By Shannon Collins
Two popular British YouTubers now moonlight as BBC radio hosts, but do 100 million combined views qualify them for professional radio?
Most people use YouTube to watch the latest viral video, listen to guilty pleasure songs they would never allow on their iPod, or possibly just to DJ a party. No matter how you use it, YouTube spends a lot of time open on all of our computers, phones, and tablets. And now its influence is expanding into radio.
Two popular British YouTubers, Dan Howell (Danisnotonfire) and Phil Lester (AmazingPhil), have expanded to BBC Radio 1 with a weekly two-hour audio/video explosion called “Dan and Phil.” The two have several channels with over 100 million video views between them and, while they’re known for being entertaining and talented vloggers, they enter the radio world with only two professional shows under their belt. For the past two years, they have done Christmas Day specials for Radio 1. But these two have done well enough for Radio 1 to take a leap of faith and allot the duo the 7 p.m. (GMT) Sunday slot on the popular station.
It emphasizes the meeting of Internet and radio, as the entire show can be watched live if you’re in the UK (otherwise you can only stream audio) and is interactive. They do similar sketches from their YouTube videos as well as play fan-made music videos. While Dan and Phil are entertaining, this whole Internet integration thing makes me wonder whether or not Radio 1 is sacrificing traditional radio for a younger, more technology-oriented audience. Maybe this is phase one of a new way for radio to compete with online streaming services.
Whatever the reason, the show is seemingly here to stay. It’s targeted primarily at the pair’s established fans as a way to have more Dan and Phil airtime. Music takes the back burner while the hosts compete in silly contests, and videos are given much more emphasis. There is no overarching theme for the music they play, aside from the fact it should have been released in the past 15 years. This results in a mix of pop punk, sunshine indie, pop, alternative, rap, and rock. While those are all great genres, they are not blended together as well as they could be in the show.
For a YouTube fan and subscriber of Dan and Phil, this show is enjoyable to listen to and watch. For a music lover, however, it is a little disappointing to see a radio station meant for providing listeners with popular new music completely switching its focus for two hours a week. That being said, it will be interesting to see if any other radio stations respond to this new multimedia show and how or if this will influence radio in the future.