Main Plot Points:
- In the early 1980s, Massachusetts radio personality John Garabedian came up with a plan to launch a TV channel to function as music television for the Boston-based college crowd. His goal was to take the Music Video TV concept and make it live (real time) and local (catering to Boston’s interests). On February 12, 1985, V66 (on WVJV-TV channel 66) went live on the air and created an immediate sensation. V66 was in the right place at the right time to showcase Boston’s superstar acts of this era (Aerosmith, The Cars, and The J. Geils Band) as well as the new rising stars from Boston’s music scene (‘Til Tuesday, Extreme, and The Del Fuegos). They played a wide variety of music genres and often times they played local unsigned bands in between international superstars.
- In July 1985, V66 was the only non-cable TV channel besides ABC to broadcast the historic Live Aid concert in Boston. They also broadcast live concerts and events all over the Boston area. The fans on the street, dancing at the clubs and calling in to win contests became as much a part of the channel as the music being played. In the summer of 1986, V66 was sold to the Home Shopping Network. On September 21, 1986, V66 signed off the channel 66 airwaves. Life On The V captures that moment in time, by combining archival footage with newly shot interviews told by the people who lived it.
What We Thought:
- Life on the V: The Story of V66 is quite fascinating. Everyone I know that grew up watching it is shocked to find out it lasted less than two years. We all thought it was much, much longer.
- The documentary is quite in-depth and really explains how it all came about. Two radio men (John Garabedian and Arnie Ginsburg) saw how video was going to change things and wanted something to not only compete against MTV, but also be better and localized.
- They got investors, bought a building and the next thing they know, they have a hit (free) music video channel that all of us in Boston remember.
- Unlike MTV which only catered to known artists and top 40 music, V66 would play any band with a video. They helped break artists like ‘Til Tuesday, Extreme, The Del Fuegos and more. They used audience participation to determine what videos got played instead of spoon feeding the audience what they thought was cool.
- V66 was MTV with balls. They played rap artists like Run DMC more than MTV would. They even took on MTV by playing videos that MTV had exclusives on. They did live broadcasts and really helped create a music scene in Boston.
- But like all great things, it came to a crashing halt. When your programming is mostly videos, it’s hard to sell advertising and turn a profit on your channel. TV Guide wouldn’t list the channel in its magazine until it started having actual shows they could put in their blocks. Actual shows turned off some viewers and the network was eventually sold off.
- For such a short lived thing, V66 was highly influential. The bands and musicians you see in Life of the V: The Story of V66 are simply amazing. You expect to see bands like Aerosmith and J. Geils in it, but there are other huge bands that stopped by and appreciated V66. If you are from Massachusetts and grew up in the 1980s it is a must see. Even if you aren’t familiar with the channel, if you are into music and the behind the scenes look at how TV gets made, I highly recommend it.
- Memories of the 1980s Boston Music Scene
- Deleted Segments
Notable Cast & Crew:
- ‘Til Tuesday
Recommended if You Like:
- Sound City
- Rock Docs
- 80s/Boston Music!
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