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A numbers station is a type of shortwave radio station characterized by unusual broadcasts, reading out lists of numbers or incomprehensible Morse code messages. The voices are often created by speech synthesis and are transmitted in a wide variety of languages. The voices are usually female, although sometimes men's or children's voices are used. Some voices are synthesized and created by machines, however some stations used to have live readers.
In the 1960s, Time magazine reported that the numbers stations first appeared shortly after World War II and were imitating a format that had been used to send weather data during that war. It is widely assumed that these broadcasts transmit covert messages to spies. This has not been officially acknowledged by any government that may operate a numbers station, and, with a few exceptions, no QSL responses have been received from numbers stations by shortwave listeners who sent reception reports to said stations, which is the expected behavior of a non-clandestine station.