Inexplicably, in 2018, you can call a phone number, and after a long ad about funerals or diabetes, an automated service will tell you the time and temperature in Milwaukee.
The number is (414) 844-1414. The same number it’s been forever. Go ahead, try it. We’ll wait.
Thanks to Twitter user, @MiltownBucky, who answered my question, "Can you still call the weather?" I was reminded of this amazing throwback service. It still exists, but it’s different than it once was.
I remembered the 844-1414 number because I’m sure I called it at least a hundred times as a kid. Would often try to set watch or house clocks to it 😂 — William®️ (@MiltownBucky) July 24, 2018
If you don't have a long time to sit around and wait, here’s a transcript of what you might hear when you call:
Goofy announcer voice: "The time and temperature is coming up after this …"
Serious announcer voice: "If you or a loved one has diabetes and are covered by the red, white and blue medical card, you might be eligible to receive your diabetic testing suppler with little to no out of pocket costs. Delivery is free …"
"Funeral expenses are rising. Have you made sure you or your family can afford your funeral? Here is a great way to find out …"
"To hear the time and temperature, no need to press any buttons on your phone. Just stay on the line. To be connected to U.S. Medical supplies, press one now."
And finally, the time and temperature. After 32 seconds. The message is 40 seconds long, and then it hangs up. Can you even imagine spending 40 seconds of your life to figure out what the time is? Based on the ad choices, this service remains in place for the elderly, but hey, when I'm that old, I think I'll need every second I can get.
I have spent a little too much time digging into this, and I just can’t figure out where it’s coming from. At one point, the service was run by SBC Ameritech, but it isn’t now. It might be a company called "Time of Day Announcement Recording," but all my searches wind up in a dead end.
This I do know: The first one was voiced by Jane Barbe, a voice actress who made the recordings for the Bell System. She was the voice of "We’re sorry, your call cannot be completed as dialed."
Now the voices are male, but that’s all I can figure out.
Maybe some questions aren’t meant to be answered.
Andy is the president, publisher and founder of OnMilwaukee. He returned to Milwaukee in 1996 after living on the East Coast for nine years, where he wrote for The Dallas Morning News Washington Bureau and worked in the White House Office of Communications. He was also Associate Editor of The GW Hatchet, his college newspaper at The George Washington University.
Before launching OnMilwaukee.com in 1998 at age 23, he worked in public relations for two Milwaukee firms, most of the time daydreaming about starting his own publication.
Hobbies include running when he finds the time, fixing the rust on his '75 MGB, mowing the lawn at his cottage in the Northwoods, and making an annual pilgrimage to Phoenix for Brewers Spring Training.