Article By Site Contributor Frank Statler
The Max Headroom broadcast signal intrusion occurred on November 22, 1987 on two Chicago television stations. The two stations were WGN-TV channel 9 and WTTW channel 11.
The First Interruption
The first on air interruption was on WGN-TV channel 9 during the 9 0’clock news. It was in the middle of the nightly sportscast when suddenly the television screens of hundreds of thousands of Chicago-land viewers became covered with static.
Then it went black for about 15 seconds and then abruptly ,without out warning, the television character named “Max Headroom” appeared on the screen. The strange figure hopped around for a little bit but did not actually do anything. Little did viewers know that this was just the appetizer for a wild main course that would play out later that night.
Around 11:15pm that same night another television program, Dr. Who on station WTTW in Chicago, was interrupted by a similar signal intrusion. The show was interrupted by television static, after which an unidentified man wearing a Max Headroom mask and sunglasses appeared, saying “That does it. He’s a fricking nerd.”
The intruder was speaking about the sportscaster “Chuck Swirsky” whom he said he was “better than”, going on to call Swirsky a “fricking liberal”. The man started to moan, scream and laugh. He continued to bellow foolishly and utter various random phrases. He advised the viewers to “Catch the wave”. Which was the slogan of a soda product called new coke.
All of this while holding a can of Pepsi in his hands (The character known as Max Headroom was promoting New Coke at the time). After holding the soda can up to the camera he tossed it to one side.
He then held up a gardening glove and said, “My brother is wearing the other one.” After putting the glove on, he continued, “But it’s dirty! It’s like you got bloodstains on it!” He then removed the glove and threw it away in disgust. Then the man was shown with his trousers around his ankles and his buttocks exposed.
An unidentified accomplice wearing a french maid costume then told him to “bend over, bitch.” At this point the man on the television was having his buttocks whipped with a fly swatter and was crying out in mimicked pain.
The transmission then blacked out for a few seconds before resuming the Doctor Who episode in progress; the hijack lasted for about 90 seconds.
Max Headroom Broadcast Signal Intrusion
The most amazing thing about this strange story is that even 30+ years later the authorities have never even come close to finding the electronics genius that pulled this hilarious stunt. I personally feel that we will not find out who this outlaw is until their death. Then again maybe we will never find out.
Frank M. Statler