This week, The Oregonian reported on bizarre sounds coming from the car radios of Portland residents. Drivers tuning into 91.1FM were treated to slash freaked out by a series of otherworldly transmissions that seemed to suggest an imminent invasion of someone, or something. In some areas you'd pick up Sam and Dave's "Hold On I'm Coming"; in other places you'd hear Michael Jackson's "Wanna Be Startin' Something". In addition to this, the transmission would also send out patterns of Morse code, or recordings of a preacher talking about the Big Guy up there.
Naturally, interest was piqued, until Portland's newest independent radio station KXRY, fessed up: "Leading up to our launch, we put a few different recorded audio loops onto 91.1 to test our signal and reach," said Amy Dials, outreach director for KXRY. "Legally the FCC required us to begin transmitting something on 91.1 about two weeks before we actually wanted to go live so these audio loops were used as a place holder until we were ready to make our public debut."
Well, it freaked the living bejeezus out of everyone and got us thinking – what other strange broadcasts and electric voice phenomena have unsettled people around the world?
Right, what the hell is going on here? The Bloop (sounds like a terrifying creature in its own right), is a sound that was captured by deep sea microphones in 1997. The noise is not dissimilar to those emitted by living organisms of this planet, but there is no way that even the largest blue whale could emit a sound of such size. This all adds fuel to the fire that there are creatures down there, in the blackest of the black, that are larger than anything we've ever seen before. Ever heard the theory that Megalodons still roam around at the bottom of the Mariana Trench? They're the scariest sharks we're praying aren't still alive. No further Bloops have been recorded since 1997, so maybe we're safe.
UVB-76 is an unpleasant, droning hum, punctuated by the occasional airhorn (?) transmitted on Russian airwaves. That all sounds fairly regular, but it's what happens when it stops that's fascinating. Some claim that the transmission is only interrupted once every few years, but listen to the recording above – that's definitely a Russian voice communicating what sounds like orders. Is UVB-76 a legacy of the Cold War? Radio transmissions lost in the machine? Or is someone controlling it, speaking in code to somebody who knows what they're listening out for? You can keep up to date with this site – it's constantly plugged in 900km NW from the supposed origin. Decide for yourself.
OK, so this has been "solved", but imagine how terrifying this would have been if you were sitting in your living room, idly watching TV, when a man wearing a Max Headroom mask shows up on screen. In 1987, an episode of Doctor Who was being broadcast by the network WTTW. Halfway through, the channel suffered what's known as a broadcast signal intrusion – a cyberpunk bastardisation of The Joker had interrupted the show. During the minute or so that he managed to stay on air, the lunatic prankster giggled maniacally, insulted the Chicago Tribune and then had his bare behind hit with a flyswatter. To this day, the perpetrators behind the TV hijack have never been found, although this Reddit theory is worth reading.
WKCR 89.9 New York (The Old Tape)
This "old tape" comes via an anonymous user on the 4Chan messageboards: "Around 1995, I was about 15. I used to stay up late in my room listening to the radio on a boombox with an integrated tape recorder. I'd dial through the stations, and when I heard something interesting I'd hit record for a while, then move on. One night, I came across this. I don't think this was the beginning of the broadcast, but I caught a lot of it. Right at the end, an announcer says that the station I was tuned to was WKCR 89.9 New York. There are a bunch of names and dates in there, but I've never run into anything else like this."
The interruption in the transmission is absolutely terrifying – one theory is that the listener accidentally tuned into a numbers station, stations that are widely believed to communicate with spy networks. The audio hijack consists of high-pitched glassy sounds married with fast, garbled female-sounding speech and the occasional striking of what sounds like a small bell. Whatever it is, it's some seriously haunted shit. Listen in, see if you can figure it out.
Do you have any recordings of audio phenomenon? Have you ever been freaked out by a certain transmission?
Follow Thomas Gorton on Twitter here @angstromhoot