October 27, 2009 @ 2:32 pm
When I was young I loved the radio. I used to spend night after night sitting in my room and listening to the obvious stations such as BBC Radio 1 and Radio Luxembourg. One night by chance I accidently switched my receiver to short wave, and as a consequence of this, put The Clash, Devo and The Jam on hold for a little while as I became engrossed in the many strange sounds I discovered.
I became obsessed with listening to the propaganda broadcasts from Radio Moscow, it opened my ears to what I imagined (probably correctly?) as a dark and sinister world. Who else was listening? I remember one instance during the miners strike in the early 80’s when Radio Moscow constantly reported the ‘fact’ that despite a shortage of coal miners in the USSR productivity was nevertheless booming. It was fascinating, it was such an obvious agenda, surely no one, even me a western imperialist (as we all were according to Moscow!), could ever fall for such blatant propaganda. Despite the fact that through the eyes of the Kremlin I was just another capitalist landowner (another popular phrase they used) The Voice of America just made me laugh even more. Not nearly as scary but even more blindingly obvious with its propaganda, which of course was the polar opposite to what was being reported and broadcasted by Radio Moscow.
I also discovered stations playing just Morse Code signals and those strange gongs which apparently derived from Stasi run radio stations in East Germany. On several occasions I stumbled across numbers stations, coded messages sent in the sideband of normal short wave programmes. How I managed this I’m still not sure, maybe the weather had something to do with it, or maybe I just struck lucky. I remember sitting in my room listening to the robotic listing of apparently random numbers and wondering what it was all about, who these broadcasts were meant for and whether I was perhaps listening to a message of great political and military importance. But let’s face the fact that if some kid in the home counties was able to listen to these messages then obviously those who understood the significance of such broadcasts would also be listening too.