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Long before dial-up modems were in widespread use, and before anyone had even heard of cable news, one way to get up-to-the-minute information was a hotline service, or news via telephone. In New York City, the telephone news hotline was called "The New York Report" — run by Bell and New York Telephone.

The New York Report was basically a looping, updated radio broadcast via phone lines, and this type of news service dovetailed with the other hotlines offered by NY Telephone (like MusicLine and SportsLine), and other dial services such as Time and Temp, or Weather.

In addition to headline news, The New York Report regularly covered the day's traffic and public transit delays, winning lottery numbers, and updates on which Broadway shows still had tickets available for that night's performances. In 1978, the hotline was noted for detailing the symptoms of Legionnaire's disease during that year's national health scare.

The first real test of the service — and the one that proved its worth at the time — happened on July 14,1977: the NYC blackout. While telephone use in general increased about 300% during the blackout, use of The New York Report skyrocketed, with a record 859,000 calls logged in the first 24 hours, compared to 8,000-10,000 on a normal day. The service received more than 200,000 calls on the second day of the blackout.

Footage Courtesy of AT&T Archives and History Center, Warren, NJ


Release date: 01/13/2015





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