One time, in college, I auditioned for MTV. I mean, not for a music video or even as a VJ, but for the game show, Remote Control.
Remote Control was the perfect game show for my particular set of skills. It aired at the perfect time of my life. Meaning, a time in my life where I had the time in my life to devote twenty-four hours auditioning for a gameshow.
The original Remote Control, hosted by Ken Ober, aired from 1987-1990. Contestants were buckled into a Lazy Boy and quizzed about pop culture. It was GenX Perfection.
When MTV visited my university to find contestants there was no shortage of wannabes like me. To cull the herd of about 1000 hopefuls, we had to do an impromptu stand-up comedy bit, on the spot, in front of that 1000 strong audience.
I got a few laughs as I relayed a tale about my pet hamster and a Barbie doll. This got me through to the final round. Sadly, I was eliminated in the quiz portion when I couldn’t remember the name of Oscar Madison’s ex-wife on The Odd Couple. (Blanche by the way.)
Though I didn’t make the cut, the experience was an epic moment of my college experience when MTV intersected with my real life instead of just through the tv screen.
I bring up the story because this week MTV turned forty years old. The channel was born on August 1st, 1981. I was 12. The perfect age to have it on all the time. I became obsessed with Duran Duran, Madonna, and Bon Jovi, thanks to MTV. I went to Daytona for Spring Break, thanks to MTV.
It is no secret that MTV doesn’t play videos anymore. There’s a joke out there, Happy 40th Birthday, MTV! Thank you, for ten great years of music television. I flipped on MTV while writing this column. An episode of the reality show Catfish was on. Yeah, no.
I do still want my MTV, but for that, I turn to Sirius Radio, 80s on Eight. There I can listen to the original VJs spin the tunes and provide insight into that time David Lee Roth hit on Martha Quinn, or Prince was so very Prince with Mark Goodman. The VJs also host (pre-pandemic) cruises with stars of the 80s. I am sure the cruises are fun but imagining a scenario where I would be behind Mike Reno of Loverboy in a buffet line makes me oddly sad.
I did meander over to the MTV Classic channel while researching this column. Hall and Oats Maneater video greeted me. Then Corey Hart appeared, wearing his sunglasses at night. Which, now, would not be cool, and could only mean my transition progressives lenses were on the fritz. I turned it off.
MTV and I have aged, changed, and grown apart. Such is life. But the channel will forever be a part of the formative years of my GenX crowd. As such, in honor of MTV’s 40th Birthday, I hope everybody has fun tonight, indeed, I hope everybody Wang Chungs.
First published in Monroe News