REM’s song “What’s the Frequency Kenneth?” is about the mugging of Dan Rather. His attacker kept repeating “Kenneth, what’s the frequency?” as he kicked Rather. The case was solved when the attacker stormed NBC studios 11 years later to find out the frequency used to “beam signals to his brain”.

Dan Rather

1968 Democratic convention

During live coverage of the 1968 Democratic National Convention, Rather attempted to interview a delegate from Georgia who appeared as though he was being forcibly removed by men without identification badges.

As Rather approached the delegate to question the apparent strong-arm tactics of the Chicago political machine under Mayor Daley, he was punched in the stomach by one of the men, knocking him to the ground. “He lifted me right off the floor and put me away. I was down, the breath knocked out of me, as the whole group blew on by me … In the CBS control room, they had switched the camera onto me just as I was slugged.” Walter Cronkite, after being told by Rather what happened, added on-air, “It … Continue Reading (8 minute read)

6 thoughts on “REM’s song “What’s the Frequency Kenneth?” is about the mugging of Dan Rather. His attacker kept repeating “Kenneth, what’s the frequency?” as he kicked Rather. The case was solved when the attacker stormed NBC studios 11 years later to find out the frequency used to “beam signals to his brain”.”

  1. firesaga2020

    I remember that. Very strange situation.

  2. KenDanger2

    As a person named Kenneth, this REM song was unfortunately one of the few representations of my name in pop culture.

    Then south park came out and I got to hear “They killed Kenny” 100 times a day.

  3. oceanicplatform

    Also in the video Peter Buck is using Kurt Cobain’s Fender Jag-Stang, gifted to him by Courtney Love after Cobain’s death.

  4. 24736569420

    Fun fact: old school Benzedrine could make you hallucinate

  5. AlvinsH0TJuicebox

    I work for a collocation facility. We had a client, I’ll call him Bruce. Bruce seemed to be *very* intelligent, and very meticulous. He was setting up about 10u of rack space, and everything had to be absolutely perfect. He was in the facility pretty frequently, and one day, he confided at me, that his neighbors were sending him “the frequencies”. He said couldn’t sleep and he was nauseated.

    After a few weeks, Bruce showed me his notebook. I don’t recall *why* but i do recall how every single space on the page was filled with writing. Every. Single. Space. I just commented on how neat his handwriting was and left it at that.

    A few weeks after that, he was here, and told me that his Brother was responsible for “sending him the frequencies”. He showed me a picture of a junction box in his basement that he ‘found’. He said that his brother had installed it, to drive him out of the house. I asked if he had any type air flow systems that required fans in the house, as I had just seen a show where an off balance fan was making people in an office feel ill, and gave them headaches. He was adamant that it was his brother, and that he was ‘sending him the frequencies”

    A few weeks later I came in to work in the morning, and he was in our lobby, sleeping on the couch, because he ‘felt safe here’ and that the ‘frequencies couldn’t reach him’

    A few days later, his *mom* called the office, saying that Bruce was in the hospital, and that he asked if we could take care of his servers (they were locked in his rack, so nothing to take care of really) and that he’d be back in a few weeks. He was, and he was. . . Better. My guess is that while in the hospital, they made him take medication that relieved his delusions.

    Then it happened. After about a month or two of quiet, we get a call on our emergency line at midnight on a Saturday. It’s Bruce. He’s screaming at us “ITS YOU! YOU’VE BEEN SENDING ME THE FREQUENCIES” I told my boss that i was out, I’ve dealt with this enough, and it was up to him to deal with this.

    There used to be a radio station in our building, and on the roof was an old tower, with some kind of metal framework for a some kind of dish. He saw that, and assumed that we were using that dish to ‘send him the frequencies’ My boss explained to him what the dish was, and using a web service showed him that even if that WAS a functional dish, it did not have line of site to his house, and wasn’t even pointing in the right direction.

    It was enough to calm him down. Over the next few months, he got really flaky with paying his bill, he lost a lot of his clients, and we ended up having to sell off most of his equipment after 6 months of his account being terminated.

    I always felt sorry that he had to deal with that condition, but I was relieved when he was gone.

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