The Eighties, The Radio, And The Landline Affair

By Moureen N

Image courtesy of @ron-lach / Pexels

Nothing beats a quondam anecdote during the coffee break. One such hilarious incident was featured in the Reddit community “I don’t work here, lady,” and became a favorite – it has received 6.1k upvotes and 243 comments to date. The post “Not the request line” shares a story from the early 1980s when requesting a song for yourself, a friend, or a loved one was in vogue.  

The recounter, whose family owned a phone with the number 555-5070, recalls a time when a local radio station had a request line 555-5700; the poster’s family was targeted by unassuming callers to bespeak songs or, worse yet, call live. Coming to think about it, you’d not prefer a stranger calling in at 2 AM to say ‘I love you, Jane’ over the radio, would you?  

At first, the family thought that the announcer was just mistaken and pronouncing the number wrong. As it turned out, that was not quite the case. The announcement was, “Call us at five-five-five, fifty-seven hundred,” which was literally perceived by some as 555-50 700. The last zero wouldn’t be registered, so the poster’s phone was connected instead.  

Image courtesy of @jimmyjimmy / Pexels

The poster’s dad did what any sensible person would do; he called the manager of the radio station and requested him to change the announcement. But being the era of superstar radio DJs, the entitled manager turned down a valid plea by stating that they didn’t need to change anything; they were a radio station, after all.  

The frustrated father employed his quick wit in the next call, happily telling the caller that they were caller ten and they’d won a brand-new car! They had to come down at the station and mention they’d won it on the request line. If anybody gives them any trouble, they must ask the manager. The poster recollects that after his dad gave away two free cars, they never had a phone call requesting a vocal.  

After the story was shared in the community, a legion of commenters shared similar experiences of their own. So, if someone calls you at midnight and asks to play ‘Baby,’ just let them know they’ve won a chance to meet Justin Bieber!