Ah, the days of local commercials promising something if you dial a 900 number. These were exciting times.
900 Numbers, or Premium Rate Telephone Numbers, have been not shutting up and taking your money since the early 1980s. Established in 1971, but not used until 1977 – the first known 900 number was set up as a means to call President Jimmy Carter during a live radio broadcast hosted by Walter Cronkite – 900 numbers were a cash cow of entertainment for both adults and children. Heavy regulations during the 1980s killed off the “kid-friendly” 900 numbers by 1991, and hurt the industry in general, but 900 numbers still exist today.
The 900 numbers of the 1980s allowed callers to find dates, have some sexy chat, get stock tips, talk to Santa Claus, the Care Bears, Hulk Hogan, Dionne Warwick and her Psychic Friends, get tips for Nintendo games, have sexy chat, more sexy chat, talk to someone else claiming to have psychic abilities…did I mention sexy chat?
Today’s commercial comes to us from 1989 (at least, the tape it came from was from 1989), and toted the ability of the 900 number to help you find a love connection (did I mention this tape was from February?). It was recorded from WPIX (New York’s own), which until 1995 was an independent station and always had the best commercials. 900 numbers ran silly in the same commercial blocks as Mount Airy Lodge, Young People’s Day Camp, Milford Plaza, and that one commercial for the Broadway show Cats. These were the good old days of Yankee game broadcasts featuring Phil Rizzuto’s commentary, those commercials, and Sunday afternoon movies.
There were way too many reasons to love WPIX in the 80s and 90s, as any New York area kid will tell you. The 900 numbers airing during the weekend afternoon movie were merely bonus.
The 900 number featured today, a “looking for love” premium featuring personal ads, is for Dial-A-Date
Feeling alone? Don’t! Calling Dial-A-Date gives you the pick of personal ads from people who want to meet you!
You could speak to people…that are represented by stock photo images of people who probably didn’t give permission for their images to be used!
Go on, hurry! Love is at your fingertips, and romance is just a click of the play button away!
Um yeah, make a love connection, as long as you have $2 for the first minute, and 45 cents to keep listening to personal ads….or leave your own!
I love this commercial – the music, the still images of people in dramatic poses, the voiceover. This was classic 900 number glory!
Heavy regulations imposed on 900 numbers initially killed the business of premium-rate phone numbers, but 900 numbers still exist today for informational (and yes, adult entertainment) purposes. Numbers geared at kids ceased in the mid-1990s, but that doesn’t mean we still didn’t see other commercials for 900 numbers we had no business dialing. Adult Entertainment phone numbers had been around as long as the business of 900 numbers themselves.
In 1992, the Supreme Court allowed a law passed by Congress that blocked access to 900 numbers that provided adult content, unless someone requested access (the request was to be done in writing). As a result, the numbers made the move to being 800, where a credit card was needed to pay for the calls.
I can’t find much about Dial-A-Date, nor American Talk Network Inc., which makes this service feel even more mysterious in nature. I’m wondering if this was something local (as in, based in the New York City area), which would not be surprising for WPIX to air.
Either way, love was just a phone call away…until it no longer was.
Tomorrow, the 900 number theme provides more adult entertainment, but not in the form of looking for love, but something else.
Not what you think!
Have a great Throwback Thursday!