If you’re anything like me, today is a pretty big anniversary. Music was a big part of my childhood, and remains a big part of my adult life. Today is a big anniversary because 35 years ago today, MTV launched, and forever changed the way we consume music. While MTV did not invent the music video, they made it a part of our everyday lives. Looking back, as great as a song as Michael Jackson’s Thriller was, can you imagine it without that epic video? Would Madonna’s Like A Prayer have been anywhere nearly as controversial as it was without the video? Even Paula Abdul’s Opposites Attract became a favorite because in the video she was dancing with a cartoon cat.
Fun little trivia fact: the first ever video to air on MTV was Video Killed The Radio Star by The Buggles.
But, in fact, video did not kill the radio star. If anything, video enhanced the music lover’s appreciation of the song. It added a new dimension to what we already loved. It added layers to the story being told in the song. It added the faces of the larger than life characters that made the music.
But, as I take a moment to acknowledge this anniversary, I think just as important as bringing music videos into our homes, MTV’s programming made the music and artists a bigger part of our lives. I, for one, could not get enough of MTV News. From awaiting concert tour updates, to album releases, to just finding out what the rock stars I followed were up to, MTV News was my outlet. As a kid growing up, I thought that was one of the coolest jobs ever. Kurt Loder, Martha Quinn, and all the rest of the VeeJays instantly became my heroes. Looking back, I’m sure that played a role in me wanting to grow up to be in broadcasting.
Along with the music, from its inception, MTV defined what was cool for my generation. One show in particular, was their game show, Remote Control. Hosted by Ken Ober, with Colin Quinn playing the sidekick role, Remote Control was about as raucous as a game show could be. And for me, it was perfection. While I’m sure some folks would say, “just get back to the music,” I was totally on board. It was fun and unpredictable. On top of that, America got its first glance at this guy:
Yes, that is a pre-SNL Adam Sandler.
MTV has since gotten so far away from its original concept that I’m left wondering why they keep the M in their name. But, when it was in its heyday, it truly defined my generation. Happy Birthday, MTV!