'80s Baby: MTV Turns 30

MTV turns 30-years-old today. An innovation in its time, is the cable network channel still relevant, or is it conforming to a time of reality television?

I'm an '80s baby, and if you're like me you grew up watching the "The Wonder Years," reruns of "Good Times," "Alvin and the Chipmunks," "Saved by the Bell" and "The Cosby Show."

If the 1980s were your “wonder years,” then a milestone marked today should set you adrift on memories of bliss. Today MTV turns 30.

Yes hair was big in the 80s, and even bigger on rock-stars that wore neon spandex and eyeliner. Rappers wore large gold chains and Kangol brand hats, and members of Run DMC were rapping about their Adidas.

On Aug. 1, 1981, viewers on a few cable systems in northern New Jersey watched a tight shot of the space shuttle preparing for launch and a NASA countdown, followed by the words “Ladies and gentlemen, rock and roll!” over footage of the Apollo 11 moon landing. 

This gave birth to a channel that has defined pop culture for the last 20 years. The Apollo 11 moon landing introduction gave way for the channel's iconic Moonman which is still used at MTV's music award ceremony each year.

The first video played on the channel was The Buggles,  “Video Killed the Radio Star.” Do you remember the guy’s face popping up from the baked beans in Wall of Voodoo’s “Mexican Radio?” What about Ric Ocasek of The Cars buzzing around as a fly in “You Might Think?”

The channel also debuted a host of Michael Jackson’s iconic videos including “Thriller,” "Leave Me Alone" and "Remember the Time."

I recall listening ZZ Top in my dad’s truck then seeing their long, full beards in the “Legs” video. In fact, I'm still trying to grow my own beard that length.

Towards the end of the '80s there was a content shift. There was the debut of “The Real World,” but music was still 95 percent of the content as music shows were integrated in the the lineup including: “Buzz Bin,” “Headbangers Ball,” “Closet Classics,” “Yo! MTV Raps!,” “MTV Unplugged” and “TRL.”

But now there is “16 and Pregnant," “Cribs," "My Sweet 16," "Date My Mom," “Pimp My Ride” and "Jersey Shore."

It's safe to say that MTV is no longer Music Television with this shift, as the videos transfer to genre themed MTV-ish sub-channels.

Still, the channel has so many memorable events and that's not mentioning the award shows. Yes, turn to the channel now and at any time there's some sort of reality "show" on, but there's also some decent documentaries including "True Life," "Unplugged," "Diary" and "MTV New Specials."

My favorite shows were "The Ren & Stimpy Show," "Bevis and Butt-head," "Liquid Television," "Celebrity Deathmatch" and even "Daria."

What was your's? Is there a MTV memory that is standout in your mind?


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