Strange Russian "numbers station"

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27 Responses to “Strange Russian "numbers station"”

  1. relawson says:

    working late, listening to music, no one else around… a track from the conet project pops up on your random playlist… goosebumps

  2. Mister44 says:

    I read about that. I wonder if my FiL – who does HAM – has ever listened to it.

  3. Gloster says:

    “None of the upheavals that had enveloped Russia in the last decade of the cold war and the first two decades of the post-cold-war era had ever kept UVB-76 from its inscrutable purpose.”
    Well duh. KGB ran the state before the revolution, after the revolution, is running it now and will be running it for the foreseeable future. So I don’t see any reasons why the station should break its routine.

  4. huskerdont says:

    Someone appears to have not read past the first paragraph. Let’s not say who.

  5. dragonfrog says:

    If I was running an intelligence agency, and we had a numbers station that had been obsolete for years, you know I’d have fun with it.

  6. ChicagoD says:

    I remember the first time I heard this, I was so annoyed. It kept going “number nine, number nine” and making all these stupid noises. I could never be a spy.

  7. Sooper8 says:

    My wife and I ran a numbers station from ’67 to ’76  in Romania.
    Easy work but tedious….

    • wrybread says:

      Whoa! I’ve always been fascinated by them, mostly because they’re so mysterious. Any hints on what running one was like? How often would you receive new material? What was your range? Any clue on your intended audience? Would you get feedback? Etc?

    • Bahumat - says:

      Can you tell us about the experience?

  8. Based on what’s reported in the article, I lean towards the calibration signal hypothesis.

    A good comedy/drama involving Soviet number stations is the 1991 British mini-series, “Sleepers”, available on DVD from your favorite online retail and rental outlets.

    • MikeRich says:

      It’s also worth trying to hunt down the BBC Radio 4 documentary ‘Tracking the Lincolnshire Poacher’ which gets no closer to solving the mystery but has plenty of recordings of the various number stations that are out there.

      • gordonjcp says:

        Well, the Lincolnshire Poacher is well known to have been transmitted from a British military base on Cyprus.  It’s gone now, but its location was one of radio’s worst-kept secrets for decades.

        It’s not like it’s *that* hard to find the location of a ridiculously powerful shortwave transmitter.

  9. rabidpotatochip says:

    I once  picked up a numbers station while testing a transceiver in my basement and it was possibly the most creepy/fascinating thing that’s ever happened to me on the air.   My wife made me shut it off after a minute though because it was making her skin crawl.

  10. jarmstrong says:

    Aaaaanndd I’m going to play Black Ops just one more time.

  11. Howlsthunder says:

    My dad was into shortwave when I was a kid in the 80s in Alaska. He had his radio set up near our Apple IIe and he’d often leave it on in evenings. All kinds of creepy static and random voices (usually pilots but sometimes voices in other languages) was thus my evening background noise while playing “Odessa Lake”, “Oregon Trail” and “Zaxxon”.  Usually the chatter was boring but sometimes we’d get creepy signals, sine wave sounds, beeps. Made the hair stand on the back of your neck faster than anything on dark winter evenings in Alaska!

    But one time I was sitting there playing “Zaxxon” when some random pilot chatter that was going on (Australian, I think) suddenly went strange as one of the pilots excitedly (and in a panic) described seeing a UFO and just went batshit nuts  over it.  I was about 6 or 7 so I didn’t have the skills to tell if they were  for real or what but I’d never heard anyone goof around before and the guy seemed very serious so it scared the crap outta me.

    Listening to these numbers stations is eerily fascinating and oddly nostalgic. o_O;

  12. John says:

    ‘Fringe’ did an episode on this. Turns out the numbers led to locations where parts of a secret machine were buried by a technologically advanced early people. 

  13. niktemadur says:

    Alone at a cabin one night, things were cool and carefree, then I remembered, in that particular tone of voice: “…Nancy Adam Susan, Nancy Adam Susan, Nancy Adam Susan…”, and my emotional state took a sharp turn towards a sense of general, abstract menace.  Stupid Conet Project…

  14. technobach says:

    Am I the only one who wants a wallpaper with that image?

    Oh, and that number stations are cool too.

  15. SomeGuyNamedMark says:

    It is now used to coordinate the world’s Starbucks for Operation Cappuccino.

  16. benher says:

    I always figured the Buzzer was a Dead Hand system or something… when it went offline a while back, I remember a lot of people were going “Oh shit…” But since I’m here typing this, I guess I was wrong.

    Still, do you know how much money it takes to run a station like UVB-76? It maintained functionality through the collapse of the USSR – surely someone feels the need to keep it active.

    • gordonjcp says:

      It’s possibly relatively low power – I’ve talked to radio amateurs from around the Moscow area (near where UVB-76 is located) with only 100W.  On HF a little can go a very long way.

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