Hollywood Takes Liberties with Amateur Radio in New Comedy
In Mr Popper’s Penguins -- one of the newest films out this summer -- young Tommy Popper communicates with his father using what many reviews are calling ham radio. But while the Poppers are using a radio tuned to 21.2460 (15 meters SSB), this frequency was not available to US hams as a phone frequency in the 1976-78 time period, as shown in the movie. Neither do the Poppers use call signs. Instead, they use handles: Young Tommy is “Tippy Toe” and Mr Popper is “Bald Eagle.” Mr Popper -- who, in one transmission, is in Marrakesh -- calls his son in New York City. There is no interference or static on the frequency; it seems they are the only ones on the band. While it is exciting to see Amateur Radio on the big screen, movies such as Frequency and Contact, and television shows such as Jericho and The Simpsons have presented Amateur Radio more accurately.