We recently found this awesome promotional t-shirt from a Nickelodeon TV show called Livewire! What exactly was Livewire?
Before MTV popularized music on television, there was Nickelodeon's Livewire; a variety-style talk show with a live audience of 20-30 kids and teens.
Filmed at the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York, the kids' talk show aired for only 5 years, between 1980 and 1985. Still, it invaluably introduced young people across the country to the hottest up-and-coming bands.
Livewire was hosted by Fred Newman, the famous voice actor and comedian.
As a host, he was a dorky character that appealed to kids of all ages and went on to become famous for his role as sound effects man on Prairie Home Companion Radio Show. His Nickelodeon audience was primarily suburbanite youth.
However, the show featured a diverse range of musical and celebrity appearances; The Ramones, Afrika Bambaataa, KISS, Gene Roddenberry, Manowar, and Laurie Anderson make up only a small portion of Livewire's cameo list.
Afrika Bambaataa and DJ Jazzy Jay's historic segment included teaching the audience how to DJ-scratch.
When the audience is given an opportunity to ask questions, a young Ad-Rock of the Beastie Boys is disguised among the live audience, asking if Afrika and Jay like his new song, "Cooky Puss." In most Q&As, kids' earnest questions were met with sincerity and encouragement from the musicians.
For many musical guests, performing on Livewire was their first opportunity to appear on television, including R.E.M. in 1983.
In an interview with Twisted Sister, the band is asked if they notice any differences between teenagers along their tour. Lead singer, Dee Snider, responds that there is no difference, but instead how music connects teenagers across the world. He explains that music is a universal language, and the affect it has "on the inside," is the same regardless of background.
Breaking the boundaries of kids' genres, Livewire definitely could not exist on the Nickelodeon of today.