Seventeenth edition of the N&O column / Spooks newsletter

(Date: Sun, 05 Sep 1999 18:46:22 +0200)

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"Down the memory lane"

by AC

Once upon a time, when listening to the Voice of America, to the drums of BBC or worse, to the Radio Free Europe was not considered the correct thing to do. At least not in the country BIC, where my first encounter with numbers station has happened. It burned into my memory, I still can here the voice of the young men reading the numbers at uneven speed, sometimes quite enthusiastically. Time : almost 40 years ago ...

Everyone living in the city where I was a schoolboy at that time knew, that at the very end of the MW dial on the household radios (around 1600 kc) an unknown station pops up time to time. Day or night, young voices read numbers in groups, sometimes in quick succession, other times in slow pace. I listened to this transmissions, astounded, trying to figure out the meaning of the numbers, the station, the purpose. None of us, curious young Spooks had any good idea, and just hoped, that one time we will hear the station identification, or so. These transmissions went on and on, day after day, not like a message or telegram, rather continuously. Then one day the station disappeared, and never came back again. We were abandoned.

It took an other 20 years to hear about this early numbers station once more. When I mentioned this enigmatic transmissions to a friend of mine, he laughed. And he told me this story: in those early days there was a shortwave radio link between one of the fighter command posts and a radar station. The coordinates were read off from the indicator screen of the radar and dictated to the command post, where the "plotters" plotted the positions of the aircrafts onto a huge glass panel. This radio link worked well until the night, when (in lack of any aircraft in the sector) one of the radar operators decided to fill in his buddies - in explicit detailed, graphic terms - with the events of his last randez-vous with a gorgeous brunette (name, body details, etc. of the dear were also duly given...). Needless to say, the transmitter and mike remained keyed during his account. The station became very popular in a second.

Someone has alarmed the military. You know, they notoriously dislike being a (such) celebrity, and next day the frequency was changed (radar op and radio officer, too). The radio ceased to bring the mystery of the string of numbers into our kitchen. We kids, were left out from the secrets of the wireless world (except some left-over static). However, the patient monitoring ears in (and around) the city were well rewarded with a sexy story that night.

Since those early days, when I turn the dial of the old radio to the very and of the MW band and listen to the static, I still hope that one time, the numbers station will come back again, with a piece of my childhood. With an other tale, perhaps.

LoLo, Spooks.


New ENIGMA designator | Memory lane | Chinese numbers stations
Voice stations | Morse stations | FAPSI | Russian man schedules | Logs
Index | NS NL Home

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