The Message (podcast)

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The Message
The Message Podcast Album Art.png
Hosted byNicky Tomalin, portrayed by Annapuma Sriram
GenreScience fiction
Written byMac Rogers
Directed byRachel Wolther
Length12–24 minutes
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes8
Original releaseOctober 4, 2015 – November 22, 2015
ProviderPanoply[dead link]

The Message is a science fiction podcast co-produced by Panoply and GE Podcast Theater. Diegetically its title is CypherCast and it is hosted by the fictional character Nicky Tomalin, portrayed by Annapurna Sriram. Tomalin's fictional podcast covers the decoding of a message from outer space received 70 years ago. Over the course of 8 weeks, listeners follow a team of top cryptologists as they attempt to decipher, decode, and understand the alien message.[1][2] It won the Webby Award in 2016 for the best use of native advertising.[3]


The Message, hosted by Nicky Tomalin, follows a team from a modern-day cryptography consultant group, called Cipher Centers For Communication, as they attempt to decode The Message. The first episode of the show aired on October 4, 2015.[4][5]

The Message (Transmission 7-21-45) is the name given to a fictional transmission that is being investigated in the podcast. The transmission was received by Officer Marvin Weller at Station Hypo (a signal station) in Hawaii during World War II on July 21, 1945, and is believed to be of extraterrestrial origin.

The Message has been determined to meet SETI’s Standards For Intelligent Extraterrestrial Life (repetition, spectral width, extrasolar origin, metadata, and Terran elimination) by a team of codebreakers led by renowned cryptographer, Lewis Krell. Krell's character is loosely based on the British cryptanalyst, Alan Turing.[citation needed]

After hearing the transmission while stationed at Hypo in Hawaii, Officer Marvin Weller reported to his unit. The transmission left the military cryptologists perplexed so they sent the recording to the NSA. After a team of senior intelligence officers and cryptographers began testing the transmission and determined it was not a super-encrypted Japanese code, their assumptions led them to believe it was an alien transmission.


Nicky Tomalin[edit]

The host of the podcast.

Robin Lyons[edit]

Robin Lyons (born October 4, 1974) is an American computer scientist, cryptographer, former member of the National Security Agency (NSA) and as of January 3, 2002, co-founder of and lead cryptographer at Cypher Centers For Communications. Cypher is a privately funded, research-based cryptography consultant group.

Robin May Lyons was born on October 4, 1974 in Darien, Connecticut. Her paternal grandfather, William Douglas I, was a Captain in the United States Coast Guard. Her father, William Douglas II, was an admiral in the United States Navy and eventually went on to join the NSA. Her mother, Anna Marie Douglas, was a federal prosecutor in the United States District Court For The Northern District Of New York.

Growing up, Lyons was fascinated with astronomy. On her 7th birthday, her father bought her a telescope that she now keeps in her office. She "has been in love with the idea of life outside of earth, whether that take the form of extraterrestrial life or just outer-space, since then." She went on to study computer science in college, but has remained rooted in doing astronomical research, delivering speeches and holding conferences for the American Astronomical Society and publishing articles about extraterrestrial intelligent life.

After graduating from Tufts University, she began working for Microsoft. At Microsoft, she developed a close relationship with her manager, mentor, and ex-NSA intelligence officer, Presley Scott. One day after she left work, he hacked her computer with a complex puzzle. She came in the next morning, found her computer hacked, and solved the puzzle. A week later, she was contacted by the NSA and recruited as a cyber analyst. She is currently a contributor on the podcast, Cyphercast, about a modern-day team of cryptographers decrypting a real life, non-verbal transmission widely believed to be a message of extraterrestrial origin.

Ty Waldman[edit]

Ty Waldman (born May 23, 1966) is an American computer scientist, cryptographer, ex-member of the National Security Agency (NSA) and co-founder of and lead cryptographer at Cypher Centers For Communications.

Ty Samuel Waldman was born on May 23, 1966 in Marlboro, New Jersey. He is 1 of 3 siblings. His mother, Mary Waldman is a public school teacher and women's rights activist. His father, Walter Waldman, is an aerospace engineer who began his career working at The Wright Brothers Wind Tunnel, testing aircraft during World War II. After the war, he joined a British team that developed and created some of the most technologically advanced Boeing jets of the 50s. In the late 1960s, he took at job at Lockheed Martin.

After attending Princeton University, he took a job as an analyst at Merrill Lynch. After a mere 6 months on the job, he was fired for allegedly "having differences about the security of the company with the management at Merrill Lynch that resulted in his termination." He was recruited by the NSA almost immediately after. In 2001, he left the NSA. In 2002, he joined his friend and ex-NSA Intelligence officer, Doris Lyons, in forming a cryptography consultant group called Cypher Centers For Communication.

Waldman married Mathilda Lundqvist, cousin to the Swedish Agnefjall family, a wealthy family from Philadelphia's main line.

Lewis Krell[edit]

Lewis Krell (April 3, 1922 – November 27, 1967) was an American computer scientist, mathematician, and cryptographer for the U.S. Navy and National Security Agency. Krell played a key role in cryptology and code-work in the Pacific Theatre during WWII. His most famous work was leading a team of cryptographers in attempting to decrypt The Message, a wartime transmission received July 21, 1945.

As a senior intelligence officer in the NSA, he recruited a team of scientists, military/NSA cryptographers, cryptanalysts, naval signal engineers and mathematicians to do extensive research and analysis on The Message. Lewis and his team developed a theory that the patterns in the metadata could reveal the answers they were looking for. Their supporting evidence was mostly based on SETI's Five Standards For Intelligent Extraterrestrial Life. Toward the end of the team’s 3rd year of research, their findings finally suggested and proved that The Message was most likely an extraterrestrial transmission. Lewis Krell died before the team could discover the meaning behind transmission 72145.

Krell met Jane Watson while stationed in Hawaii. Jane was an army nurse, working in a field hospital at Pearl Harbor. They married on December 23, 1950. They have one child together. After Krell's death, Jane never remarried.

Other Crew Members[edit]

Alternate reality game[edit]

An alternate reality game has been created for the promotion of the podcast and engagement of the listeners.


  1. ^ Toonkel, Jessica (2015-10-02). "General Electric producing science fiction podcast series". Reuters. Retrieved 2015-10-04.
  2. ^ "New Podcast Brings a Message From Outer Space - GroundReport". GroundReport. Retrieved 2015-10-04.
  3. ^ "R/GA Wins Agency Of The Year At The 20th Annual Webby Awards". The Webby Awards. Apr 16, 2016. Retrieved Mar 24, 2019.
  4. ^ Bond, Shannon (2015-10-02). "GE revives Theater for podcast generation". Financial Times. ISSN 0307-1766. Retrieved 2015-10-04.
  5. ^ Francisco, Eric. "General Electric, Podcasters". Retrieved 2015-10-04.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]