A Talk With Nina Blackwood

My newest interview is with one of the original MTV VJs.
February 28, 2011
A question that many have asked is "what does the M in MTV" stand for?". Depending on what time of the day you're watching at, it could stand for "Miserable Moms", "Muscular Men-About-Town" or even "Monster Movies". There was a time many years ago, though, when the M stood for "music". Music videos, short films designed to promote songs of the day, were showcased and discussed by VJs (video jockeys). Musically knowledgeable and having a lot of fun, these men and women defined a golden age of musical imagery. One of those special individuals is my next interview subject. She is the one and only Nina Blackwood.

I'm a tremendous fan of 80s music, as you all know, and Ms. Blackwood showcased many of the artists I enjoyed during her time on the network. This year is the 30th anniversary of the launch of MTV, so I feel we should rewind and talk to one of the women who defined the channel's Golden Age.

Without any further ado, here's:

The RetroJunk Interview With Nina Blackwood!

Caps: What were your pop-cultural likes growing up?

Nina: I would have to say the Beatles, Kinks and Rolling Stones. Pretty much the entire British Invasion of the 60's. Also having grown up In Cleveland which is a huge Rock and Roll town and listening to the #1 FM free form radio station in the country WMMS was a huge influence.

Caps: What were your school days like?

Nina: I was a good student, perfect attendance and always asked for extra credit projects so that I could spend time in the library doing research. Also was a cheerleader, Sec. of Student Council as well as a member of the orchestra..playing my harp.

Caps: What inspired you to become an entertainer?

Nina: I started playing music at 4 years old, 1st piano then harp. Began acting onstage at 8yrs old. So it was always what I have done and wanted to do.

Caps: What jobs did you hold before entering the entertainment industry?

Nina: While in high school I worked at a couple of florists .One summer I worked at a travel agency
But pretty much dove right in working as a model, voice over talent and playing the harp.

Caps: Do you recall what your first thoughts were when the concept of MTV was first explained to you?

Nina: I already was working on 3 different video show pilots in LA when I came across the article about MTV looking for on-air hosts with a knowledge of music and the music business.

Caps: Did you feel any fear during the first few months the channel was on the air?

Nina: Don't know if fear is the correct word. Anticipation,excitement and a bit of anxiety wondering if the whole thing was going to become successful.

Caps: Looking at footage from MTV's early days, it seemed as if there was a VJ on at all points throughout the day AND night. Were you and the other VJs pulling night shifts, or was it all pre-taped?

Nina: We were live to tape.

Caps: What was the funniest thing that happened to you during your time as a VJ? Conversely, what was the scariest thing you encountered?

Nina: Just about everyday was a blast...difficult to chose just one thing. As for the worst....2 words Frank Zappa..enough said!

Caps: Who was your best interview subject? Who was your worst (you don't have to name names with this one if you don't want to)?

Nina: I enjoyed interviewing almost everyone I encountered over the years. Everyone has their own unique life story and career. As for the worst...again...2 words...Frank Zappa!

Caps: When did you feel that the channel had made it?

Nina: I would have to say when we finally made it into NYC about 2 years or so into it.

Caps: Some have said that MTV played a part in making movies like "Flashdance" and "Top Gun" the hits that they were. Do you agree with that assessment?

Nina: I believe that depending on what film we're speaking about. Sometimes the soundtrack was better than the actual film. "Flashdance", being a movie about dancing, of course was music based. As for "Top Gun"...which is one of my favorite action films...I'd have to say at least for me it was the F14s, F15s and Val Kilmer..."Iceman", which I liked...Ha!

Caps: Something that's gained popularity on the Internet in recent years is the Literal Video, where classic music videos are made fun of because of the disparity between the images and the lyrics. What are your thoughts about those videos?
Nina: Everybody to their own type of jollies. Don't care about or watch them...I'd rather read a book or be outside among nature. Mostly put together by critical people with too much time on their hands. Banal...

Caps: A short while after you left MTV, the game show "Remote Control" debuted. What crossed your mind when you heard that a game show would be airing on MTV?

Nina: Saw that whole change in direction coming while I was still there. One of the many reasons I wanted to leave to do something else.

Caps: When you look at MTV now, they've pretty much abandoned their mission of being a music channel. Now, it's non-stop reality shows as well as the occasional horror movie, and if a music video is shown, it's only for about a minute or so. What do you think caused the downfall of the channel?

Nina: Money...They make more of it now with those types of shows. Look at "Jersey Shore" for instance...It's a goldmine for the channel.

Caps: What plans do you have for MTV's 30th Anniversary this year?

Nina: Not sure.

Caps: On a similar tack, if the higher-ups at MTV invited you, Martha Quinn, Mark Goodman and Alan Hunter back to make appearances for the channel's 30th anniversary, would you accept the offer?

Nina: To be quite honest...NO! Ha! Although I loved the time we were there and am very proud of that period...I have ABSOLUTELY NOTHING in common with whats going on over there these days. If it was still a MUSIC based operation...then I might consider it.

Caps: You're a host of several 80s music programs on both terrestrial and satellite radio. Why do you think it took so long for the music of the 80s to get the respect it finally received?

Nina: For the most part, the 80s were a fun and diverse time for music.

Caps: Have you and your fellow VJ alumni given thought to maybe talking to Turner Classic Movies about doing a showcase for 80s movies similar to their showcases like "Silent Sunday Nights" and "TCM Underground"?

Nina: Haven't thought about it. Good idea...

Caps: I liked your 80s style, but many people who saw the 80s first-hand don't look back with that much fondness for the fashions and hairdos of the time. In hindsight, what do you think of how you looked back then?

Nina: I don't spend a lot of time thinking about that. Today is today...Yesterday's gone, as they say.

Caps: To cap off my interview, you've seen and done a lot in your life, so: If you could go back to your youth with the knowledge that you have now, would you do anything differently?

Nina: Just...enjoy the ride......I am very grateful for the many experiences I've had.


I thank Ms. Blackwood tremendously for working with me. She is truly friendly to speak to. I would also like to thank her manager Danny Sheridan for setting this interview up.

You can visit Nina's official site at http://www.NinaBlackwood.net.

You can also visit her Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Nina-Blackwood/138345412894421

Finally, here's another video of Nina I found on YouTube. Here she is doing some hot coal working on a "Circus Of The Stars" special:

Once again, I owe tremendous thanks to Nina and Danny.

Have a good day, everybody.
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