The interesting question remains as to what exactly did the Virginian hear at 12:10 AM, NY time, and after that time that night? Unlike today, wireless receivers in 1912 were passive devices and not capable of amplifying signals. The loudness of a signal depended on the signal strength of the received radio frequency signal. The received signal strength depended on the power level of the transmitting station, the propagation loss along the signal path between transmitter and receiver, and gains and orientations of the transmitting and receiving antennas. And unlike most communications channels today, the radio frequencies that were used were simplex communications channels, shared by many wireless stations that were out there. In recognizing a particular transmission, the receiving operator depended on reading specific call signs (like MGY for the Titanic) as confirmation that a signal came from a particular station. They did learn, however, to recognizing a particular operator’s touch on the key, as well as the unique signature tone and harmonics sent out by the spark gap generators of some of the stations. But when signals are weak, and a lot of other transmissions going on, dependence on these other factors are much less reliable. Only recognizing a call sign can one be sure as to where the transmission came from. It is possible that the last transmission sent out from the Titanic was at 12:10 NY time. After that, it is somewhat questionable. Sometimes what one wants to hear, one tends to hear.
And the Virginian was not alone in this. According to the PV record of the Mount Temple, at 1:58 AM NY time the operator of the Birma (SBA) thought he heard the Titanic and sent a message to MGY saying: “Steaming full speed to you; shall arrive you 6 in the morning. Hope you are safe. We are only 50 miles now.”
In a report written by Harold Bride to Mr. W. R. Cross, the traffic manager of the Marconi Company, on April 27, 1912, Bride writes: Again Mr. Phillips called "C Q D" and "S O S" and for nearly five minutes got no reply, and then both the Carpathia (MPA) and the Frankfurt (DFT) called. Just at this moment the captain came into the cabin and said, "You can do nothing more; look out for yourselves."
Apparently, this occurred just minutes before he and Phillips abandoned the Marconi room. Looking at the timeline of last messages, it seems that we can correlate this event to the messages at 11:55 PM NY time. Converting to NY time to Titanic time, it tells us that Capt. Smith released the two wireless operators a about 1:55 AM Titanic time.
In an interview with a NY Times reporter on April 18th, the day the Carpathia
docked in NY harbor, Bride said that they abandoned the wireless cabin 10 to 15 minutes after Smith released them. At the American Inquiry he said:
“Mr. BRIDE. The motor and alternator that was working with our wireless set were running when we left the cabin, 10 minutes before the ship went down.”
It was at this point that both he and Phillips went up on top of the officers quarters, with Phillips going aft and Bride going to Collapsible B that was trying to be pushed off of the officers quarters. This would put them abandoning the wireless cabin about 2:10 AM Titanic time, or just a few minutes before that wave, induced by the sinking of the Titanic, washed so many overboard, including Harold Bride. If Phillips was indeed working the transmitter up until that time, then that would correspond to the transmission heard by the Virginian at 12:10 AM NY time and identified as coming from MGY. According to Bride, the last message that Phillips sent out was a general “CQD MGY” call, and it was this call that the Virginian operator described as: “Hear MGY calling very faintly, his power greatly reduced.”
Oh, by the way, the time on the Titanic was set for noon April 14th longitude. That put there clocks 2:01 ahead of NY, not 1:50 or 1:33 ahead as accepted by the two Inquiries, respectively. But that's another matter altogether for some other time.