Most of us remember when MTV was all about the music, the days when superstars didn't visit Sweet 16 parties, interns didn't live large in The Hills — or at least we didn't watch them doing that — and Laguna Beach surfers were just no-name wave riders. But times they are a-changin', and now even viewers get to take the mic and interview their favorites by entering in the MyTRL contest, where winners will get to host MTV's famous music-video request show. TVGuide.com asked experienced TRL host Damien Fahey why kids are getting this chance, where he wants his career to go and who's on his interview wish list. Plus: his thoughts on the whole Britney situation.
TVGuide.com: What exactly inspired the MyTRL contest?
Damien Fahey: We wanted to give fans who watch [TRL] a chance to host. The question I always get is, "How did you become a veejay?" So I wanted to make it easy for kids to go to the website [acuvue.mtv.com], enter and submit a photo, and the next thing you know, they're on television.
TVGuide.com: Have you been reading incoming entries?
Fahey: No, I haven't. I'm not overseeing it, but I hear we're getting a ton of mail, a lot of entries.
TVGuide.com: There's still time [through March 18] for people to enter. What do you suggest they do to show originality?
Fahey: Be funny and honest. And I think witty is always good. Just be interesting.
TVGuide.com: And what happens once you've picked finalists?
Fahey: We're going to see four winners [on air] throughout that week [of May 14], Monday through Thursday.
TVGuide.com: Do you have any idea who the TRL guests will be that week, or will you try to get the celebrities who are on the winners' own wish lists?
Fahey: We might try to do that. It's always tough because our bookings happen last minute, but we'll know the week before. We always have the biggest stars on the show, so they'll get a great round of guests.
TVGuide.com: Who are you still hoping to interview?
Fahey: I'd love to interview Bill Clinton. I know that might be a little boring, but he's so interesting and such an amazing guy. All he's done after his presidency... he hasn't just sat around, he's been so active in so many charitable causes. I want to know what drives him, and to sit down in the same room with someone with that kind of intellect would be pretty amazing.
TVGuide.com: Are you interested in doing more political interviews?
Fahey: Yeah, I guess so. I don't want to make a career out of it, but I definitely watch the evening news every night, I watch CNN every now and again, and I always keep up on politics. I definitely keep aware. It's just a little hobby, a little interest.
TVGuide.com: What are your favorite TV shows?
Fahey: I'm addicted to 24. It's like crack to me. I can't get enough. Whenever I start a  DVD, I'm up until 4 in the morning.
TVGuide.com: You just watch it straight through?
Fahey: Yeah, it's just the greatest show I've ever seen, it's so fantastic. I love Curb Your Enthusiasm, too.
TVGuide.com: Do you think MTV has added too many reality shows in the past few years?
Fahey: Personally, I'm not into reality shows — I can't even name a reality show that I was a really big fan of, altogether as a whole, not just from MTV. Like, if ABC has another reality show, I'm like, "Oh god, another reality show." But people love them. The Hills, Laguna Beach... those do extremely well. It's just a personal preference.
TVGuide.com: Yeah, they're popular, but I remember when I was younger and watched MTV, and it was all music videos. I miss that sometimes.
Fahey: I do, too. I love music.
TVGuide.com: We're even seeing less and less of the videos on TRL, because there are so many shout-outs and other footage sharing the screen.
Fahey: We do research, and people want to watch their favorite video. If they love Omarion, they want to watch the entire Omarion video, but if we have a Linkin Park video, they don't want to sit through the entire four and a half minutes, so it's kind of a double-edged sword. I always get that question, "Why don't you show the whole video?" I'm like, "Yeah, I'm into that, but you have to sit through videos you don't like to see those videos you do like."
TVGuide.com: What's on your request list? Give me some recently played picks on your iPod.
Fahey: I like Paolo Nutini, Ben Kweller.... And I've been listening to a lot of The Police lately, because of the reunion tour.
TVGuide.com: Do you think Britney Spears will ever make it back onto TRL's request list?
Fahey: I hope so. I think it's kind of sad what's happened to her, and I don't know the reasons why [it happened]. Everyone is agreeing that she was in a better place than she is right now. Hopefully she'll get back to the old Britney that we know and love. I think she can do it.
TVGuide.com: How do you find the time to play with your band, Here's Johnny?
Fahey: Oh, I just block off nights. Like, Mondays and Wednesdays are nights that I go into the rehearsal studio with my buddies and we play for five hours. And then if we have a gig or something, I'll try to block it out on my schedule and make sure I'm not in L.A. a certain weekend or something like that, but that's such an extreme passion of mine that no matter what I have on my plate, I'm willing to clear it to do that.
TVGuide.com: You guys are going on a college tour soon?
Fahey: Yeah, in mid-April.
TVGuide.com: Do you know how many places you'll hit up?
Fahey: We're not sure yet. It's still being put together. We actually just met with the guy [organizing it] last week. We did it in the fall of last year and had a great time. It's just great to play in front of people, as opposed to just playing for yourself.
TVGuide.com: You guys should play on TRL!
Fahey: I know. I'm going to try to get a video camera out to the concerts and maybe show a quick package of me and my band or what I did over the past week or something.
TVGuide.com: Any changes to the show we should look forward to?
Fahey: Well, we have the TRL webcam. If you hook up your webcam — everyone has a webcam nowadays, whether you're in your college dorm or at home — you can actually be on the show. We interview people via webcam, so there's a big initiative with that.
TVGuide.com: I know you've guest-hosted on Live with Regis and Kelly. Will you do any other guest spots? Or any acting gigs?
Fahey: I love filling in for Regis [Philbin], and I get a good response from everyone over there, so they definitely want to have me back. I've done it three times and every time I go back, it's amazing. Kelly [Ripa] is great, and we always play off each other. I'm also going to be a voice on Family Guy.
TVGuide.com: Would you want to settle into a hosting job like Regis later on?
Fahey: Oh, of course, absolutely. I'm a big late-night fan. I love Conan [O'Brien], and David Letterman's, like, my god. I love anyone who can do that day in and day out. I'd love to be in that line of work.