Last week, I was put on hold during a call to Seattle city council member Sally Clark, and I was treated to the city's official "Muzak" consisting of works by local musical artists ranging from country and classical to rock and jazz. What shouldn't have surprised me is that the "on hold" music is DJ'd by, guess who? If you picked Maximum Leader Greg Nickels, you win a canteen of delicious city tap water!
Between each song — I was on hold for quite a while — Nickels' voice comes on the line to tell you the music is the work of Seattle's "amazing and diverse" artists. Even better, you are informed that you can learn more about the city's on hold music by going to a Web site. This is, I guess, for people like me who are at their computer and really should be working, but....
At the city Web site, people who love being put on hold can sign up for podcasts or listen to a streaming version of the city's current mix — complete with the ubiquitous mayor's repeated, pre-recorded message between each number. The program has been been going on for a couple of years, and you can also check out previous mixes (they change once every three months).
I tried to listen to the current line-up on my computer, but the repeated message from Nickels turned out to be too high a price to pay: Imagine Nickels as the voice of "Hal" in 2001: A Space Odyssey. "I know you were planning to disconnect me, Knute, and I'm afraid that's something I cannot allow to happen...."
After a couple of longish stints on hold with Sally Clark's office, I opted to go the non-propaganda route and communicate via the lovely silence of e-mail.