YouTube: This Generation's Public Access Station

by Peter Marus

It hit me the other day, and it's probably late to the party, but YouTube really has become the modern public access channels your cable company has.  As I was thinking of this, I started remembering some of the dumb stuff that used to be on Queens Public Access that was on Time Warner Cable.  There was "Drinking with Bob", a show that had music and skits be a local comic named Bob Thompson.  He's mostly known for his "What's next, what's next, what's next!!!" rants where he rants about a news item or something in society in an intense minute.  He's moved a lot of his old ones and his skits to YouTube, but he was one of the few good shows on there.  The closest thing to a "Wayne's world" success was comedian Jake Foglenest's show that he had on Manhattan cable access, that eventually ended up on MTV.

There were also a couple shows I remember done by some local musicians that basically used the show to show hot chicks and have their music played.  One guy, Neal Alpert had a show where he would have his music played over video of topless women in artistic poses.  This was the only show I really remember for obvious reasons. I remember he had some famous people he interviewed.

The other show that I remember was produced by the Jewish Task Force organization.  It was a local group that...I don't know where they stood.  The show generally consisted of the head of the group who looked like Mike D of the Beastie Boys in a fedora and sunglasses ranting in front of an Israeli flag.  His rantings would go on about how evil the US government was, and then transition to a pro-Israel rant against anything Arab, then somehow turn into an anti-Israeli rant about their government.  I remember the last time I got to see this show was in early 2000s where he was going off on George W. Bush, and the Israelis for not turning Afghanistan into glass.  He was saying it was because both of them were serving the Saudi Arabian's purpose so all could make money off oil and natural resources.  I watched it for the comedy.

Today, kids who want to do a show don't have to pay the local public access station for airtime, buy video and editing equipment, learn how to use it, then produce a show.  Now they already have all that equipment either in their laptop webcam and/or their phones.  They don't have to pay for airtime since YouTube is free to use.  If these kids or adults have a hit, they eventually make money off the ads on the videos.  Technology has lowered the bar so anyone can make their own channel or show.  Part of me likes the openness, the more out there, the better it will eventually get, but sometimes you have so much noise it may drown out the better stuff.

The big thing now is streaming. Either video game sessions or just life.  Other sties like Twitch or U stream has done this better, and the new gaming consoles has made this more accessible to people.  These shows are cool where it shows people playing the newest games and the people watching can help the player out.  Some streams are of dog pens where puppies are playing or sleeping, or just kids hanging out.  These things weren't possible before the Internet or sites like YouTube.

I guess you can say sites like YouTube are not replacing the public access station, but evolving the idea of public access.