In 1985, during the height of the music video craze, a free music video UHF-TV channel appeared in the Boston market, only to disappear from the airwaves after 18 months. Nearly 30 years later, the fans remain and memories of this channel have formed an important place in 80s nostalgia. Life On The V: The Story Of V66 is the story of that channel, V66.
MTV had premiered on cable TV in 1981, but cable was only just starting to become available in New England by the mid-1980s. Massachusetts radio personality John Garabedian (who was known on WORC, WMEX, WGTR, and WBCN among others) 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). Along with the help of radio legend Arnie “Woo Woo” Ginsburg (a veteran of WBOS, WMEX and WRKO among others), radio veteran Roxy Myzal, and television veteran David Beadle, Garabedian prepared to launch this TV channel on WVJV-TV channel 66. After auditioning the VJs (video jockey), David O’Leary, Perry Stone, Mary Jo Kurtz, and Bill Stephens became the on-air personalities.
On February 12, 1985, V66 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. Sometimes they even made their own versions of music videos as well. As the channel progressed, they brought in other VJs such as Susan Beauchamp, Tracy Cox, Ian O’Malley and Anne Saxon.
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. Celebrities and rock stars would often stop by V66, sometimes unannounced.
In 1986, in an attempt to increase ratings (which were measured by 30 and 60 minute blocks and not by 3-5 minute music video blocks), V66 increased their programming with magazine news shows, sports highlight shows, music profiles, comedies, and syndicated programs. In the summer of 1986, after several attempts to keep it going, V66 was sold to the Home Shopping Network. On September 21, 1986, V66 signed off the channel 66 airwaves. While V66 wasn’t around for very long, the influence was immense. Fans never forgot it in the decades since.
Life On The V captures that moment in time, by combining archival footage with newly shot interviews told by the people who lived it.
Original V66 logo
A V66 Billboard in 1985