[AMRadio] Numbers Stations - NPRs slant

Alan Cohen acohen at texas.net
Sat Nov 13 09:02:03 EST 2004

It seems to me that the cult existed long before NPR ever reported it.  
They certainly were not the ones who released a CD of number stations, 
nor were they the folks on both sides of the Atlantic who bought the 
the things.  As noted here by others, people have spent many hours 
logging the stations and writing about them.
As a boy, I remember reading Tom Kneitel's articles about them in 
Electronics Illustrated.  Conspiracy theories about the things have 
been around for years.

  So yeah, I would say that there was a cult of people who were into 
numbers stations.  It was interesting to learn that there are people 
out there still discovering them.

Hats off to NPR for doing good radio!

Who knows?  Perhaps some people out there found that report on number 
stations interesting enough to buy a shortwave radio.  A few may even 
find their way into our hobby.

In any case, it is certainly a lot more interesting than the usual 
radio fare.  It sure beats the likes of morning drive blatherers like 
Howard Stern and Don Imus, the right wing echo chamber of Limbaugh and 
Hanity, the semi-automatic no-personality bad music juke boxes that 
populate the FM band, and 99% of the other garbage on commercial radio 
these days.

Alan Cohen

On Nov 13, 2004, at 7:20 AM, Mark Foltarz wrote:

>    Funny how NPR and the liberal media freaks mentioned in the story 
> can take
> something like a UTE such as a number station and turn it in to a 
> cult!  I
> remember when I actually liked listening to NPR. Even 'A Prarie Home 
> Companion'
> has gone sour like a bad compost heap. Bummer.
>    Number stations were certainly used for clandestine applications. 
> But also
> there are more innocuous uses. For example, maritime operators and 
> other
> private industry used number groups to send company (i.e. private) 
> information.
> Only intended recipients could decode the groups into anthing 
> meaningful.
>   One might contend  "Why use such primitive means in this day of 
> computers?"
> Have you ever worked in an office or other bureaucracy where you see 
> how
> something could be done simpler or better? But no one in the office 
> wants to
> change, or it takes a long time for something to change. This is the 
> same kind
> of latency or inertia. Business usually has to repond a little quicker 
> than
> goverments.
>    Ultimately, sending number groups is real simple.  The music you 
> hear at the
> begining of some of the number groups is purposely poppy, sugar sweet 
> or just
> plain annoying to make it easily  recognizeable to the intended 
> audience.
>    Number ststions seemed to be more abundant before the end of the 
> USSR. So
> was woodpecker jamming and 'over the horizon' radar jamming of SWBC.  
> I almost
> miss the buzz saw sound blanketing parts of the spectrum. It was a real
> challenge to hear a station under such a barrage.  Around 1989 it all 
> sort of
> just stopped.
>    de KA4JVY
> Mark
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