Category Archives: DRM

Radio Nacional da Amazonia prepares for DRM broadcasts

Photo: DRM Consortium

Many thanks to a number of SWLing Post contributors who share the following news from the DRM Consortium:

Brazil prepares for domestic DRM transmissions to Amazonia (DRM Consortium)

DRM broadcasts from a locally produced transmitter will be originated for the first time in Latin America, as Brazil will officially start digital (DRM) shortwave transmissions through The National Radio of the Amazon towards the vast area of the northern Amazon region, mainly inhabited by indigenous populations.

In another first, Empresa Brasil de Comunicação (EBC), the public broadcaster, placed the order for the high-powered transmitter with a local manufacturer, the BT Transmitters company from Porto Alegre. BT Transmitters signed a contract with EBC for the production of a 100 kW transmitter in the DRM digital system.

The equipment will be used on the 11,780 kHz frequency in the 25-meter band, which is one of the shortwave channels used by Rádio Nacional da Amazônia since 1977.

The purchase for R$3.5 million is the result of an auction held in August 2020, in which other equipment for EBC’s public radio broadcasts is planned to be acquired.

At the end of last year, Nacional da Amazônia carried out tests with the DRM technology using a transmitter of 2.5 kW with the digital power of just 1 kW.  EBC demonstrated then, for the first time in the country, the use of multi-programming and the transmission of interactive multimedia applications.

Despite this low power of the transmitter supplied by BT Transmitters, recordings were reported from different regions of the country and even from North America and Europe (Radiolab – Começam transmissões de rádio digital DRM em onda curta no Brasil).

The results of the tests were published last month by the DRM Consortium.

The DRM (Digital Radio Mondiale) standard provides power savings of up to 80% in electricity consumption, a sound quality equal or superior to FM, as well as allowing images and other data to be sent to the radio receiver.

DRM is a worldwide consortium, and more information can be found at www.drm.org.

This story was also noted in Radio World:

DRM Shortwave Will Serve Amazon Region (Radio World)

National Radio of the Amazon orders a 100 kW BT transmitter

National Radio of the Amazon plans to use DRM shortwave transmissions to serve indigenous populations in the northern Amazon region, according to the Digital Radio Mondiale Consortium.

Public broadcaster Empresa Brasil de Comunicação (EBC) ordered a 100 kW BT transmitter to broadcast in DRM at 11,780 kHz in the 25-meter band, a shortwave channel used by Rádio Nacional da Amazônia.

The purchase, valued at about $650,000 USD, was the result of an auction held a year ago for purchase of equipment for EBC public radio broadcasts.

This is believed to be the first domestic DRM installation on a locally produced transmitter in Latin America.

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Short recording of BBC World Service in DRM

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Mangosman, who shares the following off-air recording via the KiwiSDR network and notes:

Attached is a diagram showing the path and the receiver data, the end of a one hour daily broadcast is in the other file. They switched the transmitter back to AM before the end of the station promo.

I listened to the same broadcast on the previous day. It did not have any disturbances over that time. The quality was identical.

That’s a great decode of the BBC in DRM. Thanks for sharing! DRM is such an amazing mode when you get consistent and stable reception. Here in North America, that can be very difficult to achieve, but it’s fascinating when it does happen! Thanks for sharing!

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STARWAVES DRM SoftRadio App for Android now released

Photo by Adrien on Unsplash

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dan Srebnick, who shares the following press release from Starwaves:

STARWAVES DRM SoftRadio App for Android now available!

Good news for all SDR friends: STARWAVES DRM SoftRadio App for Android is now available for public use! Listen to DRM – Digital Radio Mondiale live radio broadcasts on your Android smartphone or tablet by simply connecting an SDR RF dongle via USB.

The app is available on Google Play Store and Amazon App Store.

The STARWAVES DRM SoftRadio allows you to conveniently enjoy any DRM live radio broadcast on your Android smartphone or tablet. No Internet connection required. All you need is an SDR RF dongle or receiver connected to your device via USB.

DRM or Digital Radio Mondiale is the global digital radio standard used for all digital international transmissions as well as for national and local services in many countries. To learn more about DRM and its features visit https://www.drm.org.

Please see our DRM SoftRadio Knowledge Base for further details!

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Radio Waves: Josh reviews the Belka-DX, Sinclair Fraunhofer DRM Partnership, Clear Net Frequencies Requested, and

Radio Waves:  Stories Making Waves in the World of Radio

Because I keep my ear to the waves, as well as receive many tips from others who do the same, I find myself privy to radio-related stories that might interest SWLing Post readers.  To that end: Welcome to the SWLing Post’s Radio Waves, a collection of links to interesting stories making waves in the world of radio. Enjoy!

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors TomL, Alan, Bruce Atchison, and Troy Riedel for the following tips:


Belka DX Shortwave Receiver – Closest Thing To A Spy Radio? (HRCC via YouTube)

Sinclair Launches ATSC 3.0 Test Site; Partners With Fraunhofer On Mondiale Service Integration (ATSC)

HUNT VALLEY, Md.—Mark Aitken, senior vice president of advanced technology at the Sinclair Broadcast Group, flipped the switch on a 100w transmitter to begin broadcasting ATSC 3.0 from atop the station group’s corporate headquarters here with the express purpose of testing reception on small devices like its MarkONE 3.0-enabled smartphone and, in particular, integration of Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) in its broadcast app.

The launch comes on the same day Sinclair and German technology research institute Fraunhofer IIS jointly announced they are working together to bring audio services using the DRM standard to ATSC 3.0. (Earlier this year, Sinclair rolled out 3.0 simulcasts of its Seattle radio stations with its DRM-based broadcast app.)

“We are actually building the DRM radio service into the [3.0] broadcast app environment,” says Aitken. “That means those [DRM] services will be carried in band and transported just like HEVC [high efficiency video coding] and [Dolby] AC-4.”[]

Clear Frequencies Requested for Net Providing 24/7 Coverage of St Vincent Volcanic Eruption (RAC Newsletter)

For immediate release:
April 20, 2021 –

The Caribbean Emergency and Weather Net (CEWN) has been providing round-the-clock coverage during the La Soufriere volcanic eruption on the island of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

Several neighbouring islands are also being affected by the disaster.

When responding to disasters and emergencies such as this, the CEWN utilizes 3.815 MHz LSB and 7.188 MHz LSB. CEWN is requesting that Radio Amateurs not involved in the volcano response to keep these frequencies clear.

Geomagnetic storm warning (Spaceweather.com via Southgate ARC)

A CME is heading for Earth and it could spark a geomagnetic storm when it arrives on April 25th.

NOAA forecasters say moderately strong G2-class storms are possible, which means auroras could dip into northern-tier US states from Maine to Washington.

Full story and updates @ Spaceweather.com.

 


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Radio Waves: Dirty Transmitters, World Amateur Radio Day, Electronic Echoes, DRM via Android, and 10 More BBC AM Services Close

Radio Waves:  Stories Making Waves in the World of Radio

Because I keep my ear to the waves, as well as receive many tips from others who do the same, I find myself privy to radio-related stories that might interest SWLing Post readers.  To that end: Welcome to the SWLing Post’s Radio Waves, a collection of links to interesting stories making waves in the world of radio. Enjoy!

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors Grayhat, David Iurescia, Bill Hemphill, Harald Kuhl, and Troy Riedel for the following tips:


Transmitter Noise / Dirty Transmitters: Receiver Performance has hit a Brick Wall (DJ0IP)

For the past 15 years, Ham Radio’s Mega-Focus on Receiver Dynamic Range (DR3) has resulted in the community ignoring other factors that are just as important to receiver performance.

Even though our receivers have made a quantum leap in performance in important parameters such as DR3, RMDR, etc., On-The-Air Reception has gotten worse.

Unless used at a multi-transmitter site, today’s typical user won’t detect a difference in the receiver performance between a radio with 90 dB DR3 and a radio with 110 dB DR3. That’s because Receiver Performance is not the limiting factor.[]

World Amateur Radio Day 18 April 2021 (IARU REGION 2 Newsletter)

World Amateur Radio Day (WARD) is an opportunity to celebrate the many accomplishments and contributions of amateur radio to the communications technology revolution which has dramatically impacted the daily life of virtually everyone on the planet. Many of these technologies and techniques started as experiments, not by governments or commercial enterprises, but by radio amateurs.

WARD 2021 commemorates the 96th anniversary of the International Amateur Radio Union’s founding in 1925, where amateurs first met in Paris to band together to give voice to these early experimenters to national governments and international bodies representing all radio amateurs.

The almost universal adoption of mobile technology created ever increasing demand on a finite resource, the radio spectrum. Access to useable spectrum is the fundamental base on which amateur radio was built and continues to be developed. As a result, amateur radio is very different than decades ago. Embracing new technologies and techniques has greatly expanded what amateur radio is and opened further possibilities as to what it could be. The proliferation of technology also means that the ongoing experimentation and innovation in electronics, radio frequency technique and radio wave propagation is no longer only the traditional realm of the radio amateur but also includes university research satellites, the “maker” community, and other non-commercial experimenters: citizen scientists.

Looking ahead, this ongoing evolution of the telecommunications ecosystem makes it clear that the national Member Societies of the IARU and IARU itself must also continuously change and adapt. A century later, the future possibilities are as exciting as ever.

Celebrate World Amateur Radio Day. The pandemic and more localized natural disasters continue to demonstrate the value of ordinary citizens as technically skilled contributors to society. The original social network is robust. Expose someone new to amateur radio (properly distanced), get on the air and contact the many special event stations, on HF, VHF, or satellite.

Electronic Echoes (KPC Radio)

From SWLing Post contributor Bill Hemphill:

“I have run across an interesting set of audio interviews that were done by Aaron Castillo of kpcradio.com. This is an internet based radio station of Pierce College in California.

Aaron did a series of audio interviews in the fall of 2020 called Electronic Echoes. See following link:

https://kpcradio.com/author/aaron-castillo/

 

STARWAVES DRM SoftRadio App upgrades mobile devices to receive undistorted DRM Digital Radio anytime and anywhere (Fraunhofer Press Release)

Horgen/Switzerland, Erlangen/Germany: Starwaves, a developer and distributor of receiver technologies centered around the digital broadcast standard DRM (Digital Radio Mondiale), joined forces with Fraunhofer IIS, a leading supplier in the field of broadcast encoder and receiver components for DRM, to develop an Android app that allows DRM reception on mobile devices. Starwaves enables Android phones and tablets to receive entertainment, text information, and emergency warnings via DRM Digital Radio – without costly data plans, independent from cell phone network availability, and based on innovative Fraunhofer technology.

Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) is the digital successor standard to the classic AM and FM radio services. In many parts of the world, terrestrial digital radio broadcasts are already an important and trusted source of entertainment and information. They do not require monthly payments and work reliably even if there are no cell networks available. Radio reception with mobile phones and tablets combines the mobility and flexibility of these devices with the benefits of free-to-air radio services.

Starwaves has been active in the field of DRM radio receivers for many years. The “STARWAVES DRM SoftRadio” app was developed in close cooperation with Fraunhofer IIS. Its goal is to ensure easy access to innovative DRM radio services for everybody. It is available from now in the Google and Amazon Android app stores. The app provides listeners with access to all the essential features of the DRM digital radio standard, across all transmission bands from DRM on long wave to FM band and VHF band-III.

Fraunhofer IIS is a significant co-developer of core digital radio technologies. This includes the innovative xHE-AAC audio codec, which provides high audio quality at lowest data rates, as well as the Journaline application, which gives radio listeners access to news, the latest sports updates, local weather forecasts, travel tips, and even radio schooling services without requiring internet access.

The app also supports many more DRM features such as the Emergency Warning Functionality (EWF), image slideshows, station logos, and service descriptions including Unicode support for worldwide application. To provide all these services, the app only requires a standard off-the-shelf SDR RF dongle that is attached to the device’s USB port.

“We are proud to launch the world’s first low-cost full-featured DRM digital radio reception solution for mobile devices, developed in close partnership with Fraunhofer IIS. Now everybody can easily upgrade their existing mobile phone and tablet to enjoy DRM digital radio with its undistorted audio quality and advanced features including Journaline,” says Johannes von Weyssenhoff, founder of Starwaves.

I order to meet the needs of everyday radio listeners and to clearly separate this app from the engineering-driven approaches of the past, usability was a primary development objective from day one. With only a few clicks on the clutter-free interface, users select their preferred radio service, navigate through the clearly structured menus, and gain instant access to the various advanced information services that DRM provides. By supporting multiple user interface languages, the app ensures optimized usability in many countries around the globe.

About STARWAVES

Found in 2005 in Bad Münder, Lower Saxony/Germany, Starwaves had set its focus on the development and distribution of receiver technologies around the digital broadcast standard DRM (Digital Radio Mondiale). As far back as 2003 after both organizations, the DRM Consortium and the WorldDAB Forum, had expressed their appeal to the industry at IFA in Berlin to develop and produce multi-standard receivers compatible with both their systems, Starwaves developed its model ”STARWAVES Prelude”, the world’s first DRM-DAB receiver and presented it at CeBIT 2004 in Hanover. In 2006 Starwaves was again in the headlines with the ”Carbox”: It was the world’s first automotive DRM-DAB receiver which then was produced in volumes and enjoyed by lots of listeners worldwide – including many DXers thanks to its excellent analogue Short-Wave capabilities as well.

Since 2008 Starwaves moved its focus to Africa where it developed and tested an innovative approach of broadcasting community television in the L-Band with DVB-T2 in cooperation with ICASA – another world premiere. After DRM was chosen the national standard in India in 2012 Starwaves relocated its headquarters to Switzerland and started developing a new generation of DRM receivers.

Starwaves also initiated Africa’s first DRM trial in the FM Band in Johannesburg/South Africa and completed it with local and international partners. The trial report contains valuable discoveries regarding the feasibility of DRM for community radio which guided the South African government to adopt DRM in the FM Band for community radio and secured the report becoming an internationally recognized piece of standard literature, recently endorsed by ITU. Today, Starwaves offers various DRM receivers and broadcast solutions for consumers and the professional broadcasting industry.

For more information, contact sales@starwaves.com or visit www.starwaves.com/de/starwaves-drm-softradio

Ten more stations turn off Medium Wave services (Radio Today)

Ten more local BBC radio stations are turning off their Medium Wave transmitters for good this year.

BBC Essex, BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, BBC Radio Devon, BBC Radio Leeds, BBC Radio Sheffield, BBC Hereford & Worcester, BBC Radio Stoke, BBC Radio Lancashire, BBC Radio Ulster and BBC Radio Foyle will be FM and digital only in May and June 2021.

In addition, BBC Radio Wales and BBC Radio Gloucestershire will reduce AM coverage.

The BBC’s intention to close MW transmitters was first announced ten years ago in 2011.[]


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Radio Waves: Friedrichshafen Cancelled, Coast Guard Seeks Rare Diode, Kindred Spirits in DXing, and DRM Pitch for India’s FM Band

Radio Waves:  Stories Making Waves in the World of Radio

Because I keep my ear to the waves, as well as receive many tips from others who do the same, I find myself privy to radio-related stories that might interest SWLing Post readers.  To that end: Welcome to the SWLing Post’s Radio Waves, a collection of links to interesting stories making waves in the world of radio. Enjoy!

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors Dennis Dura, Ron Chester, and Mangosman for the following tips:


Ham Radio Verbindung 2021 kommt nicht zustande/Ham Radio convention 2021 has been cancelled (Messe Friedrichshafen)

[Note that the following is a Google translation of the original piece in German]

Ham Radio cannot take place this year either – other trade fair events remain on course

Due to the current corona developments, Messe Friedrichshafen cannot hold the international amateur radio exhibition Ham Radio in the planned period from June 25 to 27, 2021. Instead, the industry meeting will take place from June 24 to 26, 2022.

“The decision was not an easy one for us, but a trade fair like Ham Radio lives from its high level of internationality. Due to the current uncertainties in the travel sector, implementation is currently not feasible, ”explains Klaus Wellmann, Managing Director of Messe Friedrichshafen. All other trade fair events in the second quarter of 2021 and beyond should take place as planned at the present time. “A large percentage of our customers from these industries are still on board at the 2021 events. Together we hope that the immunization of society continues to gain momentum and that we can carry out the events with appropriate protection and hygiene concepts. “

Further information at: www.messe-friedrichshafen.de and http://www.hamradio-friedrichshafen.de/.

Rare Diode Threatens Coast Guard’s Arctic Ambitions (Hackaday)

The United States Coast Guard heavy icebreaker Polar Star is literally a one-of-a-kind ship. After its sister Polar Sea was deactivated in 2010 it became the most powerful icebreaker in the fleet, and one of only two US icebreakers capable of operating in the treacherous polar regions. The vessel is critical to protecting America’s scientific and economic interests in the Arctic, but according to a recent article in Business Insider, the ship’s age and scarcity of spare parts is making an already difficult mission even harder.

In the article, Captain William Woityra specifically mentions that the ship’s diesel-electric propulsion system is running on borrowed time as the diodes used in its AC/DC rectifier are no longer manufactured. With none remaining in the Coast Guard’s inventory, the crew has had to turn to eBay to source as many spares as possible. But once their hoard runs out, Captain Woityra fears his ship will be dead in the water[]

A toast to the fools standing high on broadcasting’s hill (Doc Searls Weblog)

In Winter, the cap of dark on half the Earth is cocked to the north. So, as the planet spins, places farther north get more night in the winter. In McGrath, Alaska, at close to sixty-three degrees north, most of the day is dark. This would be discouraging to most people, but to Paul B. Walker it’s a blessing. Because Paul is a DXer.

In the radio world, DX stands for for distance, and DXing is listening to distant radio stations. Thanks to that darkness, Paul listens to AM stations of all sizes, from Turkey to Tennessee, Thailand to Norway. And last night, New Zealand. Specifically, NewsTalk ZB‘s main AM signal at 1035 on the AM (what used to be the) dial. According to distancecalculator.net, the signal traveled 11886.34 km, or 7385.83 miles, across the face of the earth. In fact it flew much farther, since the signal needed to bounce up and down off the E layer of the ionosphere and the surface of the ocean multiple times between Wellington and McGrath. While that distance is no big deal on shortwave (which bounces off a higher layer) and no deal at all on the Internet (where we are all zero distance apart), for a DXer that’s like hauling in a fish the size of a boat.

In this sense alone, Paul and I are kindred souls. As a boy and a young man, I was a devout DXer too. I logged thousands of AM and FM stations, from my homes in New Jersey and North Carolina. (Here is a collection of QSL cards I got from stations to which I reported reception, in 1963, when I was a sophomore in high school.) More importantly, learning about all these distant stations sparked my interest in geography, electronics, geology, weather, astronomy, history and other adjacent fields. By the time I was a teen, I could draw all the states of the country, freehand, and name their capitals too. And that was on top of knowing on sight the likely purpose of every broadcast tower and antenna I saw.[]

DRM Makes Its Pitch for India’s FM Band (Radio World)

In India, where regulators have been working toward recommending a standard to digitize the FM band, Digital Radio Mondiale is presenting its case.

DRM has been conducting trials and demos since late February, when a digital radio transmission with three audio services and Journaline text information went live in Delhi alongside existing analog FM transmissions.

It said it is also showing the possibility of extending a shared transmitter infrastructure by broadcasting up to six individual DRM signals or blocks, carrying up to 18 audio services plus 6 multimedia services, being broadcast from one FM transmitter and antenna. It said the number of individual DRM signals is only limited by the bandwidth of the transmitter. Each signal can have its own power level, and gaps in the spectrum are possible, as are individual SFN networks per DRM signal.

“The transmission is part of an extensive trial and demonstration of DRM conducted by Prasar Bharati and its radio arm, All India Radio (AIR), with the help of the DRM Consortium and its local and international members,” DRM stated in a press release. “The test was officially launched on Feb. 24 and 25 at the headquarters of All India Radio in New Delhi.”

The test was requested by regulator TRAI and the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting.

DRM officials said a presentation to AIR’s committee showed DRM in the FM band on various car radios including line-fit, aftermarket, standalone receivers, mobile phones and tablets. A head unit from Mobis, upgraded for FM via firmware, was installed in a Hyundai Verna. DRM said, “The reception was found to be excellent for over 15 km radius with just 100 W of DRM power in digital,” including 5.1 surround sound test broadcasts on DRM.[]

You might also check out the article HD Radio and Digital FM in India at Radio World.


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WRTH 2021: A look inside the 75th Anniversary Edition!

Last week, I received a long-awaited Christmas gift: the 2021 World Radio TV Handbook. Normally, I’d receive this annual guide in the December time frame, but because of delays in international postal services due to the Covid-19 pandemic, I took delivery a few weeks late.  

I always look forward to receiving this excellent staple radio reference guide–and this is their 75th edition! As I say each year, the WRTH has never disappointed, so my expectations are always quite high.

Once again, the WRTH lived up to my expectations.

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:  this year, they feature Stig Hartvig Nielson. His path to becoming a WRTH contributor began in his childhood when he said he was “tall enough to reach the radio tuning knob and tune away from dull Radio Denmark.”  His love of radio lead him down the path of becoming a broadcaster. Many of us know him via his station, Radio208.

WRTH Reviews

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

This year, WRTH begins with an in-depth review of the AOR AR5700D wideband communications receiver–a radio I’d likely never touch in real-life, so it’s wonderful to take such a deep dive.  Next up is a review of the Bonito NTi MegaDipol MD300DX antenna which gets high marks for high gain, low noise, and good dynamic range. The following in-depth review is of the benchmark Icom IC-7610 general coverage transceiver. This was the first time I’ve read a review of this SDR transceiver with radio listeners in mind. WRTH then review the Bonito NTi CCMC30 common mode noise filter–a tool that can help radio enthusiasts mitigate RFI.

A review of the SDRplay RSPdx follows and the review speaks to the performance improvements included with the new HDR mode. The next review is actually one I authored of the Tecsun PL-990 portable radio–it’s always an honor to be in the pages of the WRTH!

The final review is of the Valent F(x) KiwiSDR; a little web-connected SDR receiver that has certainly transformed the nature and accessibility of remote listening.

WRTH Features

The first feature article, written by none other than Dave Porter, focuses on the development of HF broadcast transmitters. This article adds to the one he authored last year which focused on broadcast antennas. Dave is amazing because he has such an extensive history in the world of HF broadcasting and his experience and expertise are obvious in all of his writing. This is a must-read for those who want to know more about the “business side” of an international broadcast signal!

Manfred Rippich’s feature, Radio in Bhutan, explores the story of broadcasting in one of the most mountainous countries in the world where communities–including the capitol–are not easily accessible. Radio broadcasting plays an important role in this amazing country.

The following feature, Coastwatchers & the AWA Teleradio 3BZ written by Dr Martin Hadlow, takes a look at the importance of portable radios in the Pacific War. An absolutely fascinating piece for those of us who love radio history.

The final feature was written by Alan Pennington and explores the dynamic Scandinavian Weekend Radio.  It’s hard to believe SWR has celebrated 20 years on the air as of 2020. Pennington’s article explores the grassroots energy of this unique broadcaster!

The final article–a tradition–is the WRTH  HF propagation report/forecast by Ulf-Peter Hoppe. Always an informative read especially as we continue to work our way out of a long-term solar slump.

The 75th is another fantastic edition of the World Radio TV Handbook. As I say every year, I’ve never been disappointed with WRTH. Their publishing standards are such that the quality of their reviews, their writing, and (most importantly) their broadcast listings are simply unparalleled.

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. When readers contact me asking for QSL information from an obscure broadcaster, the first place I search is the current WRTH. Remember: their information is based on volunteer contributors who specialize in specific regions of the world–the most knowledgeable regional DXers keep this publication accurate.

Purchase your copy of WRTH 2020 directly from WRTH’s publishers, or from a distributor like Universal Radio (US) , Amazon.com (US),  or the Book Depository (international).

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