I Got My MTV: Music Channel Turns 25

ByABC News via logo
July 30, 2006, 8:48 AM

July 30, 2006 — -- The Buggles' "Video Killed the Radio Star" kicked things off 25 years ago as the first video ever to be played on the then-novel MTV -- or Music Television -- cable network. Twenty-five years later, MTV is a pop culture staple.

"I had no doubt that it would be around," said Mark Goodman, one of the original video jockeys.

"The impact was phenomenal," said Nina Blackwood, another original veejay.

In 1981, MTV broadcast into a scant two million homes. Now its reach is global. It is on TV sets on Australia, Japan and many other countries. It reaches 400 million viewers in 167 countries, in 22 languages.

Shrewdly, MTV was able to get stars to push the channel because of its symbiotic relationship with the recording industry.

Goodman said that two of MTV's biggest success stories are Madonna and Michael Jackson.

"I'll sit here and say we made Madonna," he said. "She'll say she made MTV. I would have to agree it's a two-way street. Same thing with Michael Jackson. 'Thriller' turned him into a superstar like no other."

Rocker Joan Jett was just 23-years-old when MTV first showed how much it "loved rock 'n' roll."

She says without the cable channel, there probably wouldn't be a Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, whose biggest hit may have been "I Love Rock 'n' Roll."

"MTV started the same time we did," Jett said. "We started our Blackheart Records [label] because we couldn't get our records out and so we did it ourselves. And now we're 25-years-old and MTV is 25-years-old. So we kind of grew up together, I guess."

Once MTV was widely available, executives shifted to other agendas, starting with pushing the youth vote through the "Choose or Lose" campaign.

MTV also brought open gays and lesbians, or suffering from AIDS like "Real World" star Pedro Zamora, into the homes of Middle America.

The reality show boom started in no small part with MTV's "Real World," in which a group of young people lived in a house together while their lives were taped.

Although MTV has launched other channels focused on music, the main MTV is now largely entertainment shows.

"The disappointment with MTV today is that they are not leading as far as music is concerned," Goodman said.