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Video Killed the Radio Star: Why radio still has a part to play in news


In the late 70s, The Buggles soared to stardom with the incredibly catchy song: “Video killed the radio star.”

It was a chart-topping hit and something that countless generations can still sing along to today – even 40 years after it first appeared on the airwaves. Written and produced by Trevor Horn, Bruce Woolley, and Geoff Downes in 1978, Video Killed The Radio Star was more than just a catchy tune. This musical phenomenon was a commentary on the changing state of the technology world.

Back in the 70s, people were starting to look for new methods of spreading brand awareness, beyond the basics of radio broadcasting. The golden age of radio was dwindling, and the video was an exciting new thing. Everywhere, artists began to wonder whether the end of the radio was really in sight.

Yet, despite all the wonders that video broadcasting had, and still has to offer, radio is still going strong today, decades after it first began. Leading research organisation, Nielsen discovered that people who hear radio commercials today have a 35% higher awareness of what happened in that ad, compared to when they see the campaign on TV.

While video has its place in the marketing world; radio isn’t something we can afford to underestimate.

So if MTV and music video channels were so exciting, why is it that we’re still listening to the radio today?

At first glance, it’s safe to say that video has had an incredible impact on the world as we know it. YouTube has 1.9 billion users per month, and streaming services that we have more access to video today than we ever had before. Even with all this new opportunity in the video world, audio remains at the heart of the brand conversation for countless companies.




According to Nielsen’s second-quarter comparable metrics report in 2017, more Americans are tuning in to AM/FM channels each day than any other platform. On top of that, 93% of US adults say that they listen to the radio every week. That’s more than people interact with smartphones, televisions, tablets, and PCs too.

So was Video Killed The Radio Star an accurate prophecy of things to come? It certainly doesn’t seem like it. Not only is AM/FM radio the platform in the US with the greatest reach, but it has mass appeal across countless audiences and demographics around the world. Even millennials love radio.

For years, we sang along with the Video Killed The Radio Star lyrics, using them as a descriptor of the changing times. Yet, radio still reaches millions of adults per week, connecting with people from a host of backgrounds. However, there is a problem that the radio industry needs to deal with right now – and that’s a lack of awareness.

People are simply forgetting that they have alternative marketing opportunities in their toolkit aside from digital content and social media. In the age of podcasting, live Instagram videos and influencer marketing, it’s easy to overlook the impact that audio media and radio can have on your target audience.

That’s one of the reasons why the Radio Centre, the trade body responsible for commercial radio management in the UK, has launched a campaign to reintroduce companies to radio as a medium of mass communication. According to the Radio Centre’s statistics, weekly commercial radio audiences in the UK have overtaken the BBC for the first time in 15 years, and the ROI of commercial radio is growing. Now is the perfect time for businesses to begin rediscovering the golden age of radio.

In the UK alone, radio still reaches 89% of adults every week – the same number of people that tuned into shows back in 1999. What’s more, 77% of 15 to 24 year old still listens to the radio. In other words – it’s not just a medium reserved for older audiences. Radio is still a solution for companies that want to connect with the various senses of their target market.

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