It was 33 years ago when MTV made its debut on cable systems across America — Aug. 1, 1981, to be exact.
For those under 40, MTV once played what were called “music videos.” Hosted by VJs Alan Hunter, Mark Goodman, Nina Blackwood, Martha Quinn (all of whom can be found on SiriusXM's “ '80s on 8” Channel 8) and the late, great J.J. Jackson, the channel quickly became a trendsetter for music, breaking both songs and new bands.
I'm not sure anyone seriously thought MTV would “kill” radio, though the first song played on the network was the Buggles' “Video Killed the Radio Star.” What happened instead is that MTV either helped or was part of a resurgence of Top 40 radio. Across the country, stations like KIIS-FM (102.7) started dominating the ratings just as MTV was taking flight. Coincidence? Probably not.
For the same reason that a format paradox often exists in radio — in which two competing stations build an audience together that is higher for both than each station would do in a format exclusively — MTV brought attention back to popular music after years of decline in the popularity of Top 40.
Since interest in popular music was on the rise due to the popularity of music videos on MTV as well as local shows — but you couldn't take your TV in your car or to school — radio was able to capitalize and build on that popularity. KIIS set FM ratings records for the era, while competitors such as KIQQ (now KSWD, 100.3 FM) and alternative stations such as KROQ (106.7 FM) did quite well too. It was a fun time for both music and radio.
Unfortunately, MTV is nothing more than a stomping ground for half-baked reality programs these days. And traditional Top 40 radio — the type that plays the best of all popular music genres? Dead as a doornail. Weird.
OPENINGS AT KFWB
Perhaps the new all-sports format won't necessarily be the awful CBS Sports Radio syndicated format everyone, including me, is predicting for KFWB (980 AM) when the station changes in September. Employment opportunities include on-air talent (at least as of press time) at http://kfwbam.com/job-openings-at-kfwb. It would be nice to see a local focus at least part of the day.
Neil Saavedra — host of KFI's (640 AM) “The Fork Report” and “The Jesus Christ Show” — has been named assistant programmer of the top-rated talk station, reporting to program director Robin Bertolucci.
KLOS (95.5 FM) had another hugely successful blood drive at the end of July. The five-day event collected almost 7,900 units of blood at 20 locations throughout Southern California.
This is the 33rd year KLOS has hosted the drive, and it is consistently one of the country's most successful drives of its type anywhere.
Richard Wagoner is a San Pedro freelance writer covering radio in Southern California. Send him email at firstname.lastname@example.org.