of cat-related YouTube videos to peruse. These can also be more interactive, with viewers able to cultivate a relationship with the creator, who occasionally racks up so many views in order to quit their job and live off advertising and merchandise revenue.

Yet for all our new technology and ways of entertaining ourselves, we haven’t quit the radio just yet. Indeed, according to statistics by Radio Joint Audience Research (RAJAR), 90% of the population tune in to the radio every week. Radio has great diversity, not only in channels and programmes, but in the places it can be listened to: while cooking, showering or in the car.

Moreover, routine presenters can create an audience bond similar to that of YouTubers. Alex Rice, a presenter at CamFM, agrees: “It’s such a personal way of communicating with people. It’s a medium that’s more than the sum of its parts”. So ultimately it seems as though The Buggles’ prophecy was wrong; the radio star is not dead (rather alive, kicking, and raking in over £100,000 a year). But then neither is television: content is dispersed, but it certainly has not died.