A ring tone to die (of shame) for?

It’s one of the first rules of radio — switch off your mobile phone before going into the on-air studio. Or, better still, leave it outside. Sounds easy enough. But most radio producers have committed this cardinal sin at some point — breezing in, forgetting to turn the damn thing off. And most of the time you’ll get away with it. But not always…
Well it happened in one of our news bulletins this week. And our newsreader coped admirably — reading the news unflustered as the pesky phone — which had been left in the studio by someone else — rang and rang and rang. And we all know what these moments feel like — cinemas, funerals, whatever. It happened to blogger Larry T. Doughty, who advocates fining people — himself included, it would seem.
So where’s the most embarrassing place your mobile phone has ever gone off? And how good did that new ring tone you’d downloaded as a joke make you feel at that precise moment?

27 Responses to “A ring tone to die (of shame) for?”

  1. 1 Jonathan
    August 28, 2008 at 23:28

    Great topic; sorry I can’t contribute because my cell phone number is a close secret so it almost never rings. When it does, though, there’s no mistking it–it’s the sound of a good old-fashioned mechanical phone, actually ringing, with a bell.

  2. 2 Bob in Queensland
    August 29, 2008 at 03:35

    A classical music choir recital I was attending with my then sister-in-law who was a close friend of the conductor. I actually thought I turned the phone off but must have not held the button long enough.

    I don’t actually go for fun ring-tones and tend to just use a very standard pre-set. This worked against me in the above scenario–I was so sure I’d turned off the phone that I “knew” the noise couldn’t be me so I let it ring far too long!

  3. 3 Jennifer
    August 29, 2008 at 04:28

    I am obsessive about making sure I turn my phone off so as not to disrupt anything important because that’s rude. I use music ringers but they are pleasant songs so I wouldn’t be ashamed if they were heard….

  4. 4 1430a
    August 29, 2008 at 05:22

    i must say a very funny topic.
    lets see…..when i was in a class?
    My teacher(trust me he is short tempered),was gving a lecture on Nuclear Physics and suddenly my favourite Daughtry song began.It was quite an embarrassing moment as all faces turned on me!!!

  5. 5 Brett
    August 29, 2008 at 12:27

    A NOFX ringtone I had downloaded went off years ago in a lecture class of about 300 people, while it was dead silent…. It broke up the monotony of the exercises we were doing though lol.

  6. 6 Brett
    August 29, 2008 at 12:30

    I keep it on vibrate 99% of the time though, or one beep and vibrate. So the ring tone issue doesn’t happen often. I find it annoying whenever anyones phone rings and they sit there and let the ring tone play or dont pick it up. And if someone is carrying on a text conversation with constant textbacks, forget about it, they need to turn it to vibrate or get smacked in the head.

  7. 7 selena in Paris
    August 29, 2008 at 12:34

    Once someone changed my ring tone to classical music without my knowledge.

    The first time it rang that way was in the hospital. I didn’t realize it was the phone in my pocket and said, “How long have we putting classical music over the system? I’ve never heard that before.”

    Then someone started laughing and said it was coming from my pocket. It was hilarious!

  8. 8 Danny Aeberhard
    August 29, 2008 at 13:05

    @ Selena — fantastic! A “Doh!” moment.

    I had something similar to Brett happen to me — a lecture at the Royal Society here in London, with about 400+ superbrains on high-end genetics. In the words of Obama, it was “above my pay grade” and I was feeling kinda out-of-place there anyway.

    Then my phone kicked in…VERY loudly…and it was at the bottom of my packed rucksack…

    …and I was dressed in my fluorescent yellow bicycle jacket…

    Oh, well, at least I was spared a Kylie ringtone!

  9. 9 selena in Paris
    August 29, 2008 at 13:10


    I can’t stop laughing, as I have attended lectures such as you describe.

    Aw! Come on! Why would you feel out of place? My ego is such that I feel more in place than anyone there.

    LOL Thanks…

  10. 10 Zainab
    August 29, 2008 at 14:00

    Hello all,
    Wow i like this funny topic, it’s interesting:)
    Well when I was in third-year class in 2004, immediately after the Mobile’s companies have entered Iraq. My father bought two mobiles, one for himself, and the other was for my brother. I took my brother’s mobile with me to college (and i wasn’t even know how to use it). At college, and in a novel class, it rang with it classical nokia tone. you can’t imagine how red i became . The whole class kept silent listening to my mobile, and the teacher kept asking “what is this sound?” (because she [the teacher] and all the students didn’t know anything about this new device which entered our country at that time.) …i can’t stop it, i just opened the line and kept it in my pocket. Of course all the eyes turned on me. and i was just so embarrassed. After that, I used to put my phone only on vibration, especially when I’m in class. (though we are sometimes allowed to leave our mobiles ringing loudly)
    But let me tell you that I do love the Nokia tone, I like music more than songs. In fact i’m dying of shame whenever I hear anyone’s mobile ringing with a noisy song.
    yours truly
    Zainab from Iraq

  11. 11 Nick in USA
    August 29, 2008 at 14:19

    Good topic! Mine was in a meeting at Toyota. I always carry my personal mobile and my work mobile. I had switched off my work phone, but forgotten about my personal one. It had a Jimmy Eat World ringtone. There were about 20 people in that meeting, and we were talking about a multi-million dollar project. It was pretty embarrassing to have an indie pop emocore group blasting from my pocket.

  12. 12 Dennis
    August 29, 2008 at 14:27

    i would keep my cell phone on the “alarm” mode…and if i can get ahold of the person, he would not have to say…


  13. 13 John Smith - Jamaica
    August 29, 2008 at 15:57

    I agree with Johnathan. years ago when I got a phone which could play mp3s etc, I settled on a good old fashioned phone ring from my youth. The type that was on those rotary dial phone with the bell on the inside. Keep it simple and there is no need for embarrassment

  14. 14 steve
    August 29, 2008 at 21:39

    I’ve never had any embarassing phone moments, but I would kill to get a SNCF jingle ringtone.

  15. August 29, 2008 at 22:10

    Well I was out partying one night, and I met this guy, He wasn’t hot, but I needed to make a name for myself since my show was about to air, anyway, we went back to one of my places, and… Oh just watch the video. It is all over the internet.

  16. 16 Devra Lawrence-Jamaica
    August 29, 2008 at 22:21

    I almost always keep it on vibrate, but when it’s on “Vibe & Ring, “Through the Fire” by Chaka Kahn is the personal ring tone I use for my bf, so when it goes off in the office (that’s when I forget to put it on vibrate) most people look around or they have a ‘clue’ as to who is calling me. That’s a bit embarrassing. 😐

  17. 17 Devra Lawrence-Jamaica
    August 29, 2008 at 22:22

    Better yet, when my fone rings @ home and my father hears “Through the Fire” he makes a big deal out of who’s calling or he teases me. 😀

  18. 18 Jamily5
    August 29, 2008 at 22:45

    I’m like Jonathan and Bob from Queensland,
    I have a simple bell ring. I want my phone to sound like… … um, a phone.

    But, like Selina, once (well, more than once), my children have changed the ring and it has went off (full blast) in a meeting.
    \and, since my children changed the ringer to this hip-hop kind of song, I was thinking to myself: what fool leaves their phone on with that music.
    And, the ironic thing is that when I want to find my phone, it just does not seem to ring loud enough!
    I will lose it and call it and it might take me a few times to find it.
    It is the new version of “hide and seek.”

  19. 19 Kalypso
    August 30, 2008 at 00:49

    hey this topic is soo funny…
    ok … let me see…
    the most embarrassing thing for me would undoubtedly be that my mobile rings in the church. luckily, in the three years that I have been attending the services, this NEVER happened. I always remember to turn it off, or, when I’m inside the church already, I just take out the battery so that there’s not this sound when you turn the mobile off.
    it is so embarrassing when someone’s phone is ringing during the service. actually it happens almost every time. ok and to be honest, mostly it is one of us, the ladies, who forget to turn their phone off… ooo it echoes through the whole church… it is especially embarrassing when it happens during a more silent moment, for example, when a priest is praying, and the congregation is silent. really, I feel always so embarrassed as if it was my own phone…
    in the uni I almost always forget to turn off my mobile, it rang at least 20 times when I was in classes. but it is not so embarrassing, and I quickly reach into my bag and turn it off, it never rings for long, and normally it doesn’t disturb so much, I think maybe because it’s not so loud and also most rooms in the uni (with the exception of maybe 1 or 2) are build in such a way that there’s no echo or so.
    but let me tell the funniest story: last semester I took a class: political violence in Europe. one day the prof. talked more detailed about the nationalistic movements in Europe, especially Austria, in the beginning of the 1920s. and just as he was talking about how a certain movement in Austria gained more power, a guy’s phone rang and a kind of military march music echoed through the whole room. everyone burst into laughing. my God, it was soooo funny! the prof. said, “Yes, they gained power with this music playing.” and laughed also. really, it was extremely funny. sorry, I can’t describe it well here, but believe me, I had to laugh at least 10 minutes after that. and the best thing is that I recorded the whole thing because I always record the lectures…
    anyways, a funny topic. and that’s what I can contribute.
    Vienna, Austria
    p.s. hey, why is there a swear word in the post that suggests the topic? I thought this is not allowed on whys.

  20. 20 roebert
    August 30, 2008 at 10:07

    If we’re going to object to ‘damn’ being published in the intro, let’s object to an example of incorrect grammar too: it should be ‘damned’ or, for Kalypso, ‘d….d.’

    Damned if you do, damned if you don’t….

  21. 21 selena in Paris
    August 30, 2008 at 10:18

    Is damn a swear word? What’s a swear word anyway?

    I thought a swear word was to take the Lord’s name in vain?

    Who determines what is a swear word?

  22. 22 roebert
    August 30, 2008 at 10:41

    A swear word is the first word that enters your mind when your cellphone rings just as the slow movement of a Mozart sonata begins in the concert hall. That’s why, for moral reasons, it’s better to switch it off, and keep your mind pure.

  23. 23 Venessa
    August 30, 2008 at 18:08

    Okay, it’s no secret that I’m not religious but I was visiting a friend of mine and took her daughter to church. My phone almost never rings; especially in the mornings so I forgot to turn it off. The ring tone that played was the song “I touch myself” which happened to be a joke with my friend with whom it was assigned. (she is a very sexually liberated woman). Anyway the singing of “I touch myself” during a prayer was not very well taken…..

    Personally I found the situation amusing after the dagger stares were gone.

  24. 24 Kalypso
    August 30, 2008 at 19:40

    ok ok ok… i think it’s a misunderstanding here…
    actually I didn’t object. I was just asking. because I always thought, you cant write any words like “damn” or so here, so I was just wondering….. I’m not objecting ok? why does everyone understand it wrong? I didn’t say “it is so terrible”, or anything like that. I just asked: “hey why is there a swear word …. I thought this is not allowed…” it was merely a question, ok? ok I understand that some may not define “damn” as a swear word, but I couldn’t think of how else to call such a word… sorry, ok?
    so the answer to my “innocent question” would be: damn does not qualify as a swear word. correct?
    p.s. hello roebert, what are you saying there…? I think I don’t get it well.. Kalypso is actually my name… believe it or not hahahaaaa. no one knows what it means, but friends are telling me it has a positive meaning, it is something good. because there’s a song that says something like, “when you return home, it is very interesting to play with kalypso….” hahahaaa. so maybe a musical instrument or so. we don’t know. anyways. at least it is positive hahaaaa.

  25. 25 Jessica in NYC
    August 31, 2008 at 01:44

    I remember R. Kelly having a very inopportune cell-phone call while he was Tapped in the Closet that got him into a bit of trouble.

  26. September 1, 2008 at 11:12

    Ring tones provided by the network providing companies are often embarrassing and annoying and that is why I dislike downloading any of such.

  27. September 29, 2008 at 19:12

    My cell went off while I was being proposed to on a carousel. mega-embarassment

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