Produced by

Rise of the Video Star

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

A new book called “I Want My MTV” chronicles the boom – and bust – of the one-time videocentric cable channel. The “father of MTV,” John Lack (who voiced the opening words of the channel on August 1, 1981: “Ladies and gentleman… rock and roll”), joins us along with co-author Rob Tannenbaum to discuss the channel’s formative days and heady times that led up to the end of MTV’s “Golden Era.”

Listeners: Do you remember the first time you watched MTV? What role did the channel play in your musical life? Call us at 212-433-WNYC or leave a comment.


John Lack and Rob Tannenbaum

Comments [15]

Mary P from still downtown

My life passed before my ears hearing the music in that clip!

I was working at USA Network when we first saw MTV on the satellite down-link.

We eventually had Night Flight, but I had to quit first and get out there and start making videos... one of the first I worked on Konk Party!

Nov. 01 2011 02:50 PM
Felicia from NYC

Although I'm not a big business/corporate america supporter, MTV was a culture and music business changing creation.

It allowed more bands access to American teens and the ability to sell LPs as well as created a new culture of sound, video, visual and fashion.

Remember all the bands that made it, because of their video play on MTV; Run DMC (with Aerosmith), INXS, Madonna, and so many more.

I worked in the music business from 1981 until the mid-90s and went to the 1st Annual MTV Awards - it was first of its kind!

MTV changed the world and the music business, maybe not for the better, but certainly it was an undeniable change.

It was an amazing time to be in the business, in NYC and without social media so that you didn't have to worry that your previous night's outing would be public by the time you woke up the next day!

Nov. 01 2011 02:36 PM
Betsy from Brooklyn

I'm from rural NC and we didn't have cable in the 80s. My uncle (who's 4 years older than me) would go to his friend's house who had cable and would tape videos onto VHS and bring them home. The first video I remember seeing was Beastie Boys "Fight For Your Right." It changed my life. I'm in a band now.

Nov. 01 2011 02:35 PM
Yiorgo from astoria

What about 68 UHF saturdays at midnight..
It was the place to see heavy metal videos.
Quiet Riot, Ratt, Van Halen. etc..

Where did that come from?

Nov. 01 2011 02:31 PM
Chad from UES

You can find out more about the "Now Explosion" here,

Nov. 01 2011 02:31 PM
Joe from New York

I remember "The Now Explosion" also! Its theme music was "The Horse," by Cliff Nobles & Co.

Nov. 01 2011 02:30 PM
Jean from Brookyn

I lived in the boondocks of North Georgia when MTV launched. My dad had a satellite dish. That day changed the course of my life.
I compulsively watched every waking hour of MTV, and other channels like Canada's Much Music. It was like a black and white world becoming technicolor. Upon seeing the Eurythmics "Sweet Dreams" video, I promptly marched over to the Sear and Roebucks catalog and ordered my first Casio keyboard. The rest is history.... I became a musician, toured for 10 years, and now live in NYC. Thanks MTV! I doubt it would have happened this way without you.

Nov. 01 2011 02:27 PM
christi from Kansas from NYC

the earlier years of MTV was my babysitter. It was better than cartoons because i didn't have to understand what was going on, but knew if I sat in front of the television long enough "Once in a Lifetime" would come on again. Also the making of Thriller made me want to make movies.

Nov. 01 2011 02:27 PM
Alyson from Brooklyn

MTV brought hip hop to my family in the 80s when it was still much of a New York City culture. It also brought rock music to my African American household which was dominated by Earth Wind and Fire albums and urban radio at the time. It helped to create my identity later in middle school and high school as I came of age in the late 90s.

Nov. 01 2011 02:25 PM
rich k from UC, NJ

I remember MTV because it put me out of a job! I worked with a rock 'n roll laser light show on Long Island. Once MTV was on the air, no one wanted to pay $7 for an hour in an old seat in a drafty theater to watch what they could watch 24 hours a day on the their couch.

Nov. 01 2011 02:23 PM
Sandy from LES

It is really interesting I remember a lot of criticism for shortening a generation's attention span with its short-form. Turns out long-form tv shows are way more popular.

Nov. 01 2011 02:22 PM

it stunts the imagination. once you get a primary visual, along with the music, it robs one of the joy, of processing the song in one's head. not a hater,but could have lived without MTV.

Nov. 01 2011 02:22 PM
ted in atlanta from the plastic age

Certainly all up-and-coming musicians had to either be visually appealing, or become more visually engaging at least. And perhaps fashion was the most affected peripheral industry.

Nov. 01 2011 02:12 PM
Trish from New Jersey

During my middle school and high school years ('97-'01ish), I was kind of obsessed with MTV, back when they actually aired music videos. Now it's just The Jersey Show. If MTV focus more on music now as they did back then, I would probably watch more.

Nov. 01 2011 02:06 PM
Darren in NJ from Paramus

I was a sophmore in college when MTV premiered, and I remember spending much too much study time with my friends repeating the refrain: "Just one more video!" Prior to Michael Jackson, Madonna, Duran Duran and others defining the form there were simply too few videos on hand to fill time. So I recall seeing alot of long forgotten, early questionable "works" by bands like Saxon, Saga and Uriah Heep over and over. (The UH video of them in biker geer then taking off their helmets to look damn old was so bad, their management actualy asked MTV to stop playing it!)

Nov. 01 2011 02:05 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.