(Possibly available in Eastern North America if reception is strong enough)
|First air date||1982|
|Format||Repeated buzzing, occasional voice messages|
|Former callsigns||UVB-76, UZB-76|
|Affiliations||Russian Armed Forces (unconfirmed)|
|Sister stations||The Pip, The Squeaky Wheel|
UVB-76, also known as "The Buzzer", is the nickname given by radio listeners to a shortwave radio station that broadcasts on the frequency 4625 kHz. Since February of 2015 The Buzzer has also transmitted on the frequency 3216 kHz. It broadcasts a short, monotonous buzz tone (help·info), repeating at a rate of approximately 25 tones per minute, for 24 hours per day. On very rare occasions, the buzzer signal is interrupted and a voice transmission in Russian takes place. The first reports were made of a station on this frequency in 1982. Its origins have been traced to Russia, and although several theories with varying degrees of plausibility exist, its actual purpose has never been officially confirmed and remains a source of speculation.
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (December 2014)|
The station is commonly known as the Buzzer in both English and Russian (жужжалка žužžalka). Its official name is not known, although some of the voice transmissions have revealed names which may be callsigns or another form of identification. Up until September 2010, the station identified itself as UVB-76 (Cyrillic: УВБ-76), and it is still often referred to by that name. In September 2010, the station moved to another location, and it has used the identification MDZhB (Cyrillic: МДЖБ, Russian phonetic spelling "Mikhail Dmitri Zhenya Boris") from then onwards. It has been suggested[by whom?] that the correct identification until September 2010 was actually UZB-76 (Cyrillic: УЗБ-76), and that the Cyrillic letter Ze (З) had been misheard as the letter Ve (В). However, it is still referred to as "UVB-76" by most people. Although the station, by and large, has used these two codes at the beginning of most voice transmissions, a few voice messages have used other identification codes. This makes it uncertain whether the names are actually the callsign of the station, or some other identifying code.
A short clip of UVB-76's transmission as heard in Southern Finland, 860 km (530 mi) away from the station in 2002.
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The station transmits using AM with a suppressed lower sideband (R3E), but it has also used full double-sideband AM (A3E). The signal consists of a buzzing sound that lasts 1.2 seconds, pausing for 1–1.3 seconds, and repeating 21–34 times per minute. Until November 2010, the buzz tones lasted approximately 0.8 seconds each. One minute before the hour, the repeating tone was previously replaced by a continuous, uninterrupted alternating tone, which continued for one minute until the short repeating buzz resumed, although this no longer occurs since June 2010.
The Buzzer has apparently been broadcasting since at least 1982 as a repeating two-second pip, changing to a buzzer in early 1990. It briefly changed to a higher tone of longer duration (approximately 20 tones per minute) on January 16, 2003, but it has since reverted to the previous tone pattern.
Until 2010, voice messages were thought to be very rare. An example:
- At 2100 UTC on December 24, 1997: "Ya UVB-76, Ya UVB-76. 180 08 BROMAL 74 27 99 14. Boris, Roman, Olga, Mikhail, Anna, Larisa. 7 4 2 7 9 9 1 4."
During 2010, listeners reported increased activity of the station, which spurred on further monitoring and allowed listeners to "catch" more of the messages which would have otherwise gone unnoticed. On June 5, 2010, UVB-76 went silent for approximately 24 hours, resuming the normal buzzing pattern on the morning of June 6. At 1335 UTC on August 23, 2010, a voice message was broadcast:
Frequently, distant conversations and other background noises have been heard behind the buzzer, suggesting that the buzzing tones are not generated internally, but are transmitted from a device placed behind a live and constantly open microphone. It is also possible that a microphone may have been turned on accidentally. One such occasion was on November 3, 2001, when a conversation in Russian was heard:
- "Я – 143. Не получаю генератор." "Идёт такая работа от аппаратной." ("I am 143. Not receiving the generator (oscillator)." "That stuff comes from hardware room.").
On November 11, 2010, intermittent phone conversations were accidentally transmitted and were recorded by a listener (at 1400 UTC) for a period of approximately 30 minutes. These conversations are available online, and seem to be in Russian. The phone calls mentioned the "brigade operative officer on duty", the communication nodes "Debut", "Nadezhda" (Russian for "hope", both a noun and a female name), "Sudak" (a kind of river fish and also a town in Crimea) and "Vulkan" (volcano). The female voice says "officer on duty of communication node Debut senior ensign Uspenskaya, got the control call from Nadezhda OK".
Location and function
The purpose of the station has not been confirmed by government or broadcast officials. However, the former Minister of Communications and Informatics of the Republic of Lithuania Rimantas Pleikys has written that the purpose of the voice messages is to confirm that operators at receiving stations are alert. Other claims are that the broadcast is constantly being listened to by military commissariats.
There is speculation published in the Russian Journal of Earth Sciences which describes an observatory measuring changes in the ionosphere by broadcasting a signal at 4625 kHz, the same as the Buzzer. However, this would not explain the voice messages.
It is also speculated that the voice messages are some sort of Russian military communications, and that the buzzing sound is merely a "channel marker" used to keep the frequency occupied, thereby making it unattractive for other potential users. The author does not explain the continued expenditure on this public transmission for such a small trickle of usable information, particularly with the advent of cheap, reliable, secure communication via the Internet. It is worth noting that this transmission has been maintained consistently and at high power for over 30 years.
There are two other Russian stations that follow a similar format, nicknamed "The Pip" and "The Squeaky Wheel". Like the Buzzer, these stations transmit a signature sound that is repeated constantly, but is occasionally interrupted to relay coded voice messages.
The former transmitter was located near Povarovo, Russia at which is about halfway between Zelenograd and Solnechnogorsk and 40 kilometres (25 mi) northwest of Moscow, near the village of Lozhki. The location and callsign were unknown until the first known voice broadcast of 1997. In September 2010, the station's transmitter was moved to near the town of Pskov. This may have been due to a reorganization of the Russian military. In 2011 a group of urban explorers explored the abandoned buildings at Povarovo. They claim that it is an abandoned military base. A radio log record was found, confirming the operation of a transmitter at 4625 kHz.
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