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I want my MTV! “Music” channel turns 35 years old

Posted at 7:08 AM, Aug 01, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-01 07:08:05-04

Ladies and gentlemen, rock and roll.

When those words were spoken on August 1, 1981, the world of popular music changed forever. Those were the first words spoken on MTV: Music Television, a revolutionary new cable television channel airing music videos, artist interviews, music news and more.

MTV's debut also gave birth to a new job title: The VJ.

The cable music channel's five original video jockeys, or VJs, acted just like disc jockeys on radio stations, introducing music videos, providing music and artist news, and along the way, becoming as famous as many of the music artists whose videos they played.

Nina Blackwood, Mark Goodman, Alan Hunter, J.J. Jackson and Martha Quinn were hired to launch the music channel as the five original VJs. The four surviving VJs, Blackwood, Goodman, Hunter and Quinn are all still part of the music industry. Quinn just debuted the "Martha Quinn Morning Show" on an all-1980s themed radio station in San Francisco.

The First Day

Do you know what the first video played on MTV was? Appropriately enough, it was a song called "Video Killed the Radio Star", by The Buggles.

MTV's first day  of programming also featured a Virginia Beach artist. Juice Newton's "Angel of the Morning" was the 40th music video ever played on the channel. Newton, a graduate of First Colonial High School, spent part of her childhood in Virginia Beach.

Birthday Celebration

35 years after the debut of Music Television, there is a celebration planned, but you won't see it on MTV.  Instead, the channel's first hour of programming from 1981 will be rebroadcast on "VH1 Classic" as part of that channel's planned re-launch as MTV Classic, and additionally streamed on the channel's Facebook page.

Nathaniel Brown, senior vice president of communications for MTV, explained, "MTV as a brand doesn't age with our viewers. We are really focused on our current viewers, and our feeling was that our anniversary wasn't something that would be meaningful to them, many of whom weren't even alive in 1981."