The unit is known for its experimental and pioneering work in electronic music and music technology, as well as its popular scores for programmes such as Doctor Who and Quatermass and the Pit during the 1950s and 1960s.
The original Radiophonic Workshop was based in the BBC’s Maida Vale Studios in Delaware Road, Maida Vale, London. The Workshop was closed in March 1998, although much of its traditional work had already been outsourced by 1995. Its members included Daphne Oram, Delia Derbyshire, David Cain, John Baker, Paddy Kingsland, Glynis Jones, Maddalena Fagandini and Richard Yeoman-Clark.
John Baker was educated at Royal Academy of Music where he studied piano and composition. In 1960 he joined the BBC as a sound mixer, before transferring, in 1963, to the BBC Radiophonic Workshop where he remained until 1974. He was the most prolific of the early Workshop composers, developing a trademark style, creating music by manipulating tapes of everyday sounds such as blowing across the top of an empty bottle.
A numbers station is a shortwave radio station characterized by broadcasts of formatted numbers, which are believed to be addressed to intelligence officers operating in foreign countries.
Most identified stations use speech synthesis to vocalize numbers, although digital modes such as phase-shift keying and frequency-shift keying, as well as Morse code transmissions, are not uncommon. Most stations have set time schedules, or schedule patterns; however, other stations appear to have no discernible pattern and broadcast at unpredictable times. Stations may or may not have set frequencies in the high frequency band.
The first known use of numbers stations was during World War I, with the numbers transmitted in Morse code. Numbers stations were most prolific during the Cold War era, yet many continue to broadcast and some long-time stations may have been taken over by different operators. The Czech Ministry of the Interior and the Swedish Security Service have both acknowledged the use of numbers stations by Czechoslovakia for espionage, with declassified documents proving the same. Few QSL responses have been received from numbers stations by shortwave listeners who sent reception reports, to stations that identified themselves or to entities the listeners believed responsible for the broadcasts, which is the expected behaviour of a non-clandestine station.
One well-known numbers station was the E03 “Lincolnshire Poacher”, which is thought to have been run by the British Secret Intelligence Service. It was first broadcast from Bletchley Park in the mid-1970s but later was broadcast from RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus. It ceased broadcasting in 2008. Russian numbers stations include UVB-76 “The Buzzer” and “The Pip” with origins in the Soviet era, as well as “Squeaky Wheel” since 2000. In 2001, the United States tried the Cuban Five on the charge of spying for Cuba. The group had received and decoded messages that had been broadcast from the “Atención” number station in Cuba.
Monitoring and chronicling transmissions from numbers stations has become a hobby for shortwave and ham radio enthusiasts dating from the 1970s, though it is reported that Archduke Anton of Austria in his youth during World War I used to listen in to their transmissions, writing them down and passing them on to the Austrian military intelligence.