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Interview: Former VJ Kennedy Looks Back at the Golden Age of MTV Through Rose-Colored Glasses


If you were a red-blooded American teenager in the 1980s, chances are at some point, you not only wanted your MTV, you wanted to work there, either behind, or ideally in front of the cameras. Lisa Kennedy Montgomery, better known simply as “Kennedy,” was someone who lived the dream, becoming part of the second wave of VJs to arrive at the television network, when it was still (usually) showing rock videos.

However, Kennedy had an at times bruising run there, when it was discovered that she was – gasp! – a conservative. As she mentions in her new and thoroughly enjoyable book, The Kennedy Chronicles: The Golden Age of MTV Through Rose-Colored Glasses. Things got particularly grim at the 1994 MTV Video Awards:

[Roseanne’s] joke that Kennedy was backstage performing oral sex on Rush Limbaugh sparked Kennedy's mock fellatio performance on a microphone while standing next to New York City Rudy Giuliani. Later, when fellow VJ Bill Bellamy asked her if she wanted to say anything to Roseanne, she responded: "Roseanne, ease up on the Prozac, and by the way, Rush Limbaugh says you give [much better oral sex]." Roseanne later wrote Kennedy a letter saying she was one of the few people that had ever stood up to her "and she had a lot of respect for me," Kennedy said in an interview. "It was such a nice letter, one of those kind moments that taught me a lot about class and supporting a lot of women." Although the incident almost got her fired, Kennedy points out that MTV had approved Roseanne's joke because it appeared on the teleprompter.

Fortunately, though, she survived Roseanne's disgusting sucker punch (and Roseanne would only go downhill from there), and left the network in 1997 on her own terms. She’s now a DJ at L.A.’s ALT 98.7, creates videos for Reason TV, and contributes to John Stossel’s show on the Fox Business Channel. And she’s still on great terms with her fellow VJs from the period, as well as MTV News host Kurt Loder, who also contributes to Reason.

During our interview, we’ll discuss:

● How Roger Ailes gave a surprising assist to her early MTV days.

● How she was able to smuggle her conservatism into the perilously liberal world of MTV.

● How Kurt Loder helped her make the transition from conservative to libertarian.

● The confining worldview of many left-wing rock artists.

● Why “Zappa Family Values” aren’t an oxymoron.

● Why so many musicians suffer from what Keith Richards calls LVS – “Lead Vocalist Syndrome.”

● Young people and libertarianism in 2013.

●How the media world today differs from the MTV era.

And much more. Click here to listen:

(17 and a half minutes long; 15.9 MB file size. Want to download instead of streaming? Right click here to download this interview to your hard drive. Or right click here to download the 4.79 MB lo-fi edition.)

If the above Flash audio player is not be compatible with your browser, click on the video player below, or click here to be taken directly to YouTube, for an audio-only YouTube clip. Between one of those versions, you should find a format that plays on your system.

Transcript of our interview begins on the following page; for our many previous podcasts, start here and keep scrolling.