Voicemails from hundreds of strangers answering a secret question

Olga sez, "On Thanksgiving, I got chosen by the Listserve (the email lottery!) to send an email to 21,632 people. I decided to ask them to call a Google Voicemail number, and answer the secret question I left on the answering message. The result is hundreds of strangers leaving me poignant, funny, and often heart-breaking audio recordings of their memories. It's like peeking into someone's closet, full of an infinite number of secret stories. (The phone number is still working. You can call it to leave your memories here: 1.415.857.0589.)"

This Is A Memory Of (Thanks, Olga)


  1. This was pioneered by a music producer named Steve Stein in the 80’s on a “telephone based radio show” he called “Ralphies Bop City”. He used a tape voicemail machine and asked a question, and then would edit the responses, put them on the “outgoing” message with the next question. It was often brilliant. He’s archived some on his site

    His explanation  http://www.steinski.com/blog/ralphies_bop_city_pt_1/

    great question: The holidays are here, and it’s family time, so please tell us about your weirdest relatives.  http://www.steinski.com/blog/ralphies_bop_city_pt_5/

  2. Great project! I think the telephone is the most intimate medium out there—listening to these recordings is like hearing a secret from a friend.

    It reminds me of the work of Joe Frank, who was on public radio for a number of years. His show The Other Side consists mostly of telephone conversations with friends cut with philosophical, often absurd monologues. The result is intimate and haunting:


Comments are closed.