There were at least two factual errors in this account: the estimate of 80,000 Budapest Telefon Hirmondó subscribers was about ten times too large, and that service had actually been in operation for eighteen years, instead of two. But that would turn out to be the least of the problems. "W. A. Grimes" was actually con man Peter Archbold Gordon Grimes from Scranton, Pennsylvania, and most of his listed biography turned out to be fictional. He would soon leave town, after first embezzling funds from the proposed system. Los Angeles Times, August 24, 1911, page II3:
NEWS IS TOLD THROUGH 'PHONE.
SERVICE IS TO BE INSTITUTED IN THIS CITY.
Scheme Which Has Been in Successful Operation in Hungary for Two Years Is to Be Introduced to America Through Los Angeles. Events, Lectures, Operas at Home.
Los Angeles is to be the first city in the United States to boast a "telefon hirmondo," or in English, a telephone herald, after the pattern of the one which has been in operation in Budapest for a number of years, and which has more than 80,000 subscribers.
Plans for the new telephone service have been completed by W. A. Grimes, who arrived at the Alexandria yesterday from San Francisco, and registered from Singapore, where, for several years, he was inspector-general of rubber plantations for the British government. His marriage about eight months ago in the northern city was cause for wide comment, he having traveled all the way from Japan with his fiance to have the ceremony performed. His wife was Miss Noble, general secretary of the Y.M.C.A. at Tokio, and because of the fact that the marriage of white persons in Japan is sometimes not regarded as valid, the long journey was taken.
The telephone-herald has in its operative device an attachment to a telephone, by which the ordinary business of the telephone is not at all impeded. Through this can be sent to any 'phone user the service of the telephone-herald, which consists of a daily recitation of current events, the news of the day, stock quotations, theatrical and fashion notes, music, readings, lectures, vaudeville, opera and concerts.
"In Budapest, where the service has been in operation for more than two years, the people have accepted it with acclaim, even the Emperor, Francis Joseph, being an enthusiastic patron," said Grimes. "The telephone-herald is a combined news, music and electrical service, by which a man may sit in a chair in his home or lie abed and hear all of the latest events of the world, listen to a lecture, a concert by an operatic diva through the telephone. An entire performance at a theater may be heard, and I have already made arrangements for the installation of our microphones in three of the local playhouses. These catch every sound, and transmit them unfailingly."
The first demonstration of the new telephone-herald service will be made in about a week as soon as the instruments wire connections and receivers have been prepared, Grimes stated.