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 Worldby 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!
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.[…]
I listened to the audio as I hiked this afternoon–I actually prefer “theatre of the mind” without visuals with the first listen. Now I’ll watch the studio video and enjoy the reading, sound effects and direction!
James, you’re welcome to share your radio dramas here anytime! Bravo for putting together such a cool little radio drama. I love the off air numbers station recordings and clips!
Post readers: If you’d like to learn more about KSDB-FM or to stream their programming, check out their website and TuneIn stream.