What Happened to MTV's Original VJs?

N E W   Y O R K, July 31, 2001 -- They started out as virtual unknowns in a career that had never existed before: video jockeys for MTV, but soon after the music video network's 1981 debut, its first five VJs became stars in their own right.

As MTV celebrates its 20th anniversary Wednesday, Good Morning America talked to MTV's fab five, its first video jockeys on board at the Aug. 1, 1981 launch of the new music video network.

Because the station wasn't even available in Manhattan for its first year, the five of them took a bus to New Jersey, cramming into a bar to see MTV's debut, and its first music video, "Video Killed the Radio Star." It's still the one video that all five remember, now that they have all moved on.

Martha Quinn

She was a 20-year-old broadcasting major and radio disc jockey at New York University in Manhattan when MTV signed her. The girl-next-door face and manner helped make her the best-known video jockey at MTV.

Her favorite interviews: Bob Dylan, who has a "wonderful, giving presence," and David Lee Roth, who would "just start talking," Quinn said. After MTV declined to renew Quinn's contract in 1986, she did three years of TV guest spots, then was rehired by MTV and dumped again in 1992. She co-hosted Ed McMahon's Star Search and did segments on The Early Show.

Now 42, she hosts a Los Angeles radio show called Martha Quinn's Rewind. Quinn has been married for eight years, has a 4-year-old daughter, and another child on the way.

J.J. Jackson

He was the "elder statesman" among disc jockeys before he was picked for the MTV gig, with his own radio show in Los Angeles. Along with Mark Goodman, Jackson was considered the network's real musical expert.

He periodically thought about quitting MTV, and did when his contract expired in 1985. The 54-year-old former VJ is now, once again, a DJ in Los Angeles. He is divorced and has two grown daughters. Jackson says his legacy to MTV was adding credibility, and helping to reel in stars like Robert Plant and Pete Townshend for interviews.

Mark Goodman

When MTV hired him, he was a DJ veteran, with radio shows in Philly and New York. Goodman's key interviews were with Madonna, Paul McCartney and Bruce Springsteen. He also hosted Live Aid, the July 17, 1985 concert on two continents to benefit famine relief. MTV presented 17 hours of live coverage.

Goodman grew tired of MTV and quit in 1988, then tried acting for a while with a stint on One Life to Live. He then deejayed again in Los Angeles and Chicago. He was VP of an Internet music site, and now plans to produce and host Gigspinner, a TV magazine about touring bands. He lives in Los Angeles, is separated from his third wife, and shares custody of a young daughter.

Nina Blackwood:

The sultry-voiced VJ was an aspiring actress, model and classical musician who played the piano and harp. Then MTV brought her on board and she became a VJ.

She was at MTV from 1981 to 1986, and after an amicable parting, Blackwood went on to work with Entertainment Tonight and Solid Gold. Now 48 and divorced, she is a DJ for an FM radio station in Denver.

Alan Hunter

He was an actor, not a DJ or particularly a music aficionado, when hired by MTV. He had a leg up on the others auditioning: he had appeared in David Bowie's music video for Fashion. Hunter hit his stride as MTV's prankster and comedy man.

He quit MTV in 1987 and appeared in a few commercials and minor movies. Now he is back home in Birmingham, Ala., where he produces commercials and hopes to produce movies. Now 44, he is divorced and shares custody of two children.