Video Concert Hall: First Nationwide Music Video Channel
The Video Concert Hall was an American television network launched on November 1, 1979. It was featured on the USA Network and Showtime, as an unhosted rotation of music videos. It was reported to be the most popular programming on QUBE, a cable television unit of Warner Communications. The show was created and produced by radio and cable television executive Lloyd G. Crowe (Jerry Crowe) and Charles W. Henderson ( Henderson-Crowe Productions) of the company Video Concert Hall, Ltd. at studios in Atlanta, Georgia. They had other top-rated syndicated musical variety TV specials as well.
Billboard magazine ran a cover story that said that Video Concert Hall was the first-ever nationwide video music channel on cable television, three years before Night Flight and MTV.
The show ran daily on USA Network from a 1978 to 1981 schedule in early morning, daytime, late night, and early evening timeslots for durations ranging from one to four hours. Video Concert Hall was also carried on Showtime, the Satellite Program Network (SPN), commercial airline flights and worldwide on the Armed Forces Network.
The music theme for the introduction of the show played the first thirty seconds of the song “Carouselambra” by Led Zeppelin off the album ” In Through the Outdoor.”
Video Concert Hall played various genres of music artist who were disco, funk, new wave, soul, punk and rock n roll. Music artist such as Gary Numan, The Police
Before MTV there was Night Flight
USA Network had a show called Night Flight. It premiered 2 months earlier than MTV on June 5, 1981. Though Night Flight played its fair share of videos and music films, its scope was much broader encompassing all manner of cult films and shorts extending back over several decades. However wide-ranging its programming, though, it was always informed by a subversive, outsider sensibility. The show had no host, just a disembodied female voice accompanied by (at the time) cutting edge computer animation of the Night Flight logo.
The show ran every Friday and Saturday from 11pm to 7am but only contained four hours of programming simply repeating the previous four hours again at 3AM. If you were among those who grew up during the early 1980s, chances are you either spent those years holding on for dear life to the decomposed remains of disco or you embraced the European invasion of punk/new wave culture that was rarely brought forth to the general public in America until this great show emerged.
It was just a perfect show for Rock n Roll fans or anybody who wanted to see some weird short films, hear some music, or to get some inside info on the Sex Pistols, David Bowie, Steve Ray Vaughn or any of a number of bands of various genres backstage. Some of the great shows were Bambi vs. Godzilla, Chained For Life with the (original conjoined) Hilton Sisters, renamed Twin Geeks and with the Twin Peaks theme song playing over old footage of a saw mill, Jack Mac And Radboy Go, an animated short that was one of the inspirations for Beavis And Butthead.
Night Flight played a large part in exposing people to up and coming bands (and not just those on major labels with mainstream commercial potential) as well as the new format of the music video but they did even more by putting those videos in perspective by placing them in the larger context of underground video art.
Music Television – MTV
I want my, I want my, I want my MTV. Music Television ( MTV) goes on the air for the very first time on August 1, 1981 using the phrase spoken by John Lack “Ladies and gentlemen, rock and roll. ” The very first music video to go live on the air was called, “Video Killed the Radio Star” by The Buggles . At that time, MTV was only available in various parts of New Jersey. MTV went on to revolutionize the music industry and grow to be an influential resource of popular culture and music news entertainment in United states, as well as other parts of the world including Europe, Asia and Latin America.
Black Entertainment Television – BET
Black Entertainment Television (BET) is a Viacom–owned cable network based in Washington, D.C. The cable channel is viewed in more than 90 million homes worldwide. As of 2010 it was the most prominent television network targeting young black-American audiences and was the leading provider of black American cultural and entertainment based programming.
The network first aired on January 25, 1980. Its founder, Robert L. Johnson, was a former lobbyist for the cable television industry in the late 1970s. In that capacity, Johnson quickly recognized the dearth of television programming designed for the African American public and created BET to reach that demographic audience.
BET premiered in 1980 modestly as a channel that ran two hours of weekly programming in select east coast cities. By the end of the year it extended its viewership throughout North America and the Caribbean and expanded programming to 24 hours of news and entertainment. Most of its early entertainment consisted of music videos, reruns of old black situation comedies and some original programs. The company lost money during its first several years but began to turn profitable by the mid 1980s. It also initiated changes in its format. BET by 1985 began to diversify its programming, adding politically-oriented news programs, comedy showcases, talk shows and sports features. Since 2001 BET has aired the BET Awards program that celebrates the achievements of African Americans in music, acting, sports and other fields of entertainment. This program draws by far the highest ratings and the best reviews of the network’s offerings.
Country Music Television – CMT
Programming on the channel originally focused on country music; including music videos, taped concerts and biographies of country music stars. CMT’s current programming now mainly consists of original reality programs and scripted series, off-network syndicated shows, and theatrically-released movies.
Video Hits One – VH1
VH1 then known as Video Hits One started on January 1st, 1985 playing a clip of “The Star Spangled Banner” by Marvin Gaye. The veejays were Don Imus, Scott Shannon, Frankie Crocker, and Jon “Bowzer” Bauman of Sha Na Na..
VH1’s aim was to focus on the lighter, softer side of popular music, including such musicians as Olivia Newton-John, Kenny Rogers, Carly Simon, Tina Turner, Elton John, Billy Joel, Eric Clapton, Sting, Donna Summer, Rod Stewart, Kenny G, Michael Bolton, Anita Baker, Chicago and Fleetwood Mac, in hopes of appealing to people aged 18 to 35, and possibly older. Also frequently featured in the network’s early years were “videos” for Motown and other 60s oldies consisting of newsreel and concert footage.
From the start, Video Hits One was branded as an urban version of its sister/parent channel. It played more jazz and R&B artists than MTV and had a higher rotation of urban-contemporary performers. Its early on-camera personalities were New York radio veterans Don Imus (then of WNBC), Frankie Crocker (then program director and DJ for WBLS), Scott Shannon (of Z100), Jon Bauman (“Bowzer” from Sha Na Na), Bobby Rivers, and Rita Coolidge. New-Age music videos continued to play on the channel into the 1990s. They would be seen on the Sunday morning 2-hour music video block titled Sunday Brunch.