Pirates hijacked an infamous short-wave radio station, which dates from the Soviet era but is still online today, and used it to broadcast everything from Gangnam Style to audio that draws memes when inspected under a spectrum analyzer.
For decades the numbers station known as UVB-76 has emitted an enigmatic series of beeps and a voice reading numbers and names, in what people suspect is a long running communications method for Russian intelligence. Since the broadcast is public, pirates are able to use their software-defined radio (SDR) transmitters to effectively flood the frequencies with noise and memes.
The recent barrage of attacks on the station come as Russia prepares to invade neighbouring Ukraine, where radio enthusiasts speculate at least some of the pirate broadcasts originate.
Numbers stations are short-wave radio stations known for their mysterious and cryptic broadcasts, long believed to be a method used by spy agencies to communicate with covert operatives. They typically involve voices reading off sequences of numbers, or timed pulses that can be decoded into messages. While many stations have become obsolete or redundant, several broadcasts remain on the air—much to the fascination of amateur radio hobbyists.