Sometime during, and then after World War II, shortwave radio stations began popping up in Europe. These stations would recite a series of words or numbers and then go off the air. Numbers Stations.
During the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, numbers stations were everywhere around the world. Several spy cases connecting US-based spies with Cuba were discovered and prosecuted. The most famous numbers station, Lincolnshire Poacher, was allegedly operated by the British SIS from the island of Cyprus starting in the 1970s.
A cool project was pulled together and released in 1997. A four-cd collection of numbers station recordings features some interesting, if not irritatingly repetitive recordings. The Conet Project is an archival resource of the Cold War. The band Wilco titled their 2001 album after the most famous numbers station recording — Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.
Enthusiasts of numbers stations or spy numbers have assembled a pretty cool database that allows users to log recordings and potential sources.
A new movie, featuring John Cusack and Malin Akerman, titled The Numbers Station, was just released. Evidently, these holdover relics from the Cold War are still with us today.