You might remember listening to short wave radio during the Cold War and coming across weird transmissions of metallic voices reciting random groups of numbers through the ether. These are number stations, shortwave radio stations characterised by broadcasts of formatted numbers, which were being sent to spies operating in foreign countries.
Number stations were used widely during the Cold War and we speak with Jo Reggelt of ShortwaveNumbers.com. Jo has been working with Simon Mason who was a founding member of ENIGMA, launched in the 1980’s after identifying several of these stations.
We discuss in detail the operations behind the transmissions and the stations themselves. You will hear some sample transmissions, including one of drunken Stasi officers serenading their agents after the opening of the Wall. [Continue reading…]
Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Zack Schindler, who writes:
I have been watching a series on the Science Channel called Spycraft. It is about the “business” and history of modern spycraft and is quite interesting.
The most recent episode (3/8/2022) was called “the Perfect Recruit” and was about spies inside US agencies. One case was about Ana Belén Montes who worked for the DIA and was spying for Cuba. In the story they showed that she used a Sony 2010. Per the article below she was listening to a Cuban Numbers Station on 7887 kHz. A number of other cases are mentioned in there too that involved a Sony 2001 or 2010.
Thank you for the tip, Mark. Impressive that this bit of shortwave news would be included in a Newshour report. They did a fantastic job including some audio clips from the Conet Project and authentic UVB-76 audio.
In keeping with a popular theme here – “radio in/on TV & movies” – I wanted to share the following that I saw on the Science Channel (part of the Discovery Network):
Show: What on Earth?
Originally aired 1/15/19
The above referenced episode has a segment on Cuban Numbers Stations – it’s at minute-45 in the 60-minute broadcast version with commercials.
Of course the show’s premise is “what’s this” so the segment starts out (as every segment does) analyzing a satellite photo and shapes (that turn out to be antennas). This segment is more about the “set-up” than the numbers stations themselves. It’s not really geared for radio enthusiasts but rather as something that may interest the general viewer – that there are active “espionage” Cuban Numbers Stations, when & why they started, and a brief mention of the arrests of what eventually became known as the Cuban Five.
The entire segment is only 5-minutes (approximately the same length as their “non-feature”, or minor segments).
I know it’s available free On Demand via Dish Network & is likely available for free on other services. Again – this won’t enlighten anyone who already knows there are “Cuban Numbers Stations”, but it is nice to see shortwave radio on mainstream “educational” TV programs.
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