The Broadcast that Couldn’t Be

The November-December 2008 issue of FATE magazine reported a radio recording that was either a trip-to-the-future for the news item, or a trip-to-the-past for the gal in the car listening to her radio. Margaret Karmazin of Susquehanna, Pennsylvania shared her TWIDDER experience.  (See the original report on pages 95 and 96.)

It was Thanksgiving, sometime from the mid-1990’s to possibly 2000 (I can’t remember which car I was driving, so I can’t pin down the exact year).  I was heading south on the northeast extension of the Pennsylvania turnpike to my brother’s house outside of Philadelphia.

Approximately two-thirds down the extension, near exits for the Quakertown area, I was listening to a news program on the radio.  The announcer was giving current news, and everything sounded normal, when suddenly, with no break in the programming, he began to discuss the possible meltdown of Three Mile Island.  He reported the situation as if it were current news and suggested that five counties might be evacuated.  He named the counties in question; I was heading into one of them.

My mind was in a whirl.  Since this information had been delivered in the course of a normal and apparaently current newscast, was this a new potential meltdown?  Was Three Mile Island even still running?  The original accident at the nuclear power plant occurred on March 28, 1979.  As far as I knew, the plant was no longer in operation.  (According to Wikipedia, the TMI-2 reactor is permanently shut down and defueled.  When the operating license for the TMI-1 plant expired, both plants were decommissioned.  Ownership of the site passed through various companies, ending with Unit 1 no longer working.  Unit 2 has been run by Exelon Nuclear since 2003.  Unit 2 continues to be licensed and regulated by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in a condition known as Post Defueling Monitored Storage.)  So I couldn’t understand how what I was hearing on the radio could really be happening, at least not in the 1990s.

What was it then?  The announcement sounded so real that I had to stop and consider whether I should turn around and return home.  By then I was over two hours into the trip with less than one to go.  But according to the announcement, I would be heading right into a county that could end up being evacuated.  I decided to take my chances and went on.

Was it like the “War of the Worlds” fiasco, someone on the news doing a fictional announcement?  But why?  It wasn’t Halloween, and hadn’t everyone learned their lesson from that other time when many people actually believed the Martian attack was real?  Surely no radio announcer would want to repeat such a disaster.

Upon arriving at my brother’s, the first thing I said was, “Quick, turn on the TV!  There’s trouble at Three Mile Island again.”

My brother complied, but we found nothing on TV about the situation.  We surfed all the news channels, then everything else.  Nada.

If nothing was happening at Three Mile Island, why had I heard that news broadcast?  Had it actually come from the current year or had something extremely odd happened, and the news program I heard had somehow bounced from the past?

I will never forget it and probably will never know the truth.  If anyone out there knows anything about this, please let me know what the real story was.


About aloholmes

We live in a wondrous universe, and I love learning about it. Spacetime slips are one facet of existence that fascinate me. As a retired teacher I enjoy researching this topic and sharing the information I garner.
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