MTV News Confidential: Kurt Loder, Tabitha Soren, and John Norris Tell All
Kurt Loder, the original MTV News anchor (and a longtime Rolling Stone writer) was both taken aback and pleased by the outpouring of affection he received online this week after MTV News officially ended its 36-year run. “I think a lot of those people are just remembering their own youth,” he says in the new episode of our weekly Rolling Stone Music Now podcast. “Saying, ‘Wow, that was a great time because, well, I was 15 years old.’”
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Loder, Tabitha Soren, and John Norris — three of MTV News’ best-known correspondents in its heyday — all look back at their MTV years in the episode, including covering the many untimely deaths of musicians in the Nineties and much more. Loder also explains how he held onto his gruff, no-nonsense persona on-air. “In television, somebody’s always saying more ‘energy,’” he says. “So pretty soon you sound like a weatherman. But I wasn’t very good at that and I don’t like to be talked to like that if I’m watching somebody on television. So I tried to avoid that. It’s not hard if you just don’t do it.” Loder also recalls watching Nirvana smash his hotel room after an interview — and later covering Kurt Cobain’s suicide.
Soren explains how she convinced MTV to cover the 1992 presidential election seriously, and reflects on her famous 1995 interview with Tupac Shakur — where Death Row Records employees frisked her and searched her colleagues’ equipment bags for hidden weapons beforehand. “He was just incredibly warm,” she says. “He was happy to do the interview. And I just really felt like he had a great sense about some of the world’s biggest problems.”
Norris looks back at his 1999 interview with a very young Britney Spears in her Kentwood, Louisiana childhood home — and notes there were zero hints of darker times to come. “She could not have been nicer,” he says. “The whole family was very excited to have us there. She was super wide-eyed and unable to believe that this was all happening.”
Norris and Loder are both honest about their final days with the network, with Loder explaining why he voluntarily stopped appearing at the Video Music Awards. “I don’t like seeing old people on television,” Loder says, bluntly. In contrast, Norris decries the industry’s ageism, and explains how he aimed to hold on as long as he could at MTV News.
Norris also recalls the prevalence of homophobia in the supposedly enlightened world of Nineties alt-rock, and looks back at his friendship with the late George Michael, including his first interview with Norris after the world learned the singer was gay. “It was like he was like another person,” Norris says. “It was like this massive weight had been lifted off his shoulders, and it was so beautiful to see.”
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