The View: Original MTV VJs
The ’80s were home to a lot of things: Nintendo, some of the worst fashion decisions ever, hair metal, 16 Candles. As you can see, it was a pretty mixed bag. One thing that definitely fell under the “awesome” category, though, was the introduction of MTV. It isn’t what it used to be, but it’s still remembered fondly, and four of the original five MTV VJs (Video Jockeys, for the uninitiated)—Alan Hunter, Nina Blackwood, Mark Goodman, and Martha Quinn—came on the show to talk about their experiences and the book they wrote together, VJ: The Unplugged Adventures of MTV’s First Wave.
The View: The Beginnings Of MTV
Did the crew ever guess that MTV would ever become what it did: a massive worldwide pop-culture phenomenon? Nope. In fact, Alan Hunter actually kept the bartending job he was holding at the time for the first two or so months because he didn’t know if it was going to work or not.
Another interesting fact was that, not only did the channel not air in Manhattan when it first launched, there were no music videos by black artists being aired. Mark Goodman had a talk with J.J. Jackson (the fifth and sadly deceased original VJ), and they decided that it was high time they showed some videos by artists that were ultimately doing the same thing that a lot of white artists were doing. It wasn’t so much a race issue, says Mark, as it was the fact that, while a lot of black artists were pop artists, the channel aired mostly rock videos.
The View: VJs Never Saw The Videos
Apparently, today was trivia day, because another interesting tidbit of information came up. While the channel was all about music videos and Video Jockeys, none of the jockeys ever actually saw the videos that were being played. All they could do was make a few blanket comments about the video and hope that they matched up to the video in some form or another. Alan said his go-to phrase was “Wow, wasn’t that wacky?” To cope with this, Nina Blackwood would try to skim through the video as much as she could while she was prepping.
The View: Nina Blackwood & John Cougar Mellencamp
There are a lot of personal stories in VJ: The Unplugged Adventures of MTV’s First Wave, but Sherri Shepherd’s favorite story was what happened when Nina Blackwood went home with John Cougar Mellencamp. When John invited Nina back to his place, Nina’s friends advised her to take someone with her because John’s intentions were…not honorable. Fortunately, she took their advice, and when John and Nina’s male companion she brought with her got into an argument about religion, Nina slipped out the back.
The View: J.J. Jackson Death And MTV’s New Direction
The fifth VJ, J.J. Jackson, whose absence was notable on today’s show, passed in 2004 from a heart attack, and the hosts wanted to know how the remaining four MTV VJs wanted the world to remember the man. “As the big-hearted guy that he was,” said Alan.
He had a love for music, a hug for everybody, and brought with him the most experience to the table, said Alan. He was also looked at as the ambassador of the group to the big wigs, and would bring any complaints the cast had up to the bigwigs. The book has been dedicated to J.J.
Given that these particular VJs were on air during a time that MTV played, you know, music, The View wanted to know how they felt about MTV being populated by 99 percent reality shows these days. They weren’t as bitter as you’d think, with Alan simply chalking it up to the natural evolution that channels go through in their lifetime.