Numbers Stations in the news

towersThere have been a lot of numbers in the news lately.

Earlier this week, David Goren’s numbers station radio documentary was featured on the ABC Radio National show, Sounds Like Radio.

Click here to listen.

This morning, I also noticed this excellent BBC News Magazine piece on numbers stations, which includes an interview with Akin Fernandez, the creator of the Conet Project.

Here’s an excerpt from The spooky world of the ‘numbers stations’:

“This is the era of hyper-tech espionage, encrypted emails and mindboggling cryptography. But you can hear a very old-fashioned form of espionage on shortwave radio.

It is 13:03 on a Tuesday in a little crammed room of the BBC Monitoring building in Caversham and what is suddenly heard on a shortwave receiving station is a 10-minute message in Morse code.

There is a small community of aficionados who believe messages like this are a throwback to the era of Cold War espionage. They are the mysterious “numbers stations”.

At the apex of the Cold War, radio lovers across the globe started to notice bizarre broadcasts on the airwaves. Starting with a weird melody or the sound of several beeps, these transmissions might be followed by the unnerving sound of a strange woman’s voice counting in German or the creepy voice of a child reciting letters in English.

[...]Times have changed and technology has evolved, but there’s evidence that this old-fashioned seeming method of communication might still be used. Shortwave numbers stations might seem low-tech but they probably remain the best option for transmitting information to agents in the field, some espionage experts suggest.

“Nobody has found a more convenient and expedient way of communicating with an agent,” says Rupert Allason, an author specialising in espionage issues and writing under the pen name Nigel West.

“Their sole purpose is for intelligence agencies to communicate with their agents in denied areas – a territory where it is difficult to use a consensual form of communications,” Allason says.

A former GCHQ officer, who does not wish to be named, whose duty was to intercept signals towards the UK and search for these numbers stations in the 1980s is also adamant that these were broadcasts to agents in the field or in residencies or directed to embassies.

It was “one-way traffic” – the transmitters broadcast numbers to the recipient. The recipient did not reply.”

[...]“This system is completely secure because the messages can’t be tracked, the recipient could be anywhere,” says Akin Fernandez, the creator of the Conet Project – a comprehensive archive of the phenomenon of numbers stations. “It is easy. You just send the spies to a country and get them to buy a radio. They know where to tune and when,” he says.

Continue reading on the BBC Magazine website…

If you would like to know more about numbers stations, click here to read other numbers posts.

Click here to go to David’s website, Shortwaveology.net.

Posted in Broadcasters, International Broadcasting, News, Numbers Stations, Shortwave Radio, What's On Shortwave | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

STF Radio: 1 Hour Million Watt Special, April 20

STF Radio sent the following announcement for their “1-hour Million-Watt Special”:

    ___________ ____  ____  __   ___  _  ___    
   / ___/_   __| ___||    \|  \ |   \(_)/ _ \   
   \___ \ | | | __|  | |) /| \ \| |) | | (_) |  
   \____/ |_| |_|    |_|\_\|_|\_\___/|_|\___/   
 
            I N T E R N A T I O N A L
 
               ***ANNOUNCEMENT***
 
            STF Radio International
                       
          1-hour Million-Watt Special 
                       
            April 20, 2014 0400 UTC
 
               –Frequency List–
                   
  5050 (The Americas)         Saturday Night
  5110 (N+C. America)                ”
  7490 (N+C. America)                ”
  7570 (N. America)                  ”
  7730 (Mex/C. America)              ”
  9925 (N. America)                  ”
  9955 (Caribbean)                   “
  6025 (EU)                   Sunday Morning
 17630* DRM (EU, alternate program)  ”
 17760 (Asia)                Sunday Afternoon
 21490 (Pacific Aus/NZ)              ”
   
                   Music
                   Voice
          Digital Mode Text+Images
            Internet Hyperlinks
                   ….and more!
Posted in Broadcasters, News, Shortwave Radio, What's On Shortwave | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

New feature on 2014 Tecsun PL-660

Tecsun-PL660Many thanks to my buddy, David Korchin (K2WNW), who noticed that Anon-Co is selling a new 2014 production run of the Tecsun PL-660, which includes an Auto Sorting Memory feature.

AMBWbuttonPL660Anon-Co states that Auto Sorting Memory organizes all stored station memories automatically, removes duplicate stations and ”sorts the sequence of stored stations.”

The new feature is enabled via the AM BW button.

Click here to view the new 2014 Tecsun PL-660 at Anon-Co.

UPDATE: Tom Stiles noted that his PL-660, purchased in September 2013, has this feature as well.  I just confirmed my PL-660 (purchased around the same time and pictured above) has it too.

Posted in New Products, News, Radios | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Shortwave.am: a new online frequency guide

ShortwaveAMA few SWLing Post readers have recently recommended that I check out a new shortwave radio schedule site: shortwave.am.

Shortwave.am has a unique layout that lists broadcast schedules along with a map that displays broadcast footprints (both short and long path).

Fortunately, I was able to get in touch with the site developer, Stephen Cooper, who frequently comments on the SWLing Post.

Stephen kindly answered a couple of questions I posed.

My first question was why, with the number of shortwave schedule sites on the Internet, he felt motivated to create a new site.  Evidently, inspiration came from Stephen’s Android app, Shortwave Radio Schedules. He responds:

I first created the [Shortwave Radio Schedules] app to give me searchable listings on my phone which I found interfered much less with my radio than on my PC so I could turn my PC off and look at frequencies and schedules on a phone/tablet.

Since then I have just added extra features that I find useful, such as the ability to save logs including the station name, time, SINPO, a comment and a recording of the audio. I’ve used the app to then share my logs to Facebook groups, DXLD Yahoo Group etc. including the audio recordings made on the app.

The maps option I added because I had been using AOKI listings with the beam direction to try and work out favourable beam directions of broadcasts for me in the UK even if they were not targeted to Europe. I realised that it would be much easier to visualise this on a map and started looking at the Google Maps API to work out this would be possible on the app.

Once I added to the app I had noticed screenshots of the maps being posted on groups such as the Rally DX 2012 Facebook group’s and a few people who didn’t have Android asking if there was a web version. I looked into it and it wasn’t too hard to create shortwave.am after converting the Java code to PHP:and Javascript then the site was complete.”

When I asked Stephen what made his site differ from others, he responded:

“[I]t uses data from a combination of Eibi and AOKI to display the listings with maps showing the beam direction. It can also show estimate long paths of each broadcast and uses AJAX web technologies to show search results and maps without having to reload the page for each search or change of parameters.

[...]If you choose a station or language or both and click “Save” (next to the “Set Defaults” part of the site) it will set these as the default that will open each time you go to the site.

Also if you click on a transmitter it now shows all broadcasts coming from that transmitter.

[...]I am going to add some more of the features from the [Shortwave Radio Schedules] app such as the ability to add logging reports, view others reception reports from each station and the options to add recordings of a station and listen to others recordings.”

I think shortwave.am is fantastic, and I’m glad Stephen has put the time behind developing it in his spare time.

Stephen is eager to hear your comments, as he wishes to further develop the shortwave.am. Either post them here, or email Stephen directly.

Posted in Articles, News, Schedules, Schedules and Frequencies, Shortwave Radio, SWLers, What's On Shortwave | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

BBC World Service features DRM

In this BBC World Service report, Mark Whittaker explores Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) and, especially, its potential in India. Use the embedded player or link below to listen:

(Source: Audioboo via Tarmo Tanilsoo on Facebook)

drmlogoYou’ll note the BBC World Service fails to mention that DRM has been in use now for over a decade.

The report ends by suggesting that portable DRM receivers will be on the market in a few months. Even if DRM radios start appearing, whether or not they’ll be effective and inexpensive remains to be seen. So far, portable DRM radios have been mediocre performers (at best) and relatively expensive.

Don’t get me wrong: I would love to see DRM take hold, I just have my doubts. DRM might stand a chance if a manufacturer like Tecsun were to build an inexpensive portable radio, with a form factor much like that of their other portables. If they made a DRM version of the PL-380, for example, it could be a winner for both the company and the medium/mode.

By the way, if you’ve never heard what DRM sounds like over the shortwaves, I just posted a fifty eight minute recording of All India Radio on the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive. Contributor, Mark Fahey, recorded the broadcast from his home in Australia.

I’ve embedded a link to the audio below, but you can listen to the broadcast and read Mark’s notes on the shortwave archive (click here).

Posted in Broadcasters, Digital Modes, DRM, News, Recordings, What's On Shortwave | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Radio Andorra Postage Stamp

Boc_RADIO_ANDORRA_B2M0.aiMany thanks to SWLing Post reader, Marty, who writes from Madrid:

“Just wanted to let you know about an interesting postage stamp that was issued this month in the Principality of Andorra. Actually, the Spanish Post Office “Correos” issues the stamps for Andorra, and this one in particular observes the 30th anniversary of the cease in transmissions of Radio Andorra! Interesting stuff. Most other countries, the US Postal Service included, use to issue stamps in celebration of the anniversaries of the ongoing broadcasts of their international stations. I think this is the first time I have seen one that marks the closure. Here is the stamp 92 cents of a euro, mainly for international destinations. It was taken from a photograph by Gerard Massot.”

Click here to see this stamp on the Spanish Post Office (Correos) web site.

Posted in Art, News | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Air Force plans to decommission HAARP

800px-HAARP20l

HAARP (the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program) in Alaska is now slated to be decommissioned as the US Air Force plans to “initiate divestiture in June 2014,” according to a USAF representative in this KTOO article.

HAARP was officially shut down in early May 2013–during a contractor “regime change“–but one of HAARP’s clients, DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), continued to use the facility for their research into 2014.

Unless someone steps up to pay HAARP’s expenses, the facility will be shut down.

Incidentally, HAARP has been the source of much speculation and conspiracy. A simple Google search for “HAARP” will reveal a number of theories.

Click here to read the full news article about the HAARP closure on KTOO.

Posted in News | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments