At the stroke of midnight on this day in 1981, cofounder John Lack launched MTV with, Video Killed the Radio Star, by the British band the Buggles.
Music was never the same.
"We just had this cool idea we wanted to put on television," explained John Sykes, who began as promotions director and is now president of VH1. MTV's grand plan, he said, was the marriage of rock and TV, "the greatest forces in American culture."
The world's first five VJs were Mark Goodman, Alan Hunter, J.J. Jackson, Nina Blackwell, and Martha Quinn. "We had the grooviest jobs ever," recalled Hunter. Almost immediately, the VJs were as recognizable as the rock stars.
Many auditioned to be MTV's on-air talent in the 1980s. Some famous rejects include Rosie O'Donnell, Adam Sandler, Mary Lou Retton, Chris Rock, and Greg Kinnear.
MTV exploded with 24 hours of music videos and launched the career of Madonna and influenced the marketing of every other rock star since. The fastest-growing cable network of all time with viewers whose median age is just under 21, MTV continues to provide cutting edge music, news, and videos.
"I want my MTV."