Monday, April 30, 2012

The Akron Family Whose Phone Number Was 867-5309 Back When "Jenny" Came Out

Posted by on Mon, Apr 30, 2012 at 1:28 PM

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A fun piece of local history from the ABJ today: the paper caught up with the Shambargers, a family who lived in West Akron during the early 80s and whose phone number would be blasted out forever and ever across America by Tommy Tutone.

Yes, the Shambargers' phone number was 867-5309.

Charles Shambarger, the dad, is now retired and in Nebraska, but he'll never forget the flood of phone calls from folks eager to ask one question: Is Jenny there?

“It started out as an isolated phone call here and there,” he said. “We’d get a phone call: ‘Is Jenny there?’ I’d say, ‘No, I’m sorry, you have the wrong number.’ Maybe a couple of nights later, I’d get another phone call: ‘Is Jenny there?’ ”

And then it got worse, and the family had no idea why. They didn't know WMMS was spinning the track every five minutes or so, and they didn't know that Tutone's song featured their digits in an easily remembered pop chorus.

They contacted Ohio Bell to have the prank calls traced, assuming a single dastardly mastermind was behind the calls, which came day and night. Ohio Bell informed them the calls were coming from all around the country.

Daughter Amy Shambarger, 39, of Denver, was a 9-year-old pupil at St. Sebastian when Jenny entered her life.

“What I remember is my parents being irate over the number of phone calls we were getting from people we didn’t know,” she said. “We eventually figured out there was a song out with our number. We hadn’t heard it.

“My mom kept calling the radio station to get them to stop playing it. And, of course, that didn’t help.”

After a month, the family gave up and changed their number, sadly with no song to help them remember the new digits.

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