MTV's Party Zone - Keeping The Vibe Alive
''Life moves pretty fast. You don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it"
A cliched yet classic cool quote from the late great John Hughes's masterpiece "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" really rang true today for me in regard to my MTV years (1988-2000).
MTV was in my thoughts as I'm DJ-ing this weekend at an MTV party with some real 'old skool-ers' sure to be there and this morning I had breakfast with former MTV presenter Steve Blame discussing some film projects so, inevitably we both reminisced and the memories always bring a smile to my face; we both confirmed how crazy those MTV times were in terms of creative freedom.
This was all reinforced again later in the day after some meetings, when I was totally touched & humbled by hooking up with Alex Belfi& Filippo Zuech, 2 long-time Italian fans of my MTV Party Zone/Dance shows. Filippo, now 23 was hooked back in '88 aged 9!) and Alex, more in line with my age (!) got my utmost instant respect with solid geek credentials that included a collection of over 40,000 hours of taped TV!! Alex & Filippo were visting London and had e-mailed to see if I would be willing to hook up for a chat about the 'MTV Party Zone/Dance' years and maybe fill some gaps in their VHS collection of shows!!
Their recollection and intricate knowledge of all those classic club clips got further props. We shared pop-culture passion & remembered those MTV 'golden days' and I kept having to "stop to look and listen around" because Alex &Filippo triggered memories not just from all those music videos, interviews etc, but also from recalling how working at MTV was back in the day; the process of putting together shows - the playlist meetings that often featured friendly fights with bosses over what I wanted to programme in my shows, scouring through & sourcing fresh videos, frantically getting them 'carted' on 'Beta', raw show-features like 'Flyer Of The Week' (!), early days of scribbling my running orders on scraps of paper and handing them to Rosemary Stock who was the cool MTV mum back then plus all those mad letters from fans in war-torn countries being bombed who seemed to be more concerned about getting their 'Party Zone' request played then what potential dangers engulfed their environment!
Again, being reminded of all that freedom & creativity I had producing those shows to an audience of 60 million+ households made me pause for the cause!! The irony nowadays is that with so much choice (Facebook, YouTube,Video Games, Spotify etc.), the 'soul' of sharing all this cool new stuff via a major media outlet like MTV has somewhat evaporated into a kind of 'very limited automatic playlist mode'; a topic that I'll happily & enthusiastically debate at length!