Chart Week: May 1, 1982
Song: “867–5309/Jenny” – Tommy Tutone
Chart Position: #8, 15th week on the chart. Peaked at #4 for three weeks in May and June.

Quick show of hands: if you were alive and old enough in 1982, how many of you dialed 867–5309 to see if Jenny would answer? I know I did. I believe in Kansas City the response was an AT&T recording that there was no such number in my area code (816 represent!).

Unintentionally, the band Tommy Tutone set off a brief fad with their ode to looking for a good time by calling a number scribbled onto a wall.

According to Casey Kasem, dozens of people around the country had the number 867–5309 when the song was released. As the song climbed the chart, and volume of callers looking for Jenny multiplied, it created great annoyance and forced many of those poor folks to change their phone numbers.

A couple businesses tried to take advantage.

A talent agency in Los Angeles adopted the number and connected it to an answering machine, where a woman named Jenny asked callers to leave a message.

Chicago radio station WLS went a step further. The AM radio giant also claimed the number. In a matter of weeks they got over 18,000 calls. The phone company told the station they needed to add more lines to handle the flood of callers. WLS did, and enlisted Tommy Tutone lead singer Tommy Heath to record a message that answered the calls, thanking fans for their interest in the song.

If only I knew the Chicago area code in 1982! Then again, long distance calling was an expensive luxury back then. My mom probably would have killed me when the phone bill arrived listing a bunch of calls to 312–867–5309.

As I listened to this week’s countdown I couldn’t help but compare this little bit of harmless marketing fun to how brand managers would handle a similar song today. Can you imagine? There would be coordinated social media pushes. There would be ads on YouTube. There would be carefully crafted GIFs, Tik Toks, and Instagram filters. Jimmy Fallon would do a super dumb parody. And since the charts are so different now, the song would hang around for nearly a year, to the point where we would all be sick of it and never want to hear it again.

Thank goodness the ‘80s were different times! Instead of being overexposed and forgotten, “867–5309/Jenny” become one of the most beloved, iconic, and unforgettable songs of its era.