Numbers stations in popular culture

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Pop music

  • Two songs, Even Less from the band Porcupine Tree and A Half Built House from the band We Were Promised Jetpacks feature a number station broadcast prominently.
  • The Submarines song Submarine Symphonika and the Stereolab song Pause both use the Swedish Rhapsody (G2) numbers station.
  • American band Wilco's record Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (2001) was named after a series of letters in the phonetic alphabet that singer/songwriter front-man Jeff Tweedy had heard on the Irdial box set The Conet Project: Recordings of Shortwave Numbers Stations. On the fourth track of the album, "Phonetic Alphabet - Nato" a woman repeats the words "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" numerous times; a clip from this track was placed in the Yankee Hotel Foxtrot song Poor Places. Irdial sued Wilco for copyright infringement, and a settlement was reached out of court.
  • Scottish electronic duo Boards of Canada's track Gyroscope from Geogaddi contains samples of a numbers station sampled by Sean Booth of Autechre, as confirmed by a representative of Hexagon Sun on the WATMM forum.

Cinema and TV

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  • In an episode of the USA Network series Covert Affairs, a child genius deciphers the numbers being transmitted from a station, and goes to the CIA for help. The episode contained the Lincolnshire Poacher as the fictional station's interval signal.
  • The Soviet TV miniseries Seventeen Moments of Spring (1973) features the protagonist spy Stirlitz receiving orders through numbers broadcasts and decoding the messages using a book.
  • The television show Lost features a storyline in which the character Hugo "Hurley" Reyes wins the lottery. The numbers he used (4 8 15 16 23 42) came from a fellow patient at the mental hospital in which Reyes had previously been admitted. That patient had been stationed at a military listening outpost many years earlier. He heard the numbers from a radio transmission (albeit a long-wave transmission, not shortwave) which was repeating the numbers on a loop. The transmission came from the island itself.
  • The BBC show Spooks has Russia's Federal Security Service transmitting a secret broadcast through a numbers station to a sleeper agent who targets Grosvenor Square in London, which is home of the US embassy.(1)
  • In the film Vanilla Sky, Cameron Crowe used samples of recordings from The Conet Project in certain scenes of the film. He said he used the station recordings to create a sense of confusion.
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  • In episode S03E06 of Fringe entitled "6995 kHz," a mysterious transmission from an unknown numbers station causes a group of enthusiasts to immediately develop retrograde amnesia. The number station used in the start is a remake of the famous Swedish Rhapsody. Hidden in the transmission is a pulse frequency that causes the amnesia. This is part of the overarching storyline. The series of numbers broadcasted are coded as well giving the coordinates of pieces of a large machine called the Vacuum.
  • In the TV series Fringe the use of number stations were mentioned in an episode on season 3, with the numbers being cracked by one of the Fringe team discovering that the numbers were made by a race of people that were alive before the dinosaurs and had been a lost civilization. The numbers were coordinates to locations on the earth where strange technology was found.

Video games

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  • In the video game Call of Duty: Black Ops, the campaign storyline features numbers stations as part of the plot.


  1. BBC (2008) Spooks. Series 7 Episode 8.

See also

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Wikipedia article: Numbers_station

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