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MTV Is Rebooting TRL

Marilyn Manson(on right) and Carson Daly talk with some of Mansons fans and their mothers who disapprove of some of his actions during 'Spankin New Music Week' at MTV's TRL. (11/15/00) Photo: Scott Gries/ImageDirect

MTV is reviving Total Request Live, the weekday music video countdown that once anchored the channel’s music programming, the New York Times reports. It’s part of a wider retro trend at MTV, which recently rebooted its classic reality show Fear Factor in a back-to-basics bid to propel ratings.

The original TRL launched in 1998, broadcast from Times Square and hosted by Carson Daly. It was known for appearances by pop superstars like the Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears, who attracted crowds of young fans to the MTV studios. The show’s ratings and relevancy eventually slid; in 2008, MTV canceled it in favor of a new emphasis on digital properties. Ten years and several attempted MTV redirections later, the pendulum is swinging back: The TRL revival follows the decision to shutter MTV News, which aimed to produce prestigious, longform music journalism under the MTV umbrella.

“MTV at its best—whether it’s news, whether it’s a show, whether it’s a docu-series—is about amplifying young people’s voices,” MTV president Chris McCarthy told the Times. “We put young people on the screen, and we let the world hear their voices. We shouldn’t be writing 6,000-word articles on telling people how to feel.”

The new TRL is set to premiere in October with a one-hour format, augmented by additional content on platforms like Instagram and Snapchat. It will feature five lesser-known hosts, including rapper and comedian DC Young Fly and KISS FM Chicago host Erik Zachary. MTV is currently building a new TRL studio in Times Square.

Read our story on the demise of the MTV News experiment.