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Just Scream Hotline Allows People To Vent

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

If you ever hear the news and just want to scream, there's a number you can dial the let it all out. We'll let one of the callers explain.

UNIDENTIFIED CALLER #1: There's literally just a line where you can call to just scream it into the void (laughter). So if you're having a day, just call and go (screaming).

NOEL KING, HOST:

Chris Gollmar set this up just before the 2020 election. He's an elementary school teacher and an artist in New York City. And he could see that people needed a place to vent. He set up a voicemail and a website called Just Scream!

CHRIS GOLLMAR: I figured maybe I would only get friends calling in, but I think we're over 120,000 screams now.

INSKEEP: As for what people should scream, Mr. Gollmar leaves that up to you. He listens to all of the calls before publishing them.

GOLLMAR: I mean, the most common thing is they'll just call in and make a two-second, three-second-long scream...

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED CALLER #2: Aaah.

GOLLMAR: ...Sort of the classic horror movie aaah (ph).

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED CALLER #3: Aaah.

GOLLMAR: But I'd get people singing.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED CALLER #4: (Singing) Nants ingonyama (unintelligible).

GOLLMAR: My favorites are when people, like, try to get their baby to scream.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED CALLER #5: Scream.

UNIDENTIFIED CALLER #6: Aaah.

UNIDENTIFIED CALLER #7: Aaah.

UNIDENTIFIED CALLER #5: Good job. Again.

UNIDENTIFIED CALLER #6: Aaah.

UNIDENTIFIED CALLER #7: Aaah.

UNIDENTIFIED CALLER #5: That's a good one (laughter).

GOLLMAR: And some folks have really started recording messages of hope.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED CALLER #8: I know that the state of America right now is very tense, and we'll make it through.

GOLLMAR: Some have seen this as an opportunity to really help others' mental health.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED CALLER #9: I don't think I have a scream in me. We're still reeling from last year. But there's got to be something beyond this, right? And I got to believe that it's going to get better. So let's just hang in there, OK? You're valid. You're great. You're utterly fantastic. And I love you so much.

KING: Gollmar thinks of the project as a kind of time capsule from the election to the inauguration.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED CALLER #10: This is not a scream. This is my animal in distress call (screaming).

GOLLMAR: I mean, as a teacher in the pandemic, I see what it's like to be a parent, what it's like to be a child right now. And it's not a surprise, looking back, that 120,000 people have called and recorded screams.

INSKEEP: OK. The Just Scream! phone line closes this evening, but there's still time to call. And the website here says, don't worry if you're afraid of human contact. There is no live human on the other end of the line. So make sure your feelings are heard.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED CALLER #11: (Shouting) I love you. You're beautiful. Have a nice day.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WON'T GET FOOLED AGAIN")

THE WHO: (Screaming). Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.