A video jockey (abbreviated VJ or sometimes veejay) is an announcer who introduces music videos and live performances 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.
The term "video jockey" comes from the term "disc jockey", "DJ" ("deejay") as used in radio. Music Television Network (MTV) popularized the term in the 1980s (see List of MTV VJs). The MTV founders got their idea for their VJ host personalities from studying Merrill Aldighieri's club. Aldighieri worked in the New York City nightclub Hurrah, which was the first 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 Hurrah invited Aldighieri to show her experimental film, she asked if she could develop a video to complement the DJ music so that when her film would become part of a club ambiance and not be seen as a break in the evening. The experiment led to a full-time job there.
Several months later the future MTV founders patronized the club, interviewed 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. Her video jockey memoirs list the live music she documented during her VJ breaks. Her method of performing as a VJ consisted of improvising live clips using a video camera, projected film loops, and switching between two U-matic video decks. She solicited the public to collaborate. The club showcased many video artists, who contributed raw and finished works. Her work also incorporated stock footage. Aldighieri next worked at Danceteria, which had a video lounge and dance floor separate levels.
Video jockeying then expanded to incorporate live television feeds, musique concrète, and other experiments with multimedia crowd participation. More equipment at the new Danceteria facilitated this collaboration, including live television feeds of broadcast television. Experimental video artists John Sanborn and Kit Fitzgerald, who chose Aldighieri to direct the performance and programming, supervised the design of "the video lounge", this new video installation.