Former Monkee Mike Nesmith conceived the first music-video program as a promotional device for Warner Communications' record division. Production began in the spring of 1979 at SamFilm, a sound-stage built and operated in Sand City, California by Sam Harrison, a Monterey Peninsula College instructor with a motion picture background.
With an infinity cyclorama as the background, set flats were made from the Styrofoam packing used to ship laserdisc players and 3/4" video decks. The first "VeeJay" was Jeff Michalski. The director was William Dear. Besides Harrison, the production team was made up of Bruce "Buz" Clarke, Keith Cornell, Marybeth Harris, and Leslie Chacon.
The program was broadcast weekly on the youth-oriented cable television channel Nickelodeon during much of 1981. The channel's owners at the time, Warner Cable, wanted to buy the name and idea, but instead, according to Dear, "they just watered down the idea and came up with MTV."