Catherine and I were driving up to Margate late in the afternoon yesterday to have dinner at the [fantastic] Shipwright’s Café before going to the big Bruce Cockburn concert in Summerside.
We decided to take the iPod with us, and listen to some audiobooks on the car stereo, using the little Griffin iTrip transmitter that broadcasts onto the FM band.
As we were driving along, I noticed that there was an uncommon amount of interference on the frequency we were using, so I asked Catherine to scan the dial looking for an clearer one.
So she tried.
And there wasn’t one.
All along the dial, there were radio stations coming in at every frequency. We stopped tuning at 88.5, and heard, clear as if it were broadcasting across the street, the unmistakable sound of National Public Radio. A few more minutes of listening and we’d figured out that, as if by magic, we were listening to WFDD, broadcasting from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, which is 1362 miles away from PEI.
Intrigued by this amazing occurence (okay, I was amazed, and forced Catherine to feign amazement), we scanned down the dial and picked out WVTF in Charlottesville, Virginia, and a couple of rock stations from Fayetteville, North Carolina.
This weirdness continued all along the drive from Charlottetown to Margate, with the stations fading in and out as we went up and down hills and around corners.
I immediately got on the horn to my “they know about radio” gurus, Kenny Adams and Gordon Johnstone, and they both confirmed that this is something that just happens once in a while because of something Gordon call a “lift.” Apparently the technical term is tropospheric ducting.
We shut off the radio when we got to Margate, tuned in again on the way to Summerside, and then, on the way back to Charlottetown around 10:30 p.m., found that our friends in North Carolina were gone from the dial.
I tried to convince Catherine that this was the weirdest thing that had ever happened, but she wouldn’t buy it. It was pretty weird.