Category Archives: Numbers Stations

Numbers station in a Netflix series “The Same Sky”

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, John Harper (AE5X), who writes:

I don’t know if you’ve heard of a new series on Netflix – “The Same Sky” is a Cold War spy series regarding an attempt to gain access to an American eavesdropping facility in Berlin in the 1970’s.

Not a lot of radio-related activity in the series but there is a scene of a spy receiving his coded instructions via a numbers station. I’ve posted a YouTube video of the scene here:

Click here to view on YouTube.

Thank you, John! I’ve just added The Same Sky to my watch list–I love Cold War spy films and series!

I’ll add this post to our ever growing archive of radios in film!

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Video: Russian numbers station on the 19 meter band

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Moshe, for sharing the following video:

I uploaded this video I made in a rush, holding our baby in one hand and my smartphone in the other one…

The receiver is my Ben-Gal Verdi.

I caught the station by accident, while tuning to VOA 15580kHz to listen to Boarder Crossings.

Click here to view on YouTube.

Fantastic catch, Moshe! Thank you for sharing. I can’t tell you how many times in the past I played radio while also holding a baby in my arms. Always a challenge!

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BBC video: “The ‘spy radio’ that anyone can hear”

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Mark Hirst, who writes:

Nothing that an SWLing Post reader doesn’t already know–more for general consumption:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/world-42819704/numbers-stations-the-spy-radio-that-anyone-can-hear

For decades, people around the globe have been able to listen in to mysterious spy broadcasts from all over the world with just a radio.

Gordon Corera has been investigating the strange world of number stations.

Video produced by James Reevell

Thanks for the tip, Mark!

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Going By the Numbers

For those who follow numbers stations or, like me, enjoy seeing articles about numbers stations, below are a few paragraphs from a recent article in Radio World by author James Careless:

“6-7-9-2-6. 5-6-9-9-0.” Tune across the shortwave bands (above AM/MW), and chances are you will come across a “numbers station.” There’s no programming to speak of; just a mechanical-sounding voice (male or female) methodically announcing seemingly random groups of single digit numbers for minutes on end.

Congratulations! You are now officially a spy-catcher, to the extent that you may have tuned into a spy agency’s “numbers station” transmitting one-way instructions to their minions worldwide.

Numbers stations are unidentified radio broadcasts that consist usually of a mechanical voice “reading out strings of seemingly random numbers,” explained Lewis Bush, author of “Shadows of the State” a new history of numbers stations and the spies who run them. “These are sometimes accompanied by music, tones or other sound effects.” He said. “There are also related stations broadcasting in Morse Code and digital modes.”

The article goes into some of the history of numbers stations, but also talks about modern stations from all over the world. A worthwhile read for those so interested!

Do Shortwave ‘Numbers Stations’ Really Instruct Spies?

Cheers! Robert AK3Q

Robert Gulley, AK3Q, is the author of this post and a regular contributor to the SWLing Post. Robert also blogs at All Things Radio.

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MDZhB featured in BBC Future’s “Best of 2017”

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Golan Klinger, who shares the following article which was elected “Best Of 2017″ on the BBC Future website:

“MDZhB” has been broadcasting since 1982. No one knows why.

In the middle of a Russian swampland, not far from the city of St Petersburg, is a rectangular iron gate. Beyond its rusted bars is a collection of radio towers, abandoned buildings and power lines bordered by a dry-stone wall. This sinister location is the focus of a mystery which stretches back to the height of the Cold War.

It is thought to be the headquarters of a radio station, “MDZhB”, that no-one has ever claimed to run. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, for the last three-and-a-half decades, it’s been broadcasting a dull, monotonous tone. Every few seconds it’s joined by a second sound, like some ghostly ship sounding its foghorn. Then the drone continues.

Once or twice a week, a man or woman will read out some words in Russian, such as “dinghy” or “farming specialist”. And that’s it. Anyone, anywhere in the world can listen in, simply by tuning a radio to the frequency 4625 kHz.

It’s so enigmatic, it’s as if it was designed with conspiracy theorists in mind. Today the station has an online following numbering in the tens of thousands, who know it affectionately as “the Buzzer”. It joins two similar mystery stations, “the Pip” and the “Squeaky Wheel”. As their fans readily admit themselves, they have absolutely no idea what they are listening to.[…]

Click here to continue reading the full article on the BBC Future website.

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