MTV’s First VJs Reflect on The Network at 30: ‘We Played Rod Stewart Like F*cking Crazy’

MTV turns 30 years old next Monday, and to celebrate that, The New York Post caught up with the network’s first VJs; getting them to reflect on what it was like when it launched in 1981.

There’s some great stuff in this piece. The first words spoken on MTV were “And I’m Alan Hunter,” because of a mistake at the tape uplink center on Long Island, and when the network launched there were only about 250 videos to choose from.

As time went on things got better, but there will still some awkward moments worth nothing. The iconic “I Want My MTV” campaign got its start only after a staffer bribed Mick Jagger to say the phrase by offering him a dollar. Then, before MTV’s first award show in 1984, Madonna insisted on singing “Like a Virgin” to a tiger, because as we all know gigantic, wild animals are huge fans of insanely loud music sung by a woman wearing an ironic wedding dress and a questionable amount of eyeliner. Thankfully she eventually settled on busting out of a cake when the network said the tiger might not be the best choice.

It’s funny to read this considering how little music is played on the network now. We wonder what those VJs would have said back then if you had told them that one day MTV would be more known for televising shows that glamorize teen pregnancy than music. That would probably make for an interesting read as well.