A Russian Enigma: Most Mysterious Radio Transmission in the World
2013-08-31 0:00

By James Cook | The Kernel

Volume dials were turned up, computers began recording, forum posts were hastily typed. Something big was happening.


For the first time in a history that stretches back nearly forty years, the mysterious Russian radio signal popularly known as UVB-76 had issued an order. On the 24th of January 2013, it was heard clearly by its legion of fans:

Command 135 initiated

The radio signal that occupies 4625 kHz has reportedly been broadcasting since the late 1970s. The earliest known recording of it is dated 1982. Ever since curious owners of shortwave radios first discovered the signal, it has broadcast a repeating buzzing noise. Every few years, the buzzer stops, and a Russian voice reads a mixture of numbers and Russian names.

A typical message came hours before Christmas day, 1997:

“Ya UVB-76, Ya UVB-76. 180 08 BROMAL 74 27 99 14. Boris, Roman, Olga, Mikhail, Anna, Larisa. 7 4 2 7 9 9 1 4”

Instead of shutting down with the fall of communism in Russia, UVB-76 became even more active. Since the millenium, voice messages have become more and more frequent.

It’s easy to dismiss the signal as pre-recorded, or a looping tone. But what listeners quickly realised was that UVB-76 is not a recording. The buzzer noise is generated manually. The reason for overhearing telephone conversations and banging noises is that a speaker creating the buzzer is constantly placed next to the microphone, giving the world an eerie insight into whatever cavern the signal originates from.

The modern popularity of UVB-76 can be traced to /x/, 4chan’s non-archiving message board devoted to discussion of paranormal activity and unexplained mysteries. Just as 4chan created memes like Pedobear and Rickrolling, the online image board served to bring UVB-76 before the eyes of a host of internet users.

Online chatter about the signal increased in 2010, as bizarre broadcasts were issued on an almost monthly basis. Snippets of Swan Lake were played, a female voiced counted from one to nine, a question mark was transmitted in Morse code and strange telephone conversations were overheard by the receiver.

The short recording of Swan Lake that was broadcast by the signal in 2010.

Since October 2010, the station has changed location. The flurry of activity and voice messages preceded the most important development in the signal since it began broadcasting in the 1970s. It seems likely that the heightened activity of 2010 was related to the establishment of the signal in a new location. The new call sign was read out after the move: “MDZhB”.

Previous triangulation efforts had led to the discovery of the transmitter for UVB-76: a Russian military base on the outskirts of Povarovo, a small town nineteen miles from Moscow.

After the station changed location, two groups of urban explorers and UVB-76 followers travelled to the remote Russian town in an attempt to visit the military bunker that the signal had originated from for over thirty years. When they reached the town, a local man told them about the storm of 2010. One night a dense fog rolled in, and the military outpost was evacuated within ninety minutes.

The Russian military outpost that UVB-76 operated from until 2010.


Read the full article at: kernelmag.com

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UVB-76 / MDZhB site

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