Money 4 Nothing

How MTV Changed the World

August 18, 2021

MTV had a remarkably unheralded 40th anniversary this month. While Music Television (still the channel’s official name) has been out of music videos for decades, it was a truly transformative force for a long struggling record industry back in the early 80s. Diving into those early years, Sam and Saxon go long on this episode and try to figure out how a scrappy little corporation (fully backed by America Express and Warner Media, natch) managed to get a nation of teenagers watching everything from Duran Duran and Michael Jackson to U2—and then pick through what happened next, as a flurry of backroom deals and monopolistic plans quickly strangled the channel’s brief moment of (alleged?) cultural invention. Along the way, we’ll talk about the pleasures of yelling at cable companies, the difficulties of media history, and try to figure out just what it means—both then and now—to mix images and sound.



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