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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 WHTZ), Jon Bauman ("Bowzer" from Sha Na Na), Bobby Rivers, and Rita Coolidge.
Later VJs included Tim Byrd of WPIX-FM (the current day FM rebroadcast of WFAN), a station whose eclectic ballad-and-R&B oriented format mirrored that of VH-1, and Alison Steele ("The Nightbird" of WNEW-FM).
It played more jazz and R&B artists than MTV and had a higher rotation of urban-contemporary performers.
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.
Also in 1991, a popular morning program was introduced called Hits News & Weather that ran from 7 AM to 9 AM ET.
As an added touch to make the network more like a televised radio station, the early years of the network featured jingles in their bumpers produced by JAM Creative Productions in Dallas, who had previously made jingles for radio stations worldwide.
The format left room for occasional ad-libs by the VJ, a godsend for emcees such as Imus and O'Donnell.