Oppa Dead Hand Style? PSY Song Plays Over Mysterious Radio Station Believed to be Russian Fail-Safe
© Sputnik / Yakov Andreev/
An enigmatic radio station believed to be a Russian nuclear fail-safe device suddenly began playing South Korean dance music over the weekend. Is it the end of the world, or just some radio pirates who are ready to party?
Observers have noticed something pretty unusual about an already-unusual radio station.
The station presently uses the callsign NZhTI (НЖТИ), but it’s often known by the callsign it used when it was first detected in 1982: UVB-76. Others simply call it “The Buzzer,” for the short, monotonous buzzing tone it makes approximately every other second.
That is, until Saturday evening, when observers recorded the station playing South Korean artist PSY’s 2012 hit single “Gangnam Style.”
UVB-76でカンナムスタイル流れてて笑うwww pic.twitter.com/K4MUWdXgbX— ムッシュ (@mussyu226) January 15, 2022
Then, a few days later, more strange broadcasts were heard on the station. When its frequency was mapped on a computer program, it revealed a hidden message: the grinning “trollface” internet meme. Other images followed, indicating the frequency had likely been hijacked by a so-called pirate station.
Well I didn't expect to see this today.... UVB-76 4625KHz frequency being used by a pirate station pic.twitter.com/E8aYzJ10xt— RedFox0x20 - M7TWS (@RedFox0x20) January 17, 2022
Nobody knows what the station is for, but as with any mystery, speculation abounds.
Some believe it’s just one of a number of so-called “numbers stations” used by espionage agencies around the globe to transmit coded messages to their operatives by broadcasting number codes which they alone have the key to decipher.
A darker theory holds that the buzzer is an “all is well” signal sent by Dead Hand, a dead man’s switch or fail-safe device designed by the Soviet Union to ensure its nuclear weapons were launched automatically in case all national leadership were destroyed by an enemy attack. A combination of light, radioactivity and overpressure associated with a slew of nuclear strikes would automatically trigger such a device, which ex-Soviet officials admitted existed in the 1990s and which is believed to still be an available option to the Russian Federation today.
The signal was traced to a military installation in Povarovo, northwest of Moscow, which a couple of explorers broke into in 2010, finding it seemingly long-abandoned. The source of the transmission has since moved to other more secretive locales.
This isn’t the first time the broadcast has been interrupted by music, though: in 2010, a short excerpt from Russian composer Pyotr Illich Chaikovsky’s ballet “Swan Lake'' was recorded by observers.
It’s unknown if either song was intended as an encoded message. However, such things have happened before: on the morning of April 29, 1975, the American radio station in Saigon, South Vietnam, began playing Irving Berlin’s 1942 song “White Christmas” repeatedly, which was a signal known to American personnel to evacuate the city. The following day, the People’s Army of Vietnam captured the city, which was renamed Ho Chi Minh City.