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December 16, 1999

You &...
Martha Quinn

Then: Original MTV VJ.
Now: Contributor to CBS' The Early Show.

Her segment, "Yikes, I'm a Grown Up!" looks at life in the new millennium as women come of age and take on the roles of wife, mother, and daughter. Now a wife and mom, what does this member of the MTV generation want to pass on to the next?

Julina asks, "MTV broke new ground when it was introduced and continues to push the envelope with its programming. As a mom, how do you feel about young people turning on MTV and seeing things like the "Real World Hawaii" episode where the crew watches and tapes as Ruthie drives drunk?

Martha: Before I was a mom I used to think that parents who worried about their kids watching MTV were just clueless. Now that I'm a mom, I see what the fuss was all about! I don't let my 3-year-old watch MTV. I don't want her exposed to drug use, violence, or inappropriate sexual behavior. Am I Tipper Gore or what? As far as the Hawaii thing goes, I would guess MTV was trying to do a Scared Straight kind of thing. I wonder though, if you have a real problem, is anything you see on TV going to help you?

Slider68 asks, "I'm interested to know your thoughts about television as a medium as we head into the twenty-first century: what is it doing right? Do you feel that it is ignoring any major issues? How will your segment on the early show impact and help women of all ages?"

Martha: In my house the TV is like a fire extinguisher in a glass box: for emergency use only! I really want my child to spend her time communicating and interacting with her environment, things that require her active participation, but in an emergency (like when my husband and I are last-minute packing for a trip) in goes a Barney video! There's a lof of good stuff on TV. I love VH1's "Behind the Music" series and there's always interesting programs on Public Television... like Teletubbies! I wish stations wouldn't allow advertising aimed at children. They are unfair targets for mental manipulation, many countries don't allow it. My segment, "Yikes! I'm a Grown Up!" is for all of us MTV-ers who have gone from Motley Crue to mortgages, but I do tend to deal with female-oriented issues. Last week I investigated whether it is better to grow old naturally or to dip into the plastic surgery pool. Women my age can relate, older women can remember when they had those worries, and younger women can say they'll never be like that!

AbAaron asks, "We're finding it tough to keep the romance in our lives with our toddler taking up so much of our time and attention. Any advice for the (relatively) new parents on how to keep the home fires burning?"

Martha: With a daughter who is almost three, I'm right there with you! Sometimes my husband and I will rent a movie (Theater? What's a theater?). And even though I might be exhausted and really want to go to bed at, say, 7 p.m., I will stay up to watch with him and the bonding is worth it. Of course when I'm up at 3 a.m. nursing next to a snoring husband I'm cursing Steven Seagal!

ClkrGrrl asks, "How do you feel about the current MTV format? Do you feel they've strayed from their original intentions or not?"

Martha: I've heard it said, "You know you're old when you remember when MTV played videos." They do still emphasize music, but MTV is a lifestyle channel now.

Sabrina asks, "Do you feel that MTV has as much influence over popular culture as it once did or do the other 'music channels' detract from its sphere of influence?"

Martha: Now more than ever, MTV is the Big Kahuna of youth culture.

Dylan asks, "Will you encourage your daughter to wear makeup when she's older?"

Martha: Absolutely not. First of all I have a theory that constant makeup wearing weakens your skin. Second of all, what's the matter with our natural faces?

MQFAN asks, "How did you get involved with MTV? And did you ever think it would be around this long?"

Martha: I was a college intern at a local radio station when someone suggested I audition to be a "VJ" on this new cable channel called MTV. Now when you say "audition to be a VJ" there are thousands of people in Times Square. But in 1981, I said, "What's a VJ?" I soon found out when I went to the audition (without any makeup!) and was hired to be one of the first five MTV VJs. OK, question for you guys: Can you name the other four? If you said Alan Hunter, J.J. Jackson, Nina Blackwood and Mark Goodman, you were right! For the record, we are all still close today. I wasn't sure if MTV would last or not. Videos were uncharted territory and everyone was saying no one would watch them. Ha!

one4two asks, "Is there anything you wish had happened differently when you were on MTV?"

Martha: I wish John Lennon could have seen MTV. He would have loved it. He was one of the first artists to get into presenting himself visually as well as musically and I think he would have dug the Hell out of the channel.

TorriD asks, "How did your new segment on CBS come about?"

Martha: My step-mom is Jane Bryant Quinn, personal finance author and columnist for Newsweek magazine. The Early Show folks first approached her to be on the show. She said she didn't want to get up that early, but what about her step-daughter Martha Quinn? Jane immediately called me and told me to send them a tape, and I started working on the show a few months later. Thanks Jane!

Thriller asks, "Martha, when was the last time you said, 'That video was awesome!'"

Martha: Just the other day, actually. My kid was asleep and I caught a bit of the "Top 100 videos" and I saw Adam Ant's "Ant Music." Now that was a video!

Benj asks, "Martha, are you fully aware of how your phenomenal cuteness inspired millions of crushes? If so, does that seem weird to you? If not, it did. So thanks!"

Martha: Thanks so much! It's not that it seems weird... how about totally unreal? Very hard to grasp such a concept! So thank you. I'm going to make a copy of that last question and carry it around with me!

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