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The art of the dial: Why we like hotlines and phone calls with strangers

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Hotlines: whether you realize it or not, you’ve likely used one before. From emergency services to customer service and crisis lines, they often fly under the radar in our daily lives.

This hour, we’ll look at the history of hotlines and then meet some people who have created innovative ways to talk to strangers on the phone: from a hotline for advice from elementary schoolers to an app that calls you to talk.

GUESTS:

  • Dr. Lee Humphreys: Professor of Communication at Cornell University

  • Jessica Martin: An artist who leads an art program for West Side Elementary in Healdsburg, California. She’s also the co-creator of the kids-advice hotline, Peptoc

  • Danielle Baskin: An artist who co-created Dialup, a voice-chat app that connects you to strangers

  • Michelle Rorong: An architect in Indonesia who wrote about her experience using Dialup during a COVID-19 quarantine period

HOTLINES MENTIONED IN THE SHOW:

  • Peptoc — 707-8PEPTOC

  • Butterball Turkey Talk-Line — 1-800-BUTTERBALL

  • Callin' Oates — 719-26-OATES

 

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Colin McEnroe, Frankie Graziano, Sabrina Herrera, Jonathan McNicol, Cat Pastor, Lily Tyson, and Chion Wolf contributed to this show, which originally aired on May 10, 2023.

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