Reply All: #167 America's Hottest Talkline
October 4, 2020 9:12 AM - Subscribe

We're excited to announce that Emmanuel Dzotsi is taking on a new role on the show ... as host! And this week, he brings us a story about a mysterious recording that has been popping up on government hotlines for years. Emmanuel tries to figure out where this recording is coming from and who's putting it there.
posted by eotvos (6 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I really liked this episode - investigative pieces like this tend to be my favorite Reply Alls. Emmanuel Dzotsi has a kind of open-minded, curious vibe that I really like. I also appreciated the way the reporter who did the original investigation was included in the piece.

The story itself is unfortunately yet another in a series of Reply All episodes that point out how lack of regulation of the telecom industry is screwing us - even if this was not the most egregious example. My peeve about the show is that they tend not to call this out as a systemic problem
posted by latkes at 11:38 AM on October 5, 2020 [1 favorite]

I'm super excited about Emmanuel Dzotsi becoming a new host!
posted by esker at 4:33 PM on October 5, 2020

As a fellow Philadelphian, I want to go out for drinks with “Evelyn” who described the Primetel founders so badly. Between working for Primetel itself and having done phone sex I bet she has dirt on all kinds of powerful people, and I am here for her describing all of them with the same glee that she describes Sandra Kessler with.
posted by ActionPopulated at 4:36 PM on October 5, 2020 [5 favorites]

I really enjoyed this and I'm happy to hear Dzotsi is a new host. I don't really understand how the hierarchy among roles in contemporary podcasting works. (Is a host more powerful than a producer?) But, it sounds like it's good for everyone, including the audience.

I kept expecting this to conclude with some sort of meta-scam, in which an important phone number is stolen and turned into a phone-sex number in order to generate press, then switched to a real business to harvest calls from people who've read the paper and decided to try it. I think I underestimated the scale of the operation. Strategizing around getting a small article in local papers may not be worth the effort to them compared to millions of misdials and random county service numbers.
posted by eotvos at 2:15 AM on October 6, 2020

I've heard that 1-800 numbers send you to different places depending on where you call them from too, so say someone in Michigan calls 1-800-ROOFERS and they get a roofing company in Michigan, versus someone in Seattle doing the same thing and getting a similarly local company. I'm not sure if this is actually not the case, or if it's a detail that was glossed over in this episode.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 3:44 PM on October 6, 2020

I believe that's thanks to a company (like one of the ones in the episode?) owning the desirable number and rerouting calls to it based on the area code of the caller, giving them the ability to rent the desirable number to multiple businesses across the country.
posted by nobody at 9:04 AM on October 11, 2020

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