Karen 'Duff' Duffy Reflects On the End of MTV News, Says Media Today Is 'Like a Snake Eating Itself'

"To go from calling 'Bingo!' at a nursing home to announcing videos on MTV was a joy," recalls the former MTV VJ, who tells PEOPLE about working for network, including how she inspired Michael Jackson

Paul Zimmerman/Shutterstock
Paul Zimmerman/Shutterstock

Karen "Duff" Duffy is reflective about the end of MTV News, which she once called home.

MTV's parent company Paramount Global confirmed on Tuesday that it was shutting down the program after 36 years. The company also laid off 25% of its staff.

Duffy, who was one of MTV's roster of VJs in the early 1990s, spoke exclusively with PEOPLE on the big shakeup.

"The first video that MTV ever played in 1981 was [The Buggles'] 'Video Killed the Radio Star.' And as soon as my friend Keg sent me the article about MTV shutting down MTV News, I just thought 'Digital Killed the Video Star.' Right?"

"We are like a snake eating itself," adds Duffy, who released her memoir last year Wise Up: Irreverent Enlightenment from a Mother Who's Been Through It.

Related:Carson Daly, Ananda Lewis and More Former VJs React to MTV News Shutting Down After 36 Years

"Kurt Loder. Tabitha Soren, who is still someone I cherish very closely. Alison Stewart. All the great people who came from MTV News. It was such a huge part, because it made it feel important," she continues. "And I understand, as Seneca said, 'Every new beginning comes at some other beginning's end.' And so, this is just the natural process. It can't be cool for 36 years."

Duffy acknowledges that "they did great work" throughout its run, and she'll greatly cherish her time there.

"I'll carry those memories and the joy I had working with those people, because man, did we have fun," she adds. "But all good things must come to an end."

Jeff Kravitz Getty
Jeff Kravitz Getty

Aside from Duffy, some fellow big names that appeared on MTV News over the years include Carson Daly, Vanessa Lachey, Hilarie Burton and Sway Calloway.

In thinking about her own time there, there are a few stories that come to mind.

"It was interesting, because you often, when they would do the MTV Unplugged, I remember Nirvana having all this rental equipment and then they just destroyed it. And everyone's like, 'Can't believe it!" she continued. "And I was like, 'Well, isn't this what we do? Aren't we supposed to do this? Aren't we supposed to act like this is an extended adolescence?' People get in a band because they are lords of chaos? And so I think that was the first MTV Unplugged."

Related:Former MTV VJ Karen Duffy on 'Going Out with a Bang' the Night Before Her Debilitating Illness Set In

Duffy also remembers the first time she attended the Grammys during her VJ days. At the time, Metallica was playing and she brought lighters in with fellow former VJ Steve Isaacs.

"We'd stand up and hold our lighters and it's all radio executives. No one is on their feet. But, to go from calling 'Bingo!' at a nursing home to announcing videos on MTV was a joy," she says, referencing her past job working at a nursing home in Greenwich Village. "I got to talk to Bono a couple months ago during the Zoo TV tour and how it was using all this new technology, and how I would be in a studio, or in a fan's backyard and then be beaming into his stadium."

Duffy knows these "great memories will last a lifetime" and she had "a lot of good ones," which also includes a unique connection to one of music's biggest names.

Related:MTV News' Kurt Loder Turned 75 on Tuesday — and Made All of Twitter Feel Old

"I mean, the fact that Michael Jackson sent a photographer to take a photo of my haircut when I had a one-eyed barber. I was like, 'You could just tell Michael Jackson to go see One-Eyed Loopy.' And they're like, 'No. We're going to do it this way,'" she recalls. "And so, I showed it to my writing partner and he'd never heard that. He'd never heard that story and then when he looked at the video, he was like, 'Is that you?' I was like, 'No.' But it's great. I mean, just today I had a meeting with a video director and we met at MTV 30 years ago and we're still at it."

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Looking to the future, Duffy believes "it's time for, hopefully, the next generation to create their thing."

"MTV it's 40 years old? It's time that a new way of communicating passion for music arrives," she adds. "I'm looking forward to seeing what happens."

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