Over the years countless strange sounds and broadcasts have been heard via radio. One of the biggest mysteries has been the contents of "Number Stations", unknown transmissions audible at certain frequencies on Shortwave radio. These broadcasts contain voices that repeat seemingly random numbers sequences and phonetic letters. Their purpose is unknown but it’s believed the transmissions are secret codes used by intelligence agencies.
When Akin Fernandez stumbled across the strange signals over a decade ago he became curious and started searching for more of them. He discovered many more stations but finding out whom or what was behind them proved to be far more difficult.
"The more I tried to find out about Numbers Stations the more questions came up".
In an effort to distinguish any patterns he started recording them, keeping a log of the frequencies and times of the broadcasts.
"I realised that people didn’t have a Rosetta Stone to work with, they hadn’t been archived anywhere".
Akin went on to build a collection of sound recordings that has gained cult status. You can hear his story at NPR: Music by ‘Numbers Stations’ and here’s a related NPR production The Shortwave Numbers Mystery.
Record label Irdial-Discs has released THE CONET PROJECT: the first comprehensive collection of Numbers Stations recordings released to the public.
You can listen to these recordings in a variety of formats at Details for The Conet project – Recordings of Shortwave Numbers Stations [ird059] on the Internet Archive.
Strange radio broadcasts and unusual signals
An assortment of links to interesting man made, natural and unknown radio resources.
- Numbers and Oddities is a collection of MP3 and Wav sound samples.
- Numbers Stations has a selection of audio samples in Real Audio format.
- Wikipedia Numbers station provides an overview and further links on the topic.
Natural Radio Signals (VLF)
- Listening to the Northern Lights is a ‘Lost and Found Sound’ audio commentary profiling the work of Natural Radio recordist Steve McGreevy. It’s a good introduction to Natural Radio and the sounds of the earths magnetic field or Space Weather.
- Electric Enigma: The VLF Recordings of Stephen P. McGreevy [ird062] is a collection of Natural Radio – electromagnetic emissions in the very-low-frequency band caused by massive discharges and their after-effects in lightning storms and by the solar wind buffeting the earth’s magnetic field.
- NASA Online VLF Receiver streaming audio feed from the INSPIRE VLF radio receiver
at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, AL. with project descriptions and sound samples.
- Listen to an audio commentary from NASA explaining earth’s natural radio emissions. Text and pictures provided.
SETI Candidate SHGb02+14a about a significant signal from space that became exagerated by the media in September 2004.
The SETI Protocol on what to do if you think you’ve detected extraterrestrial signals.
Sights and Sounds of Saturn audio story and sound clips of the Huygens Titan space probe.
Voyager’s Greetings to the Universe has details about the 12" gold plated record onboard Voyager that carries a message of sounds and vision about the human race.
The War of the Worlds
- Wikipedia: The War of the Worlds Radio Broadcast where Orson Wells induced mass hysteria amongst radio listeners who believed the war drama was fact. Many fled their homes to escape the "Gas Raid from Mars". Here’s an account of the famous broadcast War of the Worlds Radio Broadcast Causes Panic.
- Listen to the original 1938 War of the Worlds Broadcast.
- The Mercury Theatre on the Air was a show featuring the acclaimed New York drama company founded by Orson Welles and John Houseman. Famous for its notorious War of the Worlds broadcast, which can be streamed and downloaded from this site via RealAudio, MP3 and BitTorrent. Many lesser known episodes are also available.
- The New War of the Worlds Movie Site a remake by Steven Spielberg starring Tom Cruise and more at waroftheworldsonline.com.
- The War Of The Worlds Jeff Wayne’s double album released in 1978. Some info on the original version and info on the dance remix version.
- Science Fiction on Radio specializes in the historical and contemporary development of SF on the air.
Legendary American comedienne Lucille Ball claimed to have recieved intelligence transmissions via lead fillings in her teeth that led to the capture of Japanese spies during World War 2.