A little over a year ago I played some tracks from the Conet Project as part of an ambient/noise set. Some people were as intrigued by them as I was, so when a friend told me about the Backwards Music Station today, I immediately thought of sharing it here.
It’s a little bit like other short-wave number stations, except that it doesn’t broadcast numbers, music, Morse Code, or any other easily identifiable call signs (yankee, hotel, foxtrot, etc.). Instead, it broadcasts various tones, consistent interference, fragmentary speech, and feedback. Some websites speculate that the interference is deliberate, while others claim it is a byproduct of malfunctioning equipment. Intriguingly, some listeners believe that this signal is generated acoustically, meaning someone is producing the sounds using a microphone, not by means of a pre-made recording. Even if the sounds are being reproduced, the question remains: who is broadcasting this stuff and why? While many number stations have a consistent and well-documented broadcast schedule, the Backwards Station is very inconsistent and shows up on multiple frequencies, often at the same time. Further complicating the station’s story is the fact that it seems to have more than one origin. You can read more about the station at this site, which has a lot of technical information and some more background, including a history of the station’s discovery and infrequent use. You can hear what the station sounds like here:
If you’re unfamiliar with the Conet Project, or if number stations interest you and you want to learn more, you can download the entire project for free from the Irdial website or from Archive.org – both downloads include a PDF file of the booklet that came with the box set. Here’s a couple examples of other number stations:
Make sure you check out the info tab for that last video. Lots of great links to spy station websites, which include classification information and technical specs that might interest those of you with short-wave radios. Thanks for the heads up, Travis!