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» Film-Tech Forum   » Community   » Film-Yak   » Mystery radio dispatcher in my lobby? (Page 1)

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Author Topic: Mystery radio dispatcher in my lobby?
Frank Cox
Film God

Posts: 2002
From: Melville Saskatchewan Canada
Registered: Apr 2011

 - posted 12-29-2017 11:02 AM      Profile for Frank Cox   Author's Homepage   Email Frank Cox   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
This is the weirdest thing.

Yesterday afternoon I was standing by the door in the lobby putting my boots on to go outside and I heard something that sounded like a two-way radio with a woman doing some sort of dispatching. I couldn't make out the words other than a few numbers ("four three one") but it was definitely a woman talking on a two-way radio.

I thought someone had a truck parked outside with a radio turned up high, but when I went outside there was nothing there. I looked around to see if anyone had dropped a walkie talkie on the ground or something; still nothing. Nobody standing beside the building or anywhere near that I could see.

So I went to pick up the mail and when I got back I heard more of the same thing while I was taking my boots off again. A woman talking on a two-way radio. And there was still nothing around. My wife heard it too so it wasn't my imagination.

Unless someone was hiding in the attic with a walkie talkie there's just no way that there was anything around that would be making that noise.

Any idea what it could have been? It's been really cold these past several days (right now it's a balmy -46 degrees) so maybe that had something to do with it?

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Matthew Ortado
Film Handler

Posts: 19
From: Halethorpe, MD, USA
Registered: Jan 2010

 - posted 12-29-2017 12:05 PM      Profile for Matthew Ortado   Email Matthew Ortado   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
It could have been someone using a CB radio near by and the signal was bleeding into your paging system.

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Alexandre Pereira
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 126
From: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Registered: Jan 2016

 - posted 12-29-2017 01:03 PM      Profile for Alexandre Pereira   Author's Homepage   Email Alexandre Pereira   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Did it sound anything like this?

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Frank Cox
Film God

Posts: 2002
From: Melville Saskatchewan Canada
Registered: Apr 2011

 - posted 12-29-2017 03:50 PM      Profile for Frank Cox   Author's Homepage   Email Frank Cox   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I don't think it was anything nearby since it was really busy and non-stop; it sounded like a big-city taxi, police or courier dispatch. Nothing radio-dispatched around here would ever be that busy.

It must have been some sort of long-distance skip that ended up here, but I still have no idea what it could have been resonating with. It wasn't playing through my cell phone (I held it up to my ear to check) and everything else in the lobby was turned off at that time of day.

I haven't heard it again so I'm blaming it on a freak caused by the cold, but what was creating the sound once it got here remains a mystery. Is it possible for steel siding and ice to somehow tune itself and resonate with a radio signal like that? I can't think of anything else that it could have been.

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Dave Macaulay
Film God

Posts: 2159
From: Toronto, Canada
Registered: Apr 2001

 - posted 12-29-2017 05:18 PM      Profile for Dave Macaulay   Email Dave Macaulay   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I have heard stories of peoples cars, houses, and even tooth fillings picking up the Voice of America shortwave transmission near their rather powerful transmitter in Ohio. Possibly you could run a small car "off the air" beside the antenna farm? So I guess anything that can do a touch of rectification can pick up AM radio... but dispatch radio is pretty much all FM now.

Definitely ghosts. Maybe a taxi driver died there during a showing of "Taxi Driver" and now haunts your building?

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Dennis Benjamin
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1426
From: Denton, MD
Registered: Feb 2002

 - posted 12-30-2017 12:28 PM      Profile for Dennis Benjamin   Author's Homepage   Email Dennis Benjamin   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I once had a RGM sound system in a projection booth short out and start broadcasting a local FM Country radio station in one of our auditoriums. The tech back then said it was impossible - until he came out and heard it for himself.

(it was the Edison Park 8 theatre in Ft. Myers, Florida circa 1991, Bob Taylor of P&W Service and Supply was the tech)

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Jim Cassedy
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1563
From: San Francisco, CA
Registered: Dec 2006

 - posted 12-30-2017 12:59 PM      Profile for Jim Cassedy   Email Jim Cassedy   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I got reports of this problem from a theater last year.
In quiet parts of the movie, we could hear short bursts of garbled audio.
(it sounded something like an SSB transmission)
We were never able to track down the exact source of the interference,
but we suspected that it was coming from walkie-talkies being used by
a work crew working in the building next door, right on the other side of
the wall from that auditorium. The transmissions occurred only during the
afternoon hours, and not on weekends, and went away about the same time
the work crew did. Hasn't happened since.

Back in the late 70's or early 80's, during the height of the "CB Radio" craze
here in the USA, we suddenly started picking up CB radio transmissions
from a guy who lived on a lot bordering the theater property and who had
put up a huge beam antenna. This was an old (1938) theater and the
un-shielded speaker wire running through the rafters from backstage to
the booth was essentially acting like a long-wire antenna and backfeeding
the transmissions into the amplifier.

We got the service tech out to the theater and he installed some sort of
RF-Choke coils into the speaker lines which solved the problem.

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Steve Kraus
Film God

Posts: 4067
From: Chicago, IL, USA
Registered: May 2000

 - posted 12-30-2017 02:26 PM      Profile for Steve Kraus     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
That neighbor with the big antenna was probably running an illegal linear amp. Shoulda sic'd the FCC on him.

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Jim Cassedy
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1563
From: San Francisco, CA
Registered: Dec 2006

 - posted 12-30-2017 04:15 PM      Profile for Jim Cassedy   Email Jim Cassedy   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
You're probably right, Steve. I remember thinking the same thing
at the time. But the FCC was about as lame in enforcing CB radio
regulations back then as they are at enforcing the "do not call"
lists or "anti-spam" rules today.

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Joe Redifer
You need a beating today

Posts: 12859
From: Denver, Colorado
Registered: May 99

 - posted 12-30-2017 11:39 PM      Profile for Joe Redifer   Author's Homepage   Email Joe Redifer   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I, too, have an radio-related anecdote. I have shared it before but as always it shall be welcomed again. Back in the year 2000 I was working on a Saturday night in the booth as was my friend at a different theater across town (same chain). Somehow he was able to pick up me talking on the walkie-talkie. He thought it sounded like me so he recorded it. I still have the recording around somewhere and he gave it to me the next day, and I remembered having that conversation with the downstairs peons on the walkie. He was 15.36 miles almost straight west of my location and these were crappy little handheld walkies. Hearing his recording kinda freaked me out a little.

EDIT: Found the file. You can hear in the recording that he's in his own projection booth so he wasn't pulling a fast one and hiding outside of my theater. The conversation starts with a peon asking me if I could turn on the cleaning lights in auditorium #1. I respond "Yeah I'll be there in a second". They reply with "Thank you". I can remember the peon's face but I can't remember his name. I wonder if anyone does.

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William Kucharski
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 191
From: Louisville, Colorado, United States of America
Registered: Oct 2012

 - posted 01-04-2018 07:59 AM      Profile for William Kucharski   Email William Kucharski   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Likely a one-off atmospheric bounce situation.

I'm a little over two miles from my local McDonalds but when the conditions are right I can pick up their Drive-Thru headsets on my ham radio receiver.

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Mike Blakesley
Film God

Posts: 12482
From: Forsyth, Montana
Registered: Jun 99

 - posted 01-04-2018 10:57 PM      Profile for Mike Blakesley   Author's Homepage   Email Mike Blakesley   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Back when all we had was AM radios and no local rock'n'roll station, friends and I used to listen to the following stations at night:

KOMA, Oklahoma City - 1120 miles away
KSTP, St. Paul, MN - 750 miles away
XEROK, somewhere just over the Mexican border (known as "X ROCK 80")- around 1400 miles away

Most nights they would all come in clear as a bell after sundown. Probably still would, I guess, but who listens to AM radio for music anymore?

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James Westbrook
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1108
From: Lubbock, Texas, Usa
Registered: Mar 2006

 - posted 01-06-2018 04:09 PM      Profile for James Westbrook   Email James Westbrook   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I believe the three stations are technically still around. What was KOMA 1520 is some news talk format. Don't know about KSTP, but Xerok 80 still has a weaker signal but it's Spanish language only now. The last border blaster that has content in English may be XETRA in Tijuana.
I used to listen to WLS in Chicago to Johnny "Records" Landecker and to KFI Los Angeles. I could pick them up in Lubbock. KFI and even XEROK would play new songs sooner, before the Lubbock stations would program them. Xerok, in 1977, had their studios in El Paso.
The current AM tuners are mostly crap now, unless one buys a C Crane radio. The one in my car has trouble picking up distant stations at night. After midnight, in my parts, one will hear rebroadcasted syndicated talk shows, Red Eye Radio and Coast to Coast AM, pretty much wall to wall when one can pick up said stations.
FM is yet another wasteland, but I won't go there.

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Frank Angel
Film God

Posts: 5199
From: Brooklyn NY USA
Registered: Dec 1999

 - posted 01-06-2018 08:16 PM      Profile for Frank Angel   Author's Homepage   Email Frank Angel   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Because no one listens to more than one radio station at any one time time, we don't really comprehend the amount of continuous RF and EM energy there is in the environment, non-stop 24/7. And it has never diminished but only increased exponentially since the dawn of the industrial revolution, decade after decade, with the addition of the myriad other RF transmitting devices using more and more of the spectrum until the RF band is so packed that transmission modes compete voraciously for space. It's a miracle that anything that can reproduce sound doesn't pop out of all sorts of devices. If we were able to see the RF band energy around us, we would be blinded by an intense white-out. Just like the bats. Kidding, but it has been shown that bats can be adversely effected by radar and microwaves.

Yes, those stories about fillings in peoples teeth actually picking up strong radio AM modulation are true. I have also heard of taxi dispatch RF exciting speakers themselves -- hence, I would say, just because the PA system was not powered on, Frank, that doesn't mean there was no available device around you capable of audio reproduction should the right conditions of a modulated energy source (again, always present all around us) and a viable circuit collide. When you think of how simple a crystal radio receiver really is, it doesn't take much to create a radio "receiver."

In the early 60s when I lived outside of Chicago (well, in South Bend IN, actually), all of my East Coast buddies used to listen to our home-town top-40 station -- WABC-AM in NYC. Like its sister station WLS in Chicago, it was a clear channel (50KW) transmitter and the ionosphere skip brought it in as good as if I was still living in Brooklyn, as long as it was after sundown, while the WLS fans would scoff at the New Yorkers for getting all excited when we were able to pick up WABC. Here's an air check recording -- I can't believe we actually listened to this drivel.
Air Check - WABC - Bruce "Cousin Brucie" Morrow

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Buck Wilson
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 868
From: St. Joseph MO, USA
Registered: Sep 2010

 - posted 01-06-2018 10:00 PM      Profile for Buck Wilson   Email Buck Wilson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
one will hear rebroadcasted syndicated talk shows, Red Eye Radio and Coast to Coast AM,
Ooooh I love Coast. I listen frequently while delivering newspapers overnight.(My OTHER dying industry job) The radio reception in my new(to me) van sucks though, has trouble picking up the station 65 miles away.

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