Galaxy News Radio Numbers Station

Author: Unknown
Year: Unknown

Fallout 3 contains several in-game radio stations. The most diverse and important of them is Galaxy News Radio. By now, most players know you can kill the DJ, Three-Dog. Once you do, he will be replaced by a technician named Margaret. Margaret doesn't have a charismatic personality, and has very little to say. It seems like she doesn't enjoy her new announcing duties for the station. She also never appears in person and, therefore, cannot be killed. Once Three-Dog is dead, though, you're stuck with Margaret. What most players don't know is that under certain circumstances, Galaxy News Radio will become a "numbers station". A numbers station is a radio station that broadcasts an unusual-sounding coded message. Many exist in real life and some hypothesize they are a nuclear retaliation control network.

There's a Wikipedia article you can check for more information on these odd broadcasts if you're interested, as they relate to the real world. Anyway...

No one is really sure which actions are needed to hear the numbers station in Fallout 3, but it's almost certainly confirmed that you must kill Three-Dog. No one has ever reported hearing the numbers station with him alive. It also appears you have to skip over the quest "Galaxy News Radio," where you help boost the signal so the station can broadcast farther than the immediate DC area. This is enough to do with either a speech check or simply using a walkthrough to look up where to go next to advance the main plot. The actual trigger to turn Galaxy News Radio into a numbers station, however, is choosing to destroy Raven Rock. After this, it'll be a numbers station for the rest of the game. The vast majority of players who perform these actions still continue hearing the standard GNR broadcasts, however, so there must be several more requirements the community has yet to determine.

If you're lucky enough to have hit upon the right set of circumstances, you will get a message just after destroying Raven Rock. "Radio signal lost." Another message appears a few seconds later. "Radio signal found." You cannot actually listen to the station just yet, though, because you didn't boost the signal and the area of Raven Rock is just outside the broadcast range. Luckily, it's high in the mountains and right near one of the few places outside of DC where you can get up high enough to catch the signal. So far, there are six confirmed locations where you can hear the numbers station:

  1. Within the immediate DC area, obviously, just like the normal Galaxy News Radio.
  2. At the top of the ferris wheel at Pilgrim's Landing, via the Point Lookout DLC.
  3. On the top of some climbable satcom arrays in the northwestern part of the map.
  4. On the roof of Tenpenny Tower, but this may be within normal broadcast range.
  5. On the highest point of the bridge near Arefu. Again, this might be normal.
  6. On the highest points of the mountains near Raven Rock.

When you tune in, you'll hear a familiar voice: Three-Dog, despite the fact that he is dead. He doesn't seem to be "in character", so it's not technically Three-Dog, but his voice actor, Erik Dellums. He reads a series of numbers in a monotone, depressed voice. He always recites a list of single digits between nine and twelve characters long (i.e. "nine-three-seven-nine-one-seven-two-zero-three-four"). He never uses multi-digit numbers like "eleven" or "forty." These numbers are followed by widely varying lengths of morse code. The song "I Don't Want to Set the World on Fire" follows this. All other music tracks appear to be inactive on the numbers station.

The morse code was the easiest part of the mystery to crack, as the code is widely available and many people know it by heart. We had a list of a great number of messages in English. Some messages sounded completely mundane and even comical. Things such as "Washed the car today, maybe Chinese for dinner," or "Have you watched my YouTube video yet? I uploaded myself kicking bums in the nuts." You might be saying, "but wait, YouTube doesn't exist in the Fallout unverse," and you're right. As far as anyone could tell, all the messages sounded like they were based in our reality, somewhere near present day. Some of the messages, however, are quite sinister. Things such as "The Queen has died today. The world mourns, as on days like these, we are all Brits," or "I can't believe they've actually done it. Not long left. The noise. I can't take the noise anymore. I have a pistol in the attic."

Just recently, a player on the Wikiforums noticed a message that brought light to the meaning of them. He was reading a thread that collected all the known messages (translated from Morse to English) and saw the line, "one-two-zero-five-five-two-eight-two-zero-one-zero. What you talkin' bout? You'll be missed." He realized this referred to the recent death of Gary Coleman and the numbers were the time and date of his death. He immediately scanned through the messages to try and find more examples of this apparent future telling by a game more than a year old. The next messages he read shocked him and pushed him to enlist the aid of others to decipher the codes. "Nine-four-five-four-two-zero-two-zero-one-zero. Accident in the gulf, several dead. Oil spill apparently averted." He realized this was the BP explosion and the erroneous day-one assessment that the well was not leaking.

From this point on, all number sequences will be transcribed as times and dates. All times were given in-game in military format and remain so in this document.

Numerous members of the FalloutWiki message board began looking for the messages to see what else we could learn. We quickly found that most of the dates were after the game had been released, yet there were a few from the past as well. "22:16 April 18, 1865. He's dead and the blame will probably be placed on that actor, Booth. Johnson better not cheat me out of the payment." This shed new doubt on the official version of the Lincoln assassination. As the community quickly started piling up interpretations of the messages, the moderators of the site summarily banned everyone who had posted in the thread. All references to the numbers station were removed from FalloutWiki and filtering software was put in place to prevent reposting of relevant information. A few people, however, are still trading emails today and slowly finishing the translation of the remaining messages and putting dates to the existing ones.

It may be worth noting that the latest date on any of the messages is 1:27 July 6, 2027.