Before “Let’s Dance” came out, David Bowie did a press junket in a hotel room. It was one of those deals where interviewers file in one at a time. I had interviewed him before, on the radio, but I’m sure he didn’t remember me.
I said, “I have some tough questions for you, David — I hope you’re ready.”
And he said, “Ha, great, because at the end I’d like to ask you some punishing questions as well.”
That comment just blew by me.
At the end of the interview, he started asking me why there was such a dearth of black music on MTV.
I said, not trying to toe the corporate line but honestly, “Listen, if this was a radio station, we’d be a rock station. It wouldn’t make sense for us to play stuff that isn’t in our format.”
The conversation got around to Bowie saying, “Don’t you think there are black kids in the audience who would like to see some of these videos?”
I said, “Well, I guess so, but this is what we do, and we have to think about the audience that has cable.” A lot of times we were finding that cable’s heaviest subscribers were in rural areas where they couldn’t get any television reception at all, out in Oklahoma or whatever — not usually your biggest fans of urban music.
Bowie was hammering me, and I was trying to defend the network — but it was an awkward position.
What irritated me was that I felt like a pawn. I had no say over what MTV played — I wasn’t an executive. And Bowie knew what the situation was. He knew (MTV executive) John Sykes, and he knew a lot of the other principals. He was just using me to bring this issue into the forefront. I felt like an idiot, and I felt used, and I felt insignificant to David Bowie — which I probably was, anyway.
- Mark Goodman. Source.