Women is...: MTV honcho Judy McGrath

MTV honcho Judy McGrath

Profession: President of MTV, a.k.a. Music Television

Her reach: 265.8 million households in 75 territories on five continents.

The basic story:Talented creative who was in the right industry at the right time. Rose through the ranks at MTV from copywriter to president.

born: July 2, 1952, in Scranton, Penn.

education: B.A., English, Cedar Crest College, Allentown, Penn.

first job out of college: Worked as a copywriter for a radio station in Scranton.

then what: Moved to New York in the late '70s to do magazine journalism for pubs such as Mademoiselle and Glamour. Wrote features like 'Model's Party Tips' and the 'Do's and Don'ts' column.
why she left journalism: "I learned I was a better copywriter than writer-writer."

The way up: With MTV since its launch in 1981. Started out writing on-air promotions. Moved up to become creative director. "Grew up" in MTV's creative department. Much of the MTV Pantheon was invented on her watch, including "The Real World," "House of Style" and the 1992 "Choose or Lose" political awareness campaign.

Now what: Promoted to prez, after sharing the job with Sara Levinson, until Levinson left to become president of NFL Properties. McGrath is now solely responsible for the network's strategic and creative direction. She describes the station's creative process as "a group let's-put-on-a-show mentality." Assisted in the launch of M2, an MTV spin-off channel.
on her rise to the top: "Copywriters don't usually run the company. But the great thing about this business is it isn't really traditional."

on MTV's scope: "We give up tremendous amounts of air time to stuff like 'Rock the Vote.' This is a place you can do that freely...You have to have an eensy weensy polka dot bikini element in music. We have to have that on our network. But we can slide some other stuff in between."

on MTV's role: Says it's not "too powerful. Music would be here without MTV. It certainly was before it. I don't think TV ruined the movies."

where she got her taste: "It was definitely the Beatles." As a kid, she wanted to be a writer for Rolling Stone when she grew up.
On online: "What's so appealing about it is it's so unmanageable. I hope MTV can stay connected to it in a good way."

her regrets: "Lots of things. I try to keep my personal taste out of this. A lot of T&A videos, the year we had spring break with strippers, many ideas that came and went quickly. We didn't play a Neil Young video because it had advertisers in it. Every time we make a decision for crass commercial reasons, it sort of blows up."

her management style: "I really like my staff. I try to give them room. I'm probably like Bill Clinton. I want everyone to like me so I say 'yes' all the time. But that's more useful in cable TV than I think it is in Washington."

how life might be different if she were a man: "I probably would have gotten a job at Rolling Stone and would be pissed off I wasn't at MTV. Because I was a woman, I got into an industry that was considered B+, but I got to get in early and take over."