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It was originally created by Warner-Amex Satellite Entertainment, at the time a division of Warner Communications and the original owner of MTV (MTV and VH1 are now both owned by Viacom Media Networks).The original purpose of the channel was to build upon 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.Also frequently featured in the network's early years were "videos" for Motown and other 60s 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.At first many different musicians guest-hosted the program, but eventually musician/songwriter Ben Sidran became the permanent host.New-Age music videos continued to play on the channel into the 1990s.Rosie O'Donnell later joined the outlet's veejay lineup.O'Donnell would also host a comedy show featuring various comedians each episode.
One popular weekend program was called Video Rewind, in which blocks of 1980s videos from one particular year would play for an hour.
VH1 (originally an initialism of Video Hits One) is an American cable television network based in New York City that is owned by the Viacom Global Entertainment Group, a unit of Viacom Media Networks.
The channel was first launched on January 1, 1985 in the old space of Turner Broadcasting System's short-lived Cable Music Channel.
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 WFAN-FM), a station whose eclectic ballad-and-R&B oriented format mirrored that of VH-1, and Alison Steele ("The Nightbird" of WNEW-FM).There was also a short-lived hour-long program called By Request in which viewers could call a 1–900 hotline number to request their videos.