The sheet of phone extensions given to Los Angeles Times Metro desk staffers in 1982 had more than 100 entries, to give you an idea of how much more local coverage the Times used to provide. One direct number — the "red line" — connected to the nearby Redwood restaurant and bar on 2nd Street, making it easier for editors to track down wayward reporters.
Note also the extension for "Nuts"; the Times operators switched incoming calls from offbeat characters to this number, which was generally manned by copy messengers. Often the callers were then relayed to me since I was the offbeat feature writer.
I recall once being summoned to the Times lobby to talk to a man who had carved the likenesses of all the presidents on bars of soap, which he carried in a suitcase. I believe he had done 1 through 38 (Gerry Ford). I chatted with him (while a security guard watched) but did not write a story. I wonder if he has since updated his collection.
[LA Observed note: I'm on there. So are Harvey and Boyarsky. - ed.]