HAM Radio 101

DX Files: Tales of the Radio Paranormal

Halloween is here, and you’re in for a treat!

Skip Longpath, custodian of the archives, has hand-picked several of the DX Files for your enjoyment–ones usually not available to the public. For security reasons, they’re stored in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet located inside an unused lavatory at the sub-basement storage facility of DX Engineering World Headquarters in Tallmadge, Ohio. A warning sign on the door reads, “Beware of the Wouff-Hong.”

Kick back for a spell and enjoy some spooktacular tales of the radio paranormal.

Radio Ghosts

In 1927, Jørgen Hals spoke to ghosts—or so it seemed. The Norwegian engineer was picking up radio signals from a Dutch shortwave transmitting station when he began to notice strange echoes of the original transmission. They’re now known as Long-Delayed Echoes (LDEs), which have made radio interesting since their initial discovery.

While echoes sometimes happen in radio transmissions, they usually occur about 1/7 of a second after the original transmission, the amount of time it takes a radio wave to travel once around the Earth. You’ve probably experienced them during the Northern Lights or long-path QSOs.

But the bizarre thing about these echoes was that they were occurring up to three seconds after the original transmission and were weaker in amplitude than a signal should be after making several trips around the Earth. Some echoes reported have been ten seconds or more. Could they be signals reflected from nearby planets or moons, reflected terrestrially, or signs of alien life? Ghostly transmissions? There are all sorts of theories, but scientists still have no explanation.

Nothing to Fear but Fear Itself

An 82-year-old World War II-era radio in Scotland has been picking up vintage broadcasts featuring Winston Churchill and the music of Glen Miller—despite not having any power.

The Pye wireless radio at Montrose Air Station, a heritage center that tells the story of the men and women who served there, is on display in a re-creation of a 1940s room. Several people have heard World War II-era broadcasts that come on at random times and can last for up to half an hour. Technicians who examined the radio removed the back but found “nothing but cobwebs and spiders.”

However, the mysterious wireless broadcasts have had even the most skeptical staff members at the air station searching for a rational explanation. The wireless is something unexplainable. “It’s not just one of us who’s heard it—most of us here have,” says Graham Philip, a volunteer at the facility. “We are talking about highly educated, reliable people.”

The wireless broadcasts join a long list of mysteries at the air station. Visitors have reported strange energies around the airfield, phantom footsteps, doors opening and shutting, the sound of aircraft engines, shadowy figures walking in and out of rooms, and even the sighting of a pilot in full flying gear.

Ghost in the Machine

One Reddit post tells of a 2-meter operator finding a new repeater. Using the low power setting on his HT, he hit the repeater many miles away with a solid signal. Everything worked well, and several stations were logged, along with the repeater callsign. When he checked the directory, no such repeater existed and all callsigns given were silent keys.

Further research showed there had been a repeater on that exact frequency that had gone off the air more than 30 years ago and the repeater ID matched.

Another Reddit post tells of a ham who heard a murder from Mexico broadcast on a 2-meter repeater. He was scanning the band and picked up a song in Spanish. Not just any type either—it was cartel music, narcocorrido ballads that glorify drugs and violence. Suddenly there was yelling, followed by two gunshots and a shrill “NOOOOOOOOO.” Suddenly, a mysterious voice called out his name, saying “You’re next.” Instantly he turned off the radio, stuffed it in a box, and never again listened to 2 meters.

Creepy Signals

Yosemite Sam was the nickname of a station that made odd transmissions for no apparent reason. The broadcasts didn’t make sense. They cycled through four frequencies, one every ten seconds from low to high continuously. The frequencies used were 3.700, 4.300, 6.500, and 10.500 MHz.

The broadcast began on one of the frequencies and started with a data burst lasting 0.8 seconds, followed by the voice of Yosemite Sam exclaiming: “Varmint, I’m a-gonna b-b-b-bloooow ya ta’ smithereenies!” Ten seconds later, it was repeated on the next higher frequency, and so on for a total of two minutes. The entire pattern took precisely two minutes, and always began seven seconds after the top of the hour.

The broadcasts mysteriously ceased on December 23, 2004, but resumed on January 14, 2005, using its old frequencies plus additional new frequencies—

ones already occupied by WWV and WWVH. Reception reports seemed to indicate that the transmitter site was probably somewhere in the desert near Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Two hams living in New Mexico, Mike Stark, WA5OIP, and Mike Langner, K5MGR, claimed to have tracked down the source of the broadcasts on February 16, 2005. It came from Laguna Industries Inc., a military contractor. They took pictures of the compound, towers and antennas, but quickly fled when security guards appeared. Three hours later, the radio broadcasts abruptly ceased and have not been heard since. To this day, no one knows the reason for the strange broadcasts.

Frank’s Box

Electronic voice phenomena (EVP) are sections of noise on the radio or electronic recordings that reveal sounds resembling voices speaking words. Paranormal investigators sometimes interpret these noises as the voices of ghosts or spirits. Recording EVP has become a technique used by those who attempt to contact the souls of dead loved ones or while otherwise ghost hunting.

Frank Sumption, builder of Frank’s Box, says disembodied entities gave him detailed instructions for its construction. His first box was built in 2002, and he has made more than three dozen. While anyone can build one from his schematics, there seems to be something especially effective about Sumption’s  handmade boxes.

The box allows for two-way communication with the other side, in a way that is more interactive than typical EVPs. Frank’s Box, or the Ghost Box as it has come to be known, is an electronic method of spirit communication. Frank’s Box scans AM/FM and low band frequencies to create a noise matrix from which the dead—as well as other entities—can use to modulate for messages.

Days before he crossed to the other side, he received this message: “In fact, you must leave this month.” Lots of people thought that Frank was crazy for believing in the messages he was getting. In this message, his own death was predicted—just a few short days before, when he received this transmission. Maybe Frank should have deleted this paranormal voice mail.

Interested in EVP? You can find a variety of ghost/spirit boxes on Amazon. And don’t forget the Spirit Box Faraday Pouch—it shields ghost boxes from radio broadcast interference for cleaner spirit box sessions.

The Bell Tolls for Thee

Art Bell, W6OBB, was a firm believer in the paranormal, including but not limited to aliens, ghosts, and more. He hosted Coast to Coast AM, a syndicated radio show that explored these topics. Bell became a Silent Key at the age of 72 on April 13, 2018.

Steve Huff of Huff Paranormal (proving life after death since 2010) posted a YouTube video documenting what is believed to be evidence that Bell was communicating from the grave. Huff conducted a ghost box session. It was both eerie and creepy—a voice resembling Bell’s could be heard.

Huff was able to record only a few minutes of communication with Bell—the session ended almost as quickly as it began. Viewers commented that they heard Bell say, “It is not the end.”

Perhaps Art Bell was able to communicate from beyond the grave. If so, what was he trying to tell us?

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