“Video Killed the Radio Star”


I did a quick search, and found that I hadn’t posted this song yet.  Considering my age, I find that kind of unbelievable.  I remember mentioning it once or twice, but this is the song that helped usher in the end of radio as an important medium.

On August 1st, 1981, MTV blasted into existence, and music videos became the way to sell songs.  Oh, the effect wasn’t immediate.  Radio still held a pretty favored place among advertisers and executives.  It was cheaper than television, and just about everybody had one.  If you wanted to get people’s attention fast, a radio commercial or appearance was still a good option.  Radio itself had been the first blow to older media forms like newspapers when it took root in the 1920s.  Every technological advance has eaten away at audiences for old formats of news and entertainment.  Some, like the laserdisc and 8-track, disappear altogether as soon as they’re replaced with something better.  Other forms hang on.  Newspapers aren’t dead yet; neither is radio.  But both have lost a great deal of the cultural cache they once held.

It’s hard for me to comprehend the influence radio had on the world in the first half of the 20th century.  I was a child of the 70s and 80s.  Television was ubiquitous, if a lot simpler, by the time I was born.  MTV was made for me, and I loved it.  It never really replaced radio for me, though.  I think because there was always more variety on radio.  There was still a lot of original programming for radio back then.  John Sebastian had a folk/blues program that aired once a week.  There was the King Biscuit Flour Hour, which aired concerts.  Talk radio was mostly localized, so you heard news and people from the area you lived in.  And of course, playlists were looser, and DJs actually had personalities.  It was . . . fun.

That’s the one thing I miss about radio.  Fun.  I’ve still got one more radio song for tomorrow, but that’s what all this reminiscing about radio boils down to.  Radio used to be fun, and it isn’t anymore.  And that makes me kind of sad.