▶ Watch Video: MTV turns 40 years old

On this day back in 1981, I was 10 years old – and I know exactly what I was doing. I was glued to the TV set, watching the start of a pop culture phenomenon.

That was the beginning of MTV, and I was hooked. 

MTV changed entertainment and the music industry forever, with record companies providing free content that it then played non-stop.

Music videos, as broadcast on MTV, forever changed the way pop music was produced, marketed and consumed. 

CBS News

It wasn’t a channel your parents wanted you to watch, but that didn’t stop me. No, I copied that way-too-much-makeup look; wore the bracelets on my arm like Madonna; and tried to be as cool as Annie Lennox and Tina Turner. Prince and Duran Duran posters covered my walls – don’t judge me, these were gods!

MTV was groundbreaking. “Yo! MTV Raps” helped accelerate hip hop into the mainstream. Even Andy Warhol had a show.    

Did you know modern-day reality TV was perfected on MTV, with “The Real World,” “The Osbournes” and “Jersey Shore”?

In the nineties, the network known for escapism embraced activism. I joined in 1996 as a news correspondent for the “Choose or Lose” campaign, and was lucky enough to stay for another half-decade. 

MTV correspondent Serena Altschul.


By far my most memorable experience was my time spent working in the field on their many critically-acclaimed documentaries, from “True Life Unfiltered” to my own series, “Breaking It Down.”   

But my coolest moment was definitely being asked by Jay-Z to appear on one of his albums! Yes, that was amazing. 

MTV definitely had its highs, but there have also been lows, and what was new is now nostalgic. Still, 40 years after its creation, MTV continues to reinvent itself. It’s now known as MTV Entertainment – part of the ViacomCBS Family. The brand is in 180 countries with a reach of nearly two billion people.

And to celebrate the past, present and future of MTV, here’s the new logo, unveiled for the first time:


By the way, even my sweet mom came around to liking MTV. She actually loved “Beavis and Butthead.” Go figure!     

MTV – Here’s to another 40!

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Story produced by Gabriel Falcon. Editor: Lauren Barnello.