Tuesday, January 23, 2007


MTV goes on the air, August 1, 1981

This is a slight departure from the music videos but without MTV, these great videos would not have the chance to shine.

I wonder if the VJs on the eve of launching MTV realized what was about to happen. The music industry would never be the same after August 1, 1981. MTV changed everything, catapulting the VJs into superstars. In the beginning, the early days of MTV, there would be long delays between segments as cable was just beginning and MTV needed to synch every once in a while. Additionally, there were not too many videos available, many of those that were, came from England. As a result, the VJs had time to shine.

The original VJ (Video Jockey)lineup consisted of 5 people

Nina Blackwood
Mark Goodman
Alan Hunter
J.J. Jackson (died March 17th, 2004)
Martha Quinn

On August 1, 1981, at 12:01 a.m., MTV: Music Television launched with the words "Ladies and gentlemen, rock and roll," spoken by original COO John Lack. Those words were accompanied by the original MTV theme song, a crunching guitar riff written by Jonathan Elias and John Petersen, playing over a montage of the Apollo 11 moon landing. MTV producers used this footage because it was in the public domain.

Appropriately, the first music video shown on MTV was "Video Killed the Radio Star" by The Buggles. The second video shown was Pat Benatar's "You Better Run". Sporadically, the screen would go black when someone at MTV inserted a tape into a VCR.

At launch time, the official subscriber count across America was 3,000,000 (the actual number was 500,000), but the immediate impact would have argued that every young adult's television in the country was tuned to MTV.

To help promote the network, MTV developed its own catch phrase.... "I want my MTV" This was a cleaver marketing tool and became a catch phrase for every kid that did not have access to MTV.

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