Spirit of the Radio: Broadcasts from the Unknown
By Scott Corrales
[Prologue: A few nights ago I heard Clyde Lewis of the Ground Zero radio program playing some fascinating clips of "paranormal radio broadcasts" received in the UK during the 70s and in Florida, possibly around the same time. YouTube has given us a number of purported alien radio transmissions as well. This brought to mind an article I wrote in 2003 bearing the title "Spirit of the Radio", which also approached this intriguing phenomenon. Given the electromagnetic nature of the medium, one can easily imagine ultraterrestrial creatures availing themselves of it to mystify human audiences. The technology with which such transmissions could be made in the 1970s was non-existent (or perhaps available only to the military) and we wonder to this day who or what may have been behind it all...
Deejays Spinning Saucers
Throughout the Seventies and early Eighties, WBMJ-AM "Radio Rock" was the undisputed leader of popular music in San Juan, Puerto Rico, playing an eclectic mix of rock, disco, country and salsa tunes for both local listeners and members of the armed forces stationed in the San Juan region. The station's slogan, "broadcasting from the fabulous Cloud Room at the Vista Bahía Hotel" caused listeners to involuntarily cast their eyes toward the towering building from which both the music and the deejays' chatter emerged.
April 1975 had been a month of considerable UFO activity over the island, tied in with the depredations of the enigmatic creature known to the media as the "Moca Vampire" for its activities in that town of the island's western half; sightings had become commonplace over the San Juan metro area, which had nearly a million inhabitants at the time. With a view commanding San Juan Bay and most of the metropolitan area, disc jockey Willy López was able to see stunning sunrises and sunsets from the aptly-named Cloud Room
, but nothing had prepared him for what he was about to see on April 6, 1975.
At ten forty-five in the evening, López was cueing up the next round of songs when he was startled by three loud, solid knocks on the large glass windowpane leading out to a narrow terrace which could only be accessed from within the Radio Rock offices. The deejay reportedly saw a "luminous figure" running along the terrace. Plucking up the courage to part a curtain and look outside, López saw a glowing yellow-white object suspended in the only a few feet over a nearby cooling tower. The object was saucer-shaped and he estimated its diameter at approximately forty feet; it appeared to balance itself gently over the cooling tower and its unearthly luminosity remained constant. Frightened, the deejay closed the curtain and did the first thing that came to mind: interrupt the music to tell his listeners exactly what was happening in the skies over the city's Miramar section--an important moment in radio history remembered only by a few.
A friend came into the station's broadcasting studio and joined López in venturing out to the terrace, which they found to be unnaturally hot. The bright object had since disappeared.
According to author Sebastián Robiou, the Willie López experience was never picked up by the newspapers, but it caused considerable interest among other broadcasters, who even urged the Civil Defense to take Geiger counter readings of Radio Rock's terrace area. Public officials apparently did this, but the results were never made known. Two days later, another event described as "strange" occurred at Radio Rock as considerable part of San Juan was plunged into a blackout.
Radio Rock went off the air in the early 1980s. The Vista Bahía Hotel and its Cloud Room are the only remaining witnesses to the strange phenomenon...and they aren't talking.
But the disappearance of a certain radio station did not mean that the UFO phenomenon's interest in the medium had evaporated. Two decades later, Sammy Acevedo, a popular radio disk jockey who goes by the moniker of "Happy" on his radio show on X-100 FM, claims to have seen the nocturnal maneuvers of an unidentified flying object on the 24th of July, 1993. Ironically, "Happy" has become well known for his radio parodies of the numerous UFO sightings which have taken place on the island over the past years. The disk jockey qualified his sighting as "a unique experience" in his life.
"I had never seen any of that, but on Saturday I realized that those things are real," he stated. Acevedo's sighting took place while he was inside a phone booth near the old El Comandante racetrack. The entire event lasted 8 to 10 seconds--all it took the metallic object emitting a pale yellow glow to move across his line of sight, soundlessly. "I don't think the object was round. Rather, it was wide in the middle and narrow at its sides." When asked about the possibility that it may have been a advertising helicopter, Acevedo stressed that it was completely silent.
Two years after Acevedo's CE-1, another radio personality, José Raúl Arriaga from the town of Barranquitas, would have his own story to tell.
In the fall of 1995, Arriaga had taken so many phone calls from eyewitnesses of UFO activity over the preceding twenty months that to say that such cases no longer moved him would be an understatement. However, his interest was about to be rekindled as the control boards at Radio Prócer went crazy during his turn at the mike. The cause: a UFO was hovering over the station's transmitter.
Arriaga stated that at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, November 18th, he became aware that all the needles on the station's control boards had gone haywire. At the same time, he heard a clamor of voices outside the studio. Upon checking to see what the reason for the commotion could be, he noticed a glow in the night sky and what appeared to be an oval shaped vehicle in mid-air, orbiting Radio Prócer's antenna.
"Whatever that thing was," Arriaga told the press later on, "it was spinning around the station's transmitter. I think that's what caused the boards to distort. After a few more spins, the vehicle took off in the direction of Barrio Helechal. We were showered with phone calls soon after from people who, like me, had been witnesses to the situation."
From Ultracom to Friendship
If UFOs are indeed crewed vessels from another star system coming to our world on scientific missions or endeavors that we can only guess at, the question of how communications would be possible between the "squadrons" of UFOs reported on certain occasions and their larger carrier vessels. These putative space explorers must be under orders to maintain strict silence in their communications, since transmissions between them have not been detected by any means known to us. It is entirely possible, of course, that they have moved beyond the need to employ radio signals, much as our own society has transcended the need for carrier pigeons and smoke signals. Perhaps eyewitness accounts of UFOs firing beams of light at each other could in fact represent some form of ship-to-ship communication; it is also possible that thought transmission of some sort is employed.
Norman Briazak and Simon Mennick's The UFO Encyclopedia
(Citadel, 1978) addresses this peculiarity of the phenomenon and leans toward the belief that a more advanced method of communication (perhaps akin to Star Trek's subspace transmissions or the "tight beams" of Asimov's Foundation
stories) are being used. The UFO Encyclopedia makes reference to an alleged U.S. military system dubbed "Ultracom" which makes use of an ultraviolet beam for sending messages. While the authors caution that such as system could not be employed between a planetary atmosphere and deep space due to our atmosphere's absorption of ultraviolet wavelengths, it is nonetheless ideal for relaying messages between vehicles in Earth's atmosphere.
Yet a highly controversial Latin American case suggests that some UFOs may employ old fashioned radio to communicate, or at least are able to use it their dealings with earthlings. The case is simply known as "Friendship" after the elusive group of humans and non-humans allegedly operating out of an island in the archipelagoes of southern Chile.
In 1984, a ham radio operator of by the name of Octavio Ortiz, a married resident of Santiago de Chile and proud owner of a 27 megacycle CB base station with which he talks to DXers all over the world, became the protagonist of a drama that unfolds to this very day. That year, Ortiz received a distress call from a vessel that claimed to be ensnared by a mysterious light that was playing havoc with the ship's electronics. The light--an unknown craft--descended even lower over the vessel. Bewildered, Ortiz offered to retransmit messages to the authorities of the port of Iquique on behalf of the ship's master.
As a result of this, Ortiz struck up a friendship with the ship's master, a man named Alberto, who told him that he had been recruited by mysterious "gringos" to ferry equipment and supplies to one of the myriad islands in the Chonos Archipelago. These elusive northerners described themselves as a "congregation" and dubbed themselves and their island "Friendship".
Octavio Ortiz would eventually have the chance to speak directly over his ham radio with one "Ariel", one of the strange members of the Friendship. In an interview with Spanish journalist and broadcaster Josep Guijarro, Ortiz explained that whenever "Ariel" speaks to him over the ham radio, the needles on his equipment jump, indicating that a transmitter of enormous power is being employed. Nor is Ortiz the only one to speak with this entity: his wife Cristina boldly asked "Ariel" where he and his group came from. The voice replied that they were "not of this world, but belonged to Humankind."
In August 1985, little over a year since Ortiz relayed the message from the vessel besieged by the strange craft, a shining object appeared in the early afternoon over their home in Santiago. According to their testimony, a voice on the ham radio bade them to "Come out! come out!" After doing so and talking to "Ariel" on the ham radio, they realized that the UFO was an object remotely controlled by the mysterious Friendship.
According to Guijarro, renowned ufologist Jorge E. Anfruns made note of a highly important detail: "Some of the ham operators were phoning the newspapers to report interference with their sophisticated equipment." Proof that strange cabal actually controlled the saucer? The Ortiz family believes that the object was not remotely controlled, but that their friend "Ariel" was actually aboard it.
More could be said about this bizarre sect of humans who possess advanced technology or aliens who claim some sort of kinship with our species, but it goes far beyond the scope of this article. Suffice it to say that the Chilean Navy appears to have been aware for many years of the radio interference and problems caused by the strange objects operating in the vicinity of the Chonos islands. Josep Guijarro received a letter from a man who served five years in at a naval radio station in Puerto Montt, stating: "We were sick of these devils, who often jammed our communications with immensely powerful high-tech distorting equipment, which on occasions even produced invisible barriers surrounding all of the Taitao Peninsula and left all boats, including the Navy, bereft of communications."
This chilling admission from a military man leaves us wondering if the Friendship really lives up to its name.
Space Brother Airtime
In 1977, UFO contactee and radio broadcaster Orlando Rimax played a fascinating recording on his show "Otros Mundos"
(Other Worlds). The tape, recorded either in the Dominican Republic or in Puerto Rico, featured the haunting and distorted baritone of a being calling itself "Omicron". The purported space entity had been picked up by a ham radio operation and it seemed to be taking a great deal of time establishing its non-human bona fides. Intrusions such as this one appear to be frequent in contactee circles; they are often dismissed as hoaxes, but they are nonetheless intriguing. In the latest reissue of George Hunt Williamson's classic contactee work "Other Flesh, Other Voices", UFO author and publisher Timothy Green Beckley makes the interesting note that Williamson was a ham operator
"who claimed contact with extraterrestrial beings who were
continually broadcasting messages from spaceships
circling in the Earth's uppermost atmosphere."
Alleged TV and Radio Broadcasts from Space
, an Internet document written by Jon Hurst, provides transatlantic equivalents to incidents similar to the "Omicron" transmission.
In January 1971, a call-in show on Greater London Radio received a call from "a cold, metallic voice" claiming an extraterrestrial origin. The voice, which did not give itself a name, said it was "speaking by thought transference guided by computer" and imparted the usual patter about the difficulties of life on Earth and humanity's unwillingness to forsake its primitive ways. When asked by the program's host if it was possible to humans to see the interstellar interlocutor, it replied that it was "possible to assume human appearance" for a specific number of minutes.
The ubiquitous Ashtar Command, a source of "space brother" wisdom for many decades, apparently transcended wireless to appear on the small screen. The Command hijacked a number of transmitters belonging to the Southern ITV network at 5:12 p.m. on November 26, 1977, broadcasting its message directly over a news broadcast. The network appears to have been unaware of the problem at the time, or completely unable to correct it. "Possibly," writes Hurst, "this was because the source of the overriding signal was not terrestrial in nature."
The message went on for a little over five minutes, and contained a familiar warning: "We come to warn you of the destiny of your race and your world so that you may communicate to your fellow beings the course you must take to avoid the disasters which threaten your world, and the beings on our worlds around you. This is in order that you may share in the great awakening, as the planet passes into the New Age of Aquarius. The New Age can be a time of great peace and evolution for your race, but only if your rulers are made aware of the evil forces that can overshadow their judgments.
The Perils of FM?
In the Winter 1997 issue of the defunct SAMIZDAT newsletter, Argentinean researcher Guillermo Aldunati voiced his concern that alleged UFO abductions appeared to be more prevalent in areas with "high levels of ELF radiation and FM radio waves", noting that the Argentinean city of Rosario boasted an inordinate number of FM stations. " Why do these cases occur where radio station antennae form a perfect triangle? Coincidence? Happenstance?" asks a bewildered Aldunati.
His article goes on to mention a young woman identified by the pseudonym of "Alicia", who at the time of the event was a passenger aboard a bus along Route 131. She was comfortably seated, Aldunati reports, and listening an FM station on her Walkman©. At around 9:30 p.m., "the station's musical programming changed suddenly: rather than soft instrumental music, a sort of choral music performed in a foreign language made itself heard. Alicia tried hanging stations, but found that she was unable to do so. Her fingers were paralyzed, as well as the rest of her body, given that at that time a light or white fog enveloped her body. Her surroundings --everything she had seen before on the bus--vanished altogether."
Despite this utter transmogrification of reality, Alicia could still feel herself seated on the bus seat even as the eerie music conveyed her to a glowing point in space which slowly turned into a spacecraft. "Within the vessel," continues Aldunati, "Alicia reportedly saw a large-headed, dwarfish creature who took her hands and began touching certain points of her body. The eyewitness' drawing shows a being which corresponds to the classic, large-headed Greys.The creature softly felt her abdomen. Alicia feels that this exam has a meaning she still cannot fathom. Shortly after, still enveloped in the strange fog and listening to the same music, feels herself transported back to the bus and can make out other shapes aboard, such as the driver and other passengers, as the fog dissipated. Looking out the window, Alicia realized the bus had gone two blocks beyond her own stop, forcing her to get off at the next stop and beat a retreat home."
The experience did not end there: we are told that Alicia was able to have one of her parents listen to the bizarre music pouring from the personal stereo and subsequently from the home stereo, when an effort was made to tune in the station. The music, according to the experiencer, was accompanied by an unpleasant noise. Normal programming was eventual restored, but Alicia appears to have suffered a series of nightmares involving the non-human beings from her experience.
The author ominously wonders if the young woman "tuned into an FM station which was broadcasting a kind of diabolic music capable of inducing the phenomenon being discussed, and if so, was it coincidental?"
Alicia's experience could simply be discarded as one of those "one off" events of high strangeness which are seldom if ever repeated, were it not for another strange case involving an anonymous young man who contacted the Más Allá del Limite radio show: once, while handling a piece of equipment to plug it into an organ, since the experiencer was a composer of Rock music, he felt a loud sound, similar to an explosion at the side of his room, while a powerful, spherical ball of light struck his forehead, causing great pain both in front and in back of his head. Meanwhile, a strange voice called his name twice from one of the loudspeakers. There is no need to say that this experience terrified the witness, who was alone at the time and was unable to find any experience whatsoever. The young man would have subsequent experiences in which brilliant blue lights would form part of the environment.
Radio has been associated with the possibility of extraterrestrial life since its inception. Not only did Guglielmo Marconi, the father of radio, believe that he had received signals from the planet Mars, but our current SETI efforts to turn our collective electronic ears skyward in the forlorn hope of getting a "Hello!" from a distant planet. The ET/radio connection was extrapolated in works of science fiction and popular culture--what could be more chilling than the "Please Stand By" episode from The Outer Limits, where a space entity comes to Earth travelling on radio waves transmitted by the radio announcer portrayed by actor Cliff Robertson?
Perhaps ET doesn't phone home--he just tunes in...