Earthsound Radio
92.5FM, Pigeon Hill
(2014–    ) ·

 

antenna

The Earth reaches skyward

Earthsound Radio is an experimental micro-power FM broadcast station in Steuben, Maine that brings the seismic sounds of planet Earth live to neighbors and visitors to the Pigeon Hill cemetery and the Pigeon Hill Preserve.

Launched in the summer of 2014, Earthsound Radio broadcasts an up-to-the-minute recording of the actual sounds of the planet, as detected by a sensitive seismometer near Pigeon Hill, in Steuben, Maine. As you listen, you'll hear many earthquakes — large and small, near and far, natural and man-made — set against the swirling backdrop of the planet's natural seismic ambience. These are not imagined or composed sounds; they are the actual sounds of Earth, digitally transposed into the range of human hearing.

If you hear about an earthquake or some other significant planetary event in the news, tune in — you may be able to hear it on Earthsound Radio within an hour or two. And if you're lucky, you may actually hear it here first, before you hear about it on the news.

In 2017 I added a new sound to the radio station: atmospheric infrasound. These are the acoustic vibrations in the atmosphere that are normally too low in pitch for humans to hear, but which can travel great distances. On a typical day you can expect to hear a lot of human-made noise: the chirp and whine of boat traffic in the bay nearby, the ker-sploosh of overflying transatlantic jets, the tick! of a ledge blast a few miles away, the droning whine of the turbines at the Bull Hill Wind Farm. But there are also many sounds whose origins are mysterious to the still-young field of atmospheric infrasound research: on still days listen for a faint, slow tock...tock....tock... that can persist for hours; or faint wisps of hissss that fade in for an hour or so, then gradually fade away. What are these sounds? Where do they come from? What is the sky telling us?

Note: As of 2019, the station operates only intermittently, as I develop and test additional programming that will include automated hourly weather forecasts, tide reports, and climatological information.

Questions Answered

Why Pigeon Hill?
bradley-epitaph

We hear it too, Bill.

Synchronicity. Tucked away in the northeast corner of the Pigeon Hill cemetery is a beautiful lichen-encrusted granite glacial erratic boulder that was placed here many years ago in memory of a previous owner of this special piece of land. He was Wilmot ("Bill") Hyde Bradley, a geologist with a long and distinguished career that included fifteen years as Chief Geologist of the U.S. Geological Survey. He retired here in 1970 and died in 1979.

Thirty years later, the land was purchased by its present owner, a seismologist and sound artist who sought a tranquil and inspiring place to continue his own explorations into the sounds of Earth. It wasn't until after the present owner moved here that he noticed, to his astonishment, the epitaph on Bradley's stone: "The Earth has music for those who listen". [1]

Earthsound Radio aspires to bring Bradley's epitaph to life in a new way, by making the sounds of Earth available to anyone in the area who might wish to listen.

Is this thing legal?
Yes. Earthsound Radio operates on a carrier frequency of 92.5 MHz (FM channel 223) in accordance with Part 15 of Title 47 of the Code of Federal Regulations, which permits certain unlicensed radio broadcast operations of very limited power. If you find that the signal from Earthsound Radio interferes with other authorized radio services, please contact me immediately. I will happily and promptly work with you to resolve the issue.
How can I hear it?
The signal has a very limited range (usually less than one-half mile), so you probably won't be able to pick it up unless you're near the east side of Pigeon Hill, between the BBS lobster pound and the first parking lot at the Petit Manan refuge.

Pigeon Hill is just minutes away from Ellsworth or Calais on the DRT: just take the Lake (orange) or Peninsula (blue) Line to the Pigeon Hill stop. The cemetery is an imaginary short walk from there. Alternatively, drive 4.5 miles south on Pigeon Hill Road from US Route 1 in Steuben and park at the Pigeon Hill Preserve parking area. The cemetery is directly across the road.

Attention radio geeks: CQ QSL
Did you hear Earthsound Radio? If so, I invite you to send me a postcard (via snail mail) with your reception report and any other comments. I'll happily send you a confirmation postcard in return (in amateur radio parlance, a QSL card). I'll also happily post a copy of the front image of your postcard here. Let's have a gallery of postcards from Earth listeners!

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Corporate sponsor
Downeast Rapid Transit Authority Downeast Rapid Transit Authority

Note

1.
The origin of this popular passage is uncertain. A quick Google search reveals that it has been variously attributed to William Shakespeare or George Santayana, although no supporting citation has ever been produced. In a May 2014 Facebook post, Internet sleuth Randolph Wagner tracked down the appearance of a very similar phrase to a 1955 poem by the American poet Reginald Vincent Holmes:
The earth has its music for those who will listen
Its bright variations forever abound.
With all of the wonders that God has bequeathed us,
There's nothing that thrills like the magic of sound.

Reginald Vincent Holmes, "The Magic of Sound", from p. 27 of Fireside Fancies (Ann Arbor: Edwards Brothers, 1955)

Was Holmes riffing on an already well-known saying by some earlier author? I wonder if he was recalling the opening number to Rodgers and Hammerstein's 1943 Broadway smash “Oklahoma!”:

All the sounds of the earth are like music
All the sounds of the earth are like music
The breeze is so busy it don't miss a tree
And an old weepin' willer is laughin' at me
 
Oh, what a beautiful morning
Oh, what a beautiful day
I got a beautiful feeling
Everything's going my way

“Oh What a Beautiful Mornin’”, from the musical Oklahoma!, lyrics © 1943 Oscar Hammerstein II.

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