Pop culture

Original MTV VJs remember the job, videos that changed history 

May 6, 2013 at 11:11 AM ET

If you still remember the days of wanting your MTV because the channel showed music videos, than you're probably a fan of the VJs who helped shepherd you through that groundbreaking era of television.

Nina Blackwood, Mark Goodman, Alan Hunter and Martha Quinn stopped by TODAY on Monday to discuss their new book, "VJ: The Unplugged Adventures of MTV's First Wave." (J.J. Jackson, another of the original five VJs, died in 2004 at age 62).

"When it went on the air, back in 1981, did you immediately know it was going to change things forever?" Matt Lauer asked.

"I knew it would change my life forever, because I was working at a dorm," Quinn said. "I was like, 'Hmmm, what should i do, continue to dispense toilet paper and light bulbs, or work for this full-time job?' So I thought it was ... a good gamble."

Image: MTV VJ book
Atria Books via AP
"VJ: The Unplugged Adventures of MTV's First Wave."

Goodman and Hunter took a stab at naming a few of the channel's early "game-changer" videos.

"The first one, The Buggles," Hunter said, of "Video Killed the Radio Star." Goodman called Peter Gabriel's "Sledgehammer" "one of the greatest videos of all time," but insisted Michael Jackson's "Thriller" was the video to remember above all.

Lauer also played a little word association with the VJs, looking for recollections on the biggest music stars of the early 1980s.

Madonna? "Fleshy," is how Hunter described the Material Girl.

Frank Zappa? "He was very condescending to me," Blackwood said of an interview gone bad.

Cyndi Lauper? "Huge talent, and made a mistake with the wrestling thing," Goodman said.

David Lee Roth? "He sums up the '80s completely, his over-the-top personality," Quinn said. "The hair was bigger, shoulders wider and the spandex was tighter."

Michael Jackson? "That's the game-changer," they all agreed.

For all the fond memories the four have of the music they were playing 30+ years ago, the VJs also shared with TODAY.com what they're listening to in 2013. Check out the playlist below for a mix of old and new:




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