THE VJ IS BORN
AUG. 1, 1981
''7, 6, 5, 4... We have main engine start. Ladies and gentlemen, rock & roll.'' That rocket launch not only signified the birth of MTV, it also introduced viewers to a new species of host: the VJ. Pioneering the gig were unknowns (from left) J.J. Jackson (who died of a heart attack in 2004), Nina Blackwood, Mark Goodman, Martha Quinn, and Alan Hunter. Hunter, a bartender/actor who was hired just three weeks before the channel hit the airwaves, recalls freaking out about his lack of music knowledge. ''I had three-ring binders like I was going back to college to cram,'' he says. The VJs discovered their pop culture impact only after a series of middle America meet-and-greets. Blackwood recalls one trip to San Antonio: ''There were lines wrapped around the mall. I said, 'Who's appearing here?' And they go, 'You!' And I was like, 'Aaaaaaaaah! Drive around the parking lot for a while.'''