Here's how MTV's original VJs look like today ...
Nina Blackwood, Mark Goodman, Martha Quinn and Alan Hunter. The four surviving MTV original VJs. (J.J. Jackson died in 2004.) These are the only names I can spell forward and backwards, day or night. And like millions of other in the '80s generation, they served as our surrogate big brothers and sisters (and may the girl next door ... Martha!) for the hours and hours we spent watching music videos.
The four VJs gathered together this week in Sirius XM studios to record a special for the 30th anniversary of MTV, and snapped a few photos. (It's Aug. 1, 1981, though only a handful of people actually watched its launch.) I hope these four understand and are honored by the legacy they gave us. Without them, would we have discovered Duran Duran, Madonna, heck, even Weird Al? Would Michael Jackson have still become the King of Pop without the advent of the music video? Could we have felt the same chill without a Thriller video?
And aside from their role "spinning" videos, they became deeper parts of our lives. Who couldn't make an association with each of them? As a teen, I wanted to possess the charm and affability of Jackson. The confidence and gregariousness of Goodman. The quirky intelligence of Hunter. I wanted to lose my virginity to Nina, but then make Martha the love of my life.
Two of the greatest thrills of six years of Stuck in the '80s were a pair of long talks with Martha. When she answered the phone for our second chat, she simply asked, "Is this my '80s love slave?" ... I don't think I've ever been so tongue-tied in my life.
That's the power of Martha. That was the power of MTV.