David Segal – “Akin Fernandez: The Shortwave and the Calling” (2004)

June 16, 2013 at 8:15 pm (Life & Politics, Music, Reviews & Articles)

This Washington Post article by David Segal, dated Aug. 3, 2004, tells the story of numbers station enthusiast Akin Fernandez and how his obsession with them turned into The Conet Project, of which a new 5th disc was added to the original 4-CD set…

For Akin Fernandez, Cryptic Messages Became Music to His Ears

In a cluttered home office in the World’s End section of London, Akin Fernandez is trolling the dial of his newly acquired shortwave radio. It’s December 1992 and it’s late at night, when the city is quiet and the mad-scientist squawks of international broadcasts have an otherworldly tone. Fernandez, the owner and sole employee of an indie music label, is about to trip across a mystery that will take over his life.

Shortwave signals are bouncing, as they always do, around the globe, caroming off a layer of the atmosphere a few hundred miles above the Earth and into antennas all over the world. Fernandez can hear news from Egypt and weather reports from China. But his browsing stops when he tunes in something startling: the mechanized voice of a man, reading out numbers.

No context, no comment, no station identification. Nothing but numbers, over and over, for minutes on end. Then the signals disappear, as if somebody pulled the plug in the studio. And it’s not just one station. The more he listens, the more number monologues he hears.

“Five four zero,” goes a typical broadcast, this time in the soulless voice of a woman with a British accent. “Zero nine zero. One four. Zero nine zero one four.”

Numbers in Spanish, in German, Russian, Czech; some voices male, others female. When Fernandez lucks into hearing the start of a broadcast, he’s treated to the sound of electronic beeps, or a few bars of calliope music, or words like “message message message.” Then come the numbers. A few stations spring to life the same time each night, others pop up at random and cannot be found again. Read the rest of this entry »

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President Obama’s Weekly Address (June 15, 2013)

June 16, 2013 at 7:50 pm (Life & Politics)

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