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Martha Quinn  

Original MTV VJ, SiriusXM Host. Co-Author of New York Times Best-Seller VJ:The Unplugged Adventures Of MTV's First Wave

Martha Quinn (born May 11, 1959) is best known as one of the original video jockeys on MTV (along with Nina Blackwood, Mark Goodman, Alan Hunter, and J.J. Jackson).

On July 13, 1981, Quinn was working at NYU's Weinstein Dormitory where she answered phones and gave students their toilet paper, mail, and lightbulbs. At the end of her day she decided to stop at WNBC Music Radio, where she'd just finished up interning for her senior year.

Coincidentally, California record company executive Burt Stein was also visiting WNBC. He asked out loud if anyone knew what Bob Pittman was doing. Pittman had been the program director of WNBC a year or so earlier, but had left to start a new venture: a cable channel called MTV (Music Television).

WNBC assistant program director Buzz Brindle overheard Steins question and remembered the new venture. He turned to Quinn and suggested that she should try out for a role at the new network as a VJ. Brindle called Pittman and told him about his former intern, Martha Quinn. Pittman told him to get her to the MTV studios immediately, as it was the last day of auditions. Quinn immediately took a cab to Hell's Kitchen for her audition.

Brindle's idea wasn't entirely without merit. Quinn had spent her NYU years doing two things: TV commercials (McDonald's first Chicken McNuggets girl, Country Time Lemonade, Clearasil, Campbell's Soup) and working at WNYU, the college radio station. Quinn would later lament that her dad and stepmom, financial columnist Jane Bryant Quinn, spent good money for Martha to spin Peter, Paul, and Mary vinyl as the host of "Just Plain Folk." Quinn walked into the studio not having any idea what MTV was all about, did a four-minute audition where she talked about Earth, Wind, and Fire, and was immediately surrounded by executives. "Who are you? Where did you come from? How old are you?" Quinn was stunned. It was a perfect job for her talents. Two days later Quinn got the news she was an MTV VJ.

Quinn joined Mark Goodman, Nina Blackwood, Alan Hunter and JJ Jackson as original faces and voices of MTV. Being hosts of the nation's first music television network provided them with an in-depth and up-close perspective on the most popular rock/pop music and artists of the 1980s.

Quinn's presence on MTV through 1991 was noted by Rolling Stone magazine readers, who voted her "MTV's Best-Ever VJ," and by Allure Magazine, which referred to the 80s decade as "the Martha Quinn years." Quinn's petite, girl next door personality made her extremely popular among viewers.

Indeed, in a 2011 review of "I Want My MTV" by Craig Marks and Rob Tannenbaum,Dwight Garner recalled: "Every sentient straight male in the country developed a schoolboy crush on Martha Quinn, one of the first V.J.'s, fresh out of New York University and so cute she could make your cranium detonate."

In the early 90s, she also hosted the MTV programs Martha's Greatest Hits, MTV Prime with Martha Quinn, and Rockline. Critics have dubbed Quinn's departure from MTV as "the day the video music died." She was also the MTV host at Knebworth 1990.

Alan Licht's essay on the fall of rock music, An Emotional Memoir of Martha Quinn, refers to the VJ although her name does not appear after the introduction.

In 2005, Quinn joined Sirius Satellite Radio network, hosting a one-hour weekly show from her home in Malibu called Martha Quinn Presents: Gods of the Big '80s for the Big '80s channel. After Sirius merged with XM Radio, the channel was rebranded as The 80s on 8, and the show was simply titled "Martha Quinn Presents". Quinn joins the other surviving original MTV VJs in hosting programs for The 80s on 8.

On the September 22, 2005 episode of Comedy Central's new series The Showbiz Show with David Spade, Quinn appeared as herself in mock archival footage (dating back to 1983) from her MTV days. In two separate bumper skits, Quinn sarcastically foretold considerably bizarre behavior from stars Michael Jackson and Sting. Subsequent episodes took shots at Whitney Houston and Tommy Lee.

In 2007, Quinn lent her name, face and voice to The '80s Game with Martha Quinn, a PC trivia game developed by Funkitron. The game featured multiple-choice questions about '80s culture in categories including music, politics, television, sports, movies and celebrities


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