wttw chicago

The Max Headroom broadcast signal intrusion (1987)

During a broadcast of the Dr. Who episode “Horror of Fang Rock” on WTTW Chicago Channel 11, on Sunday November 22nd, 1987, at around 11:15pm, a video hacker wearing a Max Headroom mask hijacked the signal and transmitted one of the weirdest, unauthorized things ever to hit the Chicago airwaves.

Earlier in the evening on the same day, during the Nine O'Clock News on Channel 9 the Max Headroom hacker also broke in - although it was for a much shorter time and there was no audio.

Neither the hijacker nor any known accomplices have ever been found, caught or identified.

@ew @late_show @pbs upon being Down for the Ton

I did not know why Downton Abbeywas getting so much attention in this low-brow society. And, then, I saw Michelle Dockery and dropped my fried Twinkie, so full of awe was I. Alas, I am sure she will be just another Bond girl in no time … and, dating Russell Brand or John Mayer.

Speaking of PBS, I have been a fan of Masterpiece Theaterfor years and years (and, Mystery)—and, yet, even I used to skim past the title of the aforementioned series misreading it as Downtown Abbey.

Now, if you will excuse me, I must be returning to my John Cena fan club page.


Imagine… you’re watching Dr. Who, and then THIS comes on TV. Zero explanation, nobody claims responsibility, it just happens. The equipment to pull off a hijacking like this would cost a lot of money in equipment and a great deal of broadcasting know-how. Nobody knows who did it and we likely never will.