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99% Invisible is one of my favorite podcasts. You never know what you’re going to get, but I guarantee you’ll look at the world differently after every listen! The Numbers Stations show — and its companion show “Youarelistening.to” combined in the same podcast — is particularly intriguing. Even better is that there are people like David Goren out there who see the beauty in government information (whether they realize it’s govt information or not!) and expand and extrapolate it to make something even better.
David Goren’s piece, Atencion! Seis Siete Tres Siete Cero: The Mystery of the Shortwave Numbers Stations, aired in 2000 as part of the series Lost and Found Sound. In tuning into these weird little broadcasts, Goren joins a curious community that has been listening to numbers stations for decades, some suspecting that the stations are run by intelligence agencies sending encrypted messages to individual agents in the field.
Enthusiasts have tracked these stations on receivers with digital readouts, compiled schedules through reverse engineering, or relied on hints from contacts at intelligence agencies and the Federal Communications Commission. Hobbyists gave stations nicknames like Cynthia, The Babbler, The Sexy Lady, and Bulgarian Betty, and complied a body of recordings that span the era of the cold war. One such compilation has become The Conet Project, a four CD set of numbers station recordings from the past 30 years, released in 1997 by Irdial Discs.
We recently caught up with Goren, who continues to hunt for numbers stations occasionally. Yep, you can still hear them today. David Goren’s current project still centers around the glory of shortwave and long distance listening. It’s calledShortwaveology.
Those of you who reside like I do in the DC area can probably skip this post. Those of you outside of the area might like to learn about a few over-the-air radio stations we have.All of them stream. Lots of government info.
1) Washington Post Radio (1500 AM, 107.5 FM)
Lots of interviews. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/wtwpradio/index.html
4) C-SPAN Radio
One thing C-SPAN Radio offers, replays of the Sunday AM talk shows.
Also, mobile access to information is something I’m personally very interested.
This site: http://tuned.mobi
makes streaming audio very easy to stream to both mobile devices and regular tools with just one click. All of the stations listed are located in:
Again, a great tool to stream radio, saving time, avoiding pop-ups and other registration.
I was listening to KPFA, my local pacifica station this morning, and they were having a fund drive for the Pacifica Radio Archives. The archives contain the voices of 20th century history: Studs Terkel, Mahalia Jackson, James Baldwin, Gore Vidal, Alice Walker, Martin Luther King, jr., Rosa Parks, bell hooks, and *many* more voices of peace and justice! The fund drive is needed to support their preservation project (and other projects) which seeks to digitize many of the old tapes in the archive in order to make them more accessible and longer-living. Or think about a donation in someone else’s name for the holidays — really, how many ties does your dad really need?!
Please, please, PLEASE donate to the pacifica archives if you can!
[Please note: I am not on the Pacifica board and FGI has no affiliation whatsoever with Pacifica. I just think that librarians and those interested in preserving history should support valuable preservation projects like this one.]