Veteran TV journalist Suchin Pak tries to explain to a much younger man what MTV was like when he was a part of the MTV news team in the early days, before everything was so fragmented and it was difficult to get entertainment news. There were hundreds of places. They found it difficult to convey just how powerful the brand was, especially when it came to reaching teens and young adults that no one else was talking to.
“It gets very, very frustrating very quickly, and you're just like, ‘It's not fun for me to talk like I … encino man, Like, I'm not that old,'” Pak, 46, tells Yahoo Entertainment. “It was the only place any celebrities were. They obviously had nothing but gossip magazines, but that wasn't for young people. It's strange to imagine and try to explain, but we're there Were. It really happened.”
Following the announcement this month that Paramount Global was shutting down MTV News, which was founded in the late '80s, Pak and several of his former colleagues — Swa Calloway, Brian McFadden and Alison Stewart — have sold Yahoo Entertainment to their Recount some of the most memorable moments. There. He recalled his time at the forefront of pop culture – “MTV Was pop culture for a long time,” Pak says — as both “important” and “surreal.”
Suchin Pak: ‘It's the craziest thing to do'
Pak is still a journalist as well as a host Add to Cart Podcast and contributor to the book My Life: Growing Up Asian in America, but for nearly eight years, she was the first Asian American broadcaster at MTV News. What has stuck with her about her time is its significance, in that it allowed viewers to see people like herself, sometimes for the first time, on TV, as well as introducing them, especially For those of us from smaller places, people had not come before.
“Everything you did was a big deal,” says Pak, who recalls that his first story for MTV News was its 9/11 coverage.
A few days earlier, when Britney Spears walked on stage with a giant snake for her performance of “I'm a Slave for You”, she was watching monitors outside the auditorium.
Pak says, “When she came out, you could just hear the crowd inside and people coming out.” “All I remember being is like, ‘What in the world is happening? Like, this is the craziest thing ever.'”
It was a whirlwind, but it wasn't fluff. Pak's later assignments included old tragedies, political stories—such as the stage that won President Bill Clinton's presidency. boxers or briefs —and other seminal moments in pop culture. She also did a documentary called “Brief but Incredible”. My Life (Translated), in which he followed bicultural youth “and we talked about what it meant to be American when you had to kind of juggle two identities.” (Pak himself was born in South Korea and moved to the United States as a child.)
She credits MTV News with sparking “conversations that weren't popular and certainly weren't mainstream”.
“So whether it was about your sexual identity or about race or about the way you felt as a young person about depression, suicide, mental health, all of these kinds of things are affected by the things we do. were such a big part of,” says Pak. “And the way we'll curate and push stories … it's more in conversation now, but I feel really lucky.”
She takes a moment to reflect on the legacy of MTV News.
“I think the legacy is whether it was the presidential election or we were covering Hurricane Katrina from the dorm room at Louisiana State or we were watching [Lady] Gaga would be delivered on the VMA carpet in a futuristic egg that, for us, was our only audience who were young individuals,” Pak says. “That was our only focus. So I think in some ways, I hope that sense of legitimacy and community and visibility as a young person led to a sense of self that was bigger than it was before.”
Sway Calloway: ‘I had to say this to the President!'
For Sway, his interviews with President Barack Obama before and after his time in the White House will always stand out.
They first met during the 2008 presidential campaign for an interview. Sway remembers being nervous because people expected big things from MTV News. However, the candidate put him at ease beforehand by asking about Sway's favorite rappers, singers and other artists, and his specific brand of shoes.
“We checked in and they put us in a room. And when he first came in, it was the first time we met, he says, ‘Where's Sway at? Where's Sway at?' The way he spoke it was like we knew each other. But it was clear he knew me,” says Sway, who has dated politicians including former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the late Arizona Sen. John McCain. Had an interview. “He came into the room and he was probably the most charming politician I'd ever met.”
The pair ended up talking in front of the cameras several times while Obama was in office, the last time they were live a few days before he was elected to his second term from the White House.
By then, Sway was feeling more comfortable with his subject, who is known for speaking with carefully considered pauses, so he broke it down.
“I had to tell her [beforehand]'” Self says. “I said, ‘Dude, I got about 13 questions, we got 20 minutes, you take about two and a half minutes to answer a question, that's your thing. i need you to shorten your [answers] dash.' I had to say that to the President!”
But Obama understood immediately.
Sway, who continues to do high-profile interview as host of universe of self And dominated the morning On SiriusXM, says his former team did something special.
“I think MTV News has done a great job of giving hip hop culture substance, helped give it an identity for people who were oblivious to it, and seen it in a way that would pigeonhole or stereotype it. MTV News always humanized humanity. It had a lot to do with hip hop culture, and the people who run it,” he says, singling out two women who were “the backbone of MTV News” when they started in 2000. did, writers and producers Alon Johnson and Moranik Joe Evans, as well as “the amazing dream team of hip hop journalists”.
Brian McFadden: ‘They frosted off my tips and they put me in a chair'
McFadden was a radio deejay who joined MTV in 1999 to host a game show that never materialized, and he was reluctantly assigned to the news department.
“So I was hired to anchor the news with Kurt Lauder and Chris Connelly and John Norris,” McFadden says. “I was scared, because these are people I grew up watching on TV. And here I am going to be their ally and, like, do they know I can barely conjugate a verb? Honesty.” than, I just didn't think I was qualified enough. And then the next thing you know, they took my wits away and they put me in a chair and I got to say all these amazing things.
Just three months into the job, he was sent to cover the most star-studded events of the time: TRL“Class of 99” photoshoot, featuring all the big names from MTV's video countdown show's first year. The exclusive group was influential, even today, featuring Diddy (then known as Puff Daddy); Jennifer Lopez; Britney Spears; Christina Aguilera; destiny's Child; nsync; Tyrese; Lenny Kravitz; and Goo Goo Dolls.
“These were all big names, and you would think they'd be fighting for camera time,” McFadden says, “and they were all cool.”
Many of the cast had not met before, so it was McFadden who introduced them.
“That was one of the most surreal times ever for me because when we go back, especially now, and we think about who these people are, they're huge stars,” he says. “And they were just kids then.”
By 2001, McFadden was assigned to work with Anand Lewis and Carson Daly on a very different story: a special about the September 11 tragedy. He was already covering Metallica's groundbreaking lawsuit against Napster.
When Daly became wildly popular total requests liveMcFadden left MTV News to replace him for a few years.
Like everyone else in this story, McFadden has kept in touch with people since his time on the network.
“I'm doing a new show with Chris Kirkpatrick from NSync,” McFadden says of the “Class of '99” contestant. “We're doing a podcast together, and it's going to be launching here soon.”
Alison Stewart: ‘It's something I'm still proud of'
For Stewart, who wrote and produced MTV News from 1991 to 1996, the most memorable moments include the time he and Lauder were interviewing Bono and his microphone stopped working.
She writes in an email, “We were scared. It was in a stadium. A huge production. A huge interview. We thought it was RF.” “I chatted with Bono to pass the time, and we joked that I had the same name as his wife.” Turns out, the problem was dead batteries, so they replaced them.
She also thinks back to the time she visited Michael and Janet Jackson on the set of the time-consumingly expensive video for “Scream”: “It was fascinating to see them work together.”
And there was something else that was a moment less than a motion.
Stewart writes, “I think all of us who were on the air looked like America, not very cheery.” “For me personally, there is no way that in the early '90s someone in a local market would put me on the air and let me do my job.”
She notes that MTV News changed the way people thought about politics: “I think we showed that you can care about politics and be a fan of hip hop. MTV News The '90s really exposed people who were ‘other'.”
Stewart points to stories about not only government but culture that he and many others have created over the years.
“The election coverage we produced included a lot of young people,” she writes. “We changed the way people presented information. We helped so many young people register to vote. We wrote stories on issues that mattered in their lives. Till proud.”