Numbers station OLX is silent, and has been silent for a long time.

It was known to be Czech, or Czechoslovakian, to be precise – the language was Czech, and it used a ITU callsign: assigned, somewhat hilariously, to Czech News Agency. It used to broadcast regularly, at every hour, the robotic voice repeating its groups with the same precise pronounciation. If the signal propagation was good, the station could be heard all over the Europe, carrying its coded messages to agents on the other side of the Iron Curtain.
After 1989 revolution messages became infrequent and irregular, then regained some order – only to cease in 1997, during the great flood.

Why during the flood?

Why hasn’t it been fixed or replaced? If it was no longer needed, why didn’t they simply take it off the air?

Could it have been forgotten? Could this transmitter simply disappear from institutional memory, its purpose lost in the turmoil inherent in regime change? If this is possible, what else could vanish with it? Regional offices? Whole departments? Spy networks? Could there be orphaned agents, old men in what once was West Germany, dialling their radios to shortwave frequency now alive only with static and random crackle of the ionosphere? Or maybe there is nobody there, never was, the robot voice repeating its “No message” broadcast over and over again, the reels of tape recorder slowly rotating in a long-locked cellar full of dust and forgotten secrets.

Until rising water shorted out the batteries.

Posted in EN

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