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Prologue

Host Ira Glass explains why some old answering machine messages from a decade ago have such power for him: there's a special power to recordings of phone conversations. The phone is intimate ā€” more intimate than a photograph.

Act Two: When The Telephone Is Your Medium

Sure you can try to get your pop songs onto records, or on the radio, or onto MTV. But what happens if your medium of choice is ... the telephone? Before they had record contracts, the band They Might Be Giants distributed their songs through the medium of Answering Machine.

Act Three: Phone As History

We think of our phone calls and phone messages as so transient. We have another example of phones recording personal history: this story from Barrett Golding in Bozeman, Montana, comprised of telephone messages about his father.