Has your AM radio band been full of static, faint signals, and what seems like adjacent-station interference lately? It isn’t your radio folks, but signals transmitted from earth — back in the 1930s.
Modern civilization’s radio transmissions are now beginning to bounce back to earth, causing interference to existing stations which are on the same frequency the signals were sent some 84 years ago. Some of these signals however are being heard clearly, as if they were live.
Radio listeners all over the world are now witnessing this phenomenon and has piqued interest in numerous space research organizations, interest groups, and historical societies.
In a phone interview, John Q. Randall of the SETI Institute said that the phenomenon has probably been happening for some time, but we are just starting to hear some of the bounced signals clearly because radio transmitters were significantly improved starting in the 1930s.
There are also several theories of how and why this is happening.
“There are many theories being presented, but the most compelling so far is that these transmissions may have started bouncing off a large planet or moon many million miles away some 42 years ago, similar to artificial satellites in use for television now, but in a larger scale,” Randall said. “It took another 42 years to travel back to earth, so now we are basically witnessing history first hand” he adds.
One notable radio broadcast, Herbert Morrison’s account of the Hindenburg disaster in 1937 (“Oh the humanity”) was recorded by a Ham radio operator in the Philippines. Henry Palabyab, callsign DU1PHL, was recording on audio tape a signal from a transmitter experiment on his modified Ham radio’s 345-meter AM band, when he chanced upon the famous radio broadcast.
“I was testing this home-brewed transmitter, recording my voice on 890 KHz, and the radio broadcast came in,” Palabyab said. “At first, I thought it may be a rebroadcast from a local station, but I later found out that other frequencies are receiving signals around the 1930s when I heard the station IDs and did some research,” he adds.
Eric Norcado, a member of the Extra Terrestrial Communications Experts and Homebrew (ET-COME-HOME) said that excitement is building up because “the Hindenburg disaster, which happened on May 6, 1937 was recorded by Palabyab on January 15, 2014, the ‘War of the Worlds’ broadcast by Orson Welles on CBS radio happened in October 30, 1938.” In less than two years, Norcado said that the world will “re-live an important part of radio history, one that shook the world, all over again.”
Norcado also made a suggestion to those who still owns an analog ‘picture tube’ television set, to hold on to them as there is going to be a big chance that television broadcasts maybe bouncing back in the next few years as well. “Television broadcasts started around 1936, so we are probably only getting static right now. However, television in the United States really started in 1939 and was booming starting in 1948,” Norcado said.
Meanwhile, giant retailer Walmart is having trouble trying to keep AM-FM radios in stock, as the demand for the product has declined during the past decade. We contacted Walmart’s headquarters in Bentonville, AR to comment, but has not responded.