Tomorrow is the 30th birthday of MTV, the cable television channel and concept that changed the entire music industry. MTV were the initials for Music Television and the original channel played music videos 24 hours a day, hosted by VJs, some of whom had been radio DJs.
The first video aired on August 1, 1981 was “Video Killed the Radio Star” and there were predictions that videos on TV would kill off radio. Clearly that didn’t happen; the two work well side by side. It is interesting to note that Bob Pittman, the original MTV programming format creator, came from radio and now, 30 years later, is back in radio. He is an executive with Clear Channel Radio and is the person behind the re-launch of that company’s web and wireless product i Heart Radio and the upcoming i Heart Radio Music Festival that you might have heard about on several of your local radio stations.
Videos are a routine part of music performance and marketing now. MTV and VH1 play very few videos now but they are available online, DVDs, mobile apps and more. The MTV idea spread to other genres and channels, most notably BET (Black Entertainment Television) and CMT (Country Music Television). Neither of those channels play videos 24/7 anymore.
Those of us who “discovered” MTV in the first few years remember the original VJs. Four are still alive and now DJs on the SiriusXM 80s channel. They are hosting an anniversary special this week on that satellite service. All are now over 50, as are many of us viewers.
Martha Quinn was doing some acting in TV commercials and hosted a college radio show before being hired as a VJ. After leaving MTV, she did a little acting and some TV show hosting.
Alan Hunter was a part time actor and part time bar tender when he got hired. After his tenure as a VJ he returned to acting in his hometown Birmingham, Alabama and also started a video production company.
Mark Goodman was actually a rock DJ before becoming an MTV VJ. He eventually returned to radio and also did some acting and started an internet radio station.
Nina Blackwood did some acting before her MTV job and also appeared nude in a 1978 issue of Playboy. After MTV she did some more acting, radio DJ work and TV hosting.
J.J. Jackson was also a radio DJ before and after MTV fame. Sadly, he died of a heart attack in 2004. He was the oldest of the original crew and would be in his 60s now.
Here are a few of videos from the early MTV years:
Some co-workers and I had dinner and beers with Joan Jett around the time this was out. She was friendly and quiet off stage.
This one always makes me dizzy …
I remember this song but today is the first time I’ve seen this video. Interesting story line and actors.
Random extra fact 1: I got cable TV for the first time in 1983 just so I could watch MTV whenever I wanted to and not just at friend’s houses or at work.
Random extra fact 2: I had a crush on Martha Quinn. She still looks good, by the way.