A new, old interest

It began with cold war Number Stations. 

Because I have an interest in a wide array of things in life, I learned about number stations once upon a time. 

Number stations are spots on the radio dial where operators send out information encrypted with a one-time pad cipher (or whatever) over the airwaves to be received and decoded by unknown parties for purposes unknown. This method of not-so-secret / secret communication has been going on from as far back as WW1. And is still going on. 

I had this relatively useless information squirreled away in my head and I didn’t think about it again until the end of 2023. Randomly, I discovered a Netherlands uni website that’s set up to let you listen to all kinds of radio transmissions. And it’s been amusing ever since. 

Voices from around the World.

Without any radio equipment of my own, I’ve been able to tune into voices connecting to each other from all over the globe. 

CQ CQ calling CQ this is…

Besides the host of the ‘usual’ international radio stations, you can hear regular people calling out and connecting with other people. Usually the exchange is simple: what the status of their signal is. 

I’ve heard so many languages: French, Polish, Russian, German, English, Italian, Spanish, American… The Dutch are seemingly all over the place laughing and having a good time. It’s beautiful to hear people get so excited about a how they can hear a clear signal and just say hello to someone else on the planet. When they do settle in and have more substantial conversations, I think they call it chewing rag. If I were on more often (and understood more languages) I am sure I would know the life stories of several total strangers by now.

Oh, The Unusual Stuff  You Can Hear!

And apart from the HAMateurs, I’ve heard other more exotic transmissions: signal jamming from China (siren jammers are my fav!); weather reports specifically for pilots (‘auntie’ Shannon VOLMET); reports for ocean going vessels; general RADAR disruption; a Chinese woman speaking in Esperanto; famous operational number stations out of Poland and Russia; and of course those wacky Dutch radio pirates.

The Russians also have their ever present ‘Buzzer,’ ‘Pip,’ and ‘Squeaky Wheel.’ 

The US military has their own coded Emergency Action Messages- EAMs. You can catch them read live every once in a while if you know where to tune in. The most alarming EAM is Sky King. If you hear the Sky King callsign, it has something to do with nuclear weapons. Not the radio/tv show. 

I caught a live air force EAM and the poor kid reading off the message messed up and had to read it over with corrections. The message was was well over a hundred characters! I hope he had a beer or something afterward. 

I would love the catch the Bird Signal from Turkey. I’ve heard recordings. It’s hilarious. 

Morse code is very alive and well on the airwaves. The operators still use shorthand from the mid 1800s! 

I am glad I went down this shortwave radio rabbit hole. 

As a dabbling sound artist, this is a GOLD MINE of audio. It’s crazy how much much material I’ve got to work with now. You can certainly expect to hear some radio inspired sound collages from me (if you ask nicely). While I don’t think I will personally be making transmissions anytime soon or deciphering all the beeps and bloops, it’s been a trip to listen in and learn about a subculture that has been internet-ing before there was internet! 

I also discovered that long wave radio is being discontinued as of March 2024.  I show up just in time for the death of something. Typical me. 

Do you have any experiences with unusual radio signals or transmissions? 

Would anyone want SKY KING (as seen above or variant) on a t-shirt or a sticker or something? 

Let me know! 

CL (closing)

73 (best regards)

Now back to our regularly scheduled-

September became October. October slipped away from me completely. I was aware of it going. The days refused to match up with the numbers assigned to them. The clocks changed.

My focus was on the next moment. And the next moment. Maybe the next day I’ll feel better. Maybe the next day I’ll get to be a person. 

I should share more. That is what a blog is for. 

TMI! Over-sharing!

But what is the use of trying to explain? 

If you aren’t in and out of neuropathic hellholes, if you have never been in one, then you will not relate. You haven’t the capability. I don’t expect you would even try to imagine it.

I can say this- Not all my days are bad days, but all of my days are not fully functional ones.

While I go on wrestling with vastly decreased sense of self-worth, here is a clip to watch. It is part of some video art about my DFSP cancer I have been working on- 

Ask me questions about the clip. 

Check in with me.

Help me keep on going.