Here Be Monsters Podcast

The Podcast About the Unknown

HBM082: MI5 MI6 KGB CIA

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Content Note:

- Language

John Barner spent his entire childhood fiddling with his dad’s shortwave radio, picking up transmissions from all over the world. He like the way the sounds crackled, and the voices speaking foreign languages, and the eerie whine of transmissions coming in and out of static.

One night John got a phone call from one of his friends who also had a shortwave radio. “I think I just found spy stuff,” John’s friend said, “come over.”

John and his friends had found a number station, coded transmissions broadcast on unlicensed frequencies. Number stations are believed to be a form of espionage where intelligence agencies broadcast encrypted messages to field operatives. But no government has claimed responsibility for their existence.

Number stations come in many forms. Some are beeps or sustained tones. Some are repeated bars of familiar folk songs. The rest are strings of numbers and words from the phonetic alphabet.

Spectrograms of suspected number stations. 

John, like countless other shortwave enthusiasts, has been captivated by the mystery ever since discovering them as a teenager. He used to try to crack the coded messages, thinking he’d stumbled on the X-Files.

Henry Cooke at the Electromagnetic Field Festival.

Henry Cooke, a technologist and number stations enthusiast, believes that its the indecipherable code that makes number stations so alluring. He’s found internet forums dedicated to tracking number stations broadcasts and even videos of radio sleuths claiming to have found broadcast locations. Henry believes this to be a type of modern folklore; that shortwave enthusiasts trading theories about the origins and meaning behind the number stations are almost like telling ghost stories around the campfire.

Garrett Tiedemann produced this episode. Garrett also produces the podcast The White Whale. Bethany Denton edited this episode with help from Jeff Emtman and Nick White.

Number Station recordings courtesy of The Conet Project. Full archive can be found here.

Music from John Barner’s new album, Shadow Time.  

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HBM081: Kinnikinnick Nick VS The Bear

Content Advisory:
- Language
- Drug use

We've changed the way we denote explicit material.   The above box gives information on an episode's content.  This system better than the previous one, though far from perfect, so please use discretion. 

  

Boy Scout Leadership Camp was a bad fit for Jeff Emtman.  He was a meek 13 year old who didn’t eat meat and talked to animals with his mind.

Regardless, Jeff wound up in the dry forests of Eastern Washington, with a group of other boys and a young scout leader, Nick, whose leadership style was...let’s just call it “eclectic”.

Nick was rarely around, and when he did show up, he’d impart scouting wisdom on building giant towers, making drug paraphernalia, and pooping in the woods.  It was Nick’s lesson on plant identification that earned him the nickname “Kinnikinnick Nick”.  He browbeat the virtues of smoking the dried leaves Bearberry, a plant that grew wild across camp.  He claimed the plant an intoxicant similar to LSD.  Nick also sold weed.

As the camp’s middle management wised to Nick’s dealings, they slowly sowed the seeds of conspiracy into the minds of the Jeff and the other campers.  And the middle management prepared for a late-night sting.

Jeff Emtman produced this episode, along with help from Bethany Denton and Nick White.

Music:  The Black Spot


PSST...

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Psychic Blob and The Radio Race

On a hot summer day in 2014, HBM host Jeff Emtman received a bit of amateur, backyard surgery from a fish biologist.  

It was for the KCRW 24 Hour Radio Race. which is a one day radio contest now in its fifth year.  The race gives contestants 24 hours to record, edit and publish  the most interesting radio story they can find.

The 2017 24 Hour Radio Race is happening on August 19th (Saturday), and you can sign up at kcrw.com/radiorace.

And, this should go without saying, but never give or receive amateur surgery.

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HBM080: The Ocean of Halves [EXPLICIT]

Remi Dun enjoys her job. She's good at it, she makes good money, and she generally enjoys her clients’ company. And although her job rarely gives her sexual pleasure, one client with a curious tongue gave her two surprise orgasms. Another client doesn’t know that she stops making sexy faces as soon as he can’t see her. And another client simply wants companionship—his dad died recently and he’s still emotionally raw. And yet another client wants a rubber band around his balls—the thick blue kind you find on broccoli in the grocery store.

Please Note: This episode is about sex. And there’s swearing.

Remi is a part-time sex worker.  She uses pseudonyms.  She’s not out.  She worries that her friends would see her as destitute and her parents would convince themselves they’d been bad parents.  Still, Remi finds joy and security in her secret second job. She hopes to someday be out and proud, like the ones who have inspired her.  

The contents of Remi’s bag, laid on a bedsheet.  Contents include coconut oil, wet wipes, money, mouthwash, hosiery, lube, tampons, pepper spray / mace, condoms, cell phone charger, deoderant, eye drops, and cosmetics.

The contents of Remi’s bag, laid on a bedsheet.  Contents include coconut oil, wet wipes, money, mouthwash, hosiery, lube, tampons, pepper spray / mace, condoms, cell phone charger, deoderant, eye drops, and cosmetics.

Balancing her “daytime” and “nighttime” selves is part of a bigger plan: to create a financial stability, to be fierce, to practice her feminism, and to develop her own romantic relationships with partners outside of work.  Though, sometimes she feels lost in her identities, swimming in what she calls “the ocean of her halves.”

Remi contacted us to share her secret.  We mailed her a recorder for several months to record diaries and sounds from her life.  If you have a secret you’d like to share, please get in touch.

Bethany Denton and Jeff Emtman produced this episode. Our editor at KCRW is Nick White.  We are a part of the Independent Producer Project of KCRW.  

Music: The Black Spot   |||   Serocell

Episode art by Remi's partner. 


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We’re on Season break!  We’ll be back with Season 6 starting in the fall.  Thank you for your supporting comments on Twitter, your reviews on iTunes / Apple Podcasts, and your likes on Facebook.  We’re already working on Season 6.  It will be even better.