5 Things You Probably Didn't Know About MTV

On August 1, 1981, the music video channel MTV made its debut at one minute past midnight and represented the first music cable channel in the United States. Here are 5 things you didn’t know about the channel you loved to dance to...


The Who’s Video Was the First One Repeated on the Channel It’s fairly common knowledge that “Video Killed the Radio Star” by The Buggles was the first video ever shown on the channel after the opening sequence on August 1, 1981, followed by Pat Benatar’s "You Better Run",  Rod Stewart’s "She Won't Dance With Me", and The Who’s music video, "You Better You Bet".   However, it only took 54 videos for one to be repeated. The Who’s “You Better You Bet” was both number four and number 54.

MTV Started Out Small At the time of its launch, the station was only carried by one cable system in northern New Jersey only a few thousand households. Even though they have always had their home base in New York, the channel didn’t air there until a couple of years after its launch, so as to make sure that the channel would be a hit.


The Launch of the Space Shuttle Columbia Was Part of the Opening The footage from the launch was overdubbed with the words “Ladies and gentlemen, rock and roll.” MTV’s famous moon man came from the Apollo 11 launch, with the letters MTV featured on the astronaut’s flag. This intro was scrapped in 1986 when Challenger blew up after liftoff from Cape Canaveral.

An English Band Called The Specials Broke the Color Barrier on the First Day Although many assume that Michael Jackon was the first black singer to air on MTV in 1983, an interracial band called 'The Specials' appeared on the station as number 58 on the first day. Their song “Rat Race” included Jamaica-born musicians Neville Staple and Lynval Golding. They would become the first black musicians on the station.

The Word ‘Music’ Was Taken Out of ‘MTV’ in 2010 MTV re-branded itself in 2010, and was no longer focusing on music anymore.  As part of the re-branding, they dropped their logo tagline “Music Television”, officially ending the music video era.  They also changed their slogan from “I want my MTV” to “I am my MTV”. Over the years, it had changed into a channel that developed reality programs such as “Punk'd”,  “The Real World ”, and "Jersey Shore".