Thursday, April 21, 2022

#AtoZChallenge2022: R is for Radio Conspiracies

The A to Z of Conspiracy Theories R
The A to Z of Conspiracy Theories: R is for Radio Conspiracies

There is something about many modern conspiracy theories and their connection with radios.  I think it is because, like the Internet, conspiracy theories were often shared in less than reputable papers and tabloids but also via ham radios and various pirate radio stations.

So today I thought I'd look into a couple of these.

The War of the Worlds

The first is the 1938 broadcast of War of the Worlds. It seems that people missed the repeated remarks on this being the fictional broadcast.  But as Orson Welles was broadcasting wide-spread panic sat in by people believing that the US was really being attacked by Martians.  Why am I including this here?  It shows that people were taken in rather convincingly by what they heard on the state-of-the-art technology of the time.  So really, can we be surprised that people are taken in by stuff they see on the Internet?

Numbers Stations

These are weird.  I mentioned them back in October and I have looked into them a little more since then.  These are short-wave radio broadcasts believed to be coded messages to intelligence officers in the field.  If you can find them they are actually a little creepy to listen to.  While some, a minority, have been found out this leaves a majority who have not been discovered. Where uncertainty leaves a gap it is usually filled with a conspiracy theory. 

Some of the best I have heard/read is that these codes are for programming people that hear them.  Someone hears these numbers and they are pre-programmed to do some activities that they will not remember later.  Others claim they are alien broadcasts, either to or from aliens.

I can't recall if "The X-Files" ever covered Numbers Stations, but the recent History series "Project Blue Book" (not to be confused with the older, similar series on NBC "Project U.F.O.") featured them.


Taking a page from Banshee Chapter, the characters can discover a new Numbers Station; or be given a story by their editor in a Weirdly World News.  The station is not communicating with anyone human but the extra-dimensional aliens.  What are they doing? What do they want?  Maybe these numbers are not a coded message, but rather the frequencies are for opening up a portal to let in even more aliens.

Story or not, these aliens should probably be stopped. 

Oh. Looking for what I have said about another R word, Roswell? I have a whole entry in the latest NIGHT SHIFT book Night Companion: A Sourcebook for Night Shift: VSW.

Given all this talk about Radio, I thought this was a good choice. 

The NIGHT SHIFT RPG is available from the Elf Lair Games website (hardcover) and from DriveThruRPG (PDF).


PT Dilloway said...

I remember watching a movie called Numbers Station that starred John Cusack. I think that used the theory these were sending codes to intelligence agents.

The War of the Worlds thing shows how long "fake news" has been with us. And that some people will believe basically anything.

Dick McGee said...

Numbers stations are by far the most "real" thing you've covered so far, since they demonstrably exist and some were used for espionage historically. These days some of them are probably serving the same general purpose, but I'd bet a fair number of them are being operated by pranksters just to mess with people. I mean, if leaving bigfoot tracks and crops circles all over the place gives some folks their jollies, why not weird radio broadcasts?

Arlee Bird said...

When I used to listen to a lot of shortwave stations back in the sixties I would pick up all sorts of channels with a lot of weird sounds. I don't know what they were, but I doubt whether much in the way of secret activity was going on.

In more recent times when I've driven late at night I would enjoy listening to the conspiracists like Art Bell and other shows that delved into conspiracies and plain weird stories. Great way to pass the time while driving in the darkness and trying to keep awake.

Arlee Bird
Tossing It Out

Lisa said...

I find it interesting how there wasn't more panic over the "Martians" because more people were listening to Edgar Bergen Charlie McCarthy! Too many people still believe everything they hear on the radio/television/social media though.

Dino said...

I love Thomas Dolby!

My R post T Is For Respect

Ronel Janse van Vuuren said...

War of the Worlds. LOL.

Ronel visiting for the A-Z Challenge My Languishing TBR: R

moondustwriter said...

I wonder if Wells intended to see how far he could go with a story line. All you need are gullible people.

Radio has had plenty of opportunities hasnt it so I agree why not the new airwaves.
Weve seen a few movies / shows that have used lines of communication really well to set the scene.
Well done for another letter checked off.

The Russian

Tim Knight said...

I think Fringe did an episode on Numbers Stations... and, of course, Lost.

Damyanti Biswas said...

I haven't been into radio shows but this is an interesting post. I learned something new today :)