Ryan Kroft: Whip Smart

On the Monday morning in 2008 that the Fed bailed out, shored up and prevented what might otherwise have been catastrophic financial collapse, I was lying in a fetal position on my bathroom floor when my boss’s boss’s assistant called and urged me into the office.

An hour later, as I struggled through abdominal pains that would lead to an emergency appendectomy just twelve hours later (that’s another story), I was notified of some big, big changes to MTV News.

Those changes would ultimately spell an opportunity to lead the news organization but at half the size and half the budget. It also spelled an opportunity to work alongside the indomitable, incorrigible and indefatigable, Ryan Kroft.

It was, in industry parlance, a battlefield promotion. And for six years, Ryan and I dodged and ducked corporate snipers, bullets and bombs side-by-side. I was the digital guy. He was the tv guy.

And he was an absolute blast to work with: whip smart, can do, and downright hilarious. Laughing with Ryan was the best part of every late-night – and there were many.

In an MTV News career in which Ryan Executive Produced dozens of Video Music and Movie Awards Pre-Shows, and series like “A Conversation With President Obama,” “When I Was 17,” “Detox with Jim Cantiello” and “MTV First,” he was always strategic – even as an intern in the Santa Monica Office.

“I would wear these bright red sneakers to every junket,” he remembers, “So that A, there was a conversation starter and B, they would remember me because the next time I would come, they’d be like, ‘Oh, you’re the guy in the red sneakers.'”

In the mid-Aughts, as MTV News’ ten-to-the-hour news brief airtimes were dwindling due to ad market pressure, Ryan was devising new ways to keep the brand on the channel.

“We were just trying to be as innovative as possible to come up with ways to get [television] real estate and access to artists.”

What was one of his key takeaways across a two-decade career that ultimately found him in the role of Senior Vice President of Specials & Events across MTV, VH1 & Logo?

“Don’t half-ass anything,” he says. “Otherwise, why bother doing it?”

For more on Ryan’s MTV News career featuring the cast of Good Burger, Kirsten Dunst, Julia Roberts, Eminem, and a tour bus contact high with one Snoop Doggy Dog, listen to “You Hear It First: An Unofficial & Unfiltered History of MTV News” on Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

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