Each Friday as an alternative way of posting about a historical event that occurred on this day in history, I will weave the event into a fictional story while still providing all the necessary facts.
It was the end of July and the temperature all day had been smoldering like many of the days in the summer of 1981. Debbie climbed out of bed and went to the window. She could see that the light was on in her best friend, Kim’s bedroom. Kim must have sensed her friend as she appeared at the window too. Reaching over, she picked up the handset of her bedside telephone and call Debbie.
“You can’t sleep?” asked Kim.
“No. It is too hot. We only have air conditioning in the living room.”
“Why don’t you ask your mother if you can sleep over my house. We have central air conditioning and as a bonus, my parents are out of town at a wedding. We can make popcorn and watch television all night.”
“That’s right. Your parents didn’t think it was a waste of money to get cable television. Let me see what my mom says. I’ll call you back.”
Debbie left her room and found her mom in the living room knitting a sweater. She didn’t even want to think about sweaters with this heat.
“Mom. Kim just called. We should have thought about it earlier but her parents are out of town at a wedding and she doesn’t like being alone. Can I sleep over Kim’s house tonight?”
“I don’t see why not. Be back home by 10:00 am because you have a dentist appointment.”
Back in her room, Debbie telephoned Kim and filled an overnight bag. She raced next door for a night of cool comfort and all night television.
“It’s after midnight. What should we watch now that the movie is over?”
“Let’s flip through the channels. I’m in television heaven since I don’t have cable.”
Kim began pressing buttons on the cable box stopping a few seconds on each channel.
“Stay on this channel. I wonder what this is?”
“That was “Video Killed The Radio Star” by the little-known English electronic new wave duo, the Buggles. Awesome,” said Debbie.
“Oh my brother read something in the New York Times earlier in the summer. Since he’s at Wharton, he is always reading the business section. I’ll get the old papers during the commercial.
Kim read, “If advertisers make the video disco channel a success, the implications for cable television and the recording industry could be far reaching,” wrote a New York Times business columnist in the summer of 1981 about the upcoming premiere of a new cable television network dedicated exclusively to popular music.”
“Let’s see what they show next, ” said Debbie.
“I love Pat Benatar.” Kim and Debbie continued to watch for the next few hours.
In fact soon many people like Kim and Debbie became obsessed with MTV. It started on just one northern New Jersey cable network in the wee hours of August 1, 1981 and then spread to cable systems nationwide. Next it began to exert the cultural influence that has since been credited (or blamed) for everything from Flashdance and Miami Vice to Rick Astley and Attention Deficit Disorder.