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Radio tower

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Radio tower
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Constructed by
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Purpose
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The radio tower was a structure on the Island built by the DHARMA Initiative to relay the results of their experiments to their backers and external supporters. The tower was located well inland, a day's hike from the beach.

History

Radio Tower
The radio tower in the Sri Lanka Video

DHARMA Initiative

Likely constructed some time in the 1970's, the radio tower's purpose, according to the Sri Lanka Video, was to broadcast the core numerical values of the Valenzetti Equation (aka the Numbers). If any of the DHARMA research projects on the Island succeeded in changing one of the digit values, the broadcast would be changed, signaling their backers in the outside world that "the one true way" had been found to change the Valenzetti Equation. The tower would broadcast continuously on a secret frequency in an encrypted format known only to the backers of the DHARMA Initiative in the outside world. (The Lost Experience)

Per the lack of facilities and radiation warnings on the exterior, it appears the radio tower was likely visited on an as-needed basis by the DHARMA Initiative. The tower did not appear to have its own DHARMA logo.

Listening post

In 1988, a U.S. Navy listening post in the South Pacific monitoring longwave radio frequencies picked up the signal being transmitted from the Island. The station was manned at the time by Sam Toomey and Leonard Simms. ("Numbers")

Danielle Rousseau

Scienceteam Frenchies
The science team arrive to investigate the signal. ("The Little Prince")  (promotional still)

Also in 1988, the Island's signal, being broadcast in an unencrypted format, was picked up by a French research ship whose crew included Danielle Rousseau. Changing course to investigate, the ship ran aground on a reef just offshore of the Island. With the help of a time-shifting Jin, the research team landed and began making their way to the radio tower with the intent to make their own broadcast when they were attacked by the Monster. ("This Place Is Death")

Exactly what happened thereafter is not entirely clear. Danielle's later account was confused and somewhat contradictory - and her sanity was somewhat in question after living alone for sixteen years on the Island. It did appear that Danielle and her team eventually located the radio tower. Danielle stated that she changed the tower's transmission to a distress call three days before the birth of her daughter Alex. ("Numbers")  ("Through the Looking Glass, Part 1")

Picked up later by the survivors of the crash of Oceanic 815, Danielle's recorded transmission stated that she was trapped inside the tower and that something or someone had "killed them all" and was outside. She also mentioned not having a key, adding that Brennan took it. ("Pilot, Part 1")

The Others

The Others assumed control of the radio tower after the Purge in 1992 - and clearly knew of its existence. They did not appear to have tampered with the station upon assuming control - and left all the equipment in a broadcasting state. Why the Others would leave her signal transmitting is unknown. Rousseau later explained to the survivors, without elaboration, that the tower and her signal were now in "their" control. ("Born to Run")

3x22 radio tower promotional
The group explores the radio tower operations room ("Through the Looking Glass, Part 2")  (promotional still)


Recent Events

After the crash of Oceanic 815, the survivors picked up Danielle's distress message. Shannon, however, was only able to partially translate the message. ("Pilot, Part 2")

At some point between the crash of Oceanic 815 and the arrival of the freighter, the Others began transmitting a jamming signal from The Looking Glass designed to block all transmissions to and from the Island. Presumably Danielle's broadcast was similarly blocked as well. At about the same time hostilities between the survivors and the Others were reaching a critical stage -- and with Danielle's help, Jack led the survivors en masse to the radio tower in the hopes of getting Naomi a clear signal to call her ship for rescue. On arrival, Danielle finally switched off the transmission which had been playing unanswered for some sixteen years. ("Through the Looking Glass")

Three years later in 2007, Ajira Airways Flight 316 lost power and made an emergency landing on Hydra Island. On their descent, they briefly picked up a voice reciting the Numbers over the radio which suggested that the tower may have been broadcasting again, back on its original mission. It is also possible that this may have been the original broadcast travelling through a time displacement over the Island. ("Namaste")

Location

In "The Moth", Sayid tried to triangulate the signal. Just before being knocked out by Locke, the radio was displaying full strength indicating it was close by. However, this may also be due to a high power output from the transmitter.

Danielle claimed that the radio tower was close to the Black Rock, although it is unclear if this was true. ("Pilot, Part 1")

Much later, Ben drew a route from Pascal Flats to the tower, as well as the direction from which he anticipated the survivors would be coming from to the tower. The map seemed to suggest that the tower was located well inland. ("Through the Looking Glass, Part 1")

It was a day's hike from the Survivors' beach camp. ("Greatest Hits")

According to Rousseau's map, there was a "transmitter" located in the western mountain range.

Structure

Radio door shot
The radio tower sign seen briefly on the door.
Radio tower logo
The radiation hazard symbol seen on the door of the radio tower.

The facility included the red and white tower along with a small bunker-like structure nearby. It appeared to be located on high ground in a clearing. Outside of the entrance, a sign was mounted reading, "CAUTION - High Level Radio Frequency Energy Area". There was also a hazard symbol for dangerous non-ionising radiation which likely suggested the strength of the signal being transmitted.

Inside the bunker was the tower operations room containing multiple players inside a small cabinet and a recording device nearby. This was presumably used by Danielle record her message. The room appeared to be in operational condition - although it is not clear where it was drawing its power from.


Notable Visitors

Picture Name First visit Last visit Reason for Visit
Jack-mini
Jack "Through the Looking Glass, Part 2" "The Beginning of the End" Led the survivors to the radio tower along with Danielle and Naomi.
Kate-mini
Kate "Through the Looking Glass, Part 2" "The Beginning of the End" Traveled with the survivors to the radio tower.
Locke-mini
Locke "Through the Looking Glass, Part 2" "Through the Looking Glass, Part 2" Threw a knife at Naomi, giving her a nearly-fatal wound, to prevent her from contacting the Kahana. He held Jack at gunpoint, demanding that he destroy the sat phone, but he refused.
Claire-mini
Claire "Through the Looking Glass, Part 2" "The Beginning of the End" Traveled with the survivors to the radio tower.
Sun-mini
Sun "Through the Looking Glass, Part 2" "The Beginning of the End" Traveled with the survivors to the radio tower.
Ben-mini
Ben "Through the Looking Glass, Part 2" "The Beginning of the End" Encountered Jack prior to his arrival at the radio tower. He wanted Jack to bring him the sat phone, and they would both go their separate ways. Ben staged the deaths of Jin, Sayid, and Bernard in an attempt to make Jack get the sat phone.
Rose-mini
Rose "Through the Looking Glass, Part 2" "The Beginning of the End" Traveled with the survivors to the radio tower.
Aaron-mini
Aaron "Through the Looking Glass, Part 2" "The Beginning of the End" Traveled with the survivors to the radio tower.
Alex-mini
Alex "Through the Looking Glass, Part 2" "The Beginning of the End" Traveled with Ben across Pascal Flats and to the radio tower. Alex met her mother for the first time at the tower.
Karl-mini
Karl "Through the Looking Glass, Part 2" "The Beginning of the End" Traveled with the survivors to the radio tower.
Rousseau-mini
Danielle "Through the Looking Glass, Part 2" "The Beginning of the End" Led the survivors to the radio tower. She reunited with her daughter Alex for the first time in sixteen years.
NaomiDorrit-mini
Naomi "Through the Looking Glass, Part 2" "The Beginning of the End" Went with the survivors to the radio tower. She wanted to contact the freighter so that they could find the Island. She was stabbed by Locke, and Naomi was badly wounded.
Mini-craig
Craig "Through the Looking Glass, Part 2" "The Beginning of the End" Traveled with the survivors to the radio tower.
Mini-jerome
Jerome "Through the Looking Glass, Part 2" "The Beginning of the End" Traveled with the survivors to the radio tower.
Doug-mini
Doug "Through the Looking Glass, Part 2" "The Beginning of the End" Traveled with the survivors to the radio tower.
BlondeCasualty-mini
Blonde casualty "Through the Looking Glass, Part 2" "The Beginning of the End" Traveled with the survivors to the radio tower.

Trivia

  • According to the Sri Lanka Video, the tower continually broadcasted to DHARMA's headquarters and backers. Given the Hanso Foundation headquarters was located in Denmark, the radio signal would need to be extremely long range to be useful. While shortwave broadcasts of only a few watts ("flea power") can sometimes reach that far by reflecting off the ionosphere, longwave broadcasts such as those Sam and Leonard were monitoring would require extremely large amounts of power to cover that kind of distance — potentially nearing one million watts. While such stations do exist, they generally are operated and owned by state or large commercial broadcasters, with masts around 1000 ft (308.4 m) high.
  • The signal seemed to be broadcast on multiple frequencies. Sayid picked it up with radio equipment and somehow Naomi's phone picked up the distress signal audio as well.
  • Radio stations that broadcast a voice reciting streams of numbers, known as Number Stations and Letter Beacons, actually exist. They are thought to be broadcasting coded messages using one-time pads.
  • The tape in the deck is labeled Makee Ailana, Melveen Leed. Melveen Leed is a Hawaiian country singer. The song title Makee Ailana refers to a small Hawaiian island off the shore of Kapiolani Park, and the lyrics describe romantic memories of the island.
  • The final value from the counter heard was 1-7-5-5-0-4-4-7, which means the bit counter must be larger than 24 bits, most likely being 32 bits allowing for a maximum value of over 4 billion before a bit overflow resetting the counter to 0, which would allow the broadcast to last for over 4,000 years.

Unanswered questions

Unanswered questions
  1. Do not answer the questions here.
  2. Keep the questions open-ended and neutral: do not suggest an answer.
For fan theories about these unanswered questions, see: Radio tower/Theories
  • When was the tower constructed?
  • What happened to Danielle and her team at the tower?
  • Who reactivated the original tower transmission and why?

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