Only 1 in 52 People Can Name All of These MTV VJs! Can You?

By: Maria Trimarchi

'80s kids: You remember the John Wait single, "Missing You," right? Well, did you know it was about Nina Blackwood, one of the original five MTV VJs? It's true -- both she and John Waite have confirmed it. In addition to MTV, Nina has also hosted on "Entertainment Tonight" as well as "Solid Gold," and more.

Before he became one of MTV's original VJs, Alan Hunter had a very small - but paying -- role in the music video for David Bowie's single, "Fashion" from the 1980 album, "Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)." By 1981, though, Alan was "covering the latest in music news, coast to coast, here on MTV Music Television."

Mark Goodman was one of the original MTV VJs, on the air from the first broadcast in 1981 until 1987. In addition to his VJing, Mark also hosted shows, including "The Week In Rock," "120 Minutes," and "The Top 20 Video Countdown" (which was the first MTV show to be syndicated).

J.J. Jackson, one of the original five MTV VJs, was host during the much-anticipated "unmasking" of the members of KISS. "Triple J," 62, died in 2004, of an apparent heart attack.

While not one of the original VJs, Kurt Loder joined MTV in 1987 as the host of its new show, "This Week in Rock," which later became "MTV News." These days, Kurt is a writer, and known to make film and TV cameos. He's also host of SiriusXM's show, "True Stories."

Adam Curry began his broadcasting career in the early '80s as the host of a Dutch music television show called "Countdown" (and its English version) -- but it was under the pseudonym "John Holden." Adam wouldn't join MTV as a VJ until 1987, and when he also hosted "Headbangers Ball" and "Top 20 Video Countdown." Because of Adam's early interest in podcasting in the 2000s, today he's become known as the "Podfather."

Matt Pinfield was both an MTV and VH1 VJ, plus he hosted shows, including "120 Minutes," "MTV Live," and appeared on the "TRL" segment, Stump Matt. In 2016, his memoir, "All These Things That I've Done: My Insane, Improbable Rock Life," was published.

Ed Lover and André "Doctor Dré" Brown co-hosted MTV's two-hour hip-hop music show, "Yo! MTV Raps," from 1989 until 1995. Those who watched may remember the Ed Lover Dance, which he performed to The 45 King's track, "The 900 Number."

Fred Brathwaite, known as Fab 5 Freddy, is a hip-hop pioneer who came out of New York City's downtown scene in the late '70s. He was the very first host of MTV's hip-hop music show, "Yo! MTV Raps." But he may be most well-known for his single, "Change the Beat," which came out in 1982.

Julie Brown, known to the MTV generation as "Downtown Julie Brown," was a VJ, and hosted the show, "Club MTV," which ran from 1987 until 1992. After MTV, Julie interviewed NFL athletes for ESPN and has since appeared in numerous TV shows and movies.

SuChin Pak joined MTV in 2001 as a correspondent for "MTV News." After seven years, SuChin left "MTV News" to host "G Word" of Planet Green -- but in 2010, she returned, briefly, to host the VMAs Pre Show for MTV News.

Benjamin Quddus Philippe, better known as just "Quddus," is probably best known for two things. He appeared on ABC's singing competition show, "Duets," and he hosted MTV's show, "Total Request Live," aka "TRL," from 2001 to 2006.

Lisa Kennedy Montgomery, known to the public as just "Kennedy," began hosting the show "120 Minutes" on MTV just one year after interning at Los Angeles radio station, KROQ-FM. During her time there, Kennedy, who then held conservative beliefs, was heard yelling, "Nixon now! Nixon now!” at MTV's Rock ’n’ Roll Inaugural Ball for Bill Clinton in 1993.

Although Tara Patrick, who goes by the stage name Carmen Electra, co-hosted MTV's dating game show, "Singled Out," in 1997 until the show ended in 1998, she's probably most famous during that time for her role as "Lani McKenzie" on the TV show, "Baywatch."

Jenny McCarthy and Chris Hardwick were the first co-hosts of MTV's first dating show, "Singled Out." Look for not-yet-famous guests Stacy "Fergie" Ferguson, Jennifer Love Hewitt, and Will Friedle of "Boy Meets World."

He portrayed himself as a homeless "street" kid, despite having been raised in Granby, Connecticut, where he attended Loomis Chaffee prep school, but he won MTV's first Wanna Be a VJ contest in 1998 anyway. Over the next year and a half, Jesse Camp co-hosted "Total Request Live," and also hosted the series, "Lunch With Jesse" and "MTV Rocks Off."

Pauly Shore starred in several comedies in the '90s, including "Encino Man" and "Bio-Dome." But before that, Pauly was a VJ, from 1989 to 1994, who also hosted his own show, "Totally Pauly," on MTV. And who can forget his hosting antics on MTV's Spreak Break parties?

When Daisy Fuentes was signed on as MTV's first Latina VJ in the U.S. in 1993, it was for both MTV as well as for MTV Latin America. During her time at the network, she also hosted the fashion show, "House of Style," among other correspondent segments.

He first got everyone's attention when he appeared on HBO's "Russell Simmons' Def Comedy Jam," and it's said that's where he coined the phrase, "booty call." But the MTV generation may remember Bill Bellamy as a VJ, as well as the host of several shows, including "MTV Jamz" and "MTV Beach House."

In 2002, Carson Daly joined NBC to host the late night talk show, "Last Call With Carson Daly," which he also produced. But prior to that, you would have recognized Carson from MTV, where he hosted MTV's "Total Request Live" from 1998 to 2003.

If you look for her, you'll see this former MTV News reporter in the '80s music video for "(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (to Party)" by the Beastie Boys. Today she's a fine art photographer, but from 1987 to 1993, Tabitha Soren was a reporter for MTV News.

Beavis and Butt-head are two ninth grade delinquents at Highland High School. But when they aren't out doing stupid things, often the two spend their time watching and critiquing videos on MTV. They also hosted special events on the network, such as the Viewer's Choice segments during the 2005 MTV Video Music Awards.

David Alan "Riki" Rachtman began his time at MTV making appearances as a guest host for the show, "Headbangers Ball," which, until 1990, was hosted by VJ Adam Curry. From 1990 to 1995, Riki was the show's full-time host. He also hosted shows on VH1 and MTV 2, as well as specials, such as the 2007's "Rock of Love" reunion show with Poison frontman, Bret Michaels.

Prior to her joining MTV as a VJ in the late 1990s, the NAACP presented her with its Image Award, celebrating her work on the BET network. From the late '90s until 2001, Ananda Lewis was an MTV VJ, hosting "Total Request Live" and "The Hot Zone." In 2001, she earned another NAACP Image Award, this time for hosting the MTV special, "True Life: I Am Driving While Black." When she left MTV in 2001, it was to host her own syndicated show, "The Ananda Lewis Show."

Music journalist John Norris is probably best known for his reporting on "MTV News, where he worked in various reporting and correspondent capacities, from 1988 until 2008. After leaving MTV, John continued his career writing about music and culture. And in 2009, he became a founding partner in the music website, Noisevox.

From 1992 to 1997, Dan Cortese was team coach of The Bricklayers on "MTV Rock N' Jock," and host of "MTV Sports." In addition to post-MTV acting gigs, Dan also returned to the MTV family to host VH-1's "Money Hungry."

You may know Peter Zaremba best as lead singer of garage rock band, The Fleshtones. But in the '80s, this musician also hosted MTV's "I.R.S. Records Presents The Cutting Edge" (from March 1983 to September 1987, as well as its sequel, "The Cutting Edge Happy Hour."

Karen "Duff" Duffy was modeling and appearing in TV commercials in the late 1980s. And by the early 1990s, she was appearing on MTV as "Duff." In 1995, Karen was diagnosed with an inflammatory disease called sarcoidosis, which has left her partially paralyzed.

If you were watching MTV's "Total Request Live" in the early 2000s, it's where you would have first seen La La (real name, Alani Nicole Anthony, née Vázquez). In 2001, she left radio and joined MTV, where she hosted not only "TRL," but also "Direct Effect" and other high-profile specials and segments.

Simon Rex (Simon Rex Cutright) started his TV career as an MTV VJ, and continued to host for two years. Simon now goes by the stage name, Dirt Nasty, and is a rapper and comedian.

You probably first heard Moon Zappa (Moon Unit Zappa) when she was 14, "valleyspeaking" phrases such as "gag me with a spoon" on her father's hit single, "Valley Girl." But, also in the early '80s, she, as well as her brother Dweezil, were frequent guest VJs.

Alison Stewart began as an assistant when she joined MTV in 1988. In 1991, she was hired as a segment producer for MTV News, where her work is best known. Although she contributed news and hosting segments, it was her coverage of the 1992 presidential race that earned her a Peabody Award.

Vanessa Minnillo, now Vanessa Lachey, is a former beauty queen and fashion model. She's also a former host of MTV's "Total Request Live." She also hosted other MTV segments and specials, including the network's New Year's Eve show.

Today Kevin Seal does voiceover work and makes occasional TV and movie appearances. But in the late 1980s, he was the host of "Club MTV," and one of the hosts of the show, "120 Minutes." Additionally, you'll recognize Kevin as the host of MTV's "Headbanger's Ball," from 1987 to 1988. And before his time at MTV ended, he won a Cable Ace Award for the show, "Kevin Seal: Sporting Fool" in 1990.

In 1998, Dave Holmes entered MTV's inaugural Wanna Be a VJ contest -- and lost. MTV hired Dave, anyway, to conduct celebrity interviews. By the time he left MTV in 2002, he'd hosted several shows, including "Eye Spy Video," "120 Minutes," "Say What? Karaoke," and "Total Request Live."

Tyrese Gibson, known just as Tyrese, is a former fashion model and MTV VJ. That's right, in addition to working on his debut album with RCA records in 1998, Tyrese also joined MTV as a host and VJ, and specifically as the host of their new weekday show, "MTV Jams." Today, he's released several albums and starred in several leading film roles.

Dave Kendall was a DJ and regular on the LA club scene when he joined MTV. There, he was the creator and host of a new show, "120 Minutes," which aired at midnight on Sundays.

China Kantner's parents are Jefferson Airplane/Jefferson Starship members, Paul Kantner and Grace Slick -- in fact, sometimes, at MTV, she's credited as "China Slick Kantner." She first appeared as a guest VJ, and became the youngest MTV VJ ever when she began working as a VJ at the age of 15.

After Ray Munns won the third annual Wanna Be a VJ contest in 2000, he began his MTV career as Carson Daly's co-host on "Totally Request Live" at the network's summer beach house party. After a year as the contest winner, Munns' career took off -- and he was named one of People Magazine’s 50 Most Eligible Bachelors.

Steve Isaacs is known for a lot of things, like being the lead singer for the band, The Panic Channel. But MTV discovered him one night when he was hosting open mike at Highland Grounds Café in Hollywood. In September 1991, Steve was hosting "The Top 20 Countdown," "MTV's Daily Most Wanted," and "Hangin' with MTV." After leaving the network in 1993, Steve went on to perform the lead role in the Broadway performance of The Who's "Tommy."

Jim Shearer was the music "expert" on VH1's show, "Big Morning Buzz Live," when he was hired in 2002. Starting in 2009, Jim hosted several shows on VH1, MTV, and MTV2, including the "VH1 Top 20 Video Countdown," "Advance Warning," "120 Minutes," "Subterranean," "Video Mods," "Summer Gig," as well as VH1's "100 Greatest Artists of All Time" and "100 Greatest Videos of All Time."

As a VJ for MTV and MTV2 from 2000 to 2003, Chris Booker hosted shows including, "The Return of the Rock" and "First Listen with Britney Spears," as well as "120 Minutes" (of which he was the last to host before the series ended). Since leaving, Chris has continued to make appearances on the network, including VH1 shows, "The Great Debate," "I Love the '80s," "I Love the '90s," "I Love the New Millennium," "My First Time," "I Love Toys," "One Hit Wonders of the '80s," "Top 40 Songs of 2007 and 2008" and "Top 100 Best Hard Rock Songs."

Gideon Yago was originally hired as a writer for the MTV News department, for which he wrote and produced "The Wrap" on MTV2. Turning his focus to politics for MTV News, Gideon went on to win a 2003 Peabody Award for MTV’s Fight For Your Rights: Protect Yourself sexual health campaign, a 2004 Emmy for MTV’s Choose or Lose campaign, and a 2006 Emmy nomination for Web coverage of the 2005 earthquake in Kashmir. Before leaving MTV in 2007, Gideon produced the MTV special, "Iraq Uploaded."

Karyn Bryant has been a CNN anchor and Showtime Championship Boxing Commentator. But her first on-screen job, in 1990, was at MTV, as a VJ. Immediately after her work at MTV, Karyn joined FX Cable Network to host their live daily music show, “Sound FX.”

John Sencio, who was one of the most popular MTV VJs, became a VJ after winning MTV's 1993 VJ contest. John, with his fellow hosts, spent summers at MTV's Beach House, and hosted shows including, "MTV Blocks," "MTV Jams," "Most Wanted," "Prime Time," and "Rude Awakening." John is also a two-time cancer survivor.

Idalis DeLeón is a successful singer and actress who has appeared in dozens of TV shows and films. But between June 1994 and September 1998, she was an MTV VJ, taking over hosting duties of MTV's "Top 20 Countdown" from Daisy Fuentes, as well as other specials and segments on the network.

When he was first hired in 1999, Brian McFayden was an MTV News correspondent. In addition, between 2000 and 2003, Brian, like many others, also hosted "Total Request Live."

He anchored "Weekend Update" on "Saturday Night Live," wrote for "In Living Color," and played Amy Schumer's father in the movie, "Trainwreck." But between performing stand-up and hosting "Caroline's Comedy Hour," Colin Quinn was the announcer for MTV's game show, "Remote Control," which aired for five seasons.

When Chris Harwick joined MTV in 1993, it was to host the trivia game show, "Trashed," which ran from February 1994 to July 1994. Subsequently, beginning in 1995, Chris co-hosted MTV's dating game show, "Singled Out," until it ended in 1998.

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About This Quiz

Do you remember the nickname of old-school MTV VJ Julie Brown or the names of some of the early talking heads who hosted MTV News? Know who hosted guests on "TRL" during its '90s heyday, or the names of the original five VJs hired by MTV when the network first launched? Remember who won the network's "Wanna Be a VJ?" contest in 1998? If you know the answers to all of these questions, you might have what it takes to ace this MTV VJ quiz!

With shows like "Teen Mom" and "The Challenge" dominating the network, it can be easy to forget that MTV was originally founded to exclusively play music videos. It launched in 1981 with "Video Killed the Radio Star" by The Buggles -- followed by Pat Benatar's "You Better Run" -- and played the latest and greatest videos 'round the clock. 

As a visual version of the Top 40, the network borrowed the concept of DJs from radio. Calling them video jockeys, or VJs, these on-air personalities kept viewers engaged and played host to early specials and concerts. The OG group of five VJS, including Nina Blackwood, Mark Goodman, Alan Hunter, J.J. Jackson and Martha Quinn, became icons among MTV fans, their names forever cemented in musical TV history.

As MTV expanded its programming beyond music over the years, the role of VJ has shifted dramatically, with these hosts now called upon to take the reins at events like Spring Break, the VMAs, "Unplugged" and "TRL." Do you think you can recognize them all from just a single image? Take our quiz to find out!

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