From the balcony to economic problems. This is how Trl told a generation

It is the end of 1999 and MTV Italia, the music channel for teenagers, hosted by the Rete A broadcaster, risks being blacked out. Adverse winds are blowing, but the general director Antonio …

From the balcony to economic problems.  This is how Trl told a generation

It is the end of 1999 and MTV Italia, the music channel for teenagers, hosted by the Rete A broadcaster, risks being blacked out. Adverse winds are blowing, but the general director Antonio Campo Dall'Orto does not give up, on the contrary, he decides to bet on a new program, Total Request Livea copy of the American format which has been broadcast overseas since 1998. The program, which initially focused on the hosting of Enrico Silvestrin and Camila Raznovich, is entrusted to the veejays Marco Maccarini23 years old at the time, and Giorgia Surina, at that time 24, fresh from the success of MTV Select, recorded from the London studios. The two, from Monday to Friday, from 3pm to 4pm, strictly live, entertain hundreds of thousands of Italian kids, from north to south, who after lunch, between a math exercise and a version of Latin, tune in to MTV casting their eyes, and above all their ears, on their idols.

The first episode airs on November 2, 1999the last one on September 24th 2010. Total Request Live, which translated into Italian means “All requests live”, presents itself as a television show that satisfies the desires of the hundreds of thousands of teenagers who follow it from home. The program, in fact, broadcasts the ten music videos of the week most voted by viewers, first by telephone, then through text messages and, in recent seasons, via the web. For the very young, TRL has a magnetic power. The studio, created inside the Spazio Fiorucci, in an open space overlooking Piazza San Babila, in Milan, will soon become a destination for gatherings, since, every day, during live television, hordes of young people gather under the balcony of the studio to shout the names of their favorite singers at the top of their lungs, complete with posters, banners, dedications, more or less in tune choruses, hugs and smiles. The authors even invent the “VJ by chance” column, which allows a fan to look out from the TRL balcony together with their idol. Thus, in order to get noticed, we witness absurd scenes and we see sui generis types, such as those who show up in the square almost naked in December or those who wave placards with the most extravagant writings. An outcry not appreciated by traders in the area. For this reason, the second season will be broadcast from the studios of the Onyx space, in Corso Vittorio Emanuele, a stone's throw from the Duomo. Here too there is no shortage of problems: Onyx asks MTV not to broadcast live, but to record in the morning to avoid the gallery being targeted by crowds of fans. Request rejected.

Thinking about it today, the memory of the carefreeness of those years leaves a somewhat bitter taste, because nothing of that past, not even that distant, seems to exist anymore. Maccarini himself recently said that no one would watch TRL anymore today. Indeed, in a world accessible to smartphones, who would tune in at 3pm to watch music videos on TV? Nothing more anachronistic.

But let's go back to the early 2000s. The program knows how to intercept the musical tastes of the moment and manages – an almost impossible task today – to bring the stars of the moment into the studio. Mariah Carey, Geri Halliwell, Blink-182, Lunapop, I Gemelli Diversi, Bluvertigo, Tiziano Ferro, Carmen Consoli and many others look out from the TRL balcony. After two years, MTV Italia lands on the old TMC2 frequency and manages to reach areas of Italy where it had never reached. The segment of the public intercepted becomes increasingly larger, the popularity almost uncontrolled.

TRL VJs On the Road

The key to success is, without a doubt, the spontaneity of a format that is not pre-packaged, because it is conducted by twenty-year-olds perhaps unaware of the great opportunity they are experiencing. In a recent interview on the Tribù podcast, Giorgia Surina recalled, laughing: “At that time I treated Mariah Carey as if she were my neighbor, but I didn't realize it.”

The end of a generation

TRL is not just music, but a hotbed of various trends. It launches fashion – these are the years of low-waisted trousers, tops that leave the belly exposed, often shown by Surina herself, Buffalo and Fornarina shoes on the feet – it talks about gossip, in short it does everything that social media will do twenty years later . The success achieved leads the authors to also invent the evening edition “TRL@night” with live performances. Traveling editions follow in cities such as Rome, Bologna, Venice and Naples. In the spring of 2003, TRL left the Milanese capital in favor of Rome, where it broadcast for a few years, only to return to Milan, from the studios in Piazza Duomo, for the final seasons. In 2004, two new veejays will join the hosts Maccarini and Surina, Federico Russo And Carolina di Domenico, who will become the new hosts of the program on July 30, 2004. Unfortunately, the two are unable to win the hearts of viewers, so after a year Giorgia Surina is called back, supported, this time, by Alessandro Cattelan. Surina abandoned the program a year later, leaving the helm to Cattelan. In 2007, the host will once again be joined by female faces such as Silvia Hsieh, Michela Coppa, Giorgia Palmas, Melissa Satta and Elena Santarelli, who in 2009, after being “abandoned” by her co-host, and while waiting for her first child, handed over the hosting to Elisabetta Canalis.

Meanwhile, the program's golden days seem increasingly distant. MTV Italia's financial problems no longer allow it to produce episodes that live up to the format. So in 2010, the curtain falls. It's the end of a generation.