Elmer Cat

Permanent Signal Recordings

PhoneRecordingsPermanent Signal Recordings

When someone picked up their phone, but didn’t dial a complete number, it could tie up common control equipment in the Central Office. To help alleviate this problem, The Phone Company used special recordings and annoying tones to encourage subscribers to hang up their phones.

The excerpts heard here were sampled from Evan Doorbell’s phabulous library of vintage telephone sounds at PhoneTrips.com. To enjoy Evan’s complete presentation about Permanent Signal Recordings, download his mp3 podcast.

New York Telephone – Classic Standard Voice

a.k.a. the “Owen Murphy Lady”

The woman in this picture is believed to be the famous “Owen Murphy Lady” who was the standard announcement voice for New York Telephone Company in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Many of her recordings are featured on this site.

Jane Barbe – “Classic” Permanent Signal Recording

Jane’s naturally musical and sophisticated voice was the epitome of grace and charm. No matter what she said, it was always delightful to listen to!

Jane Barbe – “Folksy” Permanent Signal Recording

Jane could fine-tune her voice to suit regional accents. Most people enjoyed hearing her bring out more of her own Southern warmth and hospitality!

Other Permanent Signal Recordings

Warwick, New York – A particular inward operator in Warwick, NY was famous in her own right for other reasons I won’t get into here. It is believed she is also the voice on Warwick’s permanent signal recording. Her gifted voice is quite different than Jane’s.

Hastings, Florida – This DMS-10 central office owned by the North Florida Telephone Company has a recording that could almost be mistaken for a live switchman. (Evan Doorbell cameo included) The recording ends with the deliberately annoying Howler Tone, which has an unusual tonal quality from DMS-10’s.


Abilene, Texas – In this central office, there wasn’t a howler tone, so a switchman imitated the sound of a Sweep Test Tone by whistling! After he recites the permanent signal recording text, you can hear him take a deep breath and whistle his version of the sweep tone.

Odessa, Texas – This switchman didn’t try whistling, but used something to imitate a howler tone, and then recites his version of this strange permanent signal text.


Another place –