That’s not Simon Phipps addressing an open source conference — rather it’s John Wetton, bass player and front man for Asia, the “original” supergroup of the mid-80s formed from the remainders of Yes, King Crimson, UK, Emerson, Lake and Palmer and the Buggles (unless you count them as part of Yes). Wetton is using a bullhorn to simulate the simulated radio voice introduction of the Buggles’ “Video Killed the Radio Star,” which was tucked into the show on behalf of keyboardist Geoff Downes.
My son and I caught the show at the Fillmore Plaza in New York’s Union Square, and by standing in line for about half an hour before the doors opened we claimed a spot directly in front of Steve Howe. The Buggles song always gives me a solid laugh, because there was palpable fear that MTV was going to destroy broadcast radio. A quarter century later, MTV has had a definite effect on how music is perceived, enjoyed and distributed, but it hasn’t replaced radio. It’s really just another channel for developing audiences, and in that regard, the parallel to open source communities and projects isn’t so far off base (you knew I was going somewhere taking Simon’s name in vain at the outset….)
More important to me is how a quarter century has passed and we still use music as the strong force in our nuclear families. My father introduced me to jazz as I was entering high school; Sonny Stitt and Charlie Parker were on the turntable as we adjusted our FM radio antenna to pick up the jazz show that preceded Spider on WBLS. Jazz was the supplement to a steady diet of hard rock (KISS, Led Zeppelin, and some guy named Frampton). As my son is about the same age (Internet-time adjusted) as I was when discovering jazz, I’m making sure he gets the 70s progressive rock vitamins to go along with Linkin Park, the Fratellis, Godsmack and Wolfmother staples. He enjoys listening to, and is amazed by, Steve Howe as much as his father. Video didn’t kill that radio star because Howe and company weren’t on the radio very much, modulo the regular Roundabout spin on most rock stations. Communities — particularly very small ones involving family members and close friends — shape our tastes as much as mass media.