On Saturday night I got my dance on at the Pittsburgh Deli Company and I heard sounds for the first time in years. As I waxed nostalgic about the late 80s/early 90s (dear God), I started thinking about The Box. Or as us OGs remember it – The Juke Box.
Even before I googled it, I remembered The Box as Channel 29 on our non-cable television set. The Pittsburgh Area Radio and TV Stations site tells us:
29 WIIC-LP IND PITTSBURGH PA
WBPA was at one time (mid-80’s?) the “Video Jukebox” or just “The Box” – an automated (and low power) UHF station that you could dial up with a 976 number to play videos by request. WIIC broadcasts MTV2 locally originated programming. WIIC-LP was known as W29AV until 2/6/2002. Owned by Abacus Television Network.
And Wiki sez:
The Jukebox Network was a cable and satellite television service which allowed their viewers the ability to dial a telephone number enter a code and the latest or a classic music video that was requested was played on their TV. At first all of the Jukebox request lines used a large block of Miami, Florida telephone numbers and callers were only charged for a long distance call, However realizing that they needed to make money Jukebox switched to the pay-per call 1-900 line service in which callers were charged from $1.99 to $3.99 per call to make a request of up to three videos. The company was acquired by MTV Networks and Jukebox’s programming was replaced with a new channel called MTV2.
Oh, The Box. I was never allowed to call 1-900 from my house, so I always went over a friend’s house, where we’d sneak in requests. I mean, honestly, $3.99 was a lot for a 12-year-old! I remember watching those scrolling lists of videos for hours before something would pop up. But then, of course, when you finally made the freakin’ phone call, you’d have to wait for another 4 hours to see it. Some videos I remember playing over and over from that era include:
And of course, your R. Kelly, Boyz II Men, and Bel Biv Devoe standards. Am I the only one that remembers these days???
By the way, I was totally amused to find out that The Box still exists in the UK. And their tagline is still the same: “Music Television You Control.”
But here’s the thing: since Viacom bought The Box, you can now get MTV2 on all your non-cable television sets. (I didn’t know this, and I remember turning on the TV a few years ago and thinking I was just lucky.) Yep, it’s still Channel 29, but you might need some rabbit ears and aluminum foil for your antenna.
I hope we all enjoyed this walk down memory lane. This has got me thinking … I really need to have Shanice’s “I love your smile” on call at my wedding. Or LL Cool J – Around the Way Girl. Or maybe Color Me Badd – I Adore Mi Amore …*giggle*