The road to becoming a tweet jockey
By Christa Vincent
When MTV launched its first music video on August 1, 1981, the term VJ (video jockey) became a buzzword in households across the country. Elizabethany Ploger (BSJ, 2009) wasn’t even born yet, but MTV icons like Nina Blackwood, Alan Hunter and Martha Quinn would later become her idols.
“I’ve always said that my dream job was to be an MTV VJ, but they don’t really exist anymore,” said Ploger. “I guess a TJ (tweet jockey) is the modern day version.”
The broadcast news graduate, currently a disc jockey at Candy 95.1 FM in College Station, Texas, was one of 20 people nationwide who competed to be MTV’s first TJ.
MTV hand-picked Ploger based on her entertainment blog, “love, elizabethany,” which she started during her senior year at the School of Journalism.
“I knew that I needed something more than just internships – everyone had those,” said Ploger. “I wanted to make myself stand out.”
Ploger said it took about nine months of hard work before she developed a fan base. It was the summer after graduation, and she was living in Washington, D.C. With no luck in the job search, she began to follow the cast of the MTV reality show, “The Real World: Washington, D.C.,” with a video camera.
The self-proclaimed “Real World” stalker posted a new video to her site each week and blogged about her attempts to find the cast members out on the town. She called the episodes “Finding the Real World Cast.” More established entertainment websites like Metblogs.com and Washingtonian.com began to notice her work.
“All of the sudden, I realized I was being mentioned in articles, and the hits on my blog went from 200 a day to 1,500 a day,” said Ploger.
Metromix.com, a network of entertainment-based websites in more than 60 U.S. cities, offered to pay Ploger as a freelancer for their Washington, D.C., site.
“It didn’t pay much, probably enough to buy gas to get around the city,” said Ploger, “but it gave me more credibility on my resume.”
By March 2010, “The Real World” had wrapped up, and Ploger found herself once again searching for a job. With the added boost to her resume, it didn’t take long for her to find one.
Her current employer, Candy 95.1 FM, responded quickly to her application. They told Ploger it was her blog that caught their eye. By May, she had settled in Texas, ready to begin her new life. But two days later, her career took another exciting turn – MTV called.
“I had no idea that this contest was going on, and I had no idea they were looking at me,” said Ploger. “They said they saw my tweets and my blog and they liked my commentary on pop culture.”
During MTV’s TJ contest, Ploger competed against the other contestants in a series of Twitter-based challenges. Though she didn’t win the competition, Ploger gained valuable experience and has begun to build her portfolio as a pop culture journalist and critic.
“So many people have asked me, ‘Did you need to go to school for four years to do what you do?’” said Ploger. “The answer is yes! My experience at the SOJ started this whole process. I’m really excited to show everyone that you can get a great education at WVU and make big things happen from it.”
Ploger still hopes to someday work for a major network like MTV but feels she’s in a good place right now to further develop her professional skills.