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


DRISCOLL:  This is Ed Driscoll for PJ Media.com, and we're talking with Lisa Kennedy Montgomery better known simply as Kennedy. She was a VJ with MTV during the last period that everybody still wanted their MTV, and now, among other things, she produces and stars in videos for Reason TV. And she's the author of The Kennedy Chronicles: The Golden Age of MTV Through Rose-Colored Glasses. It’s published by Thomas Dunne Books, and available from Amazon.com and your local bookstore. And Kennedy, thanks for stopping by today.

KENNEDY:  Thanks, Ed.  How's it going?

DRISCOLL:  OK. Kennedy, I think for most young people, 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. Kennedy, as someone who got to live the dream, could you talk about your journey to MTV, and how you ultimately got the gig?

KENNEDY:  Yeah, it was -- it came as a surprise, especially to me.  I was going to say, ‘even to me,’ but I think I was more surprised than anyone.  I had been interning at a radio station and got a job as a part-time DJ.  And as luck would have it, the program director who hired me, he moved to MTV and became the senior vice president of programming.  And then when he had been there for a few months, he offered me a job.  So I didn't audition and -- it was kind of crazy.

DRISCOLL:  What was the transition from audio DJ to MTV VJ like, and did working at MTV, at least initially, seem like what you had expected it to be?

KENNEDY:  Yeah, it was definitely what I expected.  It was everything I expected and more.  It was -- it was fast.  There were big personalities.  It was pretty awesome.  But I -- man, I don't know.  I don't know how I made the transition.  It was so crazy.  Because I was so -- I was good with my voice, but I was so stiff.  And my mom was so uncomfortable when she'd watch me, and she thought I was so sad, because I didn't smile, because I didn't want to come off as phony.  So I just looked really glib and depressed.

And then someone gave me a copy of Roger Ailes' book You are the Message, and you know, there's a lot of stuff in there about how to be a TV presenter, like how to use your face and your body and all of those things naturally, so you come across as kind of an appealing presenter.

DRISCOLL:  Now you’re on the Fox Business Channel these days. Have you told Roger Ailes that his book helped launch your career as an MTV VJ?

KENNEDY:  Yeah.  He -- he and I were some of the very first guests on Politically Incorrect when it was on Comedy Central.  And it was -- it was before -- it was three years before he had started Fox News.  And I took him a copy of the book to sign.  And so -- and he signed my copy of the book.  And you know, we have kept in touch over the years.