MTV is now a powerful and well known international brand. But when it launched in 1981, you had to have something rare called “cable television” to see it. Believe it or not, 2 years after MTV’s launch, networks were still doing news reports explaining what MTV was to the American public [video].
Frank Radice was one of the first producers at ABC’s Nightline in 1983 and created the introductory piece above on MTV. Between the graphics, soundtrack and hairstyles, you’re sure to have a laugh.
Back in 1983 I was a producer for ABC News Nightline and a professional musician. It was the early days of MTV. Records and radio were still the best way to consume music. The mainstream media had yet to notice the landslide coming. When I pitched doing a segment about the new cable music channel to Ted Kopple and the Executive Producer, Bill Lord, they kind of liked the idea… but it wasn’t exactly the hard news they were used to. They reluctantly said I could do the story but it needed to have some controversy. I told them no problem (even though I knew full well there was no controversy.) Just before I finished the piece I heard from Rick James and BOOM, I had my story (as you will see, it really is tacked on to the end of the piece.)