Growing up with a rotary telephone in the home, I thought I had hit the big-time when I moved up to a touch-tone phone in my college dorm room.

You mean I can actually hit the re-dial button and not have to burn 11 calories with my right index finger alone?

Now, it seems, more and more people are using their phones for anything but engaging in an actual conversation. And it’s not as if it’s that physically demanding to make a call–usually we’re not even tapping an entire number before our phone anticipates who we want to reach.

This tendency to rely more and more on texting, e-mailing and other forms short of a real, live conversation is a shame–though not for the few old-schoolers, like me, who remember the value of a phone call, even if only to complement a written communication.

Earlier today, I called a reporter to give her a heads-up that she’d be getting a news release via email later this week. Now, when the release arrives, it won’t be a “cold PR call” but a much warmer one.

And one of my favorite Chicago Tribune reporting memories is when I called an $8,000-a-month lobbyist for the Town of Cicero.  I reached him late one Friday afternoon, after he’d been ducking me for a few weeks, and the brief conversation that followed helped wrap up the story exposing the notoriously corrupt municipality’s dubious expenditure, headlined “Cicero’s Lobbyist Gets a Closer Look.”

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