Thursday AM March 5th, 2009

Representatives of New York-based directory assistance firm kgb are in Houston to introduce their service. They’re visiting high traffic areas, local events, sports arenas, concert venues and bars and night spots. Ed Mayberry reports.

image of text messaging

The Knowledge Generation Bureau, or kgb, is visiting 18 cities to introduce consumers to their new 542542 text answer service, which answers any question on any topic in minutes.  kgb CEO Bruce Stewart says it’s a natural extension of his company’s directory assistance service, which handles 411 calls for several carriers.

“We purchased ten Smart cars, you know, the small little Smart cars—very green, right?  We’re just taking our message out and introducing kgb, the service — and the brand and the company — to people in a fun way.  How, in their daily lives, you know, texting a question that they might have to 542542 can become a daily part of their schedule.  It’s a combination of technology plus a human-powered sort of search.  And while you go and multi-task, which everybody’s doing all the time on their phones anyway, and let us do the heavy lifting and find that answer for you.”   

It’s a fee-based service — 99 cents per answer.

“When people are mobile and they’re on their mobile devices, sometimes it’s awfully difficult to get it in a traditional search model on the mobile phone.  They may say ‘what is the the Spanish word or the Japanese word or the Chinese word for ‘blank,’ and so they could be looking for a simple English-to-another-language translation.  We see that.  Your kid asks you kind of a question like ‘why is the sky blue?’  And you’re like ‘gee, that’s a great one.  Let me see if kgb can help me out and answer my five-year-old’s ‘why is the sky blue’ question.” 

Kgb’s 542542 text answer service was launched in January with a suite of information services that deliver information by text, Web and mobile applications. 

Ed Mayberry, KUHF Houston Public Radio News.


Ed Mayberry

Ed Mayberry

News Anchor

Ed Mayberry has worked in radio since 1971, with much of his early career as a rock’n’roll disc jockey. He worked as part of a morning show team on album rock station KLBJ-FM, and later co-hosted a morning show at adult rock station KGSR, both in Austin. Ed also conducted...

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