MTV In The ’80s

MTV launched on Saturday, August 1, 1981, at 12:01 AM Eastern Time.



The very first music video shown on MTV was The Buggles’ “Video Killed the Radio Star”.

The original purpose of MTV was to be “music television”, playing music videos 24 hours a day and seven days a week, guided by on-air personalities known as VJs, or video jockeys. The original slogans of the channel were “You’ll never look at music the same way again”, and “On cable. In stereo.”


The original five MTV VJs back in 1981 were Nina Blackwood, Mark Goodman, Alan Hunter, J.J. Jackson, and Martha Quinn.

MTV In The '80s

Martha Quinn

Martha Quinn is an actress and television personality, best known as one of the original video jockeys on MTV (along with Nina Blackwood, Mark Goodman, Alan Hunter, and J.J. Jackson).

MTV In The '80sOn July 13, 1981, Quinn was working at NYU’s Weinstein Dormitory where she answered phones and gave students their toilet paper, mail, and lightbulbs. At the end of her day, she decided to stop at WNBC (AM), where she’d just finished up interning for her senior year.

Coincidentally, California record company executive Burt Stein also was visiting WNBC. He asked out loud if anyone knew what Bob Pittman was doing. Pittman had been the program director of WNBC a year or so earlier but had left to start a new venture: a cable channel called MTV (Music Television).

WNBC assistant program director Buzz Brindle overheard Stein’s question and remembered the new venture. He turned to Quinn and suggested that she should try out for a role at the new network as a VJ.

Brindle called Pittman and told him about his former intern, Quinn. Pittman told him to get her to the MTV studios immediately, as it was the last day of auditions. Quinn immediately took a cab to Hell’s Kitchen for her audition.

Brindle’s idea had some merit. Quinn had spent much of her time at New York University doing two things: performing in TV commercials (McDonald’s first Chicken McNuggets girl, Country Time Lemonade, Clearasil, Campbell’s Soup) and working at WNYU-FM, the college radio station. Quinn would later lament that her father and stepmother, financial columnist Jane Bryant Quinn, had spent their money for Martha to spin Peter, Paul, and Mary vinyl as the host of Just Plain Folk.

Quinn entered the studio knowing nothing about MTV or what its producers expected of her. She did a four-minute audition where she talked about Earth, Wind, and Fire; MTV executives immediately surrounded her, asking, “Who are you? Where did you come from? How old are you?” Quinn was stunned, realizing she had just found the perfect job for her talents. Two days later Quinn got the news she was an MTV VJ.

Quinn joined Mark Goodman, Nina Blackwood, Alan Hunter, and JJ Jackson as original faces and voices of MTV. Being hosts of the nation’s first music television network provided them with an in-depth and up-close perspective on the most popular rock/pop music and artists of the 1980s.

In 1986, Quinn took part in the then World Wrestling Federation WWE Slammy Awards conducting interviews backstage.  Quinn initially left MTV at the end of her contract in late 1986. However, she was rehired by the network in early 1989 and stayed with the channel until 1992.

MTV In The '80s


Mark Goodman

Mark Goodman is a radio DJ, TV personality, and actor. He is best known as one of the original five VJs on MTV, from 1981-1987.

Goodman has been in the music business for 30 years. He started in radio in his hometown of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at WMMR and in 1978, became the music director of the station. In 1980, he moved to New York City to work at WPLJ, the number one rock station in New York.

MTV In The '80sIn 1981, Goodman left WPLJ to join the as yet unknown music video channel called MTV. As one of the 5 original VJs Goodman interviewed a variety of music and entertainment stars including Paul McCartney, Sting, Bruce Springsteen, Brian De Palma, Heart, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Madonna, Billy Idol, Patty Smythe, Nick Lowe, Roy Orbison, Carlene Carter, Mark Knopfler, Journey, Scorpions, Pointer Sisters, Richard Marx, Rick Springfield, Duran Duran, Prince, Pee-Wee Herman, Lea Thompson, Mary Stuart Masterson, Andrew McCarthy, Howie Mandell, Robin Williams, Tracy Ullman, Billy Squire, Asia, Jerry Harrison, Hall and Oates, The Hooters, David Lee Roth, Sammy Hagar, Eddie Van Halen, Ozzy Osbourne, Bono, Bette Midler, Depeche Mode, Night Ranger, Pete Townshend, Dee Snyder, Robert Plant, John Mellencamp, Chrissie Hynde, Brian Wilson, Jack Nicholson, Paul Schaeffer, Phil Collins, Genesis, Bryan Adams, Huey Lewis, Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham, David Bowie, Tom Petty, and many others. He also hosted several special shows for the channel including “The Week In Rock”, “120 Minutes” and the first show ever syndicated to broadcast by MTV: “The Top 20 Video Countdown.”

In the late 80s, Goodman began an acting career that saw him working in film and TV. Goodman appeared in several films including “Man Trouble” with Jack Nicholson, “Don’t Be a Menace To South Central While Drinking Your Juice In The Hood” with the Wayans brothers and Police Academy 6: City Under Siege. On TV, Goodman could be seen in such shows as “Married With Children”, “The Practice”, “Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman”, “Vinny And Bobby” and others.

In 1989, Goodman returned to radio in Los Angeles at the legendary but short-lived, “The Edge”. Over the next 10 years, he worked at stations including KROQ, KMPC-FM (The Edge) and Star 98.7 in Los Angeles as well as Q101 and WLS-FM in Chicago, IL, and Mix 96.9 in Phoenix, AZ.
Through the 90s, Goodman hosted several different TV shows and music specials. In particular, ”Fit TV” ran on cable for years after the final episodes were shot. Goodman receives no royalties from the show but is pleased he is still helping people learn how to eat right, exercise more, and be open to alternative methods of healing and stress reduction. Goodman also hosted the Illinois Lottery game show Illinois Instant Riches and its revamp Illinois’ Luckiest from 1994 to 2001.

MTV In The '80sIn 1999, Goodman became Senior VP of Music Programming for, an internet radio station. He developed the format, hired and trained the air staff, and developed all the special programming which became available for syndication to other sites including British Telecom Open World, As Seen In (Aaron Spelling’s site), and Newgrounds.
After the dot com crash, Goodman continued his search for the new musical underground. Oddly, it presented itself from outer space in the form of satellite radio. Goodman was offered a position on Sirius Satellite Radio on their Big 80s channel with the other three original MTV VJs still living, Nina Blackwood, Martha Quinn, and Alan Hunter. Since starting there in 2004, Goodman has added shows on Classic Rewind (the late 70s through early 90s rock) and The Spectrum (a lively mix of rock, pop, and indy for grownups).

Concurrent with his work at SiriusXM, Goodman’s understanding of the power of combining music and visuals made his next step in the music business almost a given: music supervision…putting music in films and TV shows. While he had music supervised several pilots for Fox, it was the Touchstone/ABC TV show “Desperate Housewives” which offered Goodman his greatest challenge. Goodman was tapped as a music supervisor to help launch the series.

Developments lately though have allowed Goodman to agree with his old pal Jon Bon Jovi who asks, “Who says you can’t go home?” In the mid-2000s, Goodman did go back home (sort of) on VH-1 and VH-1 Classic doing interviews and hosting special programs while continuing to broadcast 7 days a week on SiriusXM Satellite Radio.


J.J. Jackson

J.J. Jackson was an American radio and television personality. He was one of MTV’s five original VJs (along with Nina Blackwood, Mark Goodman, Alan Hunter, and Martha Quinn). In his appearances on MTV, Jackson often went by and introduced himself as “Triple J”.

MTV In The '80sJackson first gained prominence while working at WBCN in Boston in the late 1960s, then at KLOS in Los Angeles for ten years. Jackson was one of the first DJs to introduce Americans to The Who and Led Zeppelin. In 1976, he was featured in a voice-only performance as a DJ of the fictional KGYS radio in the movie Car Wash. He was a music reporter for KABC-TV when he was tapped as one of MTV’s original “fab five.” As a VJ, Jackson hosted the long-awaited and much anticipated “unmasking” of KISS. He was one of the few African Americans to DJ an “album rock” radio station.MTV In The '80s


After five years at MTV, Jackson returned to Los Angeles radio, first at KROQ-FM in 1987, then as program director of modern rock/alternative station KEDG (“The Edge”) until May 1989. He later returned to KLOS and hosted the afternoon shift at smooth jazz station KTWV (“The Wave”) for one year.

He also hosted Westwood One Radio Network’s nationally syndicated radio show The Beatle Years from 1995 until his death.

On March 17, 2004, Jackson suffered a heart attack and died at the age of 62 while driving home after dining with a friend in Los Angeles. He was survived by a daughter and three grandchildren.


Nina Blackwood

She was chosen for MTV’s original video jockey lineup, along with Martha Quinn, Mark Goodman, Alan Hunter, and J. J. Jackson, when the network began airing in 1981. After leaving the network in 1986, she hosted her own “Rock Report” for Entertainment Tonight. She also hosted the TV music show Solid Gold from 1986 to 1988. Blackwood has appeared on A Current Affair, Access Hollywood, VH1, The Discovery Channel, and MSNBC.

MTV In The '80sIn 1999, Blackwood and longtime manager/producer Danny Sheridan launched a nationally syndicated radio show for United Stations Radio Network called Nina Blackwood’s Absolutely 80’s. The two followed up with another nationally syndicated program, the 80’s alternative-themed Nina Blackwood’s New Wave Nation (which, as of 2014, is no longer being produced). Blackwood currently hosts a weekday show on Sirius XM Radio The 80s on 8 from 1 to 4 p.m. Eastern. On weekends she co-hosts the Sirius XM Radio show The Big ’80s Top 40 Countdown with other original MTV VJ’s.

And appeared in many TV shows and Films, including the cult classic “Vice Squad”
NOW ….

Nina Blackwood continues to be THE icon of 80s music !! You can hear her daily on SiriusXM Satellite Radio channel 8, hosting “80s on 8” and across the country every weekend with her  broadcast radio show – “Absolutely80s”

Nina, Alan, Mark, and Martha’s book “VJ” hit the New York Times ‘best-seller” list, and more great stuff is in the works !!





MTV In The '80s


Alan Hunter

Alan is one of the original five video jockeys (VJs) on MTV from 1981 to 1987 (along with Nina Blackwood, Mark Goodman, Martha Quinn, and J.J. Jackson). He is a host on SiriusXM Radio’s The 80s on 8 channel and co-owns the production company Hunter Films with his brother Hugh. He and Hugh and two other brothers also founded WorkPlay, a multipurpose office, studio, and entertainment facility in Birmingham, Alabama. He also hosted the reality show Looking for Stars on the Starz cable television channel as well as the Encore series “Big 80s Weekend”.

MTV In The '80sIn the early summer of 1981, he bumped into MTV exec Bob Pittman at a picnic in Central Park. A month later, Hunter was tapped to join the fledgling MTV, only three weeks prior to its debut.

MTV went on the air on August 1, 1981, at midnight in selected markets across America. Hunter was, by technical snafu, the first VJ to appear on the screen, with the words “Hi, I’m Alan Hunter. I’ll be with you right after Mark. We’ll be covering the latest in music news, coast to coast, here on MTV Music Television.” And then the other original VJs – Martha Quinn, J.J. Jackson, Nina Blackwood, and Mark Goodman – followed.

During his first month with MTV, he kept his regular night job tending bar at New York’s Magic Pan Restaurant Cabaret. When a customer recognized him, he determined it was time to become a full-time MTV VJ. Over the next several years Hunter’s typical work week included attending concerts and parties until the wee hours and then coming back to the studio at 8:00 AM for a full day of taping interviews, promos, and features.

Hunter was also heavily involved in the WWF-MTV collaboration, hosting The War to Settle the Score live special on MTV with Gene Okerlund. He also conducted backstage interviews for the show. Hunter also narrated The War Continues, a special produced by MTV that was used to help promote Wrestlemania in March 1985.

As MTV became a dominant outlet for music-related content in the early 1980s, Hunter’s celebrity interviews included the first MTV interviews with Madonna, Duran Duran, and U2, and also included Ozzy Osbourne, Frank and Moon Unit Zappa, Daryl Hall & John Oates, Loverboy, Kasim Sultan, Crosby Stills & Nash, Kevin Bacon, Robin Williams, Dan Aykroyd, Eurythmics, Kenny Loggins, the Psychedelic Furs, Bob & Doug McKenzie, Lou Reed, Joey Ramone, Andy Warhol, the Cars, the GoGos, the Bangles, Colin Hay and Men at Work, Boy George, Bon Jovi, Bryan Adams, John Mellencamp, Hugh Hefner, Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Rod Stewart, Cheap Trick, Billy Idol, Thomas Dolby, Joe Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, Crowded House, Aretha Franklin, Michael McDonald, Rick Springfield, Peter Wolf, Toto, Level 42, Steve Martin, Tom Hanks, Martin Short, Chevy Chase and Pee-Wee Herman among others.

In his latter MTV years, Hunter became known for his remotes and road trips in such iconic and pioneering MTV programming like MTV Spring Break, MTV’s Amuck in America, and MTV’s Hedonism Weekend with Bon Jovi in Jamaica.

In August 1987, after six years with the channel, Hunter departed MTV as a full-time host and relocated from New York to Los Angeles. The same year, he traveled to Russia in September as a freelancer for the channel for a program called Rock in Russia. The documentary explored the world of rock music in the midst of President Gorbachev’s perestroika in the Soviet Union while following Billy Joel on his pioneering concert tour to Moscow and Leningrad.

In 1989, he appeared in the film White Hot.

For the years he was in Los Angeles, Hunter starred in numerous Fox pilots, like HayWire and Pure Insanity, precursors of today’s reality programming, as well as commercials for Levi’s Dockers and Chevrolet and numerous infomercials for Time-Life.

MTV In The '80sIn the mid-’90s he moved back to his hometown of Birmingham, Alabama, to start a film company called Hunter Films, and, with his brothers, to create the multi-use entertainment facility, WorkPlay, named one of America’s 40 Best Venues by Paste Magazine.

In 2003, Hunter Films produced the Academy Award-nominated short film Johnny Flynton directed by Lexi Alexander, and executive produced the 2006 Sundance premiered movie Dreamland starring John Corbett, Gina Gershon, and Justin Long. 2010 saw the release of the company’s executive produced documentary Best Worst Movie and in 2011 the feature film Lifted, which they co-produced and in which Hunter co-stars with Dash Mihok, Nicki Aycox, Ruben Studdard, Trace Adkins and in which Uriah Shelton debuted.

Amidst his entrepreneurial endeavors, in 2005-06 Hunter continued his work as a TV host working with Encore and Starz for their first original series Looking for Stars. He was part of a Verizon Wireless national radio campaign for three years and since 2004 has been on SiriusXM Radio’s The 80s on 8 (4:00 pm – 7:00 pm) music channel along with the other surviving original MTV VJs.

Hunter co-founded Birmingham’s Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival, named by Time Magazine as one of the top ten Festivals for the Rest of Us, and serves as its board president. He launched the civic activist group Catalyst4Birmingham and has been an integral part of promoting the film business in the state of Alabama lobbying for legislation to create film incentives as well as the creation of the Birmingham-Jefferson Film Office.

















Bios sourced from Wikipedia and Facebook bios of original MTV VJs.

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