The World Radio TV Handbook (WRTH) is subtitled “The Directory of International Broadcasting”, and that’s precisely what it is. The book is an indispensable resource for shortwave listeners, radio programmers, and anyone seeking information about the world’s major broadcasting stations. Its content is limited to those outlets that program via traditional broadcast; there are no cable or satellite listings. The WRTH has been published continuously since 1946, and is now (2004) in its 58th edition.
There are four main sections of the WRTH. The Reviews section contains excellent reviews of the latest consumer and professional high-frequency receivers. Each review discusses the receiver’s features and functionality, gives the results of performance testing, and provides laboratory measurements of the receiver’s performance under various conditions. Typical prices are given (in US dollars, euros, and yen), and this section also works well as an excellent buying guide.
The Features section provides information on broadcasting conditions, propagation forecasts, and recent political events that affect broadcasting. This section also includes a useful chart of the most suitable frequency bands for listening, keyed to the user’s general location. This information enables a listener to determine the best time and frequency for receiving stations from a particular region.
In the Information section, there is a guide to using the WRTH, a list of standard frequency bands, a world time table and time zone map, and maps of the world.
The final section, the Listings section, is divided into five areas:
National Radio – This section lists, in detail, information about each country’s major broadcasting organizations, whether private or governmental. The entries provide full contact information, including web sites and e-mail addresses if available. Also, for each country, detail is provided on the major mediumwave and FM stations, including their frequencies, hours of operation, and station locations. There’s other information as well, including each country’s receiver ownership statistics, population, and primary language.
Longwave and Mediumwave Listings by Region – Many countries continue to broadcast in the longwave (150 – 300 kilohertz) and mediumwave (500 – 1700 kilohertz) frequencies, and in this section the WRTH gives tabular listings of station frequency, effective power, call sign, and location by region and country.
International Radio – Perhaps the most useful section of the book for shortwave and world-band listeners. This section contains information about each country’s shortwave broadcasts. The listings include broadcast times, frequencies, and the area of the world to which the station is beaming their broadcasts. Also, the supplementary information provided for each country in the National Radio section will be found here as well. For quick reference, tabular listings are provided, by time and frequency, of broadcasts in English, French, German, Spanish, and Portuguese.
Television – This section provides information about each country’s television broadcasting organizations, in a format similar to the National Radio section.
Reference – No manual of this sort would be complete without a reference section. The WRTH’s reference section lists useful information about standard time and frequency stations, transmitter sites, and Internet resources. Should the user wish to join a local shortwave listening club, the major organizations will be found here. Each year, also, there are technical articles; the 2004 edition contains excellent advice on antennas.
Over the years, the World Radio TV Handbook has proven its worth with each edition. It's an easy-to-read manual that is never far from most listening posts.
Gilbert, Sean, editor. The World Radio TV Handbook, 58th edition. New York, New York: Watson-Guptill Publications, 2004.