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Calling Marlo Stanfield

By Justin Newman
Published in The Wire
October 05, 2013
2 min read
Calling Marlo Stanfield

A couple of years ago, it came to my attention that Marlo Stanfield’s # is 410-915-0909. The reason this was particularly notable for me was that 410-915, a block of numbers with a storied history, is allocated to Baltimore-Washington Telephone Company (BWTel), where I manage the technical operations. So, I whipped up an audio clip, dropped it on a server, and routed 410-915-0909 to it. Voilà. Marlo was back in business. I told a few friends, then forgot about Marlo for a while. Then my wife, Elizabeth, called me and told me that folks (most notably, Slate) had figured out Marlo’s phone was alive…

Q: How many lines does Marlo have?

A: Marlo has enough lines to power the entire Stanfield Organization and have capacity left over.

Q: Why does Marlo sound so crummy?

A: That was the clip I had at my fingertips. If someone were to give me a better clip, Marlo would sound better.

Q: Do people really call Marlo?

A: All the time. He receives consistent, daily telephone calls.

Q: What’s so special about 410-915?

A: Way back when, there were two ways to do pay-per-call voice calls: 1-900 and 976. 976 existed in most local areas around the country, including Baltimore. (So there were numbers like 410-976-xxxx, 301-976-xxxx, etc.). In Maryland (and some other states), regulators limited 976 to non-adult content. At the same time they created a special exchange just for adult content. In Baltimore, this was 410-915. At creation, it was preemptively blocked on all phone lines in the State. So yes, you had to call Verizon and ask for it to be unblocked. (Imagine how that call goes…) Of course, this pre-dated cell phones, voip carriers, and even alternative telephone providers. And as these carriers came on the scene, they didn’t block 410-915. While there haven’t been any 410-915 adult audiotex lines active for some time, there are some numbers allocated for various purposes. And one of these leads to Marlo.

Q: Does it cost anything to call Marlo?

A: Just as with any other telephone number in the US, standard usage rates apply. (If you pay to call your grandma, you’ll pay to call Marlo. If not, you probably won’t). No one is profiting from Marlo’s telephone number. There aren’t any ads or corporate sponsors.

Q: Why did you set this up? A: When I realized BWTel had Marlo’s number, I set it up to honor Marlo and The Wire.


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