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MTV’s Newest Channel Is Nonstop Nostalgia

Pat Benatar  I want my MTV

1983 : “I want my MTV !” – Pat Benatar

Beavis and Butt-head, Daria, and Total Request Live emerge from the vaults on MTV Classic.

Over the years, MTV has been the impish child, the rebellious teenager and the devil-may-care twentysomething.

Now, as it rounds into middle age, the network that brought a cultural revolution to television is making a big bet on nostalgia. In an old Art Deco building in Los Angeles, engineers are feverishly digitizing old VHS tapes filled with live performances and interviews from the many musicians and stars that have graced MTV’s studios in the past 35 years, assembling one of the world’s greatest libraries of pop culture ephemera. A network that has been an afterthought, VH1 Classic, is being transformed into MTV Classic, a new home for old hits Beavis & Butt-head, Daria and Jackass and reruns of music shows Unplugged and Storytellers.

MTV Classic marks a major strategic shift at MTV, which has typically shunned its past. Executives wanted to create the next Jersey Shore and Total Request Live rather than relive the good old days. But the network, owned by struggling media giant Viacom Inc., has suffered from falling ratings and a lack of buzzworthy hits.