Max Headroom Hijack Airwaves in Chicago

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.

1st incident.


2nd incident




Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

27 thoughts on “Max Headroom Hijack Airwaves in Chicago”

  1. So odd and fascinating. I don’t remember this, but I do remember Muh muh muh Max Headroom and Coke. My aunt and uncle dressed up like him for Halloween and used cardboard boxes for television sets.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Heh. I know where this idea came from. 😎

    I vaguely remember the Headroom Hijacks. Pretty damn funny and creepy.

    Changing the subject…had a convo with an Australian & he remarked about FF doing weird s*** with WP, too. If he tried to like something, FF woyld would throw open a blank tab.

    As I recall from my early web programming days, I had to test pages because IE would render one way and Netscape would render another way. As I recall, Opera worked like IE. I always kept like five or six browsers for testing.

    I noticed in one of your screenshots all the tabs you had open. Geez…just like me…LOL!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I meant to tell you last night when you mentioned Headroom…this is what I thought of…so funny and they never found the people responsible.

      Sure we do! Every direction at once…that is the way we attack things…full force.

      What makes no sense is Chrome working on mine and other people but not yours. That is why I thought it was an extension or something of the kind. I never thought about what Chrome version it is…I wonder if that would make a difference. I don’t see it as a Windows problem though…I could be wrong though. I dumped Firefox a while back… a long time ago when it started to be really slow. I haven’t tried it in a while. I had nothing against it…just at that time it was slow.


      1. Messing with this s***, I’m having flashbacks to 15 years ago. IE & Netscape refused to render the same. I always worked with those two, Safari, Opera, Maxthon and the old Mozilla Suite. Heh. And, Safari doesn’t even exist, anymore, as a stand-alone browser for Microsoft software.

        I don’t care anymore. I *suspect* that it is a combination of browser rendering issues and Win10. Your Chrome is on Win10. I’m still on Win7. Now that I know what I am dealing with, I will adjust with six different browsers…just like I used to.

        The fun never ends.


        Liked by 1 person

      2. My Chrome is 75.0.3770.90 64-bit.

        You can’t fix browser/programmer stupid.

        Eh. Piss on Safari. I can’t stand Apple products. I can’t stand Microsoft either but… Ever learn any Linux stuff?

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t think it was really…they searched high and low in that building but it very well could have been some ex employee who knew how to do that from the outside.
      I wish they would fess up to it…they would not get in trouble now.


    1. It was funny…it was creepy looking but what a surprise to the viewers.
      I just wish someone would confess that they did it and why… I’ve read where they would not be in trouble now.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Terry always loved Max Headroom, Jenny not so much. Never heard of these two incidents before but would have laughed our heads off seeing it live like you did. Great stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

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