Monday, March 23, 2015


The shortwave radio bands certainly have their share of oddities. The station known as UVB-76 is one of my favorites. It's not a numbers station per se.. but it's still interesting. Even it's call sign is a non-sequitur. In September 2010, the station moved and has since used the identification MDZhB, meaning that perhaps the correct calls are UZB-76.  But these are not assigned call letters. UZB-76 was a abbreviates in cyrillic Moscow Military District and MDZhB is a callsign for Western Military District of the Russian Federation.  But geeks that are into these sort of topics seem to favor the original calls.

The station broadcasts in AM on 4625 kHz from inside the Russian Federation. It broadcasts a short, monotonous buzzing sound repeating at a rate of approximately 25 tones per minute 24 hours a day. This pattern is only interrupted by exceedingly rare voice transmission in Russian. There is endless speculation online about it's origin and purpose. More here, here and here.

Many sources claim the original transmission site was in Povarovo, near Moscow. In 2010 following a reorganization of the Russian military, it's district was expanded into the Western Military District instead of just the Moscow area. To "serve" this larger region, it uses two transmission sites, one in Kerro, near St.Petersburg and another in Naro-Fominsk, near Moscow. Supposedly the Buzzer source is fed to the shortwave site by phone relay.

 The first reports were made of a station on this frequency in 1982. What I find most interesting is that thanks to the Coronet project we knwo that not only has it changes calls, but it has also changed the nature of it's buzz tone. Currently it broadcasts a cycle of 1.25 seconds buzzing, then 1.85 seconds of silence.  But prior to November of 2010 its buzz tone lasted slightly, and the gaps slightly shorter. It's also been stated that in the past, it used to change to a continuous buzz one minute before the hour. You can hear samples here.

Notably, there are two other Russian stations with similar "formats." One is nicknamed "The Pip" and the other is "The Squeaky Wheel". Like the Buzzer, they both transmit noises in a tight pattern and on rare occasion interrupted that pattern to broadcast coded Russian voice message.