[AMRadio] Numbers Stations - NPRs slant


Alan Cohen acohen at texas.net
Sat Nov 13 11:54:16 EST 2004


I was never in on the busy signal thing, but I did do something 
similar.  Telephone numbers that had the suffix beginning with 99 were 
designated as "official" numbers for internal phone company use.  As I 
recall, you could dial xxx-9929 and have a friend dial xxx-9930, and 
the two of you could hold a conversation.

I also had a friend who discovered that old pay telephones used to use 
the sound of the falling coins striking a bell to determine whether the 
money was properly deposited in the phone.  Every evening my friend 
would take a cassette tape recorder with a recording of the sound of 
the coins being deposited in the telephone and use it to talk to his 
girlfriend!  He never got caught.

Alan
WA2DZL


On Nov 13, 2004, at 11:13 AM, Jim Isbell wrote:

> Speaking of cults.  did you ever hear of the cult of folks that
> communicated over the telephone on a bussy signal?  I tried it once
> and it worked!!
>
> I cant remember just how it worked but I think you called a number
> that was bussy and then you listened between the beeps for the voice
> of another person.  The other person had also called the busy number
> and the two of you were then connected and could chat between the
> beeps.  That may not be exact, its been 10 years since I tried it.
>
> What I never figured out was how the other person knew what number to
> call,  maybe it didnt matter as long as you got a busy signal. It was
> sort of like a blind CQ, you never knew who you would get, just some
> mysterious voice that appeared between the beeps.
>
> I dont know if it still works or not.
>
>
> On Sat, 13 Nov 2004 09:02:03 -0500, Alan Cohen <acohen at texas.net> 
> wrote:
>> 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
>> WA2DZL
>>
>>
>>
>>
>> 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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>>
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>
>
> -- 
> JimIsbell
> W5JAI
> UV #257
> CAL 27 #221
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