So if you’re at that age where you think “cable TV” is a complete dinosaur, just waiting to be replaced by some superfast new nano-technology wherein entertainment literally gets beamed directly into your head via painless lasers (oh wait – that’s already underway) you might want to stop reading here. But, if like me, you remember a time when there was no cable, you might also know that this week — 30 years ago –- a little something called CNN was born. And I’m not talking about its politics, or about the many faces it spawned who went on to become household names. I’m just noting that it exists, which was and is whoppingly significant. Because on June 1st 1980, America welcomed the very first network to provide 24-hour news coverage (and the first devoted solely to news). Kind of huge if you think about it. Can you imagine life without cable? Now I wasn’t around when a loaf of bread was a nickel, nor did I have to haul coal anywhere and drop it off at Old Mrs. Anybody’s before walking to school in five feet of snow at dawn. Rather, I was your basic 80’s teen, concerned primarily with avoiding schoolwork, collecting records (the month my brother got Tattoo You, I discovered Squeeze & The Psychedelic Furs, and Don’t Stop Believing was EVERYWHERE — although I guess it is now, too). We watched Dynasty feverishly and tried to figure out how to sneak into American Gigolo (which we did, comprehending almost 60% of it). Clothing was all about unspeakable colors. Haircuts tested laws of geometry (and taste). Earrings were slightly smaller than salad plates. Everyone knew what a busy signal was. And into this world came a TV station which admittedly many people didn’t even know existed until there was a) a war or b) a disaster or c) a combination of the two. But it was there. Now, things really got going for my age group a year after CNN launched, with the advent of MTV, which singlehandedly revolutionized entertainment (simultaneously ringing the death knell for physically imperfect performers everywhere). Very few people had MTV at first, and yours truly may have feigned interest in a neighbor’s son who boasted ownership of the groundbreaking video service with the 5 Veejays. And how cool was it? Very. But we can talk about MTV later, because today it’s all about CNN’s 30th anniversary. And regardless of whether you devour or detest CNN, chances are you’re aware of it. You probably even take it for granted. But the fact that so many of us do regard it alongside trusty old faves like furniture, or milk, or highways, or trees may say something about its value. And 30 years ago, when they flipped that switch for the very first time, they probably only hoped they’d get that lucky.
1) Anderson Cooper
2) Wolf Blitzer
3) Christiane Amanpour
4) Larry King
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