In late July, CapTel—a company that provides telephone captioning services for callers with hearing loss—filed a notice with the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development to lay off more than 200 employees in its Downtown Milwaukee office. (The notice included another 28 layoffs in CapTel’s Madison office.) Why? The arrival of new captioning technology that makes hand-typed captioning obsolete. With a 60-day notice, the layoffs are set to begin on September 20.
Love it or hate it, CapTel has long been a source of employment for countless Milwaukeeans—including many musicians, artists, and other creatives. So it’s no surprise that a Milwaukee band should take the news personally. Enter garage-rock outfit Duckling and their just-released song, “CapTel.”
“In light of the mass layoffs at CapTel, we wanted to use this opportunity to highlight a trend that we will continue to face: workers being replaced by AI,” Duckling drummer Quinn Cory says in an email. “We want to express solidarity to these workers, as we continue to fight for a more equitable system that allows for AI to be helpful for workers, as opposed to threatening.”
Though the song isn’t new (it dates back to 2019), its message is clear: “CapTel saved my life!” the band yelps over the ragged track.
Duckling’s next show is a free “Third Space Presents” show at Third Space Brewing on Thursday, August 11. Milwaukee’s Brat Sounds and Chicago’s Heet Deth will also perform.
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