I received my review copy of the 2020 World Radio and TV Handbook (WRTH) shortly after returning from holiday travels last week. I always look forward to receiving this excellent staple radio reference guide–and this is their 74th edition! 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 Luis Cavalho who is their contributor for Portugal, the Azores and Madeira. His path to becoming a WRTH contributor began in his childhood snagging mediumwave DX with an array of portable radios. His love of radio lead him to the world of shortwave radio, WRTH and eventually his own radio website to serve Portuguese listeners.
The second set of articles is always my favorite: WRTH receiver reviews.
This year, WRTH begins with an in-depth review of the excellent ELAD FDM-DUOr tabletop SDR receiver. Next they build on their 2019 review of the SDRplay RSPduo by exploring its unique diversity reception capabilities. They also review the AirSpy HF+ Discovery and were so impressed they awarded it the 2020 Best Value SDR.
This year, WRTH also reviewed two portable radios by Pure: the Pure Elan E3 DAB, DAB+, FM receiver and the Pure Elan IR5 WifI radio.
The final two reviews are of affordable products that offer incredible value for the radio listener: the venerable Tecsun PL-310ET ultralight radio and the Tecsun AN-200 MW Loop Antenna. I enjoyed reading a fresh review of each of these products as I’ve personally used both for nearly a decade.
The first feature article, written by none other than Dave Porter, focuses on the development of HF broadcast antennas. His article serves as an excellent primer on the topic, covering Rhombic Antennas, Corner Quadrant Antennas, Log-Periodic Arrays and ALLISS /Rigid Curtain Arrays. A must-read for those who want to know more about the “business side” of a broadcast signal!
Hans Johnson’s feature, Sea Breeze and Wind from Japan, explores the story behind the broadcasts to Japanese citizens abducted by North Korea. Truly, an inspiring story of a determined and mission-dedicated broadcasters.
The following feature article was written by WRTH contributor and chief editor of the New Zealand DX Times, Stu Forsyth, who outlines the history of broadcasting from New Caledonia in the Pacific.
The next feature article focuses on the “finer points” of mediumwave propagation. I thought this was an informative and and timely article as so many shortwave DXers (including yours truly) spend time on the mediumwave bands especially during winter and times of rough HF propagation. A must-read!
Ashraf Chaaban, president of the Association des Radio Amateurs Tunisiens, takes WRTH readers with him on a visit to the Sidi Manson Transmitter Site in Tunisia in the final feature article. Having an affinity for broadcast sites, I sincerely enjoyed the focus on Sidi Manson which fell silent on shortwave in 2014.
Next, WRTH spotlight the annual Digital Update which summarizes the dynamic state of digital broadcasting. I’ve found this feature to be incredibly informative as we see how digital broadcasting is penetrating both domestic and international services.
The final article–a tradition–is the WRTH HF propagation report/forecast by Ulf-Peter Hoppe. Always an informative read especially as we work our way out of a log-term solar slump.
The 74th 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.