The request lines are open today on Buffalo cable television with the start of a new music channel called the Video Jukebox Network.
For $2.50 per selection -- $3 if you use a rotary telephone -- viewers can call in their favorite video and wait for it to come up on cable Channel 31.
"It's one of the newest, most advanced services available today," said Paul Meegan, general manager TCI of Buffalo. "It's quite unique -- an interaction between the subscriber and the service itself."
This video version of the coin-operated musical mainstay of soda shops and bars was pioneered in Miami. It became available across the country a few months ago. Meegan said Buffalo is one of the first cities to subscribe.
It differs from current nationwide video channels such as MTV and VH-1 because the music is tailored to the market, he said. TCI will have 200 to 300 selections that were targeted specifically to cities like Buffalo.
"Video Juke Box did the initial programming and created a package for an urban mix," Meegan said.
Viewers who turn to Channel 31 will find instructions on using the service displayed across the bottom of the screen. Each video will have a three-digit code.
To select a song, the subscriber dials a 900 number and the code. Meegan said the selection should appear in about 20 minutes, although that time may be longer during the shakedown period of the service.
The service will be billed through the telephone company. Customers can ask the phone company to block the 900 service from their home.
The current programming on cable Channel 31, WNYB, will be switched to cable Channel 49. TCI said it will be easier for viewers, since WNYB is broadcast on Channel 49.
As with a conventional jukebox, viewers using the Video Jukebox service will have to endure selections chosen by other users until their song comes up. The cable company has purchased enough equipment to limit the wait to 20 minutes, Meegan said.
He said the channel will offer viewers a chance to select videos that are rarely or never shown on existing music channels. Meegan said there are thousands of videos. Many aren't played because of mass-marketing considerations.
"For example, there are a great number of artists that would appeal to Buffalo Afro-American subscribers that you seldom see," he said. "This will give those videos an opportunity."
Don't hold your breath for any Guy Lombardo or Slim Whitman videos, though. Meegan said the music is geared for young adults in their 20s and 30s. There also won't be an opportunity to look at the sexy new video from Madonna that has been banned from MTV.
"We didn't want to create a lot of controversy during the start-up," he said.