Channel 19

Growing up, I didn't have cable. In fact, my father still uses bunny ears and dial-up. Anyway, I was always jealous of my friends with their fancy-pants MTV, excluding me from their involved conversations about the latest and greatest parody by Weird Al Yankovich or how naughty LL Cool J's newest video was.

Then one day, as I fiddled with the antennae to get them in just the right spot, I discovered a channel heretofore unknown to me: 19. Sure, we had 3, 10, 13, 15, 27, 33, and 43, but 19?

At first glance, it seemed pretty useless - just a bunch of scrolling text and occasional beeps and boops. However, on closer examination, I realized that it was listings of hit songs preceded by three digit codes. And as I sat there, hypnotized by the numbers and letters, something at the bottom of the screen changed:

You know what happened next.

Even though the reception was often wonky and it eventually became MTV2, The Box was my one hope for social acceptance. I never did call in for a video (the idea of an unauthorized charge on somebody else's phone bill still frightens me), but I was always content to sit there watching endless repeats of Gangsta's Paradise, Amish Paradise, Dr. Greenthumb, One Sweet Day, or whatever video was the hit of the moment.

Extended clip of listings and promos:


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