Numbers stations are shortwave radio stations that have dumfounded listeners for years. These mysterious stations are broadcasted worldwide and transmit seemingly random codes, phrases and other messages that can;t be decoded by untrained listeners. They can appear out of nowhere and disappear just as quickly. Confusion about their purpose has led many to believe that they’re related to intelligence agencies. Read about these 10 and judge for yourself.
10. The E9 Magnetic Fields Station
Each transmission from this station began with a rendition of composer Jean Michel Jarre’s “Overture Apregiator.” From there the statement “Forty Four D” was repeated twice, followed by the statement “Again, Again.” Each transmission then ended with a repeat of the same song. Both of the statements were spoken in Arabic. Though this station is now inactive, a lot of fabulous folk lore still surrounds it. Many believe that the origin of the station was an Algerian Intelligence organization.
9. The Backwards Music Station, aka Whalesong
The Backwards Music Station has been picked up by international short-wave listeners for decades. Ironically, it doesn’t actually play backwards music, nor does it play whale songs. However, typical reports from listeners have likened the sounds to whale mating calls or records played backwards. No one knows for sure who’s responsible for the station, but there are a few working theories.
Some believe that the radio signals originate from U.S. naval bases on the southern coast. This is because the frequencies are similar to naval frequencies, and some reports have speculated that the station is in Virginia Beach, Jacksonville or Florida. Others believe that the radio signals originate from England, where the frequency strength is relatively strong. The third theory is that the Whalesong signals are actually transnational communications that employ LINCOMPEX. LINCOMPEX is a unique form of signal communications employed by both defense and commercial industries. Regardless of the origins you can have a listen here.
8. Atención Cuban Station
Following the Cold War it was easy to access this station, where the automated voice of a woman speaks in Spanish. The woman keeps repeating the same list of Spanish numbers over and over in a monotonous tone before eventually switching to a new list. It’s known as “Atencion” because every transmission begins with the Spanish word “¡Atención!” Many believe that the station is Cuban in origin, because on multiple occasions Radio Havana audio sounds would be mixed in with the number repetitions. This supports the idea that Atencion is a spy station used by the Cuban government, possibly for communication between Cuban spies living in the U.S. as refugees and their Cuban counterparts. This station is still working today and can be listened to here.
7. The Lincolnshire Poacher Station
From the 1970s until 2008, the Lincolnshire Poacher station was one of the most consistent stations discovered. The namesake of this radio station is an English folk song that plays as a signal interval. The song is followed by a ten-minute call signal. The creepy rendition of the folk song and the subsequent call signal are produced by an electronic female voice with a British accent. The prevailing view is that this station was operated by the British Secret Intelligence Service and broadcasted from a Royal Air Force base in Cyprus. Considered one of the last true Cold War relics, the station went off-air without warning in 2008. The station’s message system was so complicated that for almost 40 years it sent out messages that could be divided into 200 separate groups, and each group was replayed daily. Take a listen here.
6. Yosemite Sam Station
This station has only been in operation since the early 2000s. Each broadcast starts and ends with repeated recordings of cartoon character Yosemite Sam saying “Varmint, I’m a-going to b-b-b-bloooow yah t’smithereens!” Like clockwork, the Yosemite Sam station starts every seven seconds following the top of the hour. The transmission is then followed by a data burst that is repeated in ascending order over four different frequencies, and 10 seconds go by before the repeat of the transmission. The complete process takes around two minutes. The purpose and origin of the station are unknown, but you can listen to it here.
5. U.S. State Department KKN50
Last heard in 1997, KKN50 was run by the CIA, although the station was official operated for the US Department of State. It is believed that the station was operated out of the Warrington Training Center in Marshall, Virginia, though false locations were often given. The WTC is essentially a transmitter site that was used as a CIA Counting Station for the sending of transmissions to both foreign and domestic entities. The station transmitted messages that were a combination of alphanumerical codes. Though you would be hard pressed to actually understand or decode the messages, here’s a typical example: “QRA QRA QRA DE KKN50 KKN50 KKN50 QSX 6/10/11 K.” For years, local residents who picked up the frequency were dumbfounded by the meaning of these codes.
4 The Guineo Cuban Station
Guineo, Cuba has been home to more than one Spanish language numbers station. Guineo is approximately 15 miles away from Havana, and many believe that it’s where the Cuban Intelligence Department relays its espionage signals and other information to its international counterparts. In fact, one theory is that the Guineo station is where broadcasts to Soviet agents were once transmitted.
3. The E10 Mossad Station
Before going off air in 2011, the E10 Mossad station was the most active of all numbers stations. It is believed that the station was operated by the Mosssad, which is a department of the Israeli Intelligence Agency. Like some other stations, E10 features a female voice reciting phonetic alphabet identifiers. For example, each signal starts off with a common identifier such as “Echo, Zulu, India,” or EZI. After repeating this identifier for three minutes, the signal proceeds into a message that doesn’t make any sense to untrained ears. Following this second part more common identifiers are repeated, followed by the phrase “repeat, repeat.” The message concludes with the statement “end transmission,” and then the entire complicated process starts over again. Confused? You’re not alone. Listen here.
2. The Swedish Rhapsody Station
The Swedish Rhapsody station is actually a German station that transmits an eerie, almost child-like voice. It emerged in the 1970s and disappeared in 1988. Transmissions began with a tune that sounds like a music box version of the first few bars of Swedish Rhapsody No.1 by composer Hugo Alfvén. This version plays for five minutes straight, and is followed by three separate five-figure messages that are repeated three times in sequential order. Following this intro is three 100-group messages, and one 50-group message, with each group message being repeated twice. It’s dumbfounding, to say the least. Take a listen for yourself here.
1. The UVB-76 Buzzer Station
UVB-76 is the most famous and elusive station in history. People believe the radio signal has been in existence since the 1970s, but the earliest recording was made in 1982. The station transmits a repeating buzzing sound that plays almost endlessly, only occasionally being interrupted with an eerie Russian voice that recites a mix of Russian names and numbers. The purpose of the UVB-76 Buzzer station has never been revealed. Regardless of events occurring in Russia, including the end of the Afghan War and the fall of the Soviet Union, UVB-76 has continued to do its thing. Check out a live broadcast here.