MHD on air | VailDaily.com

MHD on air

Laura A. Ball

AE MTV1 SM 1-13

VAIL MOUNTAIN – Neil Sharma and Morgan Hertzan are putting on their gloves and protective eyewear. They have a very important job to do – and it has nothing to do with the brid flu. “We spread MTV,” said Hertzan, head of programming for for MTV’s new high definition music channel, MHD, as he loosened his ski boots.Hertzan and Senior Director of Business Operations and Strategy Sharma are two of the masterminds responsible for the inception, programming, videos, logos and image of the new network, which launches today. Lucky for them, they happen to be spreading MTV’s newest epidemic from Eagle’s Nest atop Vail Mountain, where they get to enjoy some of the best skiing in the world. “A couple of years ago we saw a gap in high definition programming and no one really delivering live music and artists the way they should be seen in high definition,” Sharma said. “High definition technology enhances music and also panoramic views like this.”Lucky for viewers, MHD means more music videos and more live music shown in the best visual technology available. The network launches at 6 p.m. (E.S.T.) on Cox Communications television as well as Verizon. MHD may be viewed in parts of Florida and California beginning today, but not the Vail Valley – not yet. “Trust me, we know that Colorado’s a priority for us,” Sharma said. “In a perfect world, we’d be everywhere in front of everybody and that’s what we’re working hard at right now with all the major television operators.”Why Vail? Why not

“We looked at virtually every ski resort in Colorado and Utah,” Hertzan said. “We were up here shooting last year for MTVu and I thought to myself, ‘This has to be the most beautiful view of any building in the world.'”The spectacular view, as well as the infrastructure that already existed at Eagle’s Nest, like the building and gondola, and the shear traffic, made the choice pretty obvious, Hertzan said.”We want this brand, which is a new one for MTV Networks, in front of as many eyeballs as possible,” Sharma added. “Where better than the biggest mountain in the world?”Vail Resort’s Vail’s chief operating officer, Bill Jensen, said he’s happy with the marriage, being that MHD’s target audience falls into the 20-40 age group Vail Mountain tries to attract.”It’s not going to change Vail’s image but it’s going to take Vail’s image and communicate it to a broader market,” said Jensen.The state-of-the-art glass walled studio overlooking Vail’s renown slopes, replete with a roaring digital fireplace and sunny stone walls, will serve as homebase for MHD programming being filmed locally. George Oliphant, former VJ for MTVu, MTV’s college network, will host 36 hours of original footage, which will include “MHD Uncompressed: Top 10 High-def Countdown” and themed video hours announced from the studio, on the mountain or somewhere in the valley. For example, if he is about to announce a new reggae video, the crew might flim Oliphant announcing it at 8150 where The Wailers are playing. Later in 2006, U.S. Team freestyle skier and former CU wide receiver Jeremy Bloom will join Oliphant as an on-air VJ when he returns from the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turino, Italy.

Seeing starsEagle’s Nest is already a great place for stargazing and, but with MHD headquarters taking over the locale both musicians and actors will be in view this season. “Right now, if you’re A-list you can get on MHD,” Oliphant said.But who?”I can say people are coming, but I can’t say names,” Hertzan said.MHD might even dig up some local stars.”We’d love to feature some local artists from around Vail and Colorado,” Hertzan said. “These ski towns have such great musical heritage.”=======Stay tuned

MHD programming will feature a conglomeration of shows shot in high definition for various MTV Networks Music Group’s channels including:”Two Dollar Bill,” a live music series featuring indie rockers like My Chemical Romance and System of a Down.”Storytellers,” a show feauturing legendary artists talking about their songs and music, like Coldplay’s Chris Martin describing naming his song “Yellow” because he was sitting on the Yellow Pages.”Crossroads,” which features hip rocker pop groups and matches them with a country group, like Bon Jovi and Sugarland or John Foggerty and Keith Urban.”UnPlugged,” which showcases live acoustic performances by artists like Alicia Keys.Award shows: “MTV Video Music Award” and “CMT Music Awards.”=======Local programming shot for MHD will include:

“MHD Uncompressed: Top 10 High-def Countdown,” VJ George Oliphant will introduce a top 10 video countdown from a Vail Valley location.Themed Video Hours, on which Oliphant will introduce high-def hip-hop, rock and country video hours from a Vail Valley location.”Music With Altitude Concert Series,” this live music series featuring Dashboard Confessional, the Goo Goo Dolls and country star Gary Allan was shot in Breckenridge Jan. 11-12.=======Staff Writer Laura A. Ball can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14641, or laball@vaildaily.com.Vail, Colorado