VH1 has been the home of music and pop culture-related programming for more than 30 years. Started in 1985 by Viacom as the easy listening sister station of MTV, focusing on music appealing to an older audience. In their heyday, the channel featured extraordinary music-centric programming, including Pop-Up Video, Storytellers and Behind the Music. Though music has become less of a priority in recent years, the channel continues to merge music and popular culture together with their reality and scripted programming, as well as their charitable efforts. Read on to find out more about VH1’s place in music and cultural history.
Number Ten: VH1 Had the Longest Running Music Program Ever
VH1’s Top 20 Video Countdown lasted in various states with various names and a number of different hosts from 1994 until 2015, making it the longest-running music program on television. In May 2011, it had reached 800 episodes and by the time the show abruptly ended at the end of 2015, it had been on for 1,028 episodes.
Number Nine: They Started Out Radio Station DJs as VJs
A number of VH1’s first VJs were actually radio hosts. Early hosts included shock-jock Don Imus, Z100’s legendary Scott Shannon and Bowser from Sha Na Na, among others. Each of the hosts had their own show, kind of in the same way radio stations did.
Number Eight: Their Charity Raised more than $50 Million for Public Schools
Save the Music has been around since 1997, helping school districts bring music programs back to their elementary and middle schools. Over the last 20 years, the charity has helped nearly 1964 public schools and more than 2.6 Million students earn an arts education and learn an instrument.
Number Seven: They Had to Cancel a Reality Show Because of a Murder
VH1 came under fire in 2009 after one of the contestants on their reality show, Megan Wants a Millionaire, became a suspect in the murder of his wife. The show was cancelled, as was another reality show the same contestant was supposed to compete on, and the channel’s casting practices became scrutinized for how they could allow someone with recent convictions to be cast on a program.
Number Six: Their TLC Biopic Was Their Most-Watched Original Movie Ever
In 2013, VH1 released a biopic about the platinum-selling singing trio to the highest ratings an original movie has ever had on the channel. CrazySexyCool was watched by an average of 4.5 Million people during its premiere broadcast. Not only was this a record for the channel, but it also made it the most watched television movie of the year.
Number Five: Rosie O’Donnell Got Her Start with the Channel
One of the first non-DJ VJs, O’Donnel began working with VH1 in 1988. She hosted a show called Stand-up Spotlight, which featured other up-and-coming comedians, such as Bill Engvall.
Number Four: Only One of Their Spin-off Stations Still Exists
Over the years, VH1, like MTV, had a number of spin-off stations that were created to expand the brand and their music coverage. Out of the four that were created, only VH1 Classic remains.
Number Three: They Teamed Up with The History Channel for a Woodstock Documentary
After looking to collaborate for a while, VH1 and the History Channel decided to finally work together in 2009. In conjunction with the 40th anniversary of the 1969 Woodstock festival, the two stations jointly premiere a documentary aptly titled Woodstock. VH1 aired it first as part of their Rock Doc series, while History aired it three days later as part of their look back at the summer of 1969.
Number Two: They Have Had ‘You Oughta Know’ Concerts for the Last Three Years
VH1 has been commandeering the phrase “You Oughta Know” from Alanis Morrissette’s song of the same name for years to showcase up-and-coming artists that the channel promotes. Though they have had “You Oughta Know” tours in the past, it wasn’t until 2013 that they started promoting these artists with an official concert series. Artists that took to the stage at The Armory Foundation in New York City in 2015 for the third-annual event included Hosier, X Ambassadors, Rachael Platten, Tori Kelly, Miguel, Elle King, George Ezra, James Bay and Nate Ruess.
Number One: ‘Pop-Up Video’ Started a Worldwide Phenomenon
One of the most popular series from VH1’s heyday was a show called Pop-Up Video. The show featured music videos with pop-up blurbs about the making of the videos, as well as related facts and statistics. Pop-Up Video was such a success that other shows and movies tried to copy its format, including Pop-Up Brady (episodes of The Brady Bunch given the pop-up treatment), old episodes of The Oprah Winfrey Show and Who Wants to be a Millionaire, as well as the “Hot Patootie” segment of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. A British version of the show was also created. Thank you for reading our list of 10 interesting facts about VH1. We hope you enjoyed it!