MTV turns 30 today. To celebrate, we're running a bunch of pieces on the channel, its legacy, and its future.
|via Tacky and Kitsch|
|Send a self-addressed stamped envelope to the above address, and you could have your own Dial Sticker. |
The first 59 minutes of MTV12:01 a.m. to 1 a.m., exactly 30 years ago todaytotally sucked. Not because the upstart cable network opened with the Buggles' "Video Killed the Radio Star" (which still rules), or because of the clip for Pat Benetar's "You Better Run" that came a few minutes later (ditto). Not because of the affably bland ex-WPLJ DJ Mark Goodman, or how the ads for Mountain Dew, Trapper Keepers, or Dolby sound didn't hit their targets, either. That first hourwhich you can watch right heresucked because nothing made any sense. "All the V.J. segments were out of sequence," founder Bob Pittman later remembered. "They would say, 'That was,' and it wasn't, and 'Coming up is,' and it wasn't coming up. The polarization on the wires was also switched, so if you were listening in stereo, it was fine, but if you were in mono, it was canceling the sound out."
Pittman and the rest of the first MTV staff could be excused for screwing up their first hour of TV (only a handful of cable subscribers in northern New Jersey were watching anywayeven the founders had to head to a Fort Lee sports bar to tune in). These were mostly radio people, after all, trying to find a way to make some money in the fledgling realm of cable television. They picked a good time: the music industry was seeking any strategy to reenergize itself in the midst of a multi-year slump after disco flamed out. Like so many startups that aimed to merge existing ways of doing things, MTV was a kludge in its earliest years, but at the same time it was also a quiet miracle of technological convergence. Venture capitalists and tech geeks take note: MTV was the 1980s' most killer music app.More »