Radio MDZhB

If you have a shortwave receiver, tune it to 4625 kHz. You’ll hear something that on the surface sounds strange, but the reality is even stranger still. According to the BBC, the radio station broadcasts from two locations inside Russia — and has since 1982 — but no one claims ownership of the station, known as MDZhB. According to the BBC:

[For 35 years, MDZhB] has been broadcasting a dull, monotonous tone. Every few seconds it’s joined by a second sound, like some ghostly ship sounding its foghorn. Then the drone continues.
Once or twice a week, a man or woman will read out some words in Russian, such as “dinghy” or “farming specialist”. And that’s it.

If you don’t have a shortwave handy, you can always try one of the many web-based software defined radios. Search for 4.6 MHz, and pick a location that should have propagation to Russia and you are all set.

The BBC mentions the station started in 1982, but actually the station has changed identity several times and appears to have started in 1973. The station is known as UVB-76, “the buzzer,” ZhUOS, and MDZhB. In addition to cryptic messages, there have been occasional reports of background conversation, indicating the transmitter has staff and an open microphone.

What could it mean? No one knows. One time an enigmatic “COMMAND 135 ISSUED” message appeared on the frequency. There is speculation that if the broadcasts were to stop it would initiate an automatic nuclear retaliation. Others think it is an emergency frequency that would only be activated if Russia were under attack.

We’ve talked about spy stations on shortwave, before. If you are starting your own spy ring, you probably ought to read this.

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