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The Rise and Reimagining of MTV

MTV is 40 years old, found its fortune with Gen X, and has reinvented itself for every generation since

That’s Fab Five Freddy’s iconic MTV ring. Even before cable was available in all of America, the station curated culture — and this despite some rocky, racial fits and starts. Photo: Getty Images

Just after midnight on August 1, 1981, MTV debuted on cable television with the Buggles’ prescient music video, “Video Killed the Radio Star.” Like many groundbreaking innovations, its emergence was the result of an amalgamation of…

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