By Greg Marshall, 6/2/2014
This story’s concept has been tossed around many, many times in the past, and for a long time, I didn't know the best way to present it. It didn't feel right as a full-on story because when I attempted to delve far enough into the mystery, the outcome was...anticlimactic or just unfitting, like a game that's only viewed for its bare gameplay and not the storyline.
As for inspiration, Several PC game puzzles centered around radio inspired it, including the name given in a walkthrough to one game (RHEM) featuring several antennae with one that’s isolated from the others, yet still visible on the radar diagram used to track them. Ghost Radio by Leopoldo Gout also influenced it by giving a paranormal overtone, as the title, The Lost Antenna, itself could infer to something terrifying relating to radio itself as it does in the novel. I have attempted to write previous stories with a few German characters in it that love to tinker with radio, a pair of them named Karl Jörgens, a retired WWII radio operator, and Ralf Diederich, a very lucky homeless man. Just imagine: A radio tower that’s isolated in the middle of nowhere, yet still able to reach others who have the right equipment. Read the story below, and when you’re done, think what you will of this concept, and how would apply to shortwave radio today. I recommend downloading and printing this file, and reading it to your friends and/or family on Halloween, too. Maybe it’ll worm a scare or two out of them. Enjoy, either way.
A long time ago, back in 1988, two men had set up a shortwave radio station in an extremely remote area of Europe. A radio tower base was already there for the taking, decommissioned by the previous operators. Remnants left behind indicated that this base was used for military purposes back in World War II, but this duo had everything they needed to retrofit it to their needs.
After the station was back in working condition, they transmitted on the 80-meter HF band (3500-4000 mHz) it occupied, and relayed received signals to other ham radio operators, from top secret government acts, to laws and authority figures they thought had no right to rule, to activity in space that they picked up overhead, and occasionally sharing urban legends, macabre tales, and ghost stories. Whoever owned this station in the past had a great range of reception, and those two men loved milking it for all its spoils.
But one night, in 1997, almost 10 years after finding this station, it suddenly went offline. There were no announcements, no warnings, they just…vanished. Their listeners frantically tried to find the station again, but all they got was static. And that was how it stayed for the next 3 years. Then, in 2000, a ham radio operator found it in Greenland. But he described the signal as completely different from the station’s previous function. There were no voices on the air, no cohesive transmissions. Instead, he described it as just…sounds. Not static, just audible hums and tones. Repeating over and over until he turned the dial away for just a moment. And here’s where it gets weird: When he turned the dial back, those noises were gone. He tried again several times, no luck.
To this day, people try to find this station and figure out what those noises mean. But when they try to locate the band, nothing comes up. Instead, the noises come out of their speakers seemingly at random, and some have attempted to document them when they can. One even tried translating them through different ciphers and even an SSTV decoder, but no such luck.
But you can’t find this station by choice. It hides from the direct turn of the knob like a person playing innocent at the best time when he can get away with it. It will keep the meaning from you until it wants you to hear it. And nobody has been able to figure out where the station is. Its remote location was both a great idea and a terrible mistake for the operators, so if they died there, no one has come for the bodies. Even Google maps won’t recognize it because the station’s rebroadcasting was illegal in the ‘80’s, especially since the USSR had missiles back then.
If you hear anything close to these kinds of humming or beeping sounds, listen and remember them. Try to find out what they mean, if you can. And the odds are unknown as to whether you will hear them at all on shortwave.