Video killed the radio star, Internet killed the MTV VJ

Most Millennials were barely in the womb when MTV launched in 1981. Very few of us were even born when Madonna gave her famous “Like a Virgin” performance at the 1984 MTV Video Music Awards. And we were all watching Sesame Street and Nickelodeon when The Real World debuted in 1992.

But, for sure, we could all tell you what a VJ is. We always loved Jesse Camp’s crazy hair and we associate the name Carson Daly with screaming hoards of teenagers converging on Times Square every afternoon, not a second-rate late-night TV show. And when Total Request Live came to an end in 2008, I think we all shed a tear. (Or was that just because that finale was so awkwardly painful to watch?)

Soon, however, those crying days will be over because MTV is running a contest to fill the gaping holes left in our hearts by the departure of Daly, La La Vasquez and Quddus (and, you know, actual music videos from the network’s airwaves) with something new – a Twitter Jockey.

I can’t make this stuff up.

MTV has selected 18 candidates, and two more, nominated through Twitter by fans and friends, will be added soon. During July, those 20 candidates will compete in online, Twitter-based challenge and be judged by “an internal committee” and TweetLevel, “a specialized tweet-scoring service that will measure…influence, popularity, engagement and trust.”

Five finalists – four chosen by MTV and one voted in by fans – will come to New York City for a live television finale they “will square off…in a series of elimination rounds” on August 8. Fans will vote via text message, and the winner will be announced live that night.

The winning TJ receives a one-year contract with MTV, a $100,000 salary, exclusive access to events and celebrities, and a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to become a new MTV personality.”

There’s just one question – what is the TJ actually going to do?

“The hope is that this person will be dynamic, engaging and energized, an enthusiast within the social media world,” Dave Sirulnik, the MTV exec running the contest, told The Associated Press, “somebody who will represent the audience by taking their thoughts and questions and … through an ongoing dialogue with them, be able to bring those questions inside the walls here to the people who make MTV.”

OK, so they’re going to run MTV’s Twitter account. They’ll be the network’s personal social-media-maven-slash-PR-person-slash-“cool hunter.” With crazy-awesome access to parties, awards shows and concerts. Getting paid $100,000.

Basically, they’ll be doing something we all do every day, minus the $100,000 and cool perks, when we tweet. Yeah, I’d want that job, too.

It’s cool that the network is trying a new approach to engage our generation. It’s cool that they’re giving this job to someone from our generation. And it’s cool that they’re using social media in every step of the process of selecting this TJ person.

But I was hoping for something less “OMG, Miley’s on the red carpet wearing (insert slutty outfit of the day here),” and more hearkening back to the network’s roots – maybe along the lines of the online video requests they occasionally tweet.

Or, at the very least, just something, anything, that doesn’t involve Spiedi, “guidettes” or pregnant teenagers.

Photo by degreeszero

Angela Stefano It's "Ang," if you please -- or, alternately, Bill, Penny Lane or (begrudgingly) Angus to some. I've been with TNGG since the site started and am now the TNGG Boston editor for I graduated from Boston University's College of Communication in 2009 and am a huge fan of live music, hockey and Thai food. I'm also a bit of a klutz, but that's only because my mind and body are always going in approximately a zillion separate directions. Twitter: @amstefano988

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6 Responses to “Video killed the radio star, Internet killed the MTV VJ”

  1. Ethan Long

    I definitely feel that TRL went to the dogs once Daly left, which in itself was a good decision because MTV was going to the dogs as well. Last Call with Carson Daly was also a piece of crap before they reformatted the show to become more of a journalistic magazine program about different artists and cultures in the USA. It's pretty good right now, but I'm usually passed out by that time.

  2. Angela Stefano

    @Ethan: So true. It seemed for a while like VH1 would step in and fill the gaping music TV hole…and then not so much. At least they still have a weekend countdown; that's one bright spot.

  3. Angela Stefano

    @Ethan: So true. It seemed for a while like VH1 would step in and fill the gaping music TV hole…and then not so much. At least they still have a weekend countdown; that's one bright spot.


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