“Ladies and gentlemen, rock and roll.” — John Lack, CEO of MTV Networks introducing the world to MTV
MTV went on the air for the first time 38 years ago this week — the world’s first 24-hour music video channel. The Buggles’ hit song “Video Killed the Radio Star” was the first song to air on the debuting cable channel, a not-so-subtle jab to record companies that MTV was the future. The music industry quickly realized the channel’s star-making potential, and soon enough colorful, cutting-edge videos became the standard, allowing artists more creative expression compared to just radio airwaves. As MTV expanded and grew international, the presence of music videos on the network slowly waned in favor of original programming like “The Real World” and “Teen Mom”. MTV still airs music videos, but nowadays the channel is more known for its trendsetting reality shows, proving that MTV didn’t just revolutionize the music industry — but television itself.