Few faces are more closely affiliated with MTV, the generation-shaping network that turned 30 yesterday, than Kurt Loder. He began his career as a journalist in the U.S. Army, and went on to become a much-lauded writer/editor at Rolling Stone. But he’s best known as a fixture on MTV, beginning in 1988, where he has served as the poker-faced anchor of “The Week In Rock” and “MTV News.” It was in this capacity that Loder delivered the news of Kurt Cobain’s 1994 suicide.
I emailed with Loder recently about a number of topics, including the MTV’s 30th birthday. He currently writes about movies online for Reason and has book of film reviews, The Good, The Bad, and the Godawful, set to be released in November. Our exchange below, which has been very lightly edited for style and clarity:
Leah Carroll: What are your thoughts on MTV’s 30th anniversary?
Kurt Loder: It’s remarkable that a commercial enterprise like MTV, grounded as it is in pop culture, has had such a long and successful—and ongoing, obviously—run. Naturally, the channel is very different now from what it started out as. But its audience remains vast. I know there are a lot of people who miss the old days, and who hate the reality-TV trend that MTV did so much to launch. I hate it myself. But consider: The round-the-clock abundance of music videos that once made MTV unique is now available in many, many other venues. And music news—which Rolling Stone had actually pioneered as a serious undertaking—is available near-instantly all over the Web. Like it or not, MTV has evolved. Has there ever been any alternative? In the pop-culture business, the minute you decide to stop changing, you’re already out of date.