Voice Transmissions With The Deceased

by Friedrich Juergenson

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The day of the big change - What’s going on with my tape recorder?

Spring had come once again to Stockholm , that timid spring of a large city that can be detected at daybreak or by a slowly darkening sky. The time was nearing for me to take part in an excavation of the house in Pompeii .

That spring my wife and I decided to spend the weekends in the country. The weather was unnaturally sunny and warm, the garden was blossoming with fragrant smells, and from early morning until late in the evening one could hear the birds sing. On Friday, the 12th of June 1959 , we drove out into the country in the early afternoon, and I had taken my tape recorder with me for the first time with the purpose of recording different birdsongs.

The secluded location of our property in the country, the big garden, somewhat gone to seed, the closely bordering forest and the lake with its reeds were the best prerequisites for an abundance and variety of birds. I had been enthusiastically interested in birdsongs since my childhood.

As we arrived in the country on that sunny afternoon, we headed first to the lake where in the protection of an old hut we were able to do some sunbathing. It was around four o’clock when I decided, as planned, to do my recording.

When I arrived at the forest-hut, settling in the attic, I installed a new tape and placed a microphone close to the open window in front of which was strung thin nylon netting. Shortly thereafter, I turned on 17 the tape recorder because a finch had alighted close by the house.

I checked the recording after the tape ran for about five minutes. What I heard was very strange. I was hearing a roaring or hissing static sound, like a shower, in which you could identify the chirping of the finch, but as if was coming from a distance.

My first thought was that one of the tubes was damaged during the trip. Nevertheless, I turned the recorder on again and let the tape run. My second recording it was just like before: I was hearing this strange hissing and the distant bird chirping. Then all of a sudden there sounded a trumpet solo as if to announce something. I listened with continued surprise as suddenly a male voice began to speak in Norwegian. Though it was very quiet, I could clearly understand the words. The man was talking about “bird songs at night”, and I heard a number of chattering, whistling and splashing sounds, and among them what seemed to be the chirping of a sparrow.

Suddenly the bird choir fell silent and with that so did the hissingsound. In the next instant the twittering of a finch was audible and in the distance you could hear a titmouse – the tape recorder was working perfectly again.

But what had actually happened? The fact was totally clear to me; this was a Norwegian radio broadcast. But the only radio receiver that we had was left back in the house, and it was not turned on. There were no other radios far and wide because of our isolated location and considerable distance from the next village. Besides, this mysterious transmission was first turned on then suddenly turned off.

18 Of course there is the possibility that under certain circumstances a tape recorder can act as a radio receiver. But – wasn’t it remarkable, that I of all people who was searching for bird sounds should receive sounds of Norwegian night birds exactly in that moment when I turned on the tape recorder? Was there an invisible intelligence that with such a remarkable way was trying to get my attention? Very puzzling!

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