Tag Archives: pirateradio

Number Stations

Besides jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge, one of my other unquenchable fascinations is number stations. Why? They’re terribly creepy. Then you learn they’re for honest to god spies.

If you’re not familiar with number stations, they’re shortwave radio stations that regularly broadcast literally cryptic sequences of numbers or letters. Triangulation indicates that some of these stations are typically located on air force bases and other military installations around the world. The number sequences are believed to be one-time-pad messages sending instructions to clandestine agents somewhere in the world. By using shortwave, not only can you broadcast halfway around the world, but building a receiver in-situ is very easy.

When I listen to recordings of these stations, with all the pops, whistles, distortions, and the mechanized voice repeating cryptic sequences I get unsettled. I don’t know why. It’s just bizarre.

Radio Free Berkeley Transmitters

Radio Free Berkeley is selling radio transmitters (Brand new obsolete NTSC tv transmitters are also available.) Ruggedized, and small enough to be concealed, the 40W version can transmit 8 – 10 miles.

With one of these and Yuri Suzuki’s QR codes you could create a pretty cool number station.

Video after the jump.

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QR Graffiti for Pirate Radio

Yuri Suzuki proposes using graffiti QR codes to promote pirate radio stations. Instead of broadcasting over the air, the audio is streamed directly to the phone whenever someone follows the QR code.

I would think one of the joys of running a pirate station is the overt illegality of it. Granted the FCC doesn’t often go around shutting down even prominent stations. (Except of course, when they do), but simply streaming over the Internet is like setting up a blog that no one reads. (*cough* *cough*)