Every country has a good deal of it’s own urban legends. One of the most popular and creepy ones in Russia is the story of the radio station The Buzzer or “Zhuzhzhalka”, as it is referred to by the locals. For more than 40 years people from all over the world were trying to crack the mystery of this strange station.
Up until 2010 it was identified as UVB – 76. Although now some argue, that it is a mistake and the correct callsign for it was UZB-76, which is confirmed by native Russian speakers on the surviving recordings. Later on the station changed it’s name on MDZhB, and in 2015 it was reported to have changed it’s callsign again, this time to ZhUOZ.
It’s first known location was reported to be Povarovo in the Moscow district. However, it seems that the station has been moved in the recent years. It is speculated that now it may be broadcasting from not one, but two locations. The first place is suggested to be somewhere between Moscow and St. Petersburg, and the other at Naro-Fominsk near Moscow.
It was first found in the late 1970s and the rumours about it spread quickly across the country. The station operated 24/7 on 4625 kHz, transmitting constant monotonous buzzing. Over the years of it’s existence it has been reported to sometimes change the type of a sound it uses as a constant white noise. But this is not the strangest part about it. Occasionally, the sound stops and a voice starts to read cryptic messages in the form of a sequence of numbers, sometimes seemingly random words and names.
One of the fist weird messages was heard on December 24, 1997. The live voice read: “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”. At that time the messages were believed to be transmitted very rarely. It was considered a big luck to catch one.
The situation changed in 2010. On the 5th of June the radio station stopped it’s operation for about 24 hours before resuming the transmission once again. And soon after, on the 23rd of August, another message was heard by the ones who listened: “UVB-76, UVB-76. 93 882 NAIMINA 74 14 35 74. 9 3 8 8 2 Nikolai, Anna, Ivan, Mikhail, Ivan, Nikolai, Anna. 7 4 1 4 3 5 7 4”. After that, the station’s activity has increased. In 2016 it was reported to transmit 18 different code messages in one day.
Sometimes the messages are less cryptic and you can hear actual sentences. For example once it was heard to transmit some sort of a conversion. One voice said: “I am 143. Not receiving the generator.”, and the other answered: “That stuff comes from hardware room.”
So what exactly are these odd words and numbers? An encrypted information for the government agents? All the messages are sent in AM mode, which means that one needs a very simple receiver to get them, which makes it easy to work with and doesn’t require a highly skilled radio operator. This does give many people the reason to believe that The Buzzer doesn’t transmit any top secret or important information. But some speculate that it is a special way of communication for Russian military forces. The most popular theory is that the station is the source of general announcements for military commissariats. Others say that it sends special coded messages straight to Kremlin and government officials. There is also a theory that links this station to the automatic system of nuclear weapon launch in case of an unexpected enemy attack.
The abundance of theories and the aura of mystery make it a fascinating subject and even now there are people who record every message they catch listening to The Buzzer. Many others have tuned in on it at least once out of sheer curiosity.
Up to this day it is not known what the strange words and numbers mean and the government has never spoken on the subject.