When I Grow Up, I’m Gonna Be an MTV VJ!

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Carson Daly
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Carson Daly
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Carson Daly and Tara Reid
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Carson Daly and Britney Spears
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Carson Daly and NSYNC
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Brian McFayden and Quddus
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Cindy Crawford
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Downtown Julie Brown
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Julie Brown
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Downtown Julie Brown and Whitney Houston
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Julie Brown
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Carmen Electra
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Serena Altschul
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Serena Altschul
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Serena Altschul
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Serena Altschul
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Ananda Lewis
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Ananda Lewis
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Ananda Lewis
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Ananda Lewis
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Daisy Fuentes
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Daisy Fuentes
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Jesse Camp
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Jesse Camp
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Jesse Camp
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Jesse Camp
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Jesse Camp
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Hilarie Burton
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Quddus, Hilarie Burton, Damien Fahey, La La Vazquez
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Damien Fahey and Miley Cyrus
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Ed Lover & Dr. Dre
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Jenny McCarthy
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Jenny McCarthy
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Kennedy
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Kennedy
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Kennedy
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Martha Quinn
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Martha Quinn
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Martha Quinn
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Matt Pinfield
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Quddus
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Suchin Pak
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Vanessa Minnillo

Not everyone grew up dreaming of becoming an astronaut, the president, or...a beauty editor, but if you were alive between the years of 1981 and, oh, let’s say 2001, we’ll bet double or nothing that at one point you wanted to be an MTV VJ. You envisioned yourself in front of the camera but behind the music, best friends with all the boy bands, and the first and only source for world-shattering music videos. After all, who didn’t want to have screaming teenagers standing outside their “office” in Times Square begging to meet them (and, fine, their guests)? VJs could be a part of rock history in the making, without requiring an ounce of musical talent.

In the days before Teen Moms ruled the airwaves, there was a select group of people blessed with the hosting gigs that dictating our every move (what we listened to, how many nails we painted black, where we wanted to spend Spring Break…South Padre Island?!). Sure, MTV helped launch the stars of so many boldface names: Carmen Electra, Jenny McCarthy, Dr. Dre, Cindy Crawford, Vanessa Minnillo, and Pauly Shore. But it was with the real music-news wunderkinder that our professional aspirations lied. In the forms of Kennedy, Downtown Julie Brown, Duffy, Kurt Loder, John Norris, Serena Altschul, Ananda Lewis, and Tara Reid’s former fiancé, Carson Daly, MTV showed our younger selves just how much fun was to be had in journalism (we took notice, but changed the subject from music to makeup, so thanks, MTV!). While there are a few who survive on the limited music broadcasting left on the network (Josh Horowitz’s After Hours interviews are worth staying up for), we long for the days when VJs reigned. So take a look back at our favorite video jockeys in honor of MTV’s 32nd birthday, which launched on August 1, 1981 with “Video Killed The Radio Star.” Enjoy!

P.S. While we're on the subject: MTV, please bring back TRL (and Carson Daly and his painted black nails)!!!!!

Let’s Talk About It! JOIN IN
  • Marsi

    Sorry, but MTV was already dead by your era. The original VJs -- Martha, J.J., Nina, Mark, and Alan -- are the greats, and by 1986, when programming had started to shift away from music videos and the VJs' contracts weren't being renewed, the worm had already started to turn. Those first five years were fun on a bun though; really an exciting time in music.

    • Janine

      Exactly. The original VJs were the best. I've been hearing Madonna a lot the past few days (30 years ago July 27, her 1st album was released)...I keep hearing "Borderline"...I remember when that song was released. AH, memories.

  • Sharon Macklin

    You didn't even mention the original VJs! They can be heard on SiriusXM Radio - Mark Goodman, Nina Blackwood, Martha Quinn, Alan Hunter and the late JJ Jackson. Surely they deserve a mention (or more than that) in this piece!

  • Caro

    Steve Isaacs. *sigh*

  • Chantel

    Nice post, I loved to MTV in the 90's.

  • DietPhiloUnderground

    La La (Anthony)!

  • meg

    another reminder of how horrid mtv has gotten! anyone else appreciate the portlandia episode when they tried to take back mtv? sigh.

  • martha

    Oh wow! The memories! I grew up in a farming town in central Minnesota and breathed MTV as a kid. Loved Martha Quinn and Julie Brown, and in high school stayed up late on Sunday nights for Matt Pinfield and 120 minutes. SO GOOD.

  • Folami Small

    Oh, the memories... My little sissi & I were lucky (depending on how you looked at it) enough to be original dancers on CLUB MTV back in the day... I always felt as if Brit Brit stole my look (but since it was the late 80's-early 90's- it was a punk rock version). White shirt, Patricia Field's red tartan plaid schoolgirl skirt, 18 laced Doc Marten's, my Dad's vintage (original) knit Giorgio Armani silk tie (think American Gigolo- sorry Dad)... In the ORIGINAL Palladium in NYC... Keith Haring Murals painted on the right hand side of the wall... I also remember when MTV first debuted (when they were called Music Television)- little did the Buggles know that they Killed The Radio Star?!

    It shaped me to become (much to my father's chagrin) the Musical Director for one of the most exclusive private clubs in the world- The Caribou Club in Aspen.

    It's all of your fault, MTV! Thanks!!!

  • Laura

    You forgot Riki Rachtman, host of headbanger's ball. He was crucial to metal's mainstream heyday!

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