Tuesday, 23 August 2011


Have you ever tried turning the channel during summer mornings when the weather was excellent? Chances are that you discovered TV stations on normally vacant channels. You also may have found that the spaces between FM stations likewise come alive with broadcasters. Why does this happen? An atmospheric condition called tropospheric ducting funnels the very high frequency signals, that normally would go out into space, and carries them for hundreds of miles. Depending on the dome of high pressure over a given area, this can continue all morning. Once the air heats up and the wind starts, the duct is destroyed.

Being an avid radio listener and television watcher since early childhood, the lure of tuning in distant signals, not meant for our area, was too strong to resist. I wrote about my discovery of tropospheric ducting in Deliverance from Jericho (Six Years in a Blind School). During August of 1969, Alberta's fine weather provided me with weeks of long distance viewing entertainment.


I discovered a new form of long distance television viewing that month. Stations located a couple of hundred miles away came in clearly during the early mornings of cloudless days. Though the stations rebroadcast the programming of the CTV and CBC networks, I felt thrilled to see channels seven through thirteen filled with signals. I learned from the station identifications that these repeaters were located in small towns in northern Alberta. A station from Lloydminster also came in one day.


Deliverance from Jericho contains many more vignettes of what life was like in that government-run institution. These range from poignant experiences of homesickness to hilarious incidents of mischief. Click here to read more about this compelling story. You may also e-mail me directly if the comment form doesn't work.

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