Thirty-five years ago MTV or Music Television was born with these words, "Ladies and gentlemen - rock and roll!" The new network launched and aired it’s first music video - The Buggles' "Video Killed The Radio Star."
Video Jockeys, or "VJs" like Kurt Loder, would become a household name and introduce music videos that were mostly rock and classic hits by guys like Sting with The Police.
Early on, most of the videos were by predominantly white artists, but in 1983 MTV played Michael Jackson’s "Billie Jean", which opened the door for a more diverse set of artists and helped pump up Jackson’s career.
In 1984 the first MTV Video Music Awards were held and are still going strong today. MTV was also revolutionary in its original programming with shows such as 120 Minutes, which highlighted lesser known artists. They also had Head Bangers Ball that featured metal music, Yo! MTV Raps with a hip hop lineup and MTV Unplugged with acoustic sets.
Then, in the early 90’s they introduced mainstream reality tv with The Real World, where viewers could escape into the lives of total strangers living together in a Soho flat. This gave rise to other non-music programming and animated shows like Beavis and Butthead, Daria, and Aeon Flux.
It was also the channel in the mid-90’s to find alternative rock like Nirvana.
In response to feedback they didn’t play music videos anymore, MTV debuted several music-centered shows like Total Request Live or TRL.
On into the early 2000’s MTV continued its non-music programming with the Tom Green Show, the cringe-worthy Jackass, The Osbournes, Punk’d, Newlyweds, Undressed, The Jersey Shore - the list goes on and on. Now we have to face the sad truth that MTV is but a skeleton of what it used to be.
But people still love it and Jersey Shore shot to being one of the biggest shows for MTV. What this means is that MTV is willing to change with times and even be the change that television needs. They have changed with their audience and are now in millions of homes across the country with a network of international sister stations in multiple languages. Even if the new format doesn’t appeal to those that were there back in 1981 MTV is still a force to be reckoned with.