Someone in 1987 hijacked the airwaves in Chicago and to this day no one has been identified.
On Sunday, Nov. 22, 1987, Chicago sportscaster Dan Roan was covering the sports highlights of the day like normal. This night would be different. At 9:14, Dan Roan disappeared from the screen. In fact, everything disappeared from the screen as it flickered into darkness. Then, 15 seconds later, a new figure appeared.
Someone with a rubber Max Headroom mask with just static…started bobbing his or her head on the screen. It only lasted around 20 seconds and Dan laughed and blamed it on the computer. The employees of the station thought it was an inside job but it wasn’t…they searched everywhere in the building but it did not come from inside the station. It was creepy but harmless…but whoever did it wasn’t finished yet.
Later on, viewers watching “Doctor Who” on WTTW-TV in Chicago got a big surprise. A 90-second hijacking of the airwaves, featuring the same person dressed as Max Headroom. This time it was a little more action. Headroom bobbed his head again and said a few things. The audio was hard to make out on one viewing. He held up a can of Pepsi while reciting the Coca-Cola slogan “catch the wave.” Max Headroom was, at the time, being used as a spokesperson for Coke. Near the end, he turned around and was spanked by a woman…There was more to it and both videos are below in the post.
Most of Chicago found this hilarious but…The FCC did NOT see the humor at all. They used all of their resources to see who hijacked the airwaves. They offered a reward for anyone knowing the people responsible. They released this message:
“I would like to inform anybody involved in this kinda thing, that there’s a maximum penalty of $100,000, one year in jail, or both,” Phil Bradford, an FCC spokesman, told a reporter the following day.
“All in all, there are some who may view this as comical,” WTTW spokesman Anders Yocom said. “But it is a very serious matter because illegal interference of a broadcast signal is a violation of federal law. ”
The hijacker was never found and to this day people still wonder who it was and why they did it. The FCC worked out how it could have been accomplished without expensive equipment…by placing his or her own dish antenna between the transmitter tower, the hacker could have effectively interrupted the original signal by good timing and positioning.