Dan Kruse will discuss the popular music of the 1980s in a lecture Wednesday.


At 1 minute past midnight on Aug. 1, 1981, the few thousand people who subscribed to a single cable system in northern New Jersey heard an announcer state: "Ladies and gentlemen, rock and roll."

As the strains of a new classical composition swelled, photos of the Apollo 11 moon landing appeared, with an astronaut standing before a flag modified to feature the logo of a new entertainment venture: MTV.''

The birth and rise of MTV will be part of Dan Kruse's second rock 'n' roll lecture Wednesday at Academy Village.

"When MTV was born in 1981," Kruse said in a recent interview, "the entire music industry - as well as the broadcasting industry and, as a result, the advertising industry - all were changed. Visual approaches to storytelling, developed to create music videos, influenced our entire perception of 'visual language' and how we related to the film/video/computer screen."

And adults of the day thought MTV was just another music show, like American Bandstand.

Kruse is KUAZ-FM's afternoon announcer and local host of NPR's "All Things Considered." He's also working to finish his master's degree in ethnomusicology at the University of Arizona School of Music this fall, focusing on the production of documentary films on musical culture and history.

Discussing the wider and more lasting impacts of pop music has been a highlight of the four rock lectures Kruse presented at Academy Village last year and the two he's offering this year, all sponsored by the Arizona Senior Academy.

Yesterday he discussed the music of the 1970s, and Wednesday he'll describe how music videos, as popularized on MTV, led to a whole new form of artistic expression in the 1980s.

The MTV Generation, as it came to be known, played a key role in the musical evolution of the '80s. Kruse said that's when the cynicism of the '60s and '70s gave way to the optimism of the '80s, as symbolized by the resurgence of patriotism and Ronald Reagan's "Morning in America."

According to Kruse, music videos helped create the rock superstars of the decade, including Michael Jackson, Madonna and others.

He'll also talk about the birth of rap music and his own observations on rap's connection to music he heard while traveling in West Africa years ago.

"I'll discuss my opinion of how rap music provides African-American males with a new and important way to relate to each other as well as a powerful connection to their ancestors," Kruse said.

He'll also discuss the social and technological roots of disco and rap music, and how (technologically) they're related.

Academy Village is an active-adult community off Old Spanish Trail six miles southeast of Saguaro National Park East. Kruse's lecture will be given in the great room of the Arizona Senior Academy Building, adjacent to the Academy Village Community Center.

The lectures are free and open to the public, but seating is limited and reservations are encouraged.

If you go

• What: "The 1980s in Rock and Popular Music in America," lecture by Dan Kruse

• When: 11:30 a.m. Wednesday

• Where: Arizona Senior Academy Building at Academy Village, 13715 E. Langtry Lane

• Admission: Free; donations accepted

• Reservations: Recommended; email info@arizonasenioracademy.org or call 647-0980

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