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.