If you grew up watching MTV, before it became the home of reality shows, you probably remember your favorite Video-Jockeys. The VJs introduced the epic tunes of the ‘80s and hosted some of the best shows. Here are some of our favorites!
Kennedy started working at MTV after interning at a Los Angeles Radio Station – she soon became a hit and was the host of Alternative Nation for five years, introducing the sounds of the likes of Pearl Jam and Nirvana.
Nina Blackwood will forever go down in history as one of the original five VJs for MTV, and she soon became a huge hit (especially with the men who hadn’t forgotten her Playboy shoot in 1978…). Blackwood appeared as a VJ on MTV from 1981 until 1986, after she decided to host her own music TV show segment on Entertainment Tonight. Nowadays, she hosts her own radio show on Sirius XM Radio station, playing all the best music from the ‘80s.
Pauly Shore had once struggled to get into the acting business. However, in 1989 he was offered the MTV position, and his career has since skyrocketed. Pauly became such a popular VJ that he was even given his own show, Totally Pauly, and soon became one of the favorites. He left in 1994 after he was offered multiple acting roles. He also wanted to get behind the scenes and has since written, directed and produced his own documentaries.
Karen Duffy’s career began in the late ‘80s, where she began to establish herself as a commercial actress and model. But her big break came in the ‘90s when she joined the MTV cast as a Video-Jockey. Unfortunately, she was diagnosed with sarcoidosis in 1995 which left her partially paralyzed. However, this didn’t stop her, and she was more determined than ever not to let her disease beat her. She is now a successful voice actress, TV correspondent, and author.
Carson Daly knew as a kid that he wanted to work in the radio and music industry. In 1998, Carson was employed by MTV as their newest VJ, hosting their show Total Request Live, until 2003. After his time with MTV, Daly became a regular member on NBC and was even given his own show – Last Call with Carson Daly. Nowadays, Daly hosts the US version of the music competition The Voice and works as the Orange Room Anchor on the Today Show.
Jenny McCarthy started off her career as a Playboy model and soon became a TV host. In 1995, MTV asked McCarthy to host their brand new dating show, Singled Out, alongside Chris Hardwick. Jenny stayed on the show until 1997, before she left to pursue her own fame, and starred in her own sitcom. Nowadays, McCarthy is known primarily as a TV host for The View, as well as starring in the Wahlburgers, and Donnie Loves Jenny alongside her husband.
Mark Goodman was another one of the five original VJs and risked his job at WPLJ Radio Station to move to the unknown realm of MTV. He stayed with the channel for six years and hosted shows like 120 Minutes, The Week in Rock and The Top 20 Video Countdown. After, Goodman carried on his radio and hosting duties, even becoming the senior VP of an internet radio station. Today, Goodman can be seen as the host of the Volume Music Talk Channel.
Before his time on MTV, Chris Hardwick had already established himself as a successful actor, radio host, and TV host. When he was hired as the new VJ, he was given the job of presenting the game show, Trashed. He then co-hosted Singled Out, before leaving MTV altogether. He has since been working as a professional TV host and ‘Nerdist’ podcast producer. He is most known for his hosting role on The Talking Dead. He has also dabbled in stand-up comedy.
Matt Pinfield is one of the longest running VJs in the business. He began his career with MTV in 1992 on MTV’S The Real World before becoming the host of 120 Minutes, Rocks Off, MattRock, MTV Live, Pinfield Presents and Say What? He then took a break from MTV and began working for Columbia Records and signing new artists – before returning in 2011 to re-host 120 Minutes. He has also released his own memoir about his life and influence on rock music.
Vanessa Minnillo took her first bite of fame in 1998 after she won the title and the crown of Miss Teen USA. Five years later, she was hired by MTV to become their next VJ and was the host of MTV’s Total Request Live from 2003 to 2007. Since leaving, she has continued her career as a TV host, as well as modeling. She has also become a brand ambassador and actress. Vanessa married Nick Lachey in 2011 and is now Vanessa Lachey.
Stand-up comedian and TV host, Colin Quinn first entered the comedy ring in 1984 and landed his first taste of fame in 1987 after he was offered the role of VJ and host of MTV’s game show, Remote Control. This role established Quinn as a reputable comedian, and he was soon hired as a player and writer on Saturday Night Live. He has since worked his way onto the movie scene and has starred in Grown Ups, and Trainwreck, to name a few.
Carolyne Heldman was one of the most lovable VJs in the history of MTV. She began her career at college, working for the college radio, but landed her first real job in 1986 as a VJ. Although she never had her own specific shows, Heldman made a big impression on the channel, and everyone seemed to love her. After her time with MTV, Heldman worked as a host on many sports shows and is now the executive director of Aspen Public Radio.
Doctor Dre is not to be confused with Dr. Dre, although they have some similarities. Dre rose to fame in the late ‘80s as the host of MTV’s hip hop music show, Yo! MTV Raps, alongside Ed Lover. After this, he starred in a 1993 movie called Who’s The Man and tried to break into the acting industry. He was also a member of the group, Original Concept, but it never seemed to take off. Doctor Dre has since left the limelight.
After dropping out of college, Serena Altschul got herself a job at the MTV studios, and just a year later in 1996, she was offered the position of VJ. She started working on MTV News and soon branched out to host the likes of True Life, Breaking It Down and UNfiltered. In the early ‘00s, she continued to work for MTV but also worked for CNN and became the CBS News contributing correspondent. Since 2013, Serena has appeared on CBS’s Sunday Morning show.
Jesse Camp wasn’t your ordinary MTV VJ. Camp was the first ever winner of the Wanna Be A VJ contest put on by MTV. He battled it out against 5000 other contestants to become one of MTV’s elusive VJs and stayed with the channel for a year and a half. He hosted the likes of Total Request Live, MTV Rocks Off, and Lunch With Jesse. He then embarked on solo music career before joining the band, Green Denim.
Idalis DeLeon first got into the music business as an artist – and a member of the popular girl group, Seduction. In 1994, she was offered the role of Video Jockey at MTV and stayed with the channel for four years. Since then, she has embraced her skill as a news anchor and entertainment reporter and has worked for Fox, VH1, Access Hollywood, and has been the co-host of Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner since 2013. She has also appeared in several movies.
Alan Hunter was another of the original five Video Jockeys for MTV. Before this, Hunter had made a name for himself as an actor, and even appeared in David Bowie’s music video for ‘Fashion.’ He aired on the first ever MTV show in 1981 and soon became known for his MTV shows around his own travels and wild weekends. Hunter left MTV after six years, and undertook freelance work as a documentary maker, news journalist and is now an Academy Award winning filmmaker.
Kevin Seal first came into the MTV realm in the late ‘80s and soon became one of the busiest VJ’s in the business. He hosted the likes of 120 Minutes, Club MTV, Headbangers Ball, and Kevin Seal: Sporting Fool. However, since his time on the channel, Seal has had a pretty lackluster career. He has made various movie and TV appearances, and even worked as a voice actor for cartoons, but is still known for his role as a VJ with MTV.
J.J. Jackson was the fourth member of MTV’s original five Video Jockeys and was often referred to as ‘Triple J.’ He started off his career in radio before entering into the world of television. After five years, Jackson left MTV and returned to his radio roots. He continued to work in Los Angeles as both a radio presenter and a program director. Unfortunately, Jackson died in 2004 after suffering a heart attack at the tender young age of 62.
Tabitha Soren worked as a news VJ for MTV during the early ‘90s. She became known as the face of MTV’s Choose or Lose Campaign and often interviewed huge political figures like Hillary Clinton and Yasser Arafat, in an attempt to encourage young people to vote. After her time with MTV, Soren went back to college and studied art and photography. She is now a successful artist, and has been featured in the likes of Vanity Fair and Sports Illustrated.
Before he was hired to work for MTV, Ed Lover was the member of a hip hop band called No Face – which he left when he was offered the job as VJ. Lover is eponymous with the hit show, Yo! MTV Raps Today, his signature line, ‘C’mon, son!’ and the Ed Lover Dance. After leaving MTV, Lover found his niche within the radio industry and has since been creating his own radio programs – including the Ed Lover show with Monie Love.
Fab 5 Freddy
Fab 5 Freddy was asked by MTV to join the cast of VJs to create a brand new hip hop show called Yo! MTV Raps and was the first host to kick off one of the highest rated MTV shows in history. He continued in his role for many years, leaving MTV ten years later. He has since gone on to become the head of a record label, signing and producing new artist and music, as well as dabbling in acting.
Netherlands-born Adam Curry first became famous in The Netherlands for his work in radio and was hired by MTV in 1987. He became the host of MTV Top 20 Video Countdown and Headbangers Ball. While at MTV, he registered the MTV internet domain name for the channel – but was heavily sanctioned for it. Since then, he has founded his own website and is an internet mogul, as well as creating and producing his own TV shows in The Netherlands.
Before his time with MTV, Riki Rachtman was no stranger to the spotlight. From 16-years-old, Riki had played in a rock band and toured around the country. Riki was originally employed as a part-time VJ, and filled in for other Video Jockeys during sickness and holidays. However, he soon impressed MTV, and they awarded him hosting duties for Headbangers Ball from 1990 until 1995. After this, Rachtman took to radio hosting and currently hosts the Nascar 24/7 live radio station.
Moon Unit Zappa
Moon Unit Zappa was the daughter of the popular musician, Frank Zappa, and soon found herself as a guest VJ for MTV after visiting the studios with her father. After her time with MTV, Moon Zappa attempted to get into the music business herself and has appeared as a guest vocalist for other artists. She has also tried her hand at stand-up comedy and acting and has had small roles in TV shows and movies, including How I Met Your Mother.
Dan Cortese knew he wanted to work within the broadcasting industry, and with a B.A in Broadcasting under his belt, he managed to get himself a role on MTV’s Rock N’ Jock before landing the VJ hosting job for MTV Sports. He worked with MTV for five years before leaving to pursue an acting career. He has since appeared on Seinfeld, Veronica’s Closet, and Saturday Night Live. He has most recently hosted the Guinness World Records Gone Wild show.
Kari Wuhrer studied performing arts at college and got her first big break when she was cast as a VJ for MTV. She was given the role as the host of Remote Control and soon became a popular VJ for the channel. Since then, Kari has added numerous shows and movies to her resume and has even been signed by a record label to release a debut album. She is now out of the limelight and concentrating on raising her little family.
Ken Ober is still remembered today for his role as a VJ within MTV. From 1987 until 1990, Ober hosted three seasons of the hit show, Remote Control. After this, Ober carried on his hosting career and even dabbled in the world of radio. Alongside this, Ober also served as a producer for CBS, producing the hit comedy, The New Adventures of Old Christine. Unfortunately, Ober passed away, aged 52, in 2009 but will always be fondly remembered as an MTV VJ.
Kurt Loder was already pretty successful before he worked his way onto MTV. He was working at Rolling Stone as a journalist and had even co-written Tina Turner’s autobiography. But he is still known today for his role as host of the new The Week in Rock music news program in 1987. The name was then changed to MTV News, and Loder is still known as the original face of the segment. Nowadays, Loder is still working as a journalist and author.
The other Julie Brown within MTV began her ascent into fame by performing in nightclubs as a singer and eventually found her way onto the screen. In 1989, she was cast as a VJ for MTV and starred as herself in their music-video program, Just Say Julie. She was often called ‘Miss Julie Brown’ to set her apart from Downtown Julie Brown. Nowadays, Brown has established herself as a comedy writer and has written for the show, Melissa & Joey.
Downtown Julie Brown
British-born Downtown Julie Brown first appeared on the European music channel, Music Box, before moving to the United States. She was soon snapped up by MTV and asked to host the new Club MTV during the late ‘80s – and from this came her catchphrase, ‘Wubba Wubba Wubba.’ After her time on MTV, Julie Brown then moved to ESPN and has since worked for E Entertainment and appeared on numerous TV shows. She now hosts her own radio show on SiriusXM.
Martha Quinn was the last original video jockey employed by MTV in its beginnings in 1981. She soon became one of the most popular VJs out of them all and was voted ‘MTV’s Best-Ever VJ’ in 1991 by Rolling Stones Magazine. Since her time in the spotlight, Quinn has continued to appear in smaller TV roles and also has her own radio program on SiriusXM, as well as her hosting duties for the KOSF Morning Show in San Francisco.
Cuban-born Daisy Fuentes was the first ever Latina Video-Jockey to appear on the channel, and soon became one of the most popular spokespeople for MTV. She first took to the screen in 1988 as the host of MTV Internacional, a Spanish music show, and soon began hosting shows for MTV Latin America. After her time with MTV, Fuentes launched a fairly successful acting career and even hosted her own talk show. She since established herself as a model, businesswoman and brand ambassador.
Carmen Electra is now a household name, but we will never forget her humble beginnings. Before she became a sought-after actress, Electra wanted to pursue the music industry and even had a short-lived singing career. However, she got her big break when she was asked to host the MTV show, ‘Singled Out.’ She then went on to star in her career-defining movie role in Baywatch, model, and dance for the Pussycat Dolls and has since appeared in major movies and TV shows.
Simon Rex started off his career as a model for Tommy Hilfiger, before being hired by MTV as a VJ. He stayed with the channel for two years before he attempted to delve into the world of acting, where he starred in multiple movies and TV shows. After this, he then snuck into the music industry and adopted the rap name, Dirt Nasty. He has since released various albums and collaborations but has been quiet for the past few years.