Tag 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!

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!

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!

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.