More DF Hunting Escapades
This time, a DF hunt bears a really large "fruit"...
Ask anyone, who was a part of the CB scene for any length of time, about the "idiot factor" and you'll almost always get a story or two about that certain someone who just didn't fit in, or of the mysterious agitator who disrupted a channel on a nightly basis solely for his own entertainment, or the foul mouthed miscreant who had no respect for himself or anyone else. Whatever the case, it seems to be an almost universal constant throughout the history of CB radio, that there were a certain percentage of people out there for which we would've all been better off, if they hadn't been there. The how's and why's of what drove these particular people to act out in the ways that they did, is a different subject altogether. A subject which would probably be best left for the practitioners of the mental health profession to figure out. But regardless of the underlying reasons for this bizarre and often disruptive behavior, the rest of us were forced to deal with these radio sociopaths to a varying degree. Some of them could be ignored, some were fun to tweak, while others truly needed to be removed if normal interaction on the radio could hope to continue. But before a problem can be eliminated however, it had to first be identified. The very nature of CB radio offered a certain degree of relative anonymity. It was this ability to conceal your identity, which enabled much of the bad behavior among the more extreme examples of the socially challenged in our society. Gutless people with self-esteem issues need to hide under the cloak of anonymity. But in most cases, once that cloak is lifted, they suddenly lose their nerve. Indeed, in a lot of situations, once a particular malcontent's identity was found out, that was often all it took to remove him as an irritant.
Throughout the years, out of sheer necessity, several of us became proficient at signal (DF) hunting. We used to play little cat and mouse games with each other in our mobiles, where one guy would pick a spot to hide while the rest of us would home in on his signal. Besides being a fun activity, mostly we did it just to hone our skills. That way we would be ready when the next idiot tried to make us miserable. Such was the setup for the following actual DF adventure. So grab your popcorn, a cool drink, and sit back and enjoy.......
The time was the summer of 1979, during my association with the Channel 13 group. During those long sultry summer nights, a guy started appearing on Channel 19 in the late night hours, with the sole purpose of agitating the truckers. This particular agitator had a unique way of achieving his goal. Knowing the strong reaction that his presence was sure to generate, this person would impersonate a stereotypical gay man in the vein of the popular humorous 1976 CB truck driving song; "CB Savage". He would relentlessly "flirt" with the drivers, give fashion tips, and make other obviously stereotypical "gay" comments. Nothing brings about masculine insecurity more than having to deal with the issue of homosexuality. So needless to say, in short order, Channel 19 became a virtual powder keg of testosterone-fueled nastiness, verbal threats, foul language, and hate filled rhetoric whenever "the gay guy" would appear. But when the truckers would respond or complain, it only emboldened the "the gay guy", and he'd just dish it out even more. It would seem that most of the truckers were oblivious to the fact that they were being played strictly for amusement purposes, believing instead, that this guy really was gay. As the days went by, it also became apparent that the "gay guy" was broadcasting from a base station, as his signal was always the same. The "gay guy's" act was quickly becoming infamous around the channels, and it became the subject of many on-air conversations. By this time, he had been carrying on for a few weeks, yet no one had a clue as to the real identity or exact location of this warped character. A few of the more verbally prolific locals were accused of perpetrating the deed, which they viciously denied, even going as far as to key up over the "gay guy" when he was on to demonstrate that they were not him. This sudden noteriety even drew in a few copy-cats who also wanted their own piece of the action. At some point, the regular drivers in the area got tired of the clown act and offers were made to anyone who could find the location of this guy, as it seemed that the mostly transient gang on 19 were unable to do so (It's hard to track people with an 18 wheeler). It had been rumored that he was in the general area of King of Prussia Pa which was, coincidently, an intersecting point for several major highways, including I-76 and I-276, U.S. RT-202, and RT-422. This made for a fair amount of drivers on Channel 19 at any given time. In essence, it was the perfect captive audience for the antics of our friendly "gay guy".
This is about where we came into the picture. As word spread around the channels about the exploits of our little "gay" friend, and about how elusive he had been at being found out, Albert and I, having had much recent practice in the art of DF'-ing, decided to use this as an opportunity to gain a little more practice in our craft and, at the same time, earn a little CB fame by being the first to "out" the "gay guy". We weren't particularly affected by this guy (he was actually pretty funny to listen to), and we certainly had no allegiance to the "good buddy" channel, but we looked at this as a challenge for us to use our skills to overcome. At the time, I was working 2nd shift, and usually didn't get home until around 1:00 AM. That was ok though, since the "gay guy" usually didn't appear until after midnight anyway (The significance of this fact would become apparent later on). I had made a preliminary swing of my beam from home, and his direction, combined with his signal strength, confirmed that the "gay guy" was indeed somewhere in the greater King of Prussia area, about 1 or 2 miles south of Norristown. Albert and I agreed to meet up at his house, which was also in King Of Prussia, on the next night after I got off of work. The next day, Albert started preparing for the night's events by equipping his 1963 Buick convertible with his Lafayette HB-640, and a Turner Signal Kicker magnet mount antenna which, as it turns out, made an excellent setup for DF'ing, as the radio had a local/distance switch which could instantly attenuate signals, and the antenna could be placed on the very back of the trunk and used as a somewhat directional antenna. Past experience had told us that when we were in front of a legally powered CB base station, the "S" meter on the HB-640 would register about an "S7" signal in the local position. So once we got close, we would just drive down a given street until the signal peaked, and then look for an antenna.
On my way home from work that night, I dialed up to Channel 19 and was relieved to hear the "gay guy" already winding up for another night's antics. I then made a bee-line to Albert's house as planned. When I met up with Albert, the "gay guy" was fully into his shtick, and already had quite a few fish on his hook. We didn't waste any time and once we were ready, we headed out from Albert's house. Albert drove while I took signal readings and read the map (See here for a map of the immediate area). We spun the car around in a nearby empty parking lot to get a signal bearing, while the gay guy was giving one of his monologues, and then headed out in the direction of the strongest signal. We headed south down Henderson Road toward Valley Forge Road. As we waited at the traffic light at the intersection of Henderson and Valley Forge roads, we noticed that we were getting almost an "S5" signal from our target on the local setting of the radio. So it would seem that we were headed in the right direction, and we were already pretty close. We continued on down Henderson road until we noticed that the signal was starting to drop. We turned right on the first road that we came to, which was Crossfield. As we headed down Crossfield, the "gay guy's" signal increased back to about an "S5", but again fell off rapidly as we continued on. We turned around and then headed back up Crossfield and then turned left up Pheasant road, where the signal had peaked, and then onto Heather road. Once again, the signal steadily increased, this time rising to almost an "S6" at the mid block point, but it would increase no further before dropping again. Knowing how far away from my base this was and the signal reading I got there, I knew that we should be able to get a stronger signal reading in the car when we were on top of it. I knew we were getting pretty close, but we must be running parallel to this guy's location. So we turned left and ran down Candlebrook road, which ran parallel to Heather road, but instead of getting stronger, we saw the signal drop. We then ran back up Heather road again. We could see the lights of the back parking lot of the township building in between the houses on the opposite side as we drove on (hmmmmm). This time we turned right on Candlebrook, and found ourselves back on Valley Forge road again, with no further increase in signal. We turned right on Valley Forge Road and headed back toward the intersection with Henderson road, and continued on in the opposite direction past the intersection. Once again the signal was strong as we went by the township building and fell off again as we crossed the intersection. I didn't like what all this was starting to tell me. All along, Albert and I kept saying that it couldn't be coming from the police department, which was co-located at the township building. The thought of cops playing around on the CB radio was something that we didn't quite know how to deal with, and just didn't want to consider. But as we kept driving around, the one thing which we could no longer deny, was that all of the locations where we found the strongest signals also coincided with our proximity to the township building. So with little choice left, we overcame our initial reservations about the township building and said, "what the heck", and drove right into the building's parking lot and around the back where the police cars parked. As we rounded the corner of the building, the "gay guy" keyed up again, and our "S" meter hit a solid "S7+" signal, which told us that we had found our target. We looked up toward the night sky where, illuminated by the lights of the building, we could see the silhouette of a CB antenna nestled among the numerous antennas for township and police frequencies, mounted neatly to the roof. Well, well what do you know! But now what? Not wanting to attract the attention of any lurking police officers in the wee hours of the morning (By now, it was after 2:00 AM), by hanging around to make further readings, we quickly made a U-turn and drove out of the parking lot back up to the intersection of Henderson and Valley Forge roads. At this point, we were also at the highest elevation in the immediate area. We didn't have a name, but we had found the guy's location. So naturally, the next step was to let the world know. We were a little uneasy about the possibility that this guy was a cop, and of the repercussions which might occur as a result of "outing" the "gay guy". But we were young, and didn't mind setting off a few fireworks. So when the "gay guy" unkeyed, I keyed up and made the announcement (In my best radio announcer's voice) that the "gay guy" was transmitting from the Upper Merion Township building. Someone asked me to repeat what I had said, so I said it again several more times. Surprisingly, the "gay guy" didn't try to key over me, and it soon became painfully obvious, after several minutes had gone by, that he had become conspicuously quiet instead. Normally he never backed down from a heckler, or resisted the chance to make his colorful comments. But not this time. In fact, he didn't key up any more that night. What did happen though, was that some time later, an anonymous voice in a mobile got on and started making really nasty comments about the person who announced the location of the "gay guy" over the air. I figured that we were finally hearing the "gay guy's" real voice, expressing his displeasure at being "outed". He was told, in no uncertain terms, that when you decide to play the game, you have to be prepared to pay up when you eventually lose.
In the weeks following this episode, we found out, by way of the grapevine, some further information about the "gay guy". It seems that he was a third shift dispatcher for the Upper Merion Police department. In between those long periods of inactivity on the police radio (How many incidents regularly happen after midnight?), he would entertain himself by availing himself of the CB radio which was there for the local town watch people (who were not there after midnight). I guess, out of fear for his job, he decided to no longer pursue his "entertainment" activities. I don't know if his antics ever got back to his employer, or if he had any other trouble as a result of his "alternative" persona, and the numerous people on channel 19 who were incensed by it. Whatever the case, the "gay guy" never came back, although a few of the copy-cats would make an appearance from time to time. But they didn't have the same level of creativity, and it just wasn't the same.
In retrospect, as the years wore on, I felt a little bit bad about exposing what had been a rather innovative agitator. To anyone other than his intended victims, he was rather amusing and entertaining to listen to. I know that we did it, because no one else had been able to, and we were attracted by the challenge aspect. While we found the guy in just over a half hour's time, the victory felt a little hollow. But, all things considered, it was still a rewarding practice exercise.