40 years ago, we were told that video killed the radio star. So did it? [SPOILER: No.]

[This was my weekly column for – AC]

Through the latter half of the 1970s, some areas of the music community were having a Marshall McLuhan-esque existential crisis thanks to the rise of synthesizers and the adoption of new studio technology.

The new machines, many of which could perform tricks that no human could ever duplicate manually, were driving music into new territory at a fearsome speed. Was humanity being sapped from music? Were humans going to lose control of music? And were these new artificial sounds, methods of recording, and programmed robotic performances actually music in the first place?

And it wasn’t just music. Technological change was sweeping through photography, movies, radio and television. It all seemed both very exciting and very overwhelming.

In late 1978, Trevor Horn, an English session player and producer, sat down with keyboardist Geoff Downes and songwriter Bruce Woolley to write a new wave-ish song about music, mass media, and the way the public was being force-fed it all. I wouldn’t be surprised if they had Network‘s Howard Beale on their mind.

Keep reading.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38413 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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