Generations, Music, TV

MTV turns 40!

On August 1, 2021, MTV turns forty years old. Yes, MTV is middle-aged. Many of you are probably thinking how can MTV be 40 years old since 1995 was only fifteen years ago :). Well, 1995 was 26 years ago and we are just going to have to accept the fact that MTV is really 40 years old.

MTV debuted in 1981 when cable was only in twenty-five percent of American homes. The staff of MTV had to go to a bar in Fort Lee, New Jersey to see the channel make its debut because it was not on the cable system in New York City. Seven months later on March 1, 1982, the “I Want My MTV” ad campaign started, and soon after, it was the hottest channel on the cable lineup.

The channel introduced America to artists and music it might not have ever heard of had it not been for the network. In the early days of Music Television, they kicked off the second British invasion featuring acts like Duran Duran, Culture Club, Human Leauge, and so many more. In fact, by 1983, thirty percent of record sales in America were from British acts. This was due in a large part to MTV.

New wave and power pop also ruled the playlist in the early years and were followed by glam rock and dance music. A few years later, metal would rule on late-night Saturdays with Headbanger’s Ball. Alternative rock, which was known as college rock back in the eighties, had its own show on Sunday nights with 120 minutes and Yo MTV Raps brought rap to the mainstream. After MTV aired Live Aid in 1985, the power of MTV could not be ignored. It was not a fad and was here to stay. Our news was The Week in Rock.

We had our own game show with Remote Control. The New Year’s Eve specials were to us what Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve was to the teens of the seventies. Come spring break, we all watched people party down in Daytona Beach. The MTV Awards was by far the best awards show on the tube. The Real World was not the first reality show, but it is the show that kicked off the reality show craze.

In the early nineties, it was our time to make the music. Grunge came along and turned the rock world upside down. Gangsta rap took the genre to a new level and hip hop exploded on the scene and never left.

In the late nineties, a multitude of young female pop stars, boy bands, and nu-metal took over. It was clear then that another generation had come of age. After that was all over with, the network found its new love: Reality Shows. We then found a new home with VH1. Sadly they have lost their way as well with an overload of reality shows. If you are lucky, your cable provider or streaming service has MTV classics. 

What MTV is now is not worth talking about. It’s not ours and will never again be ours. The real Music Television belongs to us. It was our voice to the world.  A world where the boomers were still hanging on to relevancy and always trying to take our thunder away.

Thankfully the home VCR came along in the eighties and plenty of folks recorded MTV. Now we can view footage from the old days on YouTube. We can watch us in our heyday like no other generation before could. Other generations have their networks but nothing will ever compare to our MTV.

Generations, TV

R.I.P. Dawn Wells

2020 has been a cruel year and it’s not letting up as it prepares to say goodbye. On December 30th Dawn Wells passed away due to Covid 19. She was 82.

She was famous for her iconic role of Kansas farm girl Mary Ann Summers, one of the seven castaways on Gilligan’s Island. The show aired from 1964 to 1967. Before she got shipwrecked on the island, Wells appeared on some of the biggest shows of the early sixties such as Maverick, Wagon Train, 77 Sunset Strip, Hawaiian Eye, and many more. In 1960, she represented her home state of Nevada in the Miss America Pageant.

So why are we talking about a star of a boomer era show on a blog devoted to Gen X media? Yes, the show premiered in 1964 on CBS, but it is just as important to our era as it was to the boomers. After the show was canceled in 1967, it went into syndication and started to appear on local stations all around the country. Many of these stations aired the program in the afternoon after kids got home from school.

The reruns were so popular with kids, ABC aired an animated remake of the show called The New Adventures of Gilligan from 1974 to 1977 on Saturday mornings. NBC went even further and reunited the cast (minus Tina Louise as Ginger) in 1978 and aired the two-part made for tv movie, Rescue from Gilligan’s Island. The castaways get rescued only to be stranded on the island again at the end of the film. This got huge ratings which of course lead to another tv movie the following year, The Castaways of Gilligan’s Island. In this one, the castaways are rescued again and Mr. Howell turns the Island into a tropical resort. In the eighties, there was one more tv movie, The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan’s Island, and another cartoon, this time on CBS. Gilligan’s Planet had the castaways build a spaceship on the Island which took them to another planet where they got stranded. Wells did the voice of both Mary Ann and Ginger.

The show was always appearing somewhere on cable. From the seventies to the early 2000’s the program aired on TBS. In 2004, TBS aired a reality show called The Real Gilligan’s Island that aired for two seasons. In the last two decades, the program spent time on Nick at Night, TV Land, and the Hallmark Channel. The nostalgia network, MeTV currently airs the program on their over-the-air digital affiliates around the country. 

So you see the show has never really left the airwaves. It was Gen X that discovered the reruns in the seventies and kept the legacy going for all these years. It is part of our media history just as much as it is for the Boomers and Generation Jones.

Dawn Wells was perfect as the young wholesome midwest girl from Winfield, Kansas who won a three-hour tour on the S.S. Minnow. Ask the average Gen X guy to name his celebrity crushes from his youth and more than likely the name Mary Ann will be included in that list. It has been reported that Wells beat out over 350 other young ladies for the role of Mary Ann including future movie star Raquel Welch and Pat Priest, who went on to play Marilyn on The Munsters.

We end this post by asking one of the most enduring questions of pop culture: Ginger or Mary Ann?

Film, Generations, Music, TV

Gen X Christmas 2020

From now until the 25th, every day we will celebrate Gen X Christmas on all of our social media sites. We will look back at the Christmas related music videos, films, TV episodes, and specials from our youth. There will also be some holiday blogs coming out on this site as well.

Does your family have a special film that you always watched during the holiday season? Do you have a favorite Christmas episode? Is there a favorite album of yours from the Gen X era that is now a Christmas staple in your household?

Let’s kick this off with the 1987 rap classic, Christmas In Hollis by Run DMC. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.


WKRP in Cincinnati: “Turkeys Away”

Happy Thanksgiving. We hope you all had a great day despite everything that is going on. When it comes to Thanksgiving-themed TV episodes, there is one that stands out from all the rest. That episode is Turkeys Away from the first season of WKRP in Cincinnati in 1978.

WKRP General Manager, Arthur “Big Guy” Carlson, decides to do a Thanksgiving promotion that involves dropping 40 live turkeys from a helicopter over a shopping center. As you can imagine, it doesn’t go well and it is being covered live on the air by reporter Les Nessman. At the end of the show, Mr. Carlson covered in feathers says “As God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly.” That may be the best remembered line from the entire show’s history.

The episode was inspired by a real-life event. Show creator Hugh Wilson was working at a top 40 radio station in Atlanta when he was told about a similar promotion that involved throwing live turkeys out of the back of a pickup truck. That proved messy as well!

Film, TV

31 Days of Gen X Horror.

It’s October 1st, so that means it’s time to kick off #31daysofgenxhorror on our social media sites. All this month we will spotlight some of the best-known horror films and TV shows from the Gen X era. We will also introduce you to some obscure movies and programs that you might have missed out back when they first came out.

On day 1, we felt that we should start with the trailer for the film that set the tone for much of the genre that came out in our generation. That movie is John Carpenter’s 1978 masterpiece Halloween. Please follow us on our social media sites for more tributes to the great horror movies and shows of our generation. We would also love to find out what you consider the scariest films or programs that came out in the Gen X era.

Have a great Halloween month!

Generations, TV

Labor Day

Happy Labor Day and we hope you had a great holiday weekend. Labor Day became an official federal holiday in the United States in 1894. For many of the Gen X kids who grew up in the seventies and eighties, there are two distinct generational memories associated with the day.

We all remember watching The Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Telethon. The show aired with Lewis as host from 1966 to 2011. At its peak, it aired on 213 stations around the country. In many of those markets, it aired on the biggest station in town. Often the local TV News anchors would put on tuxedos and ball gowns and host the local segments. You would also see local citizens on the phone banks and the town’s big wigs present a large check to the host. You might hear or see your name on TV if you called in and made a donation.

In our day, the telethon would come on at 9 pm Sunday and air until around 6:30 pm on Labor Day. When that tote board would appear with the final tally, it would mark the end of summer for many of us. A majority of our kids and grandkids now start the school year in August, but back in our era, the first day of school usually was the Tuesday after Labor Day.

For the kids who ruled the hallways, the ones who found refuge from troubled home life, or the students who truly loved school, there was excited anticipation in the air on Labor Day Night. For the bullied, ignored, unpopular or the kids who just struggled, the night was filled with dread and June could not come fast enough. For others, it was a drag because you could not watch The Price is Right at 11 am anymore.

What are your favorite memories of the telethon or the holiday?

Film, Generations, TV

May the 4th be with you!

It’s May 4th and this is the day that we celebrate Star Wars. The original film released in 1977 is by far the most important film of our generation. From the first film and the two sequels, and for all the toys, t-shirts, lunch boxes, and posters we purchased, there was never another film franchise in the Gen X era that came close to it in terms of profit or influence.

Here’s how some of us first found out about a new movie called Star Wars that would be hitting theaters soon. This is the original TV spot that aired in 1977.

Film, Music, TV


As we welcome in 2020, we say goodbye to 2019, the last year of the 2010s. Since this was the last year of the decade, all this month on our social media sites, we looked back at the last year of the eighties, 1989.

1989 looked much different than 1980 did in regards to TV. Most of Generation X can probably remember their family or others they knew who still had antennas on top of their TV or their roofs in the early eighties. Only 17 million homes in America had cable TV in 1980, by 1989, that number was at 50 million.

Another significant change was the fact that if we missed a show on TV, we no longer had to wait for the summer reruns in order to watch it. Video Cassette Recorders were the norm in households by the end of the decade. Not only could you record your favorite show, but you also could rent a movie at the local video store, or at your neighborhood grocery store. The video revolution also included making your own videos. By 1989, some younger Gen Xers had much of their early childhood recorded on the family VHS camcorder.

When it came to recorded music, audio cassettes were at their peak in the mid and late 80s. This was due in part to the popularity of The Walkman and boom boxes. Although Compact Disc came out in 1983, they did not outsell cassettes until the early 90s.

For broadcast TV, sitcoms ruled the small screen. The Cosby Show and Roseanne tied for the #1 show of the year. 8 of the top ten shows for the year were sitcoms.

When it came to movies in 1989, The most anticipated film of the year was Batman. The summer blockbuster earned over $411 million and became the highest-grossing movie in North America for the year. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was the worldwide #1 film of the year and Batman was #2.

Bobby Brown’s Don’t Be Cruel was the #1 albums of the year. Look Away by Chicago was Billboards #1 song of 1989. This is despite the fact that it never hit #1 in 89 but did top the charts in Dec of 88. The debut album of Garth Brooks was released in 1989 and Country Music was never the same again.

What were your fave TV shows, movie or music of 89?

Music, TV

New Wave Theater

In June of 1981, a few months before the premiere of MTV, The USA Network started airing a late-night weekend variety show called Night Flight. The show featured music videos, cult and B movies, music-themed documentaries, animation, stand up comedy and a program that is now somewhat legendary among the early shows of cable, New Wave Theater.

Originally airing on KSCI in Los Angeles, the show featured LA-based New Wave, Punk and underground bands and artists. Well known acts such as X, The Blasters, Fear, The Circle Jerks, 45 Grave, and The Dead Kennedys appeared on the show. It was hosted by musician and songwriter Peter Ivers.

New Wave Theater usually aired during the last hour block of Night Flight. With that late time slot, Iver’s offbeat monologues, and the public access look about the program, you truly did get a feeling that this was underground television being piped into homes all across the nation via this new thing called cable tv. It truly brought the LA alternative scene to folks who previously could only read about it in music magazines.

Sadly the show came to an end with the death of Peter Ivers. He was found bludgeoned to death in his apartment on March 3, 1983. The case remains unsolved to this day.

New Wave Theater lives on at the Night Flight plus website:

Music, TV


Flashback Friday Music Video.

For the month of October, all of our Flashback Friday Music Videos will be horror-themed. Today’s video is a true MTV classic, it’s Jeopardy by The Greg Kihn Band from 1983

Jeopardy went as high as #2 on the singles chart and was kept from the top spot by Michael Jackson’s Beat it. Along with Jackson’s Thriller, which also featured Zombies, it’s one of the best know music videos of the 80’s that had a horror theme. It was the band’s only top 10 hit on the singles chat. 

The following year, Weird Al Yankovic released a paraody of the song called I lost on Jeopardy, which featured a cameo by Greg Kihn. 

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