The day I discovered MTV

It was 30 years ago today that MTV began broadcasting.  I was a 10 year old boy living in East Hartford, Connecticut – a typical suburban neighborhood where kids rode their bikes everywhere and played kickball in the streets while their parents did their best to shield them from the realities of life.  At the time, my family’s basic cable TV system included a tethered punch key system that looked something like this.

Early cable tv box.  Photo credit:


That’s right, tethered.  As in, no wireless remote control. As  a 10 year old boy with little attention span, I probably scanned all 36 channels of that box on a daily basis.  It was impossible for something like MTV to escape my attention. Discovering MTV the morning of August 1, 1981 was basically my first day of pop culture education.

That summer, my routine consisted of sleeping until mid morning, eating breakfast, watching TV, then riding my bike to the town pool which opened at Noon.  After a full multihour dose of MTV, it was onto the pool where I met my friends lined up outside waiting for the gates to open. Just like we did every day.  But this day was a bit different. Everyone was hit by the MTV thunderbolt that morning and the big topic of conversation was “did you see MTV this morning? It’s on channel 25.”  Every day would now involve discussions like “Did you see THAT video? It was awesome!” 

Basically, growing up would never be the same again.