Radio Activities


Last Friday I was talking about the FCC and how they were considering putting monitors in news rooms so that they could have more control over content of what the press is broadcasting. It seemed that after the FCC has said that they were going to temporarily withdraw their CIN program that was meant to ferret out information from television and radio broadcasters regarding content and bias there was some interesting changes and news coming out of the mainstream.

CNN decided to axe Piers Morgan and his nighttime news talk show and Alec Baldwin decided to open up about how he really felt about content and policies at MSNBC.

The mainstream media is a mess right now and it seems that there is a lot of scrambling to keep programming from stepping out of line. The problems with broadcast news, whether it be on the television or the radio, is being able to have hosts and content that keeps people watching and listening.

Every day we are exposed to content that we take in and register as part of the daily information cycle. However, the magic that brings us broadcasts has always had its flaws and the reality is that – while you are not looking or even listening – there are peculiar moments that when the tapes are rolling make for some very interesting and compelling activity that even the FCC can’t control.

On the morning of February 23rd, my fiancé Janine, her friend Charles and I were driving back from my 50th birthday celebration. The party was held in Vancouver, Washington at a pub called IrishTown. Janine had asked Charles to be our designated driver on the way home. It was around 4:00 a.m. and we were crossing the Columbia River on our way back to Portland. Janine wanted to hear some music on the radio and so she proceeded to scan the dial for music.

While we were listening the radio scanned to the frequency 91.1 FM. When the dial landed on the frequency, the radio let out a huge whine and then it was broadcasting static. It did not sound normal and, in fact, it sounded like one of those secret spy number stations that I have talked about before and have played on the air.

A numbers station is a type of shortwave radio station that has been considered a paranormal anomaly because no one really knows why they exist. They typically sound out of the ordinary or phantom-like. The unusual numbers station broadcast are often created by artificially generated voices reciting streams of numbers, words, letters, tunes or Morse code.

Sometimes strange music can be heard on these stations.

The FM frequency 91.1 in Portland was actually the frequency that was set aside for an old progressive rock station that broadcast out of Reed College. However, that station went dark years ago and there has been a campaign to resurrect it. However, as we were traveling home there was something spooky about what was being broadcast and Janine and I both were intrigued by the broadcast.

The weird sounds would come in and out and it certainly was a chilling thing to hear at 4 in the morning as you were coming home.

The next day Janine and I decided to meet up with Roger Clooten of NW Ghost Recon to have breakfast. We told him about the broadcast and he said his truck radio couldn’t hear anything out of the ordinary.

We returned from the country to pick up Janine’s son, Liam. As we moved east towards the Columbia River, the sound returned to the frequency. This time there was Morse code that accompanied it and what Janine described as a data pocket being transmitted. We arrived at the house where Janine’s son was staying and the strange signal was immediately silenced by a preacher from the Christian Satellite Network or CSN out of Twin Falls, Idaho. It carried a very strong signal up until we moved south away from the house and then the signal with the Morse code became louder. We actually stopped in the middle of the road in order to record the signals.

K216EHI wanted to rush home to figure how we got a broadcast from Twin Falls, Idaho on a dead signal and I learned that CSN owned a translator transmitter K216EH in the woods near Colton, Oregon.

They also had another translator relay in Kelso, Washington. However, both were low power which is why they were able to use the 91.1 frequency.

These phantom broadcasts seem to be common on shortwave but are a bit out of place on FM radio and so it most certainly is chilling, intriguing and fun to try and figure out what is happening and why a signal is being hijacked and why carrier waves are whining as they overlap. It is also interesting to note that while Janine’s car was able to pick up on this anomaly—none of the radios in our home were able to pick up the strange sounds.

The best recordings we have of the anomaly was off of our cell phones and Janine also used a micro recorder to record the sounds from her car radio, as well.

Radio activities actually can be very peculiar, especially with AM signals. Very seldom do FM signals act like this which makes this case even more interesting.

For example, KTWO 1030 AM in Casper, Wyoming experienced what only can be called a signal intrusion when the country station all of a sudden heard a very loud voice of what sounded like a preacher doing a revival. The intrusion happened at approximately 11:30 PM MST On December 6th, 2010. The phantom broadcast was followed by the station ID, which occurred at roughly 11:57, leaving three minutes of dead air.

The clip can be found here:

Radio hijacking or the hijacking of a TV signal can be frightening because many times it is hard to find out just who or what is doing it.

As UB Studios writes: “On November 22, 1987, perhaps the scariest or weirdest of clips from television past came during a PBS broadcast of Doctor Who, on Chicago’s WTTW (Analog 11 at the time). The signal hijacking, perhaps best known as “The Max Headroom Incident” was seen by thousands as the station’s engineers were unable to catch the mistake in time. A similar hijacking occurred earlier in the evening on one of the most famous Chicago television stations, WGN, although its engineers were able to stop the broadcast seconds after it happened.

I remember a story I once heard about comedienne Lucille Ball and how she was responsible for capturing Japanese spies during World War II. I thought that the story sounded much like the urban legends about Captain Kangaroo being a war hero or Mr. Rogers wearing cardigan sweaters to hide his war tattoos because he was a sniper in Vietnam. The same story was also said of John Denver being a special operations soldier.

However, the story of Lucille ball having this sixth sense and being aware of where Japanese soldiers were hiding out is all attributed to strange radio activities where fillings in her teeth were picking up illegal radio transmissions. tells this fascinating story:

The most famous example of this phenomenon was reported by Lucille Ball in 1942. Lucy had several fillings installed in her teeth around the time she was filming ”Du Barry Was a Lady” with Red Skelton and Gene Kelly. During the drive home from MGM Studios to her Desilu ranch in the San Fernando Valley, Lucy received radio broadcasts of music through her fillings. She reported the incident to actor Buster Keaton who told her the same thing had happened to a friend of his. A week later, Lucy drove a different route from MGM to the ranch. This time her fillings vibrated with short beeps (DE-DE-DE DE-DE-DE) that sounded like Morse Code. She reported this to the FBI who then searched the area in Coldwater Canyon where she heard the beeps.

FBI agents eventually found a radio transmitter hidden in a tool shed that was used by a Japanese gardener. Later it was determined that the gardener was a member of a spy ring operating on the west coast.

According to a story that she related to Ethel Merman and was published by Jim Brochu her account is as follows:

One night I came into the Valley over Coldwater Canyon, and I heard music. I reached down to turn the radio off, and it wasn’t on. The music kept getting louder and louder, and then I realized it was coming from my mouth. I even recognized the tune. My mouth was humming and thumping with the drumbeat, and I thought I was losing my mind. I thought, What the hell is this? Then it started to subside. I got home and went to bed, not sure if I should tell anybody what had happened because they would think I was crazy.

All of a sudden, my mouth started jumping. It wasn’t music this time, it was Morse code. It started softly, and then de-de-de-de-de-de. As soon as it started fading, I stopped the car and then started backing up until it was coming in full strength. DE-DE-DE-DE-DE-DE DE-DE-DE-DE! I tell you, I got the hell out of there real quick. The next day I told the MGM Security Office about it, and they called the FBI or something, and sure enough, they found an underground Japanese radio station. It was somebody’s gardener, but sure enough, they were spies.” — From ‘Lucy in the Afternoon‘ by Jim Brochu.

Radio transmissions during the Cold War were somehow intercepted by ham radio operators and short wave operators. There have been many radio broadcasts that have been released by Russia and also western intelligence where many astronauts were sent into space, never to return, their last words heard by Russian authorities helpless to save them.

U.S. listening posts in Turkey were able to pick up the last words of Vladimir Kamarov before his Soyuz capsule burned up and crashed on Earth. Kamarov can be heard speaking to former premier Alexei Kosygin cursing the people who had put him inside a botched spaceship. Kosygin can be heard crying calling him a hero. There is also the controversial recording of a female cosmonaut by Italian radio enthusiasts the Cordiglia brothers where you hear the unnamed woman sayingthat her capsule is hot and that she sees flames surrounding it.

In 1976, as the United States was celebrating its bi-centennial year, U.S. Intelligence was monitoring radar and electromagnetic signals from the Soviet Union. What had their attention was a pulsing signal that was being sent at 3.26 and 17.54 megahertz. The pulsing signal modulated at a rate of several times a second, resembling the sound of a woodpecker. It was soon traced to an enormous transmitter array near Kiev in the Ukraine.

Within a year of its discovery, people in Canada, Washington state and Oregon were complaining of all kinds of maladies. Eugene, Oregon suffered the most. People complained of pressure headaches, anxiety, fatigue, insomnia, lack of coordination, and numbness, accompanied by a high-pitched ringing in the ears.

No one had really thought of the possibility that strong electromagnetic microwave radiation could have caused these symptoms. However, residents between Eugene and Corvallis, Oregon were being subjected to a powerful radio attack with a signal centering at 4.75 Megahertz.

People were claiming to hear tones in their ears and later feeling sick and fatigued. There were unsubstantiated theories that were taken as fact as to what was causing these health problems. One such theory was that winter damaged power lines were emanating frequencies and tones to the ultra sensitive ear.

It was later realized that something nefarious was happening with the so-called ‘Woodpecker Signal‘. It was being targeted to Oregon by a by a Tesla-magnifying transmitter.

This technology was able to beam a radio signal through the earth to any desired point on its surface. It could even increase the signal’s power as it emerged from the earth. It was speculated that a Navy ELF communications system using an 850-mile power line was jamming a Soviet pulse signal.

Back then the systems were new and their power was obviously capable of harming human nervous systems and brain function.

Meanwhile, U.S. counterintelligence efforts monitor all strange broadcasts that are being produced. When Homeland Security says that they are hearing chatter about possible terrorist threats, all they are hearing is the number station frequencies sending off random numbers that may or may not be the code numbers for detonating a dirty bomb or blowing up a shopping center.

Interception of hijacked broadcasts and other anomalies are elusive and difficult to document. In the meantime, listening up and down the dial at night on the AM band and now the FM band may produce some pretty strange broadcasts.