Monmouth College graduate and MTV co-founder talks about success after 35 years on air

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DAVENPORT, Iowa - MTV is celebrating 35 years on the air. The channel debuted on this day back in 1981, airing 24 hours of music videos.

It was the start of something never before seen. MTV was born on August 1st, 1981, a network that would allow people to no longer just listen to music but watch it.

Monmouth College graduate, Dwight Tierney was there at the start.

"When they saw the age of the guys coming in, us trying to sell them on a new channel they kind of scratched their heads wondered what these guys had in mind why would we want to possibly put rock and roll on television 24 hours how could their viewers want to watch that stuff," said Tierney.

Tierney co-founded MTV, a crazy idea with a lot of risk.

"Over time everyone understood and embraced it as you know," said Tierney.

MTV became the channel of a generation.

Local musician Ellis Kell was a kid back then, "Groups like Duran Duran or Devo or these off the wall groups that you would probably never heard of at the time on commercial radio."

Tierney would leave MTV in 2008, by then MTV had drifted away from the music television programming that made its mark.

"A music video became a commodity that you could find in 1500 different places so it becomes less the key point for MTV," said Tierney.

Tierney said the changes were needed back then and may still need them today to stay ahead of pop culture.

"It's going to continue to change as the audience changes and the need changes." said Tierney.

You can now catch-all of your old MTV favorites. MTV Classic has been launched and airs music videos as well as 90's shows like "Beavis and Butthead", "Daria" and "The Real World".


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