All the kids in the 1980s were saying “I want my MTV,” but in Massachusetts they also had V66 – at least for a little while.

The whole “I Want My MTV” campaign began as a way to get viewers of the newfangled cable television to call their providers and demand the MTV network be added. When it first went on the air in August of 1981, it wasn’t readily available on all cable systems, but the ad campaign changed all that.

However, in Massachusetts in the early-to-mid-80s, there were still a lot of places that didn’t have cable, and even if they did, there were a lot of parents that didn’t want to fork over $15 a month for television – something they’d never had to pay to watch before.

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With the popularity of MTV in the mid-80s, Boston radio veteran and entrepreneur John Garabedian came up with the idea of starting a free, over-the-air version of music television. He acquired WVJV-TV 66 on the UHF dial, and working with Boston radio legend Arnie “Woo Woo” Ginsberg and others, he launched what became known as “V66” on February 12, 1985.

V66 didn’t just play all of the top music videos of the day like MTV did. According to LifeontheV.com, it also featured local up-and-coming artists and a heavy rotation of the Boston bands of the day that had hit the big time, such as Aerosmith, New Edition, The Cars, ‘Til Tuesday and the J. Geils Band.

Just as MTV had its “VJs,” so too did V66 – many of whom went on to even greater success in the media and entertainment fields. The station also featured Boston-area radio DJs as well.

Case in point: The Bob and Zip Show, which featured comedy bits and song parodies. Its co-star, Bob Rivers, went on to become a novelty music legend with his Twisted Christmas albums. You’re probably most familiar with his “Twelve Pains of Christmas” (“Rigging up the lights!”) and “Walking ‘Round in Women’s Underwear.”

V66 also carried live concerts from around the Boston area and beyond, such as the Live Aid broadcast.

While V66 filled the music television void for those who didn’t have MTV, that void grew smaller and smaller as cable television spread across Massachusetts and became an integrated part of the 1980s for most families.

As such, V66 only lasted about 18 months in operation before signing off on September 21, 1986, after being sold off to the Home Shopping Network.

In 2015, a documentary was produced titled Life on the V: The Story of V66, which is actually now part of the permanent collection of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. You can watch it for free here:

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