Way back in the day, the kids of the 80’s and 90’s had spirit guides that helped teach them the world of music. These guides were like no other – they had the knowledge, the charm, and the fun outlook that we looked up to. They partied at beach houses, and interviewed some of our idols with such ease. They were MTV VJ’s.
While the station still has a few personalities that hold the “VJ” title, it’s definitely not the way it used to be. But instead of lamenting about how MTV just isn’t the same anymore, or flinging out the tired rant of “They don’t even play music videos anymore!” let’s take this week to honor a few of our favorite VJs and see how their participation on the network has affected them today. Yes – this week’s “What Happened To Them” will be VJ-centric.
Matt originated pretty close to my hometown, so I hold him dear to my heart. His first appearance on MTV was well before he was asked to host a show – in 1992, he was on the very first season of The Real World, interviewing a castmember’s band on-air on WHTG-FM 106.3, a station in Eatontown, NJ. Three years later, he started hosting MTV’s 120 Minutes.
Music continued to be part of Matt’s life, as he became Vice President of A & R and Artist Development for Columbia Records in 2001. In 2008, he returned to radio by signing on as the morning drive DJ on New York station WRXP’s Rock Show. That same year, he was honored by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for his accomplishments in the music industry.
In 2011, he returned to MTV after MTV2 revived 120 Minutes.
Ananda was a huge asset to MTV. After seeing how well she could communicate to the MTV audience, they put her in charge of bringing a few heavier topics over to the network. For example, she hosted two MTV forums on violence in schools after Columbine, and also made herself known after pledging to stay abstinent for six months. “I was getting involved with men for the wrong reasons and having sex without intimacy,” she said to YM in 1998.
In 2001, Lewis decided to leave MTV in order to start her own talk show called The Ananda Lewis Show. Unfortunately, it was cancelled after one season. That wasn’t the end of her television presence – 2004 brought her a spot as a correspondent on the program The Insider, as well as a spot on the celebrity version of The Mole.
Boy, do I love Dave Holmes. I love Dave Holmes because he got publicly screwed on television, and still was cool enough to stick around. See, Dave was discovered by the MTV “Wanna Be a VJ” competition, which aired live and consisted of contestants gathered from the crowd around MTV’s Times Square office. While Dave – who was an encyclopedia of musical knowledge – ended up being runner up, he was still offered a job with the network. We’ll talk more about that a little later.
While being employed by MTV, Dave hosted 120 Minutes, a Real World reunion special, and Say What? Karaoke (remember that show?) After he left, he appeared in an episode of Reno! 911, the TV series Self Storage, and appeared as a therapist in the 2013 film Contracted. You also might have caught him hosting DVD on TV with Jennifer Lothrop.
Did anyone else want to be Serena when they grew up? Just me? Okay then.
Serena started out in 1995, and mostly worked with MTV News. She was, however, in the first few episodes of True Life (which she also helped produce) before they nixed the idea of a host.
In the early 2000s, Serena split her time between MTV and CNN, and joined CBS News in 2003. Susan Zirinsky, who produced 48 Hours on CBS, had nothing but good to say in regards to working with her.
“When she worked with us, even though it was in conjunction with an MTV project, she really did her homework,” she said. “She’s hungry…She’s the real deal.”