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Tuesday, August 01, 2006

MTV's Debut 25 Years Ago

MTV isn't celebrating its 25th anniversary today, probably because their current target audience wasn't alive at the time. But many of us do remember that day, with its introduction of the first five VJs...

That was followed by their first video, "Video Killed The Radio Star" by The Buggles.

The first time I ever saw a music video was at a radio convention in Atlanta in January, 1980. At the time, I was Music Director of WRCN, a station on the east end of Long Island consulted by the company that created the "SuperStars" album rock format, Burkhart/Abrams (all the stations at this get together were clients of theirs).

We were bussed to a big barbecue place for a dinner sponsored by Warner Brothers. After the food, they rolled out a couple of huge screens to showcase some promotional clips of their up-and-coming hits. Since MTV wouldn't be on the air for another year and a half, very few of us had ever seen music videos, unless it was on "Midnight Special" or "Don Kirshner's Rock Concert."

The first images we saw were of Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders dressed as a waitress, singing "Brass In Pocket." None of us could take our eyes off the screen, and there was actually applause when the song was over. It seems incredibly tame compared to the thousands of videos we've all seen since, but at the time, it created an immediate, lasting memory -- so much so that I don't remember any other band, song, or video they showed us that night.

The next day, "Brass In Pocket" became one of the most added new songs on American rock radio, purely on the strength of that promotional video...

For more POTDs, see the Picture Of The Day page.