Paranormal transmitter site adventures

I figured now that I wrote all this up I should copy it here finally.

Believe in what you will, or what you won’t, but there are things that lurk in the airwaves aside from our electromagnetic waves.

There’s a radio tower southwest of Miami in the middle of nowhere. Well, kinda not exactly middle of nowhere as McMansions are encroaching on it and it’s next to a country club, but still. It used to be the broadcast tower for Channel 6 before the digital transition. Due to the fact that there was another 6 in Orlando, they had to stick this one waaaay south of Miami to “protect” from co-channel interference between the two destroying the signals of both.

There was an old engineer there, Richard Van Hook, who absolutely loved his job. He was in charge of maintaining the transmitter at the site and the associated equipment. As he got on in years he was fighting cancer but continued going to work there every day until about a week before he passed away. The next day, after he passed, he went right back to work. The security guard at the site (it used to be manned 24/7/365) saw the door open, heard footsteps down the hall.. but…. there was no physical body there anymore 😉

Shortly afterwards they put another engineer down there to watch the site until the analog was switched off for the DTV conversion which put their transmitter at another site about 40 miles north. He was always a little creeped out by the site but refused to believe there was a ghost there.

I was working for a radio station whose transmitter was there at the time. The tower had been sold from NBC to a total smeghead management company, Richland Tower, who laid off the guard and left the site unmanned and unmaintained. I’d often be down there doing maintenance and hear doors opening and closing and footsteps in the hallway, but there was nobody else there in this little tiny building in the middle of a field miles from anything other than a berry farm.

Richland refused to negotiate on a new lease with the university who owned that radio station so we had to abruptly remove all our equipment… then put it back! The transmitters* didn’t survive the moves out and back so I was left to assemble a good one out of the guts of two dead ones.

It was like 3 in the morning and I was sitting on a paint bucket with transmitter parts everywhere when the door opened to the room I was in and closed again. Across the room from me was a small Crown Broadcast transmitter that was keeping the station alive for the time being, connected to an Optimod 2200 processor to handle audio levels and compression.

The Optimod’s front panel lit up like someone had turned the adjustment knob or pushed a button. I looked over just in time to see the display change from MODE -> OPERATE to MODE -> TEST. A test tone started screeching out of the radio across the room (as it did over the airwaves).

I looked over and said “Stop that!”.

The processor turned back to OPERATE mode, the station went back to normal operations, the door opened and closed again and I heard footsteps down the steel staircase fading into the distance.

I fell on the floor laughing, it was the most hilarious thing I’d seen ALL FREAKING YEAR.

 

There were another couple of times I went to try to contact spirits in haunted buildings. One was in the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables. I was there with some of my friends from the station and we were walking down a stairwell in the tower next to where Al Capone used to have a suite and we all heard a whisper “hello!”. One of my classmates had a portable Minidisc recorder running on him with a funky field mic that looked like a pair of earbuds in reverse. We’d tested it prior to going in but now… it was recording *dead silence*. Testing it afterwards showed the equipment was working perfectly fine. Trolled again, but that’s not ALL we we were gonna get. We found access to the rooftop which was via two staircases and an equipment room and were walking around up there when we all heard, very clearly, a toilet flush.

There was no toilet on the roof. The nearest toilet was two floors below us. The only thing above us was a weird architectural dome full atop a ladder that’s potentially made of solid pigeon shit that also housed the 147.150 Mhz amateur radio repeater…

We all just couldn’t stop laughing at this point.

We later went back there with an Ouija board and the first thing that came out of it was my ham radio callsign KG4CYX. I guess they’d heard me use the repeater at some point in time. We asked the spirits there if they or their friends ever hung out on campus, and someone did reply that they often visited one of the older buildings there.

I had been reading about the “Spiricom” experiments and decided to try replicating that, first off because I’m freaking obsessed with electronics and radio, but also because I’d hoped to actually get a recording like they did out of that project. Instead of using a bunch of discrete tone generators to create the voice band audio frequencies, I just synthesized them in Audacity and played the result on loop. As I was messing with the janky little iPod transmitter and receiver I had up there, I heard a voice from behind me (seemingly out of the solid plaster wall) say “Shut up!”. It caught me by surprise and I tried to play back the recording in Audacity—-

You guessed it, DEAD SILENCE. I mean, the least significant bit of the analog to digital conversion didn’t even change (meaning, there was literally, absolutely, no sound there.)

 

Ridiculous pranksters, they are.

 

Say, wouldn’t this make a fairly good Creepypasta? Dunno, since it’s not a work of fiction……..

Vintage television broadcast site erotica. WCKT-TV, 1957

This post is rated R— RCA!!! This is the transmitter site for WCKT-TV which later went on to become WSVN-TV, then WSVN-DT – the new digital site is across the street.

Okay normally I’d save the best for last but— here you go. I COULDN’T WAIT.

WCKT-Control-Room-Vintage

There was no A/C at the site in these days – the large stylized funky vent in the ceiling was connected to a large supply or exhaust fan.

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The old Plantation Fashion Mall

How on earth did WordPress EAT this the first time I posted it? Anyway… I am saddened I never got to see the old Plantation Fashion Mall open, after seeing some beautiful pictures of it after closing.

From Cap Blackard's beautiful photo set of the mall after closing.
From Cap Blackard’s beautiful photo set of the mall after closing.

Well. What do we do with closed malls in South Florida? YAFULC ‘EM!!! Yet Another Fucking Urban Lifestyle Center, GO! This one calls for 750 residential units and an amazingly generous TWO possible entrances and exits – one of which puts you in a neverending traffic jam on University Drive, the other dumps you to a two lane residential street that serves thousands of other residential units in other complexes. Same shit, different toilet, and much like the American [Wet] Dream project, it’s Made In China.

Midway Mall / Mall of the Americas, midway to retail ghost

Located near the interchange of the Palmetto Expressway and the 836, southwest of Miami International Airport and minutes* from the busiest Walmart in the United States, this 1970 mall, originally known as the Midway Mall, is still just kinda hanging on. It was renamed to Mall of the Americas in 1987 and redecorated after it started dying for the first time. I recall it at least having a very active food court area around 2004. TigerDirect first moved in somewhere in the early 2000s with a small cramped outlet store and offices in a space that’s now a Ross store, accessible only from behind the mall (you kind of just had to KNOW it was there).

The headquarters of Systemax, parent company to TigerDirect and CompUSA, is located within former anchor space of the mall, as is the TigerDirect outlet store. (TigerDirect appears to be cutting ties with the old CompUSA name, as they’ve let the compusa.com domain go to squatters.)

Yes, this is the same place where some lady set herself on fire as she walked through the mall. Look carefully in some places near the southern entrance and you can actually still see soot stains on ceiling tiles. A lot of stores at that time were very small family run businesses and the incident freaked out some of the owners, prompting them to leave. The later economic crash in 2008-2009 didn’t help either. It kind of looks like there was some slight effort made to bring in national chain businesses, but it hasn’t been very successful. It looks as though the AMC theater hasn’t been open for business for a while after closing abruptly… power is still on to point of sale machines, but the movie posters are old and the whole place has lost that popcorn smell!

Current tenants include a Radio Shack store which is an outlet store; they tend to have stuff that none of the other stores in the Miami area still stock. There’s also a dollar store (textbook sign you’ve stepped into a dead mall) and a barber shop, and a fairly large store location behind the food court is now occupied by a Department of Motor Vehicles office. I think it USED TO be a Marshalls.

Will this mall survive? Who knows. It’s down the road from the busier Dolphin Mall and Miami International Mall, but has always had its regular visitors. It’s also located in a high density residential area. Parking is a major hassle, but it’s a transit hub where several bus routes intersect including 87, 11, 24, and 7 (oops, this one’s also known as Cellblock 7 among Miami-Dade Transit drivers). I could see it perhaps working as an indoor flea market – this worked with resounding success for the Festival Flea Market Mall. Just don’t turn it into a “power strip” or YAFULC, and I’ll be happy.