To help us kick off K-EARTH 101’s I Want My MTV Weekend saluting the first golden decade of music on the station, original MTV VJ Nina Blackwood joined Gary Bryan and Lisa Stanley in studio!
MTV launched on August 1, 1981, and to this day, Nina remembers the moment MTV officially took off.
“It’s probably the most important day of my life. It changed everything thing for us,” said Nina. “The first day when it launched…there was no cable yet in New York, so they had to take us by bus to this funky club in New Jersey…so we’re in this funky club when it launched. When that rocket went off, there was this incomparable feeling in that room like this baby was being born.”
After the station launched, Nina told us that no one there imagined how big the channel would ultimately become, saying “it was a total gamble,” but we all know how it turned out in the end.
Nina told us the story of how she got the gig as one of the first five VJs on MTV, which is also detailed in the book VJ: The Unplugged Adventures Of MTV’s First Wave. She was working as an actress in Los Angeles, but notes that “music was my first and foremost love,” so she went on a two-part audition calling for MTV VJs in New York City.
After going through two auditions that included a mock interview with executive producer Robert Morten (“Morty” of Late Night With David Letterman) acting as an obnoxious Billy Joel, Nina went back and forth from LA and NYC during a six month period.
She says “they were trying to impress me with New York” so “Morty took her out to dinner at Tavern on the Green when she choked on a piece of roll and needed the Heimlich.
After Morty successfully unlodged the piece of bread, Nina says “he just takes a perfect comedic beat and says – looks at me with that [New York] accent – ‘you owe me’ and I go ‘you got me’ and that was the decision I made.”
“So not only did Morty save my life, he changed my life,” added Nina.
Listen to more of our conversation with Nina Blackwood in the clips below.
Part one: Nina talks about the initial launch day of MTV.
Part two: Nina talks about how she got the gig as an MTV VJ.