Urban X-pressions (UX) aired on Channel 48 WGTW in 1992, created by Ed Brunson, son of station owner Dorothy Brunson. It was a live Hip Hop, R&B and Reggae music line up with an on set DJ, one of the only live TV shows on broadcast television at the time. The nature of the filming of the show allowed touring artists such as LL Cool J, and Ja Rule to circulate freely on set, contributing to the real atmosphere UX brought to television. The original hosts of UX were Ed Box and Roz, who would take callers’ requests to determine which videos they would play. (UX) Howard Gilliam, Jr. has been the Director and Editor since day one. Howard Gilliam is the visual genius behind the content that hits the air.
In 1997, UX updated its format from a live show to a live, on-location one. A segment was added called “Urban Infomercials,” in which the UX team visited small businesses and shot live promotions for them on location. UX also held a contest to find a new segment host. While he was not UX’s first pick, Keith “fromupdablock,” who had been chosen as an alternate, was called to fill in one day and has been a UX host ever since. At that time UX also introduced the very popular segment “Word on the Street,” produced by Shelly Williams, with and on-air personalities Keith “fromupdablock,” SCOE, Monie and Shelly Shell.
In 1998, Williams, who had been an intern at Urban X-pressions when it was first created, founded X-pressions, Incorporated, a non-profit mentoring and community outreach group for at-risk youth and young adults. The organization’s focus is providing structured programs and events to engage youth and keep them off the streets. Early on, X-pressions, Inc. partnered with Concerned Black Men to produce a teen talk segment that traveled to schools to speak to youth about teen issues.
In January 2001 we celebrated our nine-year anniversary with a big celebration and special guest CEE-Lo Green. All of the Urban X-pressions family attended Director, Howard Gilliam, Jr., Ed Box Brunson, Livin Williams, Dawn Holley, Keith fromupdablock, Monica Gladney, Shep Harvey, and Supreem.
In February 2002, X-pressions, Inc. debuted “Club UX”, which turned a huge video arcade into a teen special event center, admitting an average of 900 youth per event. Its first musical guest was chart-topping group City High. A testament to the success of X-pressions, Inc., Lisa, Ivory and Brittney, several of the first teens to grow up through the organization teamed together in August 2006, with the support of the Black Caucus, to produce the standing-room-only first annual teen fashion show at the end of their senior year of high school. The event was so successful it has been an annual event ever since.
In continuance of UX’s effort to broadcast positive messages, it collaborated with the Philadelphia Department of Health in 2007 to produce Public Service Announcements and creative music videos addressing sexual health and STI’s and raising HIV awareness.
Williams took the position of Executive Producer of UX in 2004, when Channel 48 WGTW was sold to TBN. UX quickly found a new home at Channel 35 WYBE, airing from January 1, 2005 until 2010, when WYBE redesigned its format. In 2008, UX had joined a second station, Telemundo, where it continues to air today, the only English-language show on the station. UX has become notorious for its role in highlighting local talent through open mic nights, interviews, and broadcasting of their videos. Under Williams’ leadership, UX has won four Billboard Video Awards.
In March 2009, UX took over the Cheltenham Mall for “UX Live at the Mall,” hosted by one of the “Club UX” youth Roc Star P, UX Live is a countdown show with interviews, performances, and guests, including bad-boy artist Eness, Diamond Cuts, Gillie da Kid, Atlantic Artist Young Steff, and Tone Trump.
Some highlights of UX’s long list of celebrity guests include Bob Sagat, Wendy Williams, B5, B2K, Allen Iverson, Bow Wow, Chris Brown, Marques Houston, Vivica A. Fox, Will Smith, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Regina King, Tichina Arnold, Tisha Campbell, Amerie, Kirk Franklin, Mary Mary, Lil Wayne, Big Daddy Kane, KRS-One, 50 Cent, Jay Z, LL Cool J, Eminem, Jermaine Dupri, Destiny’s Child, Faith Evans, Aaliyah, “P-Diddy” Combs, Master P, Method Man, Snoop, Lennox Lewis, Bernard Hopkins, Busta Rhymes, Fat Joe, Dame Dash, Missy Elliott.