Mr. CHAD HURLEY (Co-Founder, YouTube): Hi, YouTube. This is Chad and Steve. We're the co-founders of the site, and we just want to say thank you. Today we have some exciting news for you. We've been acquired by Google.
MADELEINE BRAND, host:
That's 29-year-old Chad Hurley with 28-year-old Steve Chen. Their low-tech video posted on YouTube yesterday made it official: Google is paying them $1.6 billion in stock for their company, and Chad and Steve still get to run it. Ben McGrath writes about YouTube in the current issue of the decidedly old-school New Yorker. He joins me now. Hi, Ben.
Mr. BEN MCGRATH (Writer, The New Yorker): Hello. How are you?
BRAND: Find, thank you. So you really captured the raw, homemade aspect of YouTube - something that you just kind of heard in that video - and the way it makes unlikely stars out of regular people. And I'm wondering if you could tell us about one of the people you feature in your article. His name is Geriatric27.
Mr. MCGRATH: Yeah, Geriatric1927, which is the year he was born. He's a widower in the English countryside, and one day he just turned on and started telling his life story. And pretty soon, millions of people were listening.
(Soundbite of online video)
GERIATRIC1927: I got addicted to YouTube. So I thought I'd have a go at doing one myself. But as you can see, if this ever does get uploaded to YouTube, I need a lot of help.
BRAND: So I guess, Ben McGrath, he got a lot of help because a lot of people tuned in.
Mr. MCGRATH: It's true. And a lot of people have made tribute videos to him, and people have set up a Web site for him. I mean, a whole sort of little industry has arisen around the Geriatric.
BRAND: What is your take on the popularity of Geriatric1927? Why is he so popular, and how does he symbolize the popularity of YouTube?
Mr. MCGRATH: He's an anomaly - his age. And I think it's jarring and comforting in a sense to see a man in a V-neck sweater and glasses speaking into a Web cam. Most 25-year-olds I know don't even have Web cams, and here's a 79-year-old who does.
BRAND: The other person you profile in your article is a lot younger. Her name is Little Loca. She's really a YouTube creation by an actress, and let's listen to Little Loca.
(Soundbite of online video)
LITTLE LOCA (YouTube Character): Hey, what up everybody? Loca's back in the house.
(Soundbite of burp)
LITTLE LOCA: How's everybody doing tonight? Damn, I just heard somebody burp out...
(Soundbite of burp)
LITTLE LOCA: Did you just hear that? That was somebody burping outside. That was freaking nasty.
(Soundbite of laughter)
BRAND: Okay. So she is Little Loca, but she's really an actress playing Little Loca.
Mr. MCGRATH: That's right. Her name is Stevie Ryan. She's 22 years old. She lives in Hollywood, and Little Loca is a creation based on the girls that she admired on the bus when she would ride to school. She grew up in a town called Victorville, California, which she likes to call the meth capital of the United States. She didn't think of it as a sort of warm environment to grow up in, and she's a white girl, but she was a minority in Victorville. And Little Loca is a sort of composite of all the girls she admired.
BRAND: And YouTube has turned her into a star?
Mr. MCGRATH: It's true. She was trying to make it as an actress, was having some - but not any kind of career-making - success. She had a job working at Levi's. And through YouTube, she's become discovered. She's got an agent now, and she is currently making an independent film with another actress who saw one of her skits. It seems to be taking off for her.
BRAND: So I guess the million-dollar question - or I guess now today, it's a billion-dollar question - is whether or not YouTube is a flash in the pan, is kind of an oddity, or if is it is the future of television.
Mr. MCGRATH: Geriatric and Little Loca and these people who are all very compelling in their ways, they represent a fairly small portion of the YouTube audience. Many of the people who go to YouTube are really going to watch clips of George Bush's speech the night before or Alex Rodriguez striking out with the bases loaded or, you know, some version of America's Funniest Home Videos. These are not owned by YouTube, and that brings up copyright issues.
YouTube is trying to work very closely with Warner Records and Universal and the other major entertainment companies. But as Mark Cuban said just last week, the only reason no one has sued YouTube yet is because there's no one with any money to sue. Now that Google owns YouTube, there is obviously someone with money to sue.
BRAND: Ben McGrath is a writer for the New Yorker. His article on YouTube is in the current issue. Ben McGrath, thank you for joining us.
Mr. MCGRATH: Thank you.
BRAND: More coming up on DAY TO DAY from NPR News.
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