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Number Stations: Listen to real spies broadcasting right now

The crackling eerie sounds of old radios and wireless sets are often associated with the World Wars and Cold War spies; but not many know that this espionage technology from the bygone era is still very much relevant and perhaps in practice today.

These radio sounds are borderline creepy, and often consist of white noise accompanying a female voice and sometimes eerie rhythmic tunes from a child or deep voiced man.

Some sounds are definitely synthesized and created by intelligent machines, however, others deployed live readers to send messages across long distances.

These secret message-transmitting points known as ‘Numbers Stations’ from the Cold War era, eventually went off the air as the Cold War drew to its end approaching 1989.

However, many of these stations are suspected to still be in operation and are working for the same purpose as they served during the Cold War.

A small group of aficionados believes that these messages and number stations are memorabilia of the Cold War and a throwback to the Cold War espionage activities.

Transistor Photo Credit
Transistor Photo Credit

As the tension grew stiff between the two rivals of the Untied States and the Soviet Union soon after the end of Second World War, radio lovers around the world started listening to strange broadcasts transmitted from unknown locations across the airwaves all over the world.

These broadcasts were not your routine news reports or even straight coded messages in strange tongues, these were creepy weird melodies starting and interrupted by ear bursting mechanical beeps often hidden between or even delivered by an eerie sounding woman with a creepy counting of the German letter or English numbers by a small child.

These strange messages were being thrown around across the globe on short wave lengths and those who regularly received them gave them equally strange names such as ‘Nancy Adam Susan’ referring to the woman in the message, ‘the Lincolnshire Poacher’, ‘The Swedish Rhapsody’ and ‘The Gong Station’.

Even during the Second World War technology evolved at a higher pace than any other era in human history, and the methods deployed for espionage and other spying projects also saw a dramatic shift from primitive to modern.

However, historians believe these short wavelength messaging methods were too handy and too productive to give up quickly.

These historians believe that governments around the globe are now focusing more on the control and victory over modern technology, however, some clever individuals out there are still using this age-old technique to deliver coded messages efficiently while staying under the radar.

Akrotiri, Cyprus, the believed location of the Lincolnshire Poacher's broadcasts and radio antennas Photo Credit
Akrotiri, Cyprus, the believed location of the Lincolnshire Poacher’s broadcasts and radio antennas Photo Credit

Rupert Allison, a prolific author specializing in espionage techniques and issues while writing under the pen name Nigel West, believes that so far no one has found a more effective and more conveniently expedient way of communication for espionage agents.

He expounded that the sole purpose of these radio messages was for intelligence agencies to communicate with their agents spread out on various locations often living undercover, where these men are unable to use any other consensual means of communications to get messages or send messages to their stations.

Nick Knight

Nick Knight is one of the authors writing for The Vintage News