Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Treasure Island adds humor to info

Jeff Jensen, public information officer for Treasure Island, is the author of the oftentimes humorous calls about everything from sewer maintenance to drainage issues.

Jeff Jensen, public information officer for Treasure Island, is the author of the oftentimes humorous calls about everything from sewer maintenance to drainage issues.

TREASURE ISLAND — It's a call from City Hall about trash pickup changes, but it leaves people chuckling.

"Let's talk trash," a computerized voice announces.

Another message warns city residents headed to the John's Pass Seafood Festival to expect traffic delays and advises "stay calm, enjoy the seafood and think of my soothing voice if you get frazzled."

Jeff Jensen, public information officer for Treasure Island, is the author of the oftentimes humorous calls about everything from sewer maintenance to drainage issues.

He spices up the public service messages to get residents' attention.

"It doesn't have to be government gray," Jensen said. "There can be some polka dots, too."

When Jensen started working for the city in 2003, he started putting his creative touches on city communications by drawing on his 20 years of experience as a rock and roll radio DJ.

"You had 30 seconds on the air to get your point across," he said. "You have to figure out ways to cut through the clutter."

He started with the city's electronic newsletter by adding a bit of humor here and there.

Then in 2013, the city started using an electronic messaging system provided by FirstCall. Residents could sign up to receive emails, phone calls or texts about alerts and emergencies involving government services and city events.

"One time I thought, I wonder what it would sound like to say 'Ta ta for now' at the end of the message," he said. "So I added it and people told me they really liked the ending."

The service is now provided by Code Red and city department heads who need to get the word out about things like water outages, traffic issues or severe weather give Jensen the basics and he creates the message.

"They usually say, 'Let's run it by Jeff, maybe he can make it flowery,' " Jensen chuckled.

His boss, Information Technology Director Mark Santos, credits Jensen with using his personality and wit to dress up what normally would be drab public service announcements and turn them into snazzy messages that attract attention and keep people listening.

"He is the voice of Treasure Island," Santos said. "People will read or listen to him."

Knowing Jensen's talent with words, Santos said he has always given him free rein to craft messages.

"We've never had a complaint," he said.

Jensen said he knows it could be easy to cross the line and fall into the trap of trying to top himself.

"We don't want to become a comedy service," he said. "The whole point is to get the message out and try to make it stand out in the clutter."

Even City Hall workers get a kick out of Jensen's messages.

"I've watched when people get the messages on their cell phones at City Hall. They keep listening and then smile when they get to the punch line," Santos said.

Using the electronic service does have its drawbacks, Santos said. The computerized voice sometimes mispronounces words. But Jensen has used the flaw to create some fun.

At the end of one recent notice about the Isle of Capri, Jensen noted the computer voice's mispronunciation of Capri (it said Cap-reye instead of Cap-ree).

"Did I just say that?" he quipped.

Treasure Island adds humor to info 11/29/16 [Last modified: Friday, November 25, 2016 7:11pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Review: Mumford and Sons shower Amalie Arena with love in euphoric Tampa debut


    There are releases, and then there are releases. And minutes into their concert Wednesday at Amalie Arena, Mumford and Sons gave Tampa the latter.

    Mumford and Sons performed at Tampa's Amalie Arena on Sept. 20, 2017.
  2. FEMA to open disaster recovery center in Riverview


    The Federal Emergency Management Agency said it will open a disaster recovery center Thursday in Riverview for Hillsborough County residents impacted by Hurricane Irma.

  3. Life sentence for man convicted in killing of brother of Bucs' Kwon Alexander


    An Alabama man who shot and killed the 17-year-old brother of Bucs linebacker Kwon Alexander in 2015 was sentenced to life in prison Wednesday, the Anniston (Ala.) Star reported.

  4. Remember him? Numbers prove Ben Zobrist is one of greatest Rays of all time

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The first foray back to the Trop by the best manager the Rays have had obscured the second return visit by arguably the second-best player in franchise history.


    Chicago Cubs second baseman Ben Zobrist (18) grounds into a double play to end the top of the third inning of the game between the Chicago Cubs and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017.
  5. GOP's new repeal bill would likely leave millions more uninsured, analyses suggest


    WASHINGTON — The latest Republican bid to roll back the Affordable Care Act would likely leave millions of currently insured Americans without health coverage in the coming decades, and strip benefits and protections from millions more, a growing number of independent studies suggest.

    Vice President Mike Pence listens as President Donald Trump talks to reporters about the Graham-Cassidy health care bill during a meeting with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi at the Palace Hotel during the United Nations General Assembly, Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017, in New York. [Evan Vucci | Associated Press]