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The Accidental Creation of On-Hold Music: A Radio Fluke

The Accidental Creation of On-Hold Music: A Radio Fluke

Whether it’s annoying or not, that music that pours through our earbuds or speakers on our phones while we’re on hold is something we expect. Sometimes it’s classical, sometimes it’s jazzy. Even if we’re enjoying it, we long for it to end so we can hear that human voice return to help us.

Still, it pacifies us a bit as hold music is better than complete silence, and that’s its point. So thank goodness this fluke happened, or we may not have on-hold music at all.

According to the Weird Facts website, it’s all because of a loose wire and a faulty phone line connection.

A loose wire touching the steel frame of an office building caused it to act as a giant radio receiver, allowing callers to hear music from local radio stations while they waited on hold.

Welcome to the unofficial beginning of hold music. In the 1960s, the United States Patent office received an application for a Telephone Hold Program System from a factory owner named Alfred Levy.

Who knows what the callers on hold were thinking when they started hearing a radio station playing through their phones. Meanwhile, Alfred investigated the issues with his factory’s phone lines, which let music through while his customers were on hold.

When he found that a loose wire touching a steel girder was picking up radio stations while callers were placed on hold, he knew they no longer had to sit in silence. This discovery eventually launched the evolution of on-hold music as we know it today.

It was in the 1980s that the first rival to on-hold music started. Messaging on Hold played music with a sultry voice interrupting to promote the business or company for a few seconds before returning to music.

Source: Weird Facts, Slate