When the BBC signed up Dan Howell and Phil Lester to host a Sunday night request show on the United Kingdom’s public youth-oriented radio station BBC Radio 1 earlier this year, they needed personalities who could bring younger listeners to its declining audience.
Since they started their radio program last January, the duo’s show adds more visual experience to radio by filming it in its entirety and streaming the video online on the BBC Radio 1 website. They have also encouraged listeners to make requests by sending their own YouTube videos of their favorite songs.
Only months into their BBC gig, voters selected the duo as Britain’s favorite radio presenters and winners of the Sony Golden Headphones Award at the Sony Radio Academy Awards in May.
Howell and Lester are no ordinary radio hosts — both are YouTube vlogging personalities with a combined subscriber base of around 2.6 million. Howell’s channel, Danisnotonfire, has 1.7 million subscribers while Lester’s “AmazingPhil” channel counts around 900,000 subscribers. Last year, YouTube selected Danisnotonfire and AmazingPhil as one of 16 Next Vloggers, joining other names like Lamarr Wilson and BlackNerdComedy.
Howell told The Independent newspaper that their program is one of the most high-tech radio shows on air right now: “Our show is probably the most difficult radio show that has ever existed. Not only are we driving the (studio production) desk completely… in a very feature heavy and complex show – we are also doing everything visually.”
Despite their own success with their younger audience on the BBC, Howell added that British commercial radio and television have pretty much given up on the youth: “Young people just don’t listen to radio anymore.”
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