Total Request Live (commonly known as TRL) is a television program on MTV that features popular music videos. The program plays the top ten most requested videos of the day, as requested by viewers who can vote by phone or online. The countdown starts with the tenth most requested video and ends with the most requested. The program generally airs every weekday for one hour.
The roots of TRL go back to 1997 when MTV began producing MTV Live (originally hosted by British VJ Toby Amies) from a studio in Times Square in New York. MTV Live featured celebrity interviews, musical performances, and regular news updates. Music videos were not the major focus of the program.
During the same time period, MTV aired a countdown show simply called Total Request, hosted by Carson Daly. Total Request was far more subdued, as Daly introduced music videos from an empty, dimly lit set. As the show progressed and gained more momentum with viewers tuning in, it was soon added to the list of daytime programming during MTV's Summer Share in Seaside Heights, New Jersey. The countdown would end up being one of the most watched and most interactive shows in recent MTV history that summer, proving that it had potential to become an even larger success by combining with the element of live television.
By the fall of 1998, MTV producers decided to merge the real-time aspect of MTV Live and the fan-controlled countdown power of Total Request into Total Request Live, which made its official premiere from the MTV Studios in New York on September 14, 1998. The show has since grown to become MTV's unofficial flagship program.
The widely known acronym of TRL was adopted as the official title of the show in February 1999, after former VJ's Carson Daly and Dave Holmes began using it on air regularly. The program is now rarely, if not ever, referred to as its original title Total Request Live.
TRL spent its first year developing a cult-type following, by spring 2000 the countdown reached its peak, becoming a very recognizable pop culture icon in its first two years of existence; however, its influence seems to have greatly diminished since.
TRL is MTV's prime outlet for music videos nowadays as the network continues to concentrate on reality-based programming. In addition to the music videos, TRL has daily guests as it is a popular promotion tool used by many musicians, actors, and other celebrities to promote their newest works to the show's target teen audience.