For at least 29 years a strange radio signal has been broadcast from inside Russia and perplexed shortwave radio enthusiasts. Nicknamed “The Buzzer” by amateur listeners due to the audible buzzes broadcast by the station. The station, which broadcasts on 4625 kHz AM, is thought to be operated by the Russian government, though little is really know about the signal – including where it is broadcast from. Theories about the true nature of the Buzzer range from it being a test signal for radio operators to tune their equipment to it being part of the Soviet Union’s “Dead Hand” nuclear retaliation system. Other theories include that it is used for ionosphere research or that it is a “numbers station” used to communicate with spies around the globe. Adding to the mystery surrounding the Buzzer are a number of voice broadcasts that enthusiast have overheard containing what seem to be coded messages and the stations call sign (which was originally UVB-76 but currently is reported to be 94ZhT). Also an occasional faint conversation in Russian can be heard behind the buzzing which leads those interested in numbers stations to believe that the station’s trademark buzz is being broadcast over an open mic.
While we may never know why The Buzzer buzzes, listening in is as easy as firing up your web browser thanks to a Buzzer enthusiast in Estonia. Simply head over to UVB-76.net and you can listen to a live feed of the signal. [I had to use one of the desync.com sponsored feeds to get any audio, but that may be my computer.] Though if you’d like to try and tune in “old school” and are within UVB-76′s broadcast range (which can reach into the Eastern US), any shortwave receiver should work (they can be purchased on Amazon for around $40 USD and up). Just tune in to 4625 kHz and listen for the buzz.
If you have or pick up a shortwave set and are interested in listening to other “numbers stations” be sure to check out Priyom.org for times and frequencies to tune in.
On October 5, 2011
By John D