Video killed the radio star (and office buildings, in-person meetings, clinic visits, business dress. …)
Circa 1982, I went to college and found MTV in my dorm, back when MTV was a big deal. Cable TV wasn’t a thing yet in the small town where I grew up, so seeing MTV for the first time was an awakening to a whole new world. The very first video played on MTV was the Buggles’ new wave synth-pop hit “Video Killed the Radio Star.” Roll forward 39 years, and a jarring pandemic is skyrocketing video use faster than the Zoom stock price and spreading faster than the virus that is fueling it.
As you think about the provocative song title, did video kill the radio star? The song actually refers to the advent of television and its impact on radio. The word “television” was coined in 1900, with a practical design created in 1907. After many iterations, the first television station started in 1928 in New York. Television has been around for nearly 100 years, and, as far as I can tell, we still have radio, albeit in many different ways that don’t conform to my childhood memory of listening to WLS radio playing “Sister Golden Hair” from three hours away in Chicago.
It turns out that video did not kill the radio star, but it certainly contributed to how radio changed over the last 100 years. And while video also isn’t likely to kill things such as in-person doctor visits or business travel or HFMA’s Annual Conference, it will alter them forever. COVID-19 has simply been the accelerant. There are elements of the virtual world that I have enjoyed — less time wasted traveling, more focused meetings and the ability to be “in more places” on any given day. But I do miss the richness of in-person relationships and variety to my workdays. We all adjust.
So where is this all going? Are we headed down the virtual reality/augmented reality path? In five years, will we have an HFMA virtual Annual Conference with a Joe Fifer avatar kicking it off and later attending a virtual dinner with business partner avatars? Even if that scenario doesn’t sound appealing, is it possible that we cannot see all of the exciting and useful changes that could come of this? The Annual Conference, like many things in a post-pandemic world, may not ever be the same, but maybe that’s just fine. As the Buggles said, “…. we can’t rewind, we’ve gone too far …. .”