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At an International Video Music Conference, Warner Cable’s John Lack reveals plans to start a 24-hour channel dedicated to showing music videos. No one is interested.
VIDEO MUSICAL CHAIRS
Twenty Years of MTV Execs, Not One Mention of Beavis or Butt-head

MTV’s roots can be traced back to a Sept. 14, 1979, press conference. It was then that American Express announced it was acquiring 50% of Warner Cable Corporation for $175 million to create Warner Amex Cable Communications to oversee the company’s joint cable holdings. One-time CBS radio exec John Lack had joined Warner Cable that January as Exec. VP Programming & Marketing and was responsible for Warner’s interactive QUBE operation, the company’s satellite services, kids’ channel Nickelodeon, a movie service called Star Channel and WCC’s 140 cable systems. The original idea for a music-video channel was his.

1979: Warner Amex Cable Communications is split in two, one arm for hardware/distribution (Warner Cable Communications), the other to create programming (Warner Amex Satellite Entertainment Co.). Ex-CBS Records exec Jack Schneider is named to head the latter. Lack brings in WNBC whiz kid PD Bob Pittman to program the former Star Channel, now The Movie Channel. At an International Video Music Conference, Lack reveals plans to start a 24-hour channel dedicated to showing music videos. No one is interested.

1980: Lack develops "Pop Clips" with pioneering video director (and ex-Monkee) Michael Nesmith, for QUBE. Fred Seibert is brought in to do on-air promotion for The Movie Channel and ends up creating the original MTV logo. Pittman continues to build his "visual FM" network by bringing in Syracuse grad John Sykes as promotion chief, with Tom Freston as head of marketing and John Reardon overseeing affiliate sales and marketing.

1981: Judy McGrath joins WASEC as an on-air copywriter. Schneider is named MTV President.

1982: One-time Atlantic Records exec and radio vet Les Garland is named VP Programming, ushering in the phrase, "Hey, bud, let’s party!" He’ll remain until 1987, when he leaves to join Pittman at his short-lived MCA label Quantum Media. He’ll then go to The Box and Internet start-up Sputnik 7 and become the manager of Dream. Rick Krim joins MTV as Business Manager, rising to VP Talent & Artist Relations.

1983: John Cannelli joins Nickelodeon as Business Manager. He’ll rise to Sr. VP Music Development at MTV and remain until 1995, when he becomes GM at Elton John’s Rocket Records and Island Records before taking a position at ClickRadio.

1984: MTV Networks Inc. is incorporated, with plans for a public offering of stock. Schneider splits, while Doug Herzog is named head of MTV News. He will eventually rise to Exec. VP Production and Programming before leaving for the Comedy Channel, Fox TV and USA Networks. VH-1 launches.

1985: The FCC approves Viacom’s purchase of WASEC’s Showtime/TMC and MTVN for $694 million. Pittman is named MTVN President/COO.

1986: National Amusement theater-chain owner Sumner Redstone acquires Viacom for more than $3 billion. Pittman leaves to start Quantum Media. He’ll move on to make a killing at Warners’ Six Flags Magic Mountain and Century 21 Real Estate before joining AOL and helping spearhead the acquisition of Time Warner. Ex-radio vet Lee Masters, a pal of Pittman’s from his days as a jock at WNBC, joins VH1 as VP.

1987: Tom Freston is named President/CEO of MTV Networks; Van Toffler joins as Senior Counsel Law & Business Affairs. Reardon is named MTV President, while Masters is tapped as VP/GM.

1988: Arista exec Abbey Konowitch named Sr. VP Music & Talent; Sykes leaves to become President of Champion Entertainment, then goes to CAA, Chrysalis and EMI Music Publishing before returning to VH1 six years later. Patti Galluzzi is hired for the programming department. She’ll become Sr. VP Music Programming before leaving in 2000.

1989: Masters steps down to head E! Entertainment, then takes a major role in Liberty Media.

1991: Reardon resigns as MTV President.

1992: Andy Schuon joins MTV as Sr. VP Music & Programming from KROQ L.A., where he was PD. Konowitch splits to become Maverick Records VP, then moves on to MCA Records as Exec. VP until 2000. Lewis Largent joins programming department, where he’ll remain until 1999, when he leaves for IDJ. Freston is named Chairman/CEO.

1994: McGrath is upped to MTV President after serving as Co-President and Creative Director with Sara Levinson, who goes on to head NFL Properties. Sykes returns to VH1 as President.

1995: Krim leaves MTV for EMI Music Publishing, replacing Sykes. Stephen Hill named Director of Programming.

1996: MTV spins off new channel M2: Music Television, which becomes MTV2.

1997: Schuon leaves to go to Warner Bros., then farmclub.com and Pressplay; Toffler is named MTV GM. Brian Graden comes aboard as Executive VP for Television Programming.

1998: Radio vet Tom Calderone is brought in as Sr. VP Programming and Talent.

1999: Graden named President of Programming. Hill ankles to join BET.

2000: McGrath is upped to President MTV Group & Chairman Interactive Music, while Toffler is raised to President MTV/MTV2. Freston takes over all of Viacom-CBS’ cable holdings, including TNN and CMT, a country music TV channel Viacom acquires when it merges CBS/Infinity. Sykes is named President of CMT. David Cohn is named GM of MTV2.

2001: MTV absorbs The Box and rolls out a "360" convergence philosophy incorporating its websites, with Amy Doyle as VP Music Programming Initiative/360. Krim returns as VH1 Exec. VP Talent & Music Programming.

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