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VH1 or Vh1 (known as VH-1: Video Hits One from 1985 to 1994) is an American cable television network based in New York City. Launched on January 1, 1985 in the old space of Turner Broadcasting's short-lived Cable Music Channel, the original purpose of the channel was to build on the success of MTV by playing music videos, but targeting a slightly older demographic than its sister channel, focusing on the lighter, softer side of popular music. The channel was originally created by Warner-Amex Satellite Entertainment, at the time a division of Warner Communications and owner of MTV. Both VH1 and its sister channel MTV are currently part of the MTV Networks division of corporate parent Viacom. While VH1 still occasionally plays music videos and the Top 20 Video Countdown, its more recent claim to fame has been in the area of music-related reality programming, such as Behind the Music, the I Love the... series, the Celebreality block of programming, and the channel's overall focus on popular culture.[1]

VH-1's aim was to focus on the lighter, softer side of popular music,[1] including such musicians as Carly Simon, Tina Turner, Elton John, Sting, Donna Summer, Kenny G, and Anita Baker, in hopes of appealing to people aged 18 to 35, and possibly older. Also frequently featured in the network's early years were "videos" for Motown and other 1960s oldies consisting of newsreel and concert footage. It was introduced on January 1, 1985 with the video performance of "The Star-Spangled Banner" by Marvin Gaye.[1]
From the start, Video Hits One was branded as an urban version of its sister/parent channel. It played more jazz and R&B artists than MTV and had a higher rotation of urban-contemporary performers. Its early on-camera personalities were New York radio veterans Don Imus (then of WNBC); Frankie Crocker (then program director and DJ for WBLS); Scott Shannon (of Z100); Jon Bauman ("Bowzer" from Sha Na Na); Bobby Rivers; and Rita Coolidge.
Later VJs included Tim Byrd of WPIX-FM (now WRXP), a station whose eclectic ballad-and-R&B oriented format mirrored that of VH-1; and Alison Steele ("The Nightbird" of WNEW-FM). Rosie O'Donnell later joined the outlet's veejay lineup. O'Donnell would also host a stand up comedy show featuring various comedians each episode. As an added touch to make the network more like a televised radio station, the early years of the network featured jingles in their bumpers produced by JAM Creative Productions in Dallas, who had previously made jingles for radio stations worldwide.
The format left room for occasional ad-libs by the VJ, a godsend for emcees such as Imus and O'Donnell. In true Imus style, he used a 1985 segment of his VH-1 show to jokingly call smooth-jazz icon Sade Adu a "grape" for her oval-shaped head.


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