Thu Oct 27, 2016, 08:10 AM

The spooky world of the 'numbers stations'

It is 13:03 on a Tuesday in a cramped room with some fairly advanced radio equipment. What is suddenly heard on a shortwave receiving station is a 10-minute message in Morse code.

There is a small community of aficionados who believe messages like this are a throwback to the era of Cold War espionage. They are the mysterious "numbers stations".

At the apex of the Cold War, radio lovers across the globe started to notice bizarre broadcasts on the airwaves. Starting with a weird melody or the sound of several beeps, these transmissions might be followed by the unnerving sound of a strange woman's voice counting in German or the creepy voice of a child reciting letters in English.

Encountering these shortwave radio messages, many radio hams concluded that they were being used to send coded messages across extremely long distances. Coming across one of them was a curious experience. Radio enthusiasts gave them colourful names like the "Nancy Adam Susan", "The Lincolnshire Poacher," "The Swedish Rhapsody" or "The Gong Station."

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Reply The spooky world of the 'numbers stations' (Original post)
Attila Gorilla Oct 2016 OP
fools_gold Oct 2016 #1
JaimeBondoJr Oct 2016 #2

Response to Attila Gorilla (Original post)

Thu Oct 27, 2016, 08:27 AM

1. I've been listening to those for over 50 years

Started listening to them on short wave radio as a pre-teen in the 50's. They are still fairly common. I even worked in that world back in the eighties. When I was going through a certain school; we learned how to compose such messages. They are virtually impossible to break.

They are still used for their original purpose. The US also used them (google Vint Hill Farm Station), though I am pretty sure that has ceased.

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Response to fools_gold (Reply #1)

Thu Oct 27, 2016, 09:02 AM

2. We had a drive-in theater in the 70s that switched from speakers to radio...

They had speakers on posts like all the rest then went to a wire you clipped to your radio antenna. The movie sound was broadcast over AM radio. The very first thing we noticed was that way in the background was a Morse Code signal. I don't remember ever hearing voices though but that may be because they would have been behind the movie dialog.

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