Highgate

Monday

20 years and 2 months ago today.


On November 22, 1987 at 11:00pm Central Standard Time, WTTW's broadcast signal was hijacked by an unknown person wearing a Max Headroom mask for about 90 seconds during a telecast of the Doctor Who serial Horror of Fang Rock. This was the second incident that night involving the interruption of a television station's broadcast signal. Approximately two hours prior to the WTTW incident, another Chicago television station, WGN-TV, had its broadcast hijacked by the same Max Headroom masked person during the 9 O'Clock News sports report. The intruder, believed to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol (or both), wore a fake penis on his middle finger, and displayed boorish behavior, such as baring his posterior and getting swatted with what was believed to be a fly swatter. |Wikipedia|

"The Federal Communications Commission and the FBI sprang into action, launching independent pirate-hunting squads to unmask the disturbing messenger. It was clear that the fellow had a rare knack for electronics and microwave equipment. WTTW's uplink antenna was atop the 1,454 foot Sears tower in downtown Chicago, and investigators concluded that the "signal pirate" smothered the legitimate broadcast by sending a more powerful signal to this antenna. According to some experts in broadcasting, a rig of sufficient power could be purchased for about $25,000– or perhaps rented for a few thousand dollars– and the disassembled equipment could be transported using a few large suitcases. Agents believed that the perpetrator either beamed his message from the rooftop of an adjacent building, or that he somehow gained access to a powerful ground-based transmitter. But Max had covered his tracks well, there was no clear indication of how he had executed his sophisticated attack." |Damn Interesting|

This was the last time that a major television broadcast was hijacked in America... personally, i hope the ability to do this is still out there somewhere, seems that it might be very useful at the right times. K-Fed at the Super bowl perhaps?
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UPDATE: Eric Olsen pointed to this "Rather" interesting CBS follow up story [Youtube]

and HHHate had this to say about the whole incident:
"People need to get a sense of humor...and perspective...the airwaves of America belong to the PEOPLE, but the corporate media moguls hijacked it for themselves and their paying advertisers! Scumbags! This pirate should be found and commended for delivering the big "fuck you" that network broadcasters and their pandering drivel content so richly deserve!"

7 comments:

eo said...

HA! Awesome. Here's CBS talking about it the next day...

the le duo said...

now that "uplink antennas" are replaced by satelite plasma digital tv, who knows if this will ever happen again?...but seriously, while I understand the dada-like critique of society that this could have been (probably just some rich asshole with too much time on his hands) is this kind of thing really usefull? dont get me wrong however, I like to see crazies dressed like max headroom whipped with flyswatters as much as the next guy...

jay said...

There's a really good website about on-air piracy somewhere...if i find it I'll post a link.

On a similar note, I did an interview for my college thesis documentary with "Jack Napier" of the Billboard Liberation Front(www.billboardliberation.com), a group that sneaks around in the dead of night with rock climbing gear & modifies billboards in major cities to alter their meanings. Really bright guy & a cool group.

Tmoore said...

I think it is very useful - showing the masses that the all powerful god that is modern media as vulnerable is an important act. Its not even necessarily the message that is important, only that such an act is possible.

[insert "medium as message" misinterpretation here.]

the le duo said...

the masses who dont already realize that media is vulnerable are too fucking stupid to understand a "message" such as a drunk asshole mooning the camera, imo

Shane said...

isn't it more to show the media that they are vulnerable?

I think most people would say that watching a Max Headroom get spanked with a fly swatter is vastly more entertaining than 95% of the programming currently available...

Tmoore said...

Touche'