Phone Recordings
Los Angeles Area & Beyond,

Dial-A-Joke & Joke Lines
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DialAJoke.us

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Description of the Dial A Joke type recordings

In the L.A. area, Ben's upbeat message was one of earlier better known ones. Vermont (213- VERMONT or 837-6668) came into existence sometimes in the late 1960's. The Machine (213-833-3339) came next, and then Zzzzzz (213-836-5566), officially it started with six Z's. Zzzzzz was also listed as "A" in the phone book. It had started out not with the intent of playing material over the phone, but of having the first and last listing in the directory.

Vermont and The Machine both used multi-message formats. Each time someone called, they had a chance of hearing a different message.

Sometime after Zzzzzz started receiving calls from curious souls wondering what the phone listing was about, they began playing messages. Originally they played only one message a day, and changed it regularly.


Aardvark
Located in San Diego 222-2111
I didn't hear too many since it was long distance. But at one time you where able to call it from Disneyland for FREE. The old weather phones where restricted to certain digits. The number was 222-2111. Eventually the phones at Disneyland went away.


Ben
Located near downtown Los Angeles 483-7040
Started in the mid to late 1960's
An inspirational recording telling how great things are and singing of "Happy Days Are Here Again". It was suppose to been out of a motel near downtown Los Angeles.
Someone found it and here is the link to the recording. Thanks......

Ben Recording
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Convex
Culver City Number 559-1974
Northridge Number 993-1974

Stated in 1974
The Northridge number wasn't up for very long. It had some funny jokes. The best was the football players.


Dial-A-Joke
Mark Robbins, Ira Goldstein, Ben Weinberg and Jan Lucas
Located in Reseda 881-2345
then changed to 990-5653 and finally on the mass calling prefix (520) where all of the radio stations have their request numbers, 520-9646. This number did not have the same calling area as the other two. This one was in the Hollywood rate. By then the recordings were rarely changed. I heard that it was in a closet somewhere in Reseda.

I would guess that it started around 1970. A friend, Raymond Childs told me about it while in summer school. He found out about it from a poster on a phone pole. These where the first recordings that I heard.

History of Dial-A-Joke (from Mark Robbins's perspective):

Mark Robbins and Ira Goldstein were living in an apartment on Yarmouth Street in Encino, California. Jan Lucas and Ben Weinberg were visiting. They were listening to a radio skit called Dial-A-Dirty-Joke. The light bulb went off in their minds. Let's start "Dial-A-Joke" where people can call a telephone number and get a joke.

We decided that Jan Lucas would be the voice of Dial-A-Joke, Mark Robbins would be responsible for building and maintaining the answering machine (later to be the custom Dial-A-Joke machine). Ira Goldstein and Ben Weinberg were responsible for content and production of the Dial-A-Joke tapes.

So we hooked up a telephone company answering machine. I believe that it was a Code-A-Phone 770 (it was illegal to hook up anything else in those days) and recorded a joke. As I recall, it was:
You have dialed Dial-A-Joke Two Chickens was talking. The first chicken said "The farmer gets 50 cents a dozen for my eggs". The second chicken said "Well, the farmer gets 55 cents a dozen for my eggs and my eggs are bigger". The first chicken says "I should bust my ass for a lousy nickel? You have dialed Dial-A-Joke"

We also got a rubber stamp made that said
"Dial-A-Joke 881-2345"
and stamped hundreds of business card sized pieces of paper and then passed them out in the local malls.

Immediately, we started receiving back to back calls and Code-A-Phone started to fail under the load. It was clear that we needed a more durable solution. Mark"s solution was an 8 track tape player. About 30 different jokes were recorded on a mobious loop tape (8 track tape). There were two tracks recorded on the tape. The first track had the joke on it. The second track had a beep tone after each joke which turned off the machine. We also put a counter on the machine. When we retired the machine, it had over a million calls logged.

Almost immediately after Dial-A-Joke started, the Pacific Bell telephone exchange was overloaded with calls. Most people were getting a busy signal but quickly discovered that they could talk to each other in the silence between busy signals. The phone company called us and told us that we would need to increase our phone lines from one to 30. A special interface box between our equipment and the phone line was required to be rented from the phone company for $30 each. That would have put us out of business so we created a recording asking listeners to come down to the phone company for a rally. We alerted the press and both radio and television were going to cover the event. We received a call from the local Pacific Bell executive who wanted to meet with us. He came over to our apartment and we had a friend picking up the phone and holding the handset up to a tape player to play the caller a joke (remember it was illegal to connect directly to the phone line). We negotiated three phone lines (instead of 30) with him and we were allowed to connect our machines directly to the phone line. In return, we issued a retraction telling callers not to show up at the rally. Pacific Bell was ready the morning of the rally. They served donuts, juice and coffee for anyone that happened to show up.

On Friday nights, a group of friends came to our apartment and we recorded jokes. On Saturday nights we answered live and met lots of people. Mark met his long time girlfriend Bonnie Cordova on Dial-A-Joke and thereafter his wife Cassandra.

Dial-A-Joke was dissolved when Mark and Ira moved out of their apartment. After Mark moved to Denver in the mid 70's he met Robert Moore and they took the original Dial-A-Joke machine out of moth balls and put it into service for a short time. I donít remember the number.

The link between Dial-A-Joke 881-2345 and Z, ZZ, ZZZ:
My mother wanted to see what Dial-A-Joke was all about. She dialed 981-2345 instead of 881-2345 and reached Joe Klein who was the production manager of Z, ZZ, ZZZ. They talked a while and she called me and said "You have to meet Joe Klein." I met Joe and Bob Bilkiss of Z, ZZ, ZZZ and we became inseparable.

Recordings
1969

Recording #1
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Recording #2
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Recording #3
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Recording #4
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Reappearing again in August 1973
Located In Sherman Oaks

Recording #1
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Recording #2
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Recording #3
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Recording #4
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Recording #5
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Recording #6
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Recording #7
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Recording #8
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Recording #9
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Recording #10
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New Recordings as of November 1973

Recording #11
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Recording #12
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Recording #13
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Recording #14