By the late 1990s, MTV Music Television had become stagnant. The station that gave music to the hungry masses in 1981 with the rallying cry of “I Want My MTV!” was in the midst of an identity crisis. Music videos, the bulk of the station’s programming, were considered old hat, and while shows like “The Real World” and “Road Rules” were doing well, reality programming wasn’t the behemoth that is today. Some MTV viewers were also bemoaning the lack of music video programming that brought them to the station in the first place.
Caught between a rock and a hard place, MTV was looking for a new way to present music. They apparently didn’t need to look any further than the Los Angeles music video show, “Request Video”, co-created by KROQ personality Gia DeSantis, who was also the show’s host.
“Request Video” ran from 1987-1992 and was a runaway hit for KDOC. Requests were taken from viewers by mail, then live via telephone and the most-demanded videos of the day were aired. Interspersed within were irreverent interviews with bands like Nirvana, Siouxsie and the Banshees, and The Cramps. If the format sounds familiar, it’s because MTV allegedly aped the formula for its massively successful show “Total Request Live” (TRL), which ran for a decade.
While “TRL” has been relegated to the vaults (for now, anyway), “Request Video” is making a bit of a comeback under Gia’s tutelage. She is currently putting together a 25th anniversary special commemorating the show which is scheduled to air sometime in the fall of 2017. It will feature old footage from episodes past and new interviews with bands and DJs who helped make it what it was. She says, “We had a combination of homegrown acts and bands that were literally the biggest and most impactful artists in the world at that time, which made us something pretty unique. The artists who we were supportive of it back then are, in turn, being supportive of the anniversary special.”
Her favorite moments from the show are many and hard to pin down: “Trent Reznor personally asked to appear before we went off the air, and he was as close to perfect as could be as interviews go. The same can be said of The Cramps — Lux and Ivy were beyond special. Mick Jones, Ice-T, Queen Latifah, Bob Geldof, Joey Ramone…I can’t possibly say one artist or band was better than the rest because they all had so much to give and so many different stories and perspectives. I interviewed Lou Reed at The Greek the night the LA Riots broke out. I was in awe of him and so many others, like John Lydon. I’m lucky that I got to become close friends with a lot of the artists I met through doing the show.”
Gia is not only bringing “Request Video” back to television airwaves, she’s remained firmly planted in the music industry over the years. After the show and her stint at KROQ had ended, she became a promotion executive and marketing director at Capitol Records, which reunited her with many of the same artists she had interviewed on “Request Video.” Currently, she’s a midday jock on Reno, Nevada’s NPR-affiliated station, NV89, and hosts a radio show, “Cocktails in the Kiddie Pool,” on LA’s Independent FM.
NV89 is an indie rock station that supports both signed and homegrown acts, and Gia feels she’s right back where she started. She says, “The station serves the growing artistic community in Northern Nevada, and I feel like I’ve come full circle with my support of musicians who are both established and just launching their careers.”