Spy Chatter: Listen to Live Numbers Stations

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After joining the Spy Numbers Stations mailing list, we started receiving a couple of emails a day with the subject “Automated Spy Numbers Loggings” from the Spy Numbers Robot. The email is generated by a database observer associated with the Spy Numbers Stations database. When a radio operator discovers a Numbers Station broadcast, they can report the discovery to the database. Then Spy Numbers Robot emails everyone on the list that a new broadcast has been found and logged. The Spy Numbers Robot reports frequency, ENIGMA ID (the name for the broadcaster), day of the week, date, time (in UTC), mode (radio band), additional comments, and the name of the person who reported it and their location.

Here is a sample: (click here if sample does not appear below)

Let’s look at the second listing.

So we see that someone logged station M8a on March 6th, 2009 at 7:00am Greenwich Mean Time on frequency 5883 on the CW band. If you look at the ENIGMA ID reference list you’ll find that M8a is a Cuban station that broadcasts three or so times a week with Morse Code blasts. This broadcast was reported by an amateur radio operator from Paris, TN, USA.

Spy Numbers can then analyze the history of data to provide information on current and future broadcasts. You can find predictions on what may be broadcasting now. An incredible resource for someone starting on a quest to hear a live Numbers Station broadcast. (See also what may be broadcasting in the next hour.) The database is publicly available, and searchable. If you don’t have a shortwave radio but would like to listen to numbers stations, there are three easy ways.

  • Numbers Racket CD: The largest collection of Numbers Stations recordings with a special emphasis on recordings that are no longer active.
  • The Conet Project: Available for free, streaming or download, from archive.org. Akin Fernandez complies recordings of Numbers Stations broadcasts. 4-CD set (1997).
  • Clandestine: Our film in part about the history of Numbers Stations. Sign up to receive a notification when the film is released and being screened near you.