Famous FIRSTer in the media

I was watching a YouTube video and heard a very familiar name: The Masked Lunatic That Hijacked American News • Mystery Files - YouTube

@Al_Skierkiewicz do you recognize this person?


I’m intrigued. Now I really want to know if he did it…

Well of all the hype and programs about this incident, this one takes some liberties by ignoring some of the facts. Had they done some research they would have found that the one young guy was literally more than four hours drive from Chicago and would have needed to get to the north side of the city. This is the first show I have seen that even enters Jonathon Brandmeier into the discussion. While they didn’t point real fingers at me, they did finally state that is highly unlikely that I did it and failed to mention that I was home in bed that night. I started at 6AM the next morning and rarely made it past 10 PM. My alarm is set for 4:44 AM to get to work. There has been a lot of discussion on this incident over the years and I have given several interviews (at least five over the last three years). Many of those are still in production or seeking a broadcast outlet. I was even interviewed by the BBC radio. The truth is that person or persons unknown had some microwave equipment and set up in a line that intersects both of our stations. If you draw a line between our stations and the transmitter sites at Sears Tower and John Hancock you will see that the line is very close to both transmitters. (our two stations were unique in our location and direction to transmitters) This would have allowed someone with a higher power transmitter or larger dish to have overcome our signals. In the case of WGN, they were in the process of installing new equipment and switched to that equipment right away. WTTW did not have that ability and our remote control was multiplexed onto the microwave signal. Once the interference occurred we could not shut off the transmitter. The video of the Dr. Who intrusion came from a viewer who was recording the program that night. There was investigation by local police, FBI and FCC and no one was publicly charged. All of our equipment that could have been used for this was accounted for in locked storage verified by myself and the director of engineering just after I arrived for work the next morning. What no one includes in their report is the penalties for this intrusion. The FCC would and could levy fines of $10k per occurrence and suspension of all FCC licenses. At the time, all major TV stations required their engineers to have a First Class Radio Telephone license as a condition of employment. I was first licensed in 1973. So losing that meant an end to their career. Also many of us held/hold amateur radio licenses. I held a citizens band license and an amateur license at that time. I was also a member of the team that invented stereo for TV in the US and our system had just been selected as the official stereo system by the FCC. No one on our team would have done anything to jeopardize that status.


I had totally forgotten about this incident. Thanks for the back story Al. Interesting!

Now I’m going to have Max Headroom rattling around in my brain again. :robot: :man_shrugging:

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Ah yes, Al, well known FRC anarchist and rule breaker, definitely did it.

Neat story, I’d never heard of this before. Also very cool to see how much technology you’ve been involved with in the past @Al_Skierkiewicz


“he could be bluffin…”


Remind me to update your team photo on the website @Al_Skierkiewicz :smiley:


Wow! Love this story/hack and never realized you were a “suspect.” Thanks for the background info!

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NOT expecting this to be my cousin Shane. Sorry Al!

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EDIT: Just to point out - the first sentence is clearly false as Al was involved - he was an engineer at the station. He might not have been behind it but for the love of all that is holy, stop trusting AI (That’s AI, not Al, we like Al, we don’t like AI).


I just had this the other day, an email from Asana saying “Al has joined the team” and figured it was a notification that we had a new team member named Albert.

Dear reader, it was not. It was far worse.


I hate that I read that as you intended (I think), despite the font on my phone making AI and Al appear identically.


Well small world, in that one of the guys on the You Tube show is Kelli’s cousin. No we do not know each other. This came as a complete shock when someone sent me a link about a month ago.
Marshall, I have to correct the article you posted, I was heavily involved in the investigation. As part of a group of engineers at WTTW, a union steward and union president at the time, it was a few weeks of heavy work. I was questioned by the FBI, local police and FCC engineers. We had no idea if or when the investigation would find someone or a group of people behind this. As union member we feared it was one of our own brothers and sisters and if that came about it would have changed the relationship we had worked hard to form with our employers. Both WGN and WTTW were represented by the same IBEW local and that included more than 150 people at that time. Broadcast engineers are a peculiar breed in that we take such pride in our work that any on air screw up (even a half second of black or an upcut program start) cuts deep for all involved. I still take pride and have deep feelings when I watch now five years retired. This incident was like someone had broken into our home and stolen something dear. Yes, those feelings persisted for years. I can tell you that our management also felt the same way.


I’m going to suggest that in all threads where Al S. could possibly come in as a reference, Artificial Intelligence is marked as “A.I.”

Just for clarity’s sake, and to reduce the jokes slightly…

Or we could get Brandon to change the site font to Times New Roman.


I just want to point out that Comic Sans is also an option.


What about Papyrus?


He’s literally me


“What did it, Libby? What finally made you quit ChiefDelphi?!”


For those curious, here’s a bunch of Google Fonts that would work on here. For context, Open Sans is the current font used for body text on here.
Some of the Noto options seem like an unironically good option for use on here.

I suppose Al S. wouldn’t care to change his name?