Surfin’: An Extremely Long Delayed Echo
By Stan Horzepa, WA1LOU
This week, Surfin’ discovers the truth about a radio urban legend that was too good to be true.
You can thank my editor, ARRL News Editor S. Khrystyne Keane, K1SFA, for this week’s installment of Surfin’. She put a bug in my ear about a radio urban legend that I had heard about back around 1960, and I could not resist writing about it.
Hopeville Elementary School tried to expand our young minds by sending around fliers once a month (more or less), advertising books that we could buy and read in our leisure. By way of my mother’s purse and generosity, I was one of their best customers, and I usually hauled a few paperbacks home each month.
One month, I took home Frank Edward’s Stranger than Science, a “collection of astounding true stories of strange events, weird happenings and unusual discoveries that science cannot explain.”
Today, with the likes of History Channel broadcasting stories about UFOs, ghosts, monsters and other odd things 24 hours a day, the book would probably not get much notice. But back in the early 1960s, the stories in Edwards’ book were really “astounding” -- especially if you were a 10 year old kid.
One story that originally appeared in Reader’s Digest, but showed up in Edwards’ book most definitely astounded me back then, just as I was just getting my feet wet in the radio hobbies. It told about the reception in Great Britain of a television broadcast from a Texas station over three years after its transmission!
In 1953, British viewers reported seeing the test pattern of KLEE out of Houston. They realized that the broadcast was more than two years old when they discovered that KLEE had changed call signs to KPRC in 1950.
I don’t recall what explanation, if any, Edwards offered in his book, but reading about it on snopes.com, various people suggested various theories about how this strange event could have happened.
I forgot all about it until Khrystyne brought it up. I guess I filed it away in my mind as just one of those things, but it turns out it was just one of those hoaxes as snopes.com reveals online.
Until next time, keep on surfin’!