Old and forgotten after 65 years, the time-and-temperature phone number is threatened with forced retirement.
The message at 817-844-6611, an advertising service sponsored by a local bank since 1951, announces not only the time and temperature but also a Dec. 31 deadline for ending the service unless a new sponsor signs up.
Our phones now tell us the time before we ever dial. And when was the last time you had to call for the temperature?
“The system became obsolete, and nobody picks up the phone to call time-and-temperature anymore,” said Les Pinkerton of Greenwood Funeral Homes’ Arlington Chapel, which already gave up its 1988-vintage “Arlington Funeral Home time” service from a different company.
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“It was old, obsolete equipment and constantly needed repair. I think it’s still up in the attic somewhere.”
I think it’s still up in the attic somewhere.
Les Pinkerton of Greenwood Funeral Homes Arlington Chapel, the former sponsor of “Arlington Funeral Home time.”
The Fort Worth service began in 1951 as “Fort Worth National Bank time” at ED-4581. The number changed six times, the bank name five.
Today, it’s New York-based JPMorgan Chase and “Chase Bank time,” provided by Atlanta-based Weatherphone.
Chase officials did not immediately respond to a question about the sponsorship.
But the recorded “speaking clock” voices may live on into infinity.
The old Arlington and Dallas time-and-temperature numbers are now sponsored by State Farm Insurance. They use a different service and new voices, not the current Weatherphone voice of Atlanta announcer Randall Hinton or the older, familiar tones of Atlanta TV weather anchor John Doyle or Kentucky voiceover talent Pat Fleet. (She also did “Thank you for using AT&T”).
If you want to hear one of the old-style messages with Fleet’s voice, dial 972-771-0399. It’s provided by a Rockwall bank.
The service goes back to when phone customers would dial an operator or even the police department to get the time.
As recently as 1998, the temperature came from a sensor on the drive-through bank roof, although that was prone to mechanical failures.
Dial 817-844-6611 for the current Fort Worth service, or 972-771-0399 to hear an older version.
That was the summer when the Fort Worth service always announced the temperature as “one-fifteen,” even when it wasn’t 115.
Weatherphone took over the Fort Worth service about 1999, Hinton said. The equipment was in the Tower downtown during the 2000 tornado but was relocated to the adjacent garage, he said.
That’s Hinton’s voice on the current service warning: “The opportunity must be seized by Dec. 31. Your business advertising can reach more than 20,000 callers every day.”
We’re nearly out of time.