MTV’s Passionate Programmer

Dave Sirulnick

If a person’s luck can be measured by the time they spend on activities they really care about, then Dave Sirulnick is very fortunate. His three main passions — music, news and TV — are very much a part of his role as executive vice president of news and production for MTV: Music Television.

Over the past dozen years, the news junkie in Sirulnick, 40, has been satiated by his involvement in MTV’s daily news coverage and the True Life specials that have examined the epidemics of heroin, crystal meth and ecstasy. His love of music — which riffs from jazz to pop and rock — has played into his role as executive producer of the Video Music Awards, as well as his work supervising Total Request Live. He has also had his hands on reality shows like Diary and MTV Cribs.

“Dave is one of the most dynamic forces in the industry. He has an unusually keen and instinctive sense of the story — he knows what connects with young people,” says Brian Graden, president of entertainment, MTV, MTV2 and VH1. “He is as passionate about the Beastie Boys as he is about 'Choose or Lose.’” Indeed, Sirulnick plays a prominent role on MTV’s pro-social front with not only MTV’s Peabody Award-winning “Choose or Lose” political-awareness initiative, but also its “Fight for Your Rights” campaigns.

It’s not surprising that Sirulnick had the TV bug early: his father, Sid, was a producer for CBS News in the 1960s.

When MTV news director Linda Carradina first approached Sirulnick about joining the channel to help launch a weekly news show, he was producing news segments for Cable News Network and “doing the occasional music story.” Sirulnick jumped at Carradina’s proposition and oversaw the MTV show that became The Week in Rock.

Next month, the VMA telecast — which Sirulnick views as an annual time capsule moment of the world of pop culture — will migrate away from New York and Los Angeles for the first time. “We’ve already been down to Miami to get creative ideas and a sense for how to use South Beach,” he says.

As the November election nears, Sirulnick will once again spearhead MTV’s 'Choose or Lose’ efforts.

“Many in the country may be polarized to President Bush or Sen. [John] Kerry, but one-third of the viewers are not committed. There isn’t the party allegiance of the past,” he notes. “There are a host of economic issues, Sept. 11 and the Iraqi war. Not since 1972 has there been an election when U.S. soldiers are stationed in an occupied country. There is a different feel to this election.”