Posts Tagged ‘radio’

New York Times – August 10, 1973 Friday. (rough record that I could get not the exact copy).

Voice of a very scared boy on August the 9th resumed broadcasting on the citizen’s band radio frequency in foothills of Central NM: searches say they they are closing in on area where 7-year-old is believed to be lost in fathers pick up truck; boy, who says his first name is Larry, told rescuers on August 8th that he and his father were in an accident and that his father is dead. 3 pilots reported sighting truck in Red Rock Canyon area on east side of Manzano Mountains, south-east of Albuquerque. Helicopter is dispatched to area; Army search plan had monitored transmission from the body during the night that left searchers to the hills. Sgt W A Schmidt says searchers lost contact with boy for several hours and presume that he had either gone to sleep, or the battery had gone dead. They have not discounted it as a hoax. Over 150 people were out with radio’s and directional finders on the foothills.

My notes collected from around and musings on this matter? It seems quite a few felt it was a hoax at the end as nothing ever came of it, but some were quite concerned that if it was not they had, in effect, stopped looking for a dying and trapped boy.

The search went on from the 8th-10th and then on the 11th it seems one rescuer pilot found a boy in distress on the radio called David. The searchers started to worry that it was a hoax and queried that the battery was somehow going. That same day a Missouri family out on the west is reported missing and they also have a son named Larry.

August 12th an army sergeant claimed he had spoken to the boy for three hours, but he state police were unable to very the claim. The missing family were located on this day. The CB Larry gave very little details about who he was but if he was a panicked child it might well be harder for him to articulate.

On the 13th the search was called off, the last transmission was traced to a boy with a walkie-talkie in Phoenix and it’s thought he was a copycat that had heard the story and finally by the 24th the police felt there was nothing more to do and they had no evidence the situation was even real at all.

Then on 25th August a family from Toledo, Ohio were reported as having been missing for several weeks. Their son, Larry, was said to be familiar with walkie-talkies. At that point the police chief said there was not enough to go by to restart searches and four days later the Ohio family were also found.

If the hoax train of thought is still in play then maybe a report from NBC Evening News from that time would go into support of this. On August 27th 1973 it was said the rescue teams were on a wild goose chase as a man from Denver claimed to have been reponsible.

The 9th August, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner gave more details to Larry’s supposed plight, a California radio operator received the transmission saying he was in a red and white pick up, it had overturned and both doors were jammed. The boy claimed his father collapsed at the wheel whilst taking him on a rabbit hunting trip. The search narrowed to the Manzano as an Albuquerque radio operator suggested that it was in that area of New Mexico.

So California to New Mexico is around 770ish miles, Ohio family from New Mexico is 1320ish miles and the variation from New Mexico is 810ish miles. On the usual radio channels without ‘skipping’ the transmissions are local to 1-18 miles and base stations from 5-10 to mobile, with 10-30 miles for base to base.

Skipping, firstly it’s illegal to practise the art of skipping. A normal CB uses short range, there are times when the earth’s atmosphere acts as a mirror and bounces the signal. This may happen by accident and can work for thousands of miles but trying to force the bounce/skip is an offence. However, if the story is true then Californian reception by accident may have occurred.

So what can I conclude? Having spoken to some friends on the CB front (or HAM Radio) it seems that what may have started out as a prank became so much more. I pray my conclusion of hoax is correct as I’d rather that than the idea of a child trapped in a lorry, lost and left because of a power failure/battery drain.

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It’s a famous media broadcast now, it’s also a very gripping thing to listen to as well. The original book is a work by H G Wells that started life as a serialisation by the English author.

The Martians have been plotting an invasion to Earth that’s to their own diminishing resources. In the book the events of the invasion are set in motion in Woking, Surrey but Orson Welles transfers them to America. Wells no doubt picked his location as it was local and he knew how to describe things with familiarity and if you pop over to Woking at any point you can locate a 23 feet high sculpture of a tripod fighting machine, ‘The Martian’ near the local railway station.

I’m not going into the plot, the reviews or such like but it is worthy of note because of films and of course the above-mentioned broadcast. That’s the bit I am going to look at it here for now.

George Orson Welles, 6th May 1915 to 10th October 1985 was involved in the business of entertainment and is famous for the film Citizen Kane, 1941 amongst other things but this is a blog for weird and interesting things, and I’ve picked out the 1938 broadcast of the War of the Worlds which, supposedly, sent thousands of American people into a mass panic about the alien invasions in their home states…

CBS radio invited Orson Welles to create a summer show that would last 13 weeks, the series began 11th July 1938 and the adaptation for H G Wells book aired 30th October 1938. It brought Orson Welles instant fame, the broadcast itself really is worth a listen to and you can sit back and appreciate it yourself if you wish.

There was supposedly a mass panic from people convinced of its validity, that aliens truly landed and it’s this bit I am looking at, were people really panicking so much that they would run from their homes in masses?

1.7 million listened to the broadcast and polls calculated that 1.2 million ‘were excited’ and mostly the reports seem to have been anecdotal. Cantril interviewed 135 people who cited some colourful claims about grabbing guns or packing up in a panic. It would hardly have been unusual for a busy area to have fast moving traffic and other rambunctious behaviours at the time so this was not entirely unexpected. Grovers Mill, New Jersey was not blasted by alien lasers or any such thing but the media took the story of the panic and without looking at data it might even be assumed claims of heart attacks and suicides were another effect but again, there was not noticeable shows in the data to support this. Miller countered Cantril’s claims and just did not seem to match up to the 1 million plus listeners.

American Telephone Company figures suggested a 40% rise in calls, again however, they did not lead to anything specific and it was just a higher record in some parts of New Jersey.

He also mentions that there is a notable other broadcast with the results of frightening some listeners, 31st October 1974 at Rhode Island, and one in Northern Portugal 1988 but they were not reported to on the same level. The same sort of thing appears in a 2010 publication by W Joseph Campbell and Slate.com, they in turn also look at media myths or fake news and include the press reports of the panic-stricken US citizens.

31st October, 1938 Daily News of New York’s front page encapsulates the news with the title “FAKE RADIO ‘WAR’ STIRS TERROR THROUGH U.S’. The New York Times gave us ‘Radio Listeners in Panic, Taking War Drama as Fact.’  The Detroit News went with ‘War Skit on Radio Terrifies Nation’ and The Boston Daily Globes ran with ‘RADIO PLAY TERRIFIES NATION’.

But was all of this remotely correct or fake news? Well in short, no, CE Hopper Company did the 2% response to people listening to it because most people were listening to NBC. The poll was conducted for 5000 people, so 100 people of 5000 were listening? Frank Stanton of CBS also said they were never censored for it because most people hadn’t even heard the show.

6 weeks after the broadcast it was admitted to, the figures were largely skewed and descriptions like disturbed or excited were inflated to ‘panic’. It did get enough hype that Adolf Hitler cited the panic as ‘evidence of the decadence and corrupt condition of democracy’.

So why?

Well in short radio was being seen as a threat to newspapers, they could use a few isolated cases as a way to make it sounds like these types of shows were an example of this terrible new media being irresponsible and untrustworthy. The Telegraph (UK paper) says that a woman tried to sue CBS for $50,000 thank to nervous shock but it was dismissed and a man tried to claim for shows as he’d spent that money on a train ticket, Welles was said to have paid for those.

There was indeed action taken that night, the police came to the station and one minute from the end of the show they were trying to shut it down. It played out and as a result Paul White, the head of CBS News, was summoned over. Welles found out later and was convinced it would end his career, but it didn’t.

Some listeners had turned in part way through and this seems to be where the reports started. Again, though it was very much a case of over-exaggeration and it does also seem that the repeated broadcasts about it being fictional could have fallen to few ears, a case of a small audience from the previous show affecting it too.

Let’s also put this into context, at the time a German Invasion was a possibility, rumblings of the inevitable war were a reality and was it so hard to imagine those who were affected and lured in part way through might have thought it was something to do with that?

Hadley Cantril calculated a 6 million strong audience, but it was then 1.7 million later on and yet this calculation seems flawed. He had doubled the usual audience and had tried to work on the idea not ever listener had a phone too. He summarised many reactions into panicked and yet quite a number had thought it was more of a prank than a reality.

No admissions for shock were made at Newark Hospital at that time, and there were no spikes in admission at New York either. Washington Post claimed a man died from a heart attack but the claim was not verified and Snopes also places this as mostly false.

So here is my summary – firstly its put Grovers Mill on the map for tourists like me who enjoy a bit of quirky history, radio hasn’t been stopped by the papers and vice-versa. I am quite sure we can safely say the average U.S citizen would have noticed laser space blasting Martians at the time and I, for one, love the broadcast. Thank you, H G Wells and Orson Welles, you gave me a great piece of history to look back on (and no I don’t rate the latest War of the Worlds film if you were wondering.)

Refs:

Robert E Bartholomew, Little Green Men, Meowing Nuns and Head-Hunting Panics

Snopes

Wikipedia

Telegraph.co.uk

Google Books

Project Gutenburg

Slate.com

Two former radio amateurs gave 50 years worth of interest (and still ongoing) for space conspiracy enthusiasts. In the 1960’s they claimed they had recording that showed the Soviet Space program covered up the deaths of Cosmonauts. These claims have met with rebuttals and the interests continues but that’s why I think it’s a great one for this blog.

They claimed to have monitored transmissions from the Soviet Sputnik program and Explorer 1. They said this included other recordings, like the sounds of a lost cosmonaut who was dying. 28th November 1960, one of those was also an SOS signal that was moving away from the Earth’s orbit and their information was picked up by a Swiss-Italian radio station who took them on as their space experts.

They also made a further claim that they had heard of a female cosmonaut yelling “I am hot” amongst other parts of that transmission. They stated that this was the sounds of her transmitting before she burnt up.

In total they had released nine recordings over a course of years:

  • May 1960, a manned spacecraft reporting its going off course.
  • 28th November 1960 the faint sounds of an SOS transmission as a spacecraft left orbit.
  • February 1961, the recorded sounds of a cosmonaut suffocating.
  • April 1961, capsule recorded orbiting Earth three times before it entered Earth’s atmosphere and this was days before Yuri Gagarin took flight.
  • October 1961, a cosmonaut looses control of his ship and goes into deep space.
  • November 1962, a capsule misjudges re-entry bouncing off the Earth’s atmosphere it then goes out into space.
  • November 1963, a female cosmonaut dies during re-entry.
  • April 1964, another cosmonaut killed when their capsule burns up in the Earth’s atmosphere.

People that have analysed this have stated they are dubious that certain protocol appears to have been ignored during those transmissions, for instance that the cosmonauts had not identified themselves during those transmissions. You could of course argue that burning up in space is a pretty good reason to forget this right?

There seem to be a lot of grammatical errors, or errors in sentence construction when it was generally accepted that the Soviet’s would only use highly trained and educated native speakers but again you could argue that panic would ensue and even the most articulate of people are going to loose that.

The technology the Soviet’s were using may well have been sending dogs into space but there is no suggestion they had enough technology to be putting a manned craft out of the orbit by that stage.

Another factor that was given to consideration, and perhaps this is the one that might convince me – with all the other countries listening into the space race and monitoring these transmissions why hadn’t the professionals found them too? The other countries would have little to no reason to avoid giving up that information as they were all in the race so-to-speak. So why did it fall to two amateur radio enthusiasts who self-taught themselves to get such potentially controversial details out into the public?

I also listened to a brilliant podcast and presentation by Brian Dunning, Skeptoid about this and felt it was a great tale for the blog.

A numbers station is a short-wave radio station and is characterised by some unusual broadcasts. They are registered by those searching to be streaming out voices, numbers, words, tunes, morse codes or letters. They have been recorded in various languages and more commonly have female voices although male and children voices have been recorded in some situations. The Swedish Rhapsody broadcast features a child’s voice. They are not officially recognised by any government body, QSL responses have been received from these stations by short-wave listeners who sent reception reports to them. (A QSL is like a receipt of transmission from what I can understand).

An idea posed is that these stations are/were used to send out coded instructions. Encoded messages could be then used via a one time number pad system, e.g. a notebook with the relevant code break that could be destroyed one the transmission was done. It is safer than any other medium on the planet, even if you hear the code unless you know it you can’t decipher it. Theoretically anyone could pick up the code with access to short-wave radio and finding the frequency but knowing what it is, well that’s another story! Drug smugglers were another reason put forwards. The radio stations can be used but this might not be as effective as thought, after all the farms and outlying posts often associated with large scale drugs operations would not necessarily be able to receive the messages.

Another suggestion I had found leant more towards the paranormal, the idea that these are somehow messages that might have been an old broadcast some how replaying over the waves without anyone physically behind them. Perhaps the dead are using it to try and reach out, however if so why would they be so formulaic and not contain a direct message? Often with some of them you can hear background information too suggesting that even if it is not playing live it may well have been recorded as such.

Typically they seem to transmit on the hour or half hour, an introduction to identify the station will be heard and then the bulk of the message is heard.  This repeats for a set interlude and then the transmission will end, usually with an identifier such as a set of zero’s or perhaps music.  Listening to numerous ones quite often they seem heavy with interference, or background noise, some are overlapping with the regular broadcasts which means you can hear a second station on them.  A Florida radio station, WYFR from Okeechobee is a religious broadcasting station and reported that it was regularly affected by a Cuban/Spanish number station. Others have reported that they have encroached across their transmission too.

One thing I can be assured off, the Conet Project collects them and listening to them is both slightly creepy and mesmerising at the same time. Whatever they are used for (and I like the mystery so very much) they are a thrilling find if you haven’t heard of them before.

So if you want to hear them try the link: http://archive.org/details/ird059

J Tunis’ wife Lula was dying of cancer in the 1930’s, and having tried every method of cure available, they prayed for some sort of assistance where the medical world had failed. Norman Baker came to them from the Baker Institute, Iowa and Lula was in his hands with the last of their hopes on a recovery, he was a medical maverick with a new cure. He dressed in a white suit with a lavender tie, owned a radio station and preached a gospel… that he would use alternative medicine and cure the common man!

Unfortunately with this great claim was a man experienced in great lies. He was a former magician, inventor and radio host who then turned to a Cancer Doctor without a day of training in the medical profession. The magic elixir was nothing more than watermelon seed, brown corn silk, alcohol and carbolic acid.

Tunis later testified against Baker, she endured terrible needle treatments and that it did nothing. She begged to go home and he took her back home only to have Lula dead by Christmas. Normal Baker wanted to sell himself as a pioneer of medicine and that it would be his story of a personal battle, in fact brought and paid for as a biography. What he actually did was make thousands of pounds from the sick and dying and Lula was not a unique victim of this man’s “cure”.

The scandal was made more prominent because of his history of radio broadcasting and that had also been often done illegally, he was determined to allay fears that the cure was actually harmful and drank a massive dose of it himself. He put on a show for all those people that were gunning for blood and he one of those other events was to do open air surgery on a 68 year old man!

A doctor from his Baker Institute opened up the skull of Mandus Johnson, he then applied his cure to the cancerous brain tissue whilst he was still conscious. Cancer is cured, he claimed, and now that he had their attention he launched an attack on America’s Medical Association. He charged them with choosing profits over patients and said that he would remind the people he was fighting for them.

The AMA retaliated against the man and his growing institute, stating that even the open air brain surgery was nothing more than a trick. The whole in the man’s head meant that when they opened his skull what they saw was a part of an inflamed skull, a medullary portion. The AMA were also able to get his radio license revoked meaning that the radio method of damage was not renewed in 1931 as he had hoped. Following this a steady stream of relatives of former patients began to come forward to testify.

Finally he was issued with a warrant for practising without a license. He then fled to Nuevo Laredo, Mexico and started another radio station that was out of the legal reach of the Federal Radio Commission. He was there until 1937, with another smaller cancer hospital but appears to have become restless. He pleaded guilty and served a one day sentence then he tried to bid for Iowa’s senate seat but failed and left Muscatine for good.

He ended up in Arkansas, purchasing the Crescent Hotel, a majestic Victorian hotel that had fallen on hard times. It was the “castle in the air” and was soon the new Baker Institute location. He made the same scam as he had done in the previous town, conning more people with the same terrible behaviours and after two years the Federal Authorities were closing in. 1939 they finally arrested him.

1940, Little Rock trial, Norman was found guilty and the court of appeals declined his application, the cancer cure was declared a hoax. He arrived at Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary to serve a four year sentence. It’s possible that the treatment he gave did nothing but hasten the deaths of the poor people he preyed upon. Norman Baker was therefore resigned to being nothing short of wonderful, instead he was Inmate 58197.

He was released in 1944 and retired to Florida, he lived comfortably until his death in 1958. He was a monster and he was happy to arrange the deaths of people in order to profit. And with this history? Yes you guessed it, there are a wide variety of haunted legends about the place. Perhaps there are some replay ghosts or even active intelligent hauntings, but for now I think his story alone was gruesome enough.

NormanBaker-PrisonPhoto-SMALL IMG_1388 CrescentHotel