Direct mp3 download or play:  849 – 1138 Has Been Disconnected

During the late 1970s and early 1980s, not only was I recording amateur radio operators, I was listening to and recording more radio noises in general. One of the more interesting sounds was radio pagers. Back then, there was no texting or smart phones so when people needed to get in touch quickly, individuals would actually call on the phone to a paging service. I thought that live operators, quite often women, would speak into microphones and deliver messages just like police and fire dispatchers over VHF radio or the individual wanting to place a page would speak into their phone. I honestly don’t know which way it was done, but the  professional quality of the female voices suggested to me that they were operators rather than individuals placing voice pages.  Before the actual page was spoken, special tones were sent out which would activate the correct pager. I would guess if this was how paging was done, then the person calling the paging service may have pressed touch tone buttons to activate the correct pager receiver.  Then it was up to the individuals with the pagers to respond. I f  anyone has a thought about this, please comment. Also I had recently been noticing the film “THX-1138” and because of its soundtrack, it rapidly became one of my favorite movies. I noticed a lot of the sounds I was recording were similar to the sounds in the film. I imagined if the paging offices were actually like the environment in “THX-1138.” Then I wondered, “What actually do the letters and numbers t-h-x-1-1-3-8 mean? It must be a phone number, Star Wars director George Lucas’ phone number.” Phone prefix THX or 849 I thought were in Oakland or Berkeley, and probably not belonging to George Lucas. As you can hear, I finally called the number and it turned out to be disconnected. Over the years I made several “communications” ambient mixes. Bits and pieces of these have been on “Over the Edge” radio programs.  Another version mixed by “Everyman” can be heard by searching “The Weatherman and Everyman – Analog Paging.” This search brings up several “questionable” mp3 download sites. Be careful! I was able to download the audio from at least one of these sites, however.
The version I’m presenting in this post was made by setting up five media players playing wav files off the hard drive, and internet radio steaming live. If you would like to see exactly what the media players were doing, go to the large picture and if you can blow up or magnify the image you will be able to see everything including my computers CPU usage. CPU usage is important to monitor when using multiple media players because as more players are turned on, the higher the CPU usage. When you get closer to 100 per cent the more likely the computer will crash, which should be avoided. It did happen, possibly on this computer, once when I had twelve media players running simultaneously. It didn’t damage anything, and the computer simply turned off the media players and then restarted. I wouldn’t recommend doing this, mainly because I’m not sure if it actually is hurting the computer.
There are a couple of interesting web sites that relate to the sounds that I recorded in this post. The first one relating to “very low frequency radio” or VLF is about electromagnetic energy in the Earth’s atmosphere and the sounds it produces. The other site, “Phone Trips” goes into great detail about how telephone networks operated, mainly from the 1960s and 70s. In addition there are many sound files that remind me even more of THX-1138 and vintage communication noises in general.
Just a few other things I forgot to mention. My favorite voice page starting at about -2:12 is “Jim Call Your Exchange… Holding A Massage For You.” Also the Vallejo mobile or marine operator (-3:30 and-3:11)  for car phones or ship-to-shore phone calls is heard saying “Vallejo… Vallejo Off.” Keep in mind, there were no cell phones at this time and it was quite a big deal to have a phone in a vehicle.  The phone call was originally recorded onto cassette tape with the red and green phone wires connected to the line input of a cassette recorder, possibly my Norelco 1530. There was a capacitor in series with the input to prevent DC phone voltage from getting into the recorder. I think the phone line  (Martinez, Ca. prefix 228) may have still had a party line with a neighbor. All radio noises were received on my inexpensive Radio Shack Patrolman 4 multi-band radio at my home in Martinez, California, between 152 megahertz and 153 megahertz. The poor selectivity of this radio (wide band FM only) made these sounds more like the sounds in THX – 1138.