Conspiracy Corner – UVB-76

Every Thursday, about 8:15am, Matthew talks with Zac (with Lucas lurking on the sidelines) on 95bFM’s “Breakfast Show” about conspiracy theories.

When I were but a lad, being a radio ham was still the kind of thing parents engaged in.1 I have memories of my father tuning his CB2 and listening in to what people were talking about on the short wave and whilst I have no memory of what he heard (and what I overheard him listening to) it was a thing.

I bring this up because being a radio ham may not be a thing anymore3, and that’s4 a shame, because there’s an awful lot of weird noise out there, and theories as to why that might be the case.

Yes, verily, we’re talking about broadcasts like UVB-76.

I’ve been aware of broadcasts like UVB-76 ever since I started reading the Fortean Times. Broadcasts like UVB-76 are a topic of some fascination in Forteana, given that they an mysterious noises which often have confusing histories and not entirely satisfactory explanations. UVB-76 is thought to be a Russian military broadcast, and it is mostly a series of tones (about 25 a minute, I believe) but sometimes the broadcast is interspersed with cryptic phrases. What we do know (and there’s little we can be entirely sure about when it comes to UVB-76) is that the tones not automatically generated but are the result of some human being pressed a buzzer every few seconds, minute after minute, hour after hour.

People have tried to triangulate the broadcast and find out where it originates from, all in order to find out why. Theories have been advanced: it’s simply a away for the Russian military to keep in contact with its various bases, it’s a failsafe device should Mother Russia fall to nuclear fire or its a spare channel for the Voice of Russia.

The “Why?” here is important, because no one outside the military really knows the purpose of UVB-76.5 As such, it’s not just the the absence of solid information which has led to a proliferation of theories, but the failure of the Powers-That-Be to address these claims has created conspiracy theories. What is it that they don’t want us to know?

Take, for example, one of the theories. Some have theorised that UVB-76 is a fail-safe device/deadman’s switch come a nuclear war. Should the series of tones cease, then Russia’s nukes will be launched and revenge from the grave will be Russia’s last act in a very short war.

Now, if the fail-safe theory is correct, you can understand why the military might be unwilling to talk about UVB-76: explaining to everyone that, yes, that’s the fail-safe tone would render it useless; in any first strike scenario the enemy would simply make sure the tone keeps being broadcast. At the same time, the military haven’t spread any disinformation about UVB-76, which is kind of what you would expect if it were a fail-safe device. Then again, spreading disinformation about UVB-76 might convince people it really was a fail-safe device, so perhaps maintaining silence is the way to go?

Confused? I am. But you can see how in the absence of an official explanation for UVB-76 how you can start generating plausible explanations, the lack of confirmation of which might lead to claims of conspiracy.

Anyway, UVB-76 is a fascinating phenomenon, and you can read more about it here.


  1. It’s quite possible parents still engage in radio hamming, but I’m out of touch, being neither a parent nor one to read up on what modern parents get up to.
  2. And electrocuting himself in front of me. The smell of burning flesh is hard to forget.
  3. Or it might be, as I admitted above.
  4. Possibly.
  5. If, indeed, UVB-76 is Russian military; it seems likely, but maybe its not?

2 thoughts on “Conspiracy Corner – UVB-76

  1. Hello Matthew i have a conspiracy theory that i would very much enjoy hearing talk about. It is called ‘Polybius’ which was allegedly a video game that was used for mental experimentation and is said to be part of the MK Ultra project. I have only been listening to you for a short time so if you have already covered this i’m sorry for being unaware.

    Kind regards Tom.

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