Gary James' Interview With MTV VJ
Alan Hunter

He was one of the original MTV VJs. Along with J.J. Jackson, Martha Quinn, Mark Goodman and Nina Blackwood, Alan Hunter helped shape a generation of music lovers. Alan Hunter now hosts a program on the Sirius Radio Network and runs his own film production company.

Q - Alan, I would like to think that back in the early days of MTV, the basic charm of MTV was that nobody there knew exactly what to do. But there you were! Is that the way you view it as well?

A - Correct. When we all started, there was no handbook for how to be a VJ (video jock) or how to operate 24/7 video music channel. So, all traditional TV program hosting protocol was thrown out from the very beginning. We were told to just make it up as we go along. We were the only five people in the world doing what we did. There were no role models. It was both frightening and invigorating.

Q - How did MTV know to call you for a VJ job? Did you have an agent?

A - I met Bob Pittman, who started MTV, at a picnic in Central Park. It was a chance meeting. Right place. Right time.

Q - Did you think when MTV started that a music video was a good idea?

A - When MTV started in 1981, the video was a fairly unknown beast. I had been in a David Bowie video just three months prior to getting the gig, so I knew what the medium was. We all had a suspicion that videos were the next wave and would be popular.

Q - Did you think a network that played such videos had a future?

A - After six months of operation it was clear that America was ga ga over MTV. Three years into it, the three letters MTV were being used as a generic term for any new medium of entertainment. Everything was MTV-like, MTV-esque.

Q - Why in those early days, did you stay out all night and party and then come into the studio to record your MTV parts? Did you think that would bring you closer to experiencing the Rock 'n' Roll lifestyle?

A - I didn't intentionally plan or strategize burning both ends of the candle. It just became my life at that time in the '80s. More than that, our homework for doing our daily work on MTV was to explore the world of music as well as entertainment in general as MTV became more than just a video jukebox. Nightlife in New York City was the best petri dish. I didn't get a lot of sleep.

Q - Were you ever blown away by some of the Rock musicians you were meeting? And you must've met everyone!

A - I was constantly awed by the iconic figures that would roam the halls of the MTV studios. As the years went by, everyone, including movie stars, wanted a little piece of MTV, so we hung around a big pool of celebs.

Q - How is it that all of the ex-MTV VJs ended up on Sirius?

A - Seemed logical. I got a call from someone at Sirius asking if I'd like to be a host on the '80s channel. I'd never done radio, but thought it sounded interesting because the new technology of satellite delivery mirrored the paradigm shifting nature of MTV. I hooked them up with the other three VJs.

Q - Is your film company still in business?

A - Hunter films is still in business. In fact, we have two films that will see the light of release in 2010. Lifted, (, starring Dash Mihok, Nikki Aycox, Uriah Shelton, Trace Adkins and Ruben Studdard, and The Best Worst Movie ( And we have one in development, Jimmy Nolan, which we're hoping to shoot in the Summer / Fall of this year. We're also working on several television projects.

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