WRTH 2015: A look inside

WRTH2015I received my copy of the 2015 World Radio and TV Handbook (WRTH) directly from the publisher last week. As many SWLing Post readers know, I always look forward to receiving this staple radio reference guide each year. While other reference guides have dropped out of the scene, WRTH has remained strong and the publication’s quality has been wonderfully consistent. In fact, I noticed in the Editorial that this is 69th edition of WRTH: obviously, a publication with longevity.

WRTH’s team of noted DXers from around the world curate frequencies and broadcaster information by region; while I’m not sure how they orchestrate all of this, the end result is truly a symphony of radio information. In addition to broadcaster listings, WRTH’s radio reviews, feature articles, and annual HF report make for excellent reading.

But the WRTH isn’t just a frequency guide: the publication always devotes the first sixty or so pages to articles relating to various aspects of the radio hobby. Following, I offer a quick overview of these.

The first article always features a WRTH contributor (indeed, it’s this very network of contributors that make WRTH and its listings such a success):  this year, Mauno Ritola tells us how he got interested in the hobby and what being a contributor means to him. Many of you will recognize Mauno’s name–he’s quite a prominent Finish SW and MW DXer (and a very nice fellow, as well).

The second set of articles is always my favorite: WRTH receiver reviews.

KX3-Helper-Tecsun-PL-600This year, WRTH reviewed the CommRadio CR-1a (un update of their very positive CR-1 review last year).  They also review the Tecsun PL-600 (above), the SDRplay software defined radio, the MFJ-1046 Preselector, and the Apache ANAN-10. The 2015 WRTH also has a special review section that features two HF noise and loop antennas: the AOR LA400 indoor loop and the Wellbrook ALA 1530S+ Imperium Loop (which wins the WRTH Award for Best Antenna). As I’ve come to expect from this publication, these are all great comprehensive reviews.

The SDRplay

The SDRplay

The following article is “Wooferton: 70 Years on the Air,” written by Dave Porter, one time Senior Transmitter Engineer at the site. In a few pages, you’ll gather the technological history of the site, dating back to a rather bumpy start in WWII.

Following this, noted DXer and WRTH contributor, Max van Arhem, speaks to The Future of DXing. He proposes that with the decline of international broadcasting on the shortwaves, there is still much challenge in the hobby–especially by broadening DXing in the FM and medium wave bands. [Indeed, I’ve certainly seen an increase of questions about medium wave DXing here on the SWLing Post. I hope to cover more of these topics in 2015.]

Lord Howe Island

Lord Howe Island

WRTH often features a snapshot of the radio scene in various parts of the world.  This year, WRTH Contributor, David Foster, writes about his recent trip to remote Lord Howe Island and what he discovered about the radio landscape there. As a keen traveler myself, I found his article fascinating (Lord Howe Island is now on my travel list!).

1500As a bonus, WRTH includes a feature/review of the benchmark Watkins-Johnson 8711A receiver. Not only does the article speak to the mechanics and virtues of the 8711A, but it also places this particular model within the context of the Watkins-Johnson legacy.

The final sections of articles are dedicated to the WRTH Digital Update and HF propagation report/forecast.

As expected, this is another great edition of the World Radio TV Handbook. As I’ve said many times, though I use online frequency databases fairly regularly, there is just no replacement for a good printed frequency guide–especially for all of my off-grid DXing.

For DXers who collect QSL cards, you’ll find that broadcaster contact information in WRTH is often more up-to-date than a broadcaster’s own website.

Not only does WRTH contain more in-depth information on broadcasters and schedules, but it makes for quick reference, and doesn’t require a computer or Internet connection–much like, well, your shortwave radio.

Purchase your copy of WRTH 2015 directly from WRTH’s publishers, or from a distributor like Universal Radio (US)Radio HF (Canada) or Amazon.com. Happy reading–and listening–in 2015!

Shortwave Receivers, Past & Present: a book for every radio enthusiast

ShortwaveReceiversPastAndPresent

Last month, I received an unexpected–and most welcome–package: a copy of Fred Osterman’s Shortwave Receivers Past & Present, now in its fourth edition. My copy was a signed version, sent to those who contributed to the volume. Although my contributions to this impressive and highly comprehensive work are quite modest, I was  grateful nonetheless; author Fred Osterman is not only a good friend, but a radio mentor.  He’s also a supporter of my non-profit, Ears To Our World (ETOW); indeed, without his warm encouragement, I doubt I would have launched that enterprise so successfully.  Fred continues to support ETOW in innumerable ways. And more than anyone else I know, Fred is a guru of all that is shortwave radio. As the president of Universal Radio, he has the good fortune of seeing a number of new/used radios appear on his doorstep every day, many of which are quite rare. In short, Fred Osterman knows his stuff.

But what a pleasure, to be able to recommend whole-heartedly this book, not because my long-time mentor penned it, but because it is…well, good.  Really good.  The first time I opened Shortwave Receivers Past & Present, I couldn’t put it down for nearly an hour.

Why? First of all, to say that this reference is chock-full of information about shortwave receivers is an understatement. It catalogs virtually every model of any significant receiver about which I’ve ever heard; that alone is fascinating.  But there’s more. This volume lists receivers–and even manufacturers–that are entirely new to me.  Clearly, if you’re intrigued by all things shortwave, this book has much to teach…

ShortwaveReceiversPastAndPresent-HQ-180

Each section of Shortwave Receivers Past & Present lists the most relevant information about each receiver model–features, specifications, internal components, accessories, readout type, physical dimensions, review notes, current pricing. (Click to enlarge)

The book is logically laid out by manufacturer and model; each section devoted to a particular model and all of its iterations are noted. As you can see in the example above, in-depth information including the author’s comments are provided, as well as the vitals on each rig–features, specifications, internal components, accessories, readout type, physical dimensions, review notes, current pricing–all beautifully and clearly presented. Clear black-and-white pictures of the radios as well as manufacturer logos are also shown.

While one can, of course, research radios online, rarely can you find all the information you seek so complete; this book has done all the painstaking work for you, and made it infinitely more convenient.

Secondly, Shortwave Receivers is a quality publication.  Back in the 1990s, I had the good fortune to work in university archives for a period of time; since then, I notice things others might overlook–binding, paper, quality of print. This book feels like the archival volume it is, with heavy, glossy pages, a robust binding and sturdy spine. It feels like one of those heavy encyclopedias you might have found in libraries in the past, created to endure many page turns and, indeed, stand the test of time.

As heavy as this book is–and it is very heavy, I admit–I think I might start carrying it to hamfests, especially to those with antique radios (i.e. “boat anchors”) on offer. With this work in tow, not only could I determine, on the spot, if a particular model of radio is a bargain, but also tell at a glance if it’s rare, if the components can be sourced readily, and anything else noteworthy I really ought to know about it. This would give me a leg up when bargaining, not to mention, make the whole radio experience more fun.

Indeed, if you collect or restore vintage shortwave receivers, or dream of doing so, this book is an absolute must. That’s the power of a proper reference book with an author who is as passionate about these receivers as the readers.

In short:  I highly recommend Shortwave Receivers Past and Present. At $49.95 US, it’s pricier than most individual books; however, considering its role as an all-in-one encyclopedic reference, it’s a value that will serve you for decades.

But if you do obtain a copy of Shortwave Receivers, I leave you with a warning: if you’re like me, you may find it just about impossible to put this book down.

Purchase Shortwave Receivers Past and Present, Fourth Edition at Universal Radio.

[Note to international readers: international shipping costs are substantial on this book, no doubt due to its significant weight and dimensional size. Just make sure you note shipping costs prior to purchasing.]

WRTH 2015 to ship in December

WRTH-Cover

Sean Gilbert, WRTH International Editor, just posted the following information on the WRTH Facebook group:

“WRTH 2015 will be published, as usual, in early December. This will be the 69th Annual edition! Even though both International and Domestic SW is declining there is still a lot to be heard out there on those broadcast bands, so don’t consign the SW receiver to the attic (to gather dust) just yet.

There is a mix of over 200 languages and dialects to get stuck in to, plus the Clandestine broadcasters are always around from politically troubled areas.

Some of these are low powered or broadcasting to a different part of the world and can be a tough challenge to pick up.

All the details you need to stand the best chance of catching these, or any of the other broadcasters (be it LW, MW, SW or FM), can be found in WRTH.

You will soon be able to reserve your copy of the 2015 edition and be one of the first to receive it. Check the WRTH website for pre-ordering details. If the 2014 edition is still showing, try again in a few days time.”

Now shipping: Shortwave Receivers Past & Present

SW-Receivers-Past-And-Present

My buddy, Dave (N9EWO), writes:

Yes, it has finally hit the store shelves. Universal Radio received shipment of the (long awaited) updated publication this morning.

“Shortwave Receivers Past & Present, Communications Receivers , 1942-2013” 4th edition

It can be ordered today, see here for more information :

http://www.universal-radio.com/catalog/books/0004.html

Many thanks for sharing, Dave. Shortwave Receivers Past & Present is the reference guide to used shortwave receivers. To me, it’s like a dream book–a place to browse the many radios I wish I could call my own! I plan to order soon.

Book Review: “The Early Shortwave Stations: A Broadcasting History Through 1945”

The-Early-Shortwave-StationsAs a life-long student of the history of technology–radio or otherwise–I appreciate well-written, authoritative works of history on the subject. That is exactly what you’ll find in Jerome S. Berg’s The Early Shortwave Stations: A Broadcasting History Through 1945.  In these days during which shortwave is often viewed only as a legacy technology, it’s particularly fascinating to read about the days during which shortwave was new on the scene, exerting a disruptive influence, and threatening the established technology.

If you’re a shortwave radio enthusiast, you may already know of Jerome (Jerry) Berg; he is, without a doubt, one of the foremost historians of shortwave radio broadcasting and listening. His knowledge, moreover, grew out of his passion for the radio medium, and it shows in his writing. Berg has authored a series of history books on the subject on the subject of shortwave broadcast and listening, which this latest work joins:

I’m not sure how Berg manages to convey his vast store of knowledge in such a readable form, but he does so, and very successfully. As with the other works in this series, The Early Shortwave Stations is chock full of details all entirely relevant, and Berg manages to weave this complex and multifaceted history into a very comprehensive, comprehensible, and rich story that the reader will enjoy.

Moreover, I like the manner in which Berg presents the chapters in The Early Shortwave Stations: the first chapter sets the stage, covering radio broadcasting up to the point of the invention of shortwave; the chapters then coincide with a decade-by-decade account of shortwave broadcasting, e.g., chapter 2 covers the 1920s, chapter 3 the 1930s, and chapter 4 covers 1940-1945 (where Berg’s Broadcasting on the Short Waves, 1945 to Today picks up). Furthermore, each decade and chapter is covered year by year. This obviously makes for easy future reference: should you like to know was happening in shortwave broadcasting in 1931, simply turn to chapter 3 (page 82) to find out.

Berg also draws insightful conclusions in his summary and in chapter 5, which only made me want to buy his next volume, Broadcasting on the Short Waves, 1945 to Today.

I can say that I learned an extraordinary amount of radio history from The Early Shortwave Stations, and have enjoyed every minute of it. I’ve had this book for a little while now, and it soon became my bedside reading.  Indeed, it’s been wonderful capping off each day (or even starting it) with early shortwave history. I find that it puts many of the changes that are happening in the industry currently into perspective.

And I would be negligent if I didn’t mention the numerous illustrations and stunning images in The Early Shortwave Stations: there are enough QSL cards, radio ads, and other print nostalgia within its pages to make for good coffee table reading, too. Although its pages are printed in black and white, the photos and illustrations are sharp and of high quality.

The publisher of Berg’s books, McFarland–a leader in publishing academic and non-fiction works–prints in relatively small quantities, hence the price tag per volume is about $45.00. But I assure you that it’s a bargain for a book which so completely encapsulates early shortwave broadcasting history.  It’s a book that you will likely want to reference, and (if you’re like me) not only read, but read again and again.

The real test? I’ve placed The Early Shortwave Stations on the same shelf with my WRTH.

The Early Shortwave Stations: A Broadcasting History Through 1945 can be purchased directly from the publisher, McFarland, by clicking here or by calling their order line (800-253-2187).  I’m pleased to say that The Early Shortwave Stations is also available via the Amazon Kindle format at $16.12 US, possibly the best purchasing option for those living outside North America.  Enjoy!

Jerry Berg also maintains the excellent website, On The Shortwaves.  This one’s been in our list of links for many years, do check it out if you haven’t already.

WRTH : A14 updates are now available for download

wrth-2014WRTH has just announced that updates to the A season international radio broadcasting schedules are available to download on WRTH’s website.

This update includes the cuts and changes to VOA/RFA/RFE etc.

WWII Archive: “War On the Short Wave”

I stumbled upon this WWII era book published by the Foreign Policy Association on Archive.org.  A fascinating look at the the power and fear of propaganda over the shortwaves.