Lorekeeper’s Logs, Volume 1: Radio Free Johto

Welcome to Lorekeeper’s Logs! This series hopes to delve deep into the strangest lore of the Pokémon world and investigate the unexplained, the unanswered, and the unknown. For our first Pokémon mystery, we’re heading to a fan favorite region– so turn on the radio, and hop on the Bullet Train to Johto!

Goldenrod City’s Radio Tower is one of the most notable features of Johto in Pokémon Gold and Silver, as well as Crystal, HeartGold, and SoulSilver. This single building acts as a hub for a lottery, a small dungeon, and the epicenter for the most important media to ever hit the Pokémon universe, Professor Oak’s Pokémon Talk.

Screencap of Professor Oak's Pokémon Talk on Pokégear Radio, Pokémon Silver
MILTANK’s… looks in water… hot hot hot!

From nearly the moment you obtain the Radio Card for your Pokégear, however, it becomes clear that radio is more than just for entertainment. Radio waves have a variety of unusual effects on Pokémon; interestingly, at least one variety of Pokémon seems to instead affect the radio waves themselves.

Radio Waves and Pokémon Attraction

From the moment you turn on your radio, you’re presented with the Pokémon Music station. This channel interchanges between two songs based on the day of the weekthe Pokémon Lullaby and the Pokémon March. Far from being just good tunes, these songs mysteriously affect the rate at which Pokémon appear.

Screencap of Places and People on Pokégear Radio, Pokémon Crystal
No word on what effect this has on them, though.

It is notable that this is one of the only technologically based methods of changing Pokémon appearance rates we see in the games, along with the PokéRadar, though radar also uses radio waves. The abilities Illuminate, Arena Trap, Swarm, Intimidate, Keen Eye, Suction Cups, Sticky Hold, White Smoke, Quick Feet, and Stench all manipulate how often Pokémon attack, as do the item Honey and the move Sweet Scent, and of course Repel does its job effectively. However, these are all based on direct intervention of your Pokémon, natural attraction methods, or Pokémon pheromones.

It could be simply stated that the Pokémon are attracted or repelled by the intensity of the music, but the question becomes muddled by the addition of the Hoenn Sound and Sinnoh Sound in Generation IV. These songs do not simply attract Pokémon, but attract specific Pokémon native to those territories. Is it simply the music that’s attracting them, or are they drawn to the familiar frequencies of the broadcast? As we’re about to see, it’s not impossible that the radio waves themselves have some odd effects on Pokémon.

Radio Waves and Evolution

The Lake of Rage is a hotbed of Magikarp and Gyarados, and it’s not uncommon to see the fish Pokémon evolving. However, one of Team Rocket’s many radio-based plots is forcing early evolution of Magikarp by broadcasting a specific signal, leaving nothing but Gyarados to populate the lake.

It seems that the LAKE’s MAGIKARP are being forced to evolve. A mysterious radio broadcast coming from MAHOGANY is the cause.

Lance, Pokémon Gold and Silver (2000)

Pokémon evolving due to environmental factors is not unheard of, and this is in fact not the only time that an electromagnetic field has an effect, with Mount Coronet causing Nosepass and Magneton to evolve. This is, however, the only time we see a man-made factor change the way evolution works, and in fact one of the only times we see evolution forced on a Pokémon at all.

Screencap of Lake of Rage and Red Gyarados, Pokémon Silver
Did my eyes deceive me? I saw a red GYARADOS in the LAKE…

While not explicitly mentioned in the games, in the anime, the cause of the infamous Red Gyarados’ coloration is in fact due to it evolving too quickly to develop the proper pigments needed to become blue. This is notable primarily for being the only time we see a non-shiny Pokémon evolve into a shiny Pokémon in any official Pokémon media, and only serves to deepen the mystery of this radio signal. We have yet to reach our strangest mystery, though, one that the games themselves hardly acknowledge…

Radio Waves and the Unown

Official art of Pokémon Gold and Silver protagonist at Ruins of Alph
Smeargle is just trying to figure out what “AQUXS” means.

There are more questions than answers when it comes to Unown. Bizarre ancient Pokémon so old that it’s not been determined whether they or the writing they resemble came first, what exactly these Pokémon really are and what their powers are is still unanswered to this day. What we do know is that the Ruins of Alph in Johto have a great deal to do with these mysterious Pokémon, and it is here that the Mysterious Transmission can be listened to.

Credit to 7GamerMinutes/Music on Youtube

This bizarre “song” can only be heard in the Ruins of Alph. In HeartGold and SoulSilver, it’s even more limited, and can only be heard specifically in the chambers where you can encounter Unown. This mysterious channel is almost never mentioned by anyonein fact, in Generation II, only a single NPC mentions it, and the subject is never brought up again. What, exactly, is the meaning of this broadcast? While it’s not made clear, there is one possibility.

Could the Unown be trying to communicate with us?

.gif of Unown interaction at Ruins of Alph, Pokémon SoulSilver
Credit to inkieheart on Tumblr

Regardless of the many additional questions that the Unown bring up, it’s clear that Johto’s connection with the radio is one full of mysteries. Despite the Pokégear itself having spiritual successors in the PokéNav, Pokétch, and C-Gear, the radio has yet to make a comeback outside of Generation II and its remakes, replaced mostly by the TV. Maybe this is for the best While the radio could come back, it would be hard to replicate the feeling of turning on the Pokégear for the first time and hearing the sweet, mysterious sounds of the strangest media in the Pokémon universe.

What interesting things about the radio in Johto are your favorites? What mysteries of the Pokémon world should I tackle next time? Let me know in the comments, and until next time, remember…

Screencap of Professor Oak's Pokémon Talk on Pokégear Radio, Pokémon Silver
DUNSPARCE’s… evolution… very cute.