AT&T Won't Give California the Time of Day

AT&T is disconnecting its decades-long time-of-day call-in service in California. By stopping the service, AT&T will be free to give out about 300,000 new phone numbers.

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DEBBIE ELLIOTT, host:

It's almost the end of time in California. No, we're not talking apocalypse or earthquake, but later this month, residents will no longer be able to hear this.

(Soundbite of telephone dial tone)

Unidentified Woman: Good afternoon. At the tone, Pacific Daylight Time will be 4:12 and 10 seconds.

ELLIOTT: By calling the prefix 8-5-6 and any four digits, Southern California residents could get up-to-the-second time to synchronize their timepieces.

In Northern California, it was pop seven, six, seven, plus any four digits. But AT&T is discontinuing the time-of-day call-in service to free up 300,000 new phone numbers.

Ms. JOANNE DANIELS (Voice Talent, California's Time): I believe in the march of time, but I am sad to see it go, of course.

ELLIOTT: That's Joanne Daniels. She's been the voice of California Time for more than 20 years.

Ms. DANIELS: They would pay me for each session I did. If I had gotten residuals for every time it was used, I would be the richest woman in the world, wouldn't I?

ELLIOTT: Telephone companies have been providing time to callers since the 1920s, but now that there are so many other places to check the time, from cell phones to computers, many phone companies have canceled their telephonic clock service.

Ms. DANIELS: I am sorry to see it go because it is the most accurate time you can get, even more so than your computer and your iPods.

ELLIOTT: It's 18 minutes past the hour.

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