The story behind What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?

This day next week (August 31st) in the year 1994, William Tager shot and killed Campbell Montgomery, an NBC technician. By September 2nd he was arrested and his story in the papers. By the following week (September 5th), REM released their single “What’s the Frequency Kenneth?” the phrase taken from an attack on CBS anchor Dan Rather, by an unknown assailant. The assailant, it was revealed years later, was William Tager. If Michael Stipe knew this at time, he’d have been quite freaked out..

“What’s the Frequency” was actually recorded the previous October. Tager, in court, told the judge the TV networks were spying on him and broadcasting messages into his brain. Of course they were. He later told his psychiatrist he’d travelled back in time from 100 years in the future. Dan Rather was a doppelganger for the Vice President who had sent him, a felon acting as guinea pig on the time travel experiment, in exchange for his early release. Of course he was.

If today you are watching Sky and feel inclined to murder Kay Burley, don’t do it for it, It may save the world a deal of woe, but it will get you in trouble and you’ll lose a lot of years of your life that could be better spent elsewhere.


McFadden, Robert D. (September 2, 1994) Police Say Murder Suspect Thinks TV Networks Spied on Him, New York Times. Retrieved 24 August 2013 at

Various (Date?) R.E.M. Timeline. Retrieved at

What’s the Frequency Kenneth? (July 9, 2008), Citizen Paranoid. Retrieved at

A True Story (December 8, 2006) No Fear of the Future. Retrieved at

Alleged Rather attacker paroled but, Kenneth, the frequency remains unclear (March 2, 2011), A Few Tasteful Snaps. Retrieved at