Chart Beat Podcast: Original MTV VJ Martha Quinn on Her New Radio Gig & the 'Rad' '80s

Chart Beat Podcast featuring: Martha Quinn
Courtesy Photo

Chart Beat Podcast featuring: Martha Quinn

The longtime MTV queen chats about helping define pop culture in the '80s, her new role as morning host on San Francisco's iHeart80s radio station & more.

Martha Quinn didn't have any plans to audition for the role of MTV VJ, even for most of the day that she auditioned.

In the summer of 1981, while hanging out at New York's WNBC (660 AM), where Quinn had previously interned, assistant program director Buzz Brindle suggested that she try out for the network, which was set to launch within weeks. After an impromptu cab ride, "I walked in, no makeup. They were like, 'Who are you?'" Quinn recalls of her MTV screen test (held on the last day of auditions). "It's so good [though] that I didn't know a thing about it, because I probably would've been really nervous. I just did not care.

"But by the time I walked off, when I started to see the set [and] I started to see the format … 'OK, they're talking about music' … I called my brother and said, 'Oh my god, I just auditioned for the perfect job for me,'" Quinn, a music (and chart) aficionado, remembers.

"Two days later, they called and offered me the job."

'I Want My 80s' Concert Review: Debbie Gibson, Martha Quinn & More (Exclusive Video)

On the new episode of the Chart Beat Podcast, Quinn chats with host, and Billboard co-director of charts, Gary Trust about her decade as an MTV VJ, which began on Aug. 1, 1981, the day the network signed on. (How many videos did MTV have in rotation when it premiered? And which star had about a quarter of them? Listen to find out.) Quinn also discusses her newest role: morning host on iHeart80s KOSF San Francisco, which became the market's first all-'80s radio station June 6. The station is an extension of iHeartMedia's well-received iHeart80s channel on the iHeartRadio app.

Listen as Quinn recalls highlights from throughout her career, including a meeting with Bruce Springsteen at a New York restaurant just after MTV had gone on the air. "I was there with my parents and Bruce Springsteen walks in. I'm like, 'Oh my god, you guys, that's Bruce Springsteen!' My dad says, 'Who?' And I say, 'Dad, he was just on the cover of Time magazine!' Springsteen leaned over to me and said, 'Hey, aren't you on that new thing, MTV?' And I said, 'Well, that's more than I can say for you … when are you gonna make some videos?!'

"He then made all those great videos from the Born in the U.S.A. album. So, I like to think I'm kind of responsible for launching Bruce into the video age."

Previous episodes:
Chart Beat Founder Paul Grein / Fred Bronson / Hit Songs Deconstructed on Drake & Selena Gomez / WTBU's Anne Donohue / Mike Curb / Billboard News Director Shirley Halperin / RCA's Joe Riccitelli / Columbia's Pete Cosenza / Nielsen Music's Dave Bakula / ABC Radio's Andrea Dresdale / Music Choice's Damon Williams

Enjoy the entire latest Chart Beat Podcast and stay tuned for more upcoming episodes with label execs, radio programmers and personalities, songwriters, producers and more.

And, to receive every episode automatically in your inbox, subscribe to (and rate) the Billboard Chart Beat Podcast on iTunes!

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