serious

Tracking the Lincolnshire Poacher

If you didn't catch this Radio 4 program on Saturday and have a passing interest in Numbers Stations, then you could do worse than stream it from http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/aod/shows/rpms/radio4/lincoln_poacher.ram.

It features a brief appearance by Bruce Schneier, along with less well-known devotees. The Lincolnshire Poacher, if you aren't familiar with these things, is a radio station apparently broadcast regularly but intermittently by some arm of the British government from a base on Cyprus. Each broadcast starts with a snatch of a folk tune - "The Lincolnshire Poacher" - and then continues with a couple of hundred five-digit numbers read out in a synthesised voice. It's fairly typical of these stations, of which there are a great many apparently originating from a number of countries. The usual hypothesis is that they carry coded messages - or at least that they could do so. It's equally possible that they are carrying encoded nothing in case their owners need to be broadcasting such signals without alerting anyone to the change in activity.

Worth a half-hour of your time, in my view. Make your own mind up.
How long is this going to be on the R4 website? Sounds fascinating, I've always been interested in these "numbers stations" and there are still a few I've found while mucking around with my trusty Yaesu FRG-7. More on them at Simon Mason's website
It should be there until Saturday morning, when it'll be replaced with whatever they put out in the same slot.

That's a very intimidating site. There's an incredible amount of stuff there. Hard to know where to start looking.
I happened to be in the kitchen when it was on and heard most of it, it was interesting stuff. I like the ideas about alternative ways of coding things, bits of songs and cryptic phrases, though the numbers seem the most impenetrable.
Twas good and so is The Conet Project which deals with the same subject and has been sampled by musicians and films.


On the same evening, I think, there was another interesting show called The Cumberland Odyssey,

"A box of 78s left forgotten in Carlisle's Records Office leads Mike Harding
on a journey retracing the story of two friends who, in the 1950s, embarked
on a mission to preserve the traditional songs of Cumberland."

hopefully still streamed till Saturday 30th here

Cd available here

The usual hypothesis is that they carry coded messages - or at least that they could do so. It's equally possible that they are carrying encoded nothing in case their owners need to be broadcasting such signals without alerting anyone to the change in activity.

<tic>Or it could be a really efficient way of distributing one-time pads</tic>
If the numbers were noted down, though - a significant risk - then an intercepted message would be very vulnerable.
I wonder how much info you could hide in the folk tune whilst everyone was paying attention to the numbers... not too much i guess, but i'm thinking some simple slight variations would be possible :)