Video killed the radio star

Radio Tomorrow with James Cridland

It’s 40 years since Trevor Horn wrote the Buggles’ ”Video Killed The Radio Star”.

Video didn’t, of course. 9 out of 10 people listen to the radio every week, in countries as diverse as Malaysia, the US, France or Australia. Radio’s reach hasn’t changed in the last twenty years (though there are certainly many changes in consumption patterns).

Video Killed The Radio Star is, seemingly, the phrase that a lazy editor will reach for in order to write a story – any story – about radio. And as regular readers may know, I keep an eye out for them.

Just over the past few months…

  • ●  A radio presenter played a round of golf. This, in itself, was news for The Kansas City Star, since a radio presenter is a star enough for them to write about. So what better lazy Buggles headline than “​Second hole in one didn’t kill the radio star”​ ?

  • ●  The Star in Malaysia writes a ​long piece about video assistant referees​, used in soccer games. “Video killed the radio star; it looks like it’s coming for football next,” concludes the journalist. Hmm. Scroll down a bit, and you’ll notice the logos for Suria FM and 988, two, er, ah, radio stations run by Star Media, who may be a little confused why a sports journalist has just talked them down. (Also – dude – you write for a newspaper. A NEWSPAPER.)

  • ●  Campaign, a magazine aimed at advertising professionals, carries ​a piece about the power of radio advertising​, “Radio excels in providing reach amongst mass audience”, the piece says. The lazy Buggles headline that the sub-editor lazily bashed out before going for a liquid lunch? “Has digital killed the radio star?”.

●  Oh, and ​TV insider​ – a US publication covering the rapidly declining world of television – manages to ​shoehorn a lazy Buggles introduction​ in front of a story about some dismal, hardly-watched assembly of vapid flickering pictures for the hard-of-thinking.

I don’t know what’s more depressing: the frequent repetition of a lie that radio is somehow “dead”, or the odd behaviour from radio people to just sit on their hands and not demand a retraction from these publications. Why aren’t we doing this? Isn’t it, literally, our job?

But let’s leave the last word to ​the writer of the song​, Trevor Horn: “Video did not kill the radio star. Maybe he had him down for a couple of minutes but he came back up again swinging and he’s still healthy.


About The Author

James Cridland, the radio futurologist, is a conference speaker, writer and consultant. He runs the media information website and helps organise the yearly Next Radio conference. He also publishes, a daily briefing on podcasting and on-demand, and writes a weekly international radio trends newsletter, at