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Keeper of the Quiet

Episode 2 of 5

To keep the Quiet Zone quiet, you need a mega-truck reminiscent of Ghostbusters. Emile Holba goes on radio wave patrol with the man in charge of 'interference', Chuck Niday.

'The Keeper of the Quiet' - Chuck Niday takes Emile Holba out in his radio wave detector van, as he continues his exploration of 13,000 square miles designated 'the National Quiet Zone' - protecting the Robert C Byrd Telescope in Green Bank, West Virginia. Listening to deep space, using a giant telescope - the largest moveable technological object on land - 2.3 acres in size.

Imagine a place without mobile phones. Quiet isn't it. People still look at each other when they are talking. It's not a dream. It really exists.

Designated a radio wave free area in the 1950s, the area is home to two giant listening stations. One listens to deep space, as far back as milliseconds after the Big Bang - the Green Bank National Observatory; the other is Naval Communications, the NSA listening ear.

Hence the requirement, by law, for a radio frequency free zone since 1954.

Photographer Emile Holba, long fascinated with the edges of society, takes a trip into the Quiet Zone where the ability to listen in to moments after the creation of the universe, means the local population have sacrificed their connection to the outside world.

Producer: Sara Jane Hall.

Available now

15 minutes