VJ (media personality)

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For other uses, see VJ (disambiguation).

A video jockey (usually abbreviated to VJ, or sometimes veejay) is an announcer who introduces videos on commercial music television stations such as VH1 and MTV.

In some countries like Uganda, VJs narrate over a feature film, adding their own commentary.[1]

Origins of the term[edit]

The term "video jockey" is a derivative of the term "disc jockey", "DJ" (deejay) as used in radio. The term was popularized in the 1980s by the Music Television Network (MTV). (See List of MTV VJs.)

The founders of MTV got their idea for their VJ host personalities from studying Merrill Aldighieri.[citation needed] Aldighieri worked in the New York City nightclub Hurrah, which was the first[citation needed] to make a video installation as a prominent featured component of the club's design, with multiple monitors hanging over the bar and dance floor. When Aldighieri was invited to show her experimental film in the club, she asked if she could first develop a use for video to complement the DJ music so that when her film would be played, it would become part of a club ambiance and not be seen as a break in the evening.[citation needed] The experiment led to a full-time job there.

Several months later the future founders of MTV patronized the club, interviewing her and taking notes. She told them she was a VJ, the term she invented with a staff member to put on her first pay slip.[citation needed] Her video jockey memoirs[2] have a complete list of all the live music she documented during her VJ breaks.

Her method of performing as a video jockey consisted of improvising live clips using a video camera, projected film loops, and switching between 2 U-matic video decks. The public was solicited to collaborate. Many video artists were showcased and contributed raw and finished works. Stock footage was also incorporated. Aldighieri next worked at Danceteria, where there was a video lounge and the dance floor was on a separate level.


Video jockeying then expanded to incorporate live television feeds, music concrete, and other experiments with multi-media crowd participation. There was more equipment at the new Danceteria to facilitate this collaboration, including live television feeds of broadcast T.V. The design of this new video installation, "the video lounge", was supervised by experimental video artists John Sanborn and Kit Fitzgerald who chose Aldighieri to direct the performance and programming.

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