Book Review: World Radio TV Handbook 2011

RNW archive

This article is part of the RNW archive. RNW is the former Radio Netherlands Worldwide or Wereldomroep, which was founded as the Dutch international public broadcaster in 1947. In 2011, the Dutch government decided to cut funding and shift RNW from the ministry of Education, Culture and Science to the ministry of Foreign Affairs. More information about RNW Media’s current activities can be found at

The 2011 edition of the World Radio TV Handbook (WRTH) was published in early December 2010. As usual, this edition of WRTH, the 65th, was produced with the help of dozens of contributors, many of whom have been collaborating with the publication for decades.

But we’re pleased to see a scattering of new names amongst those that have become familiar over the years. We note that the price has increased to £24.95 compared to £23.00 for the 2010 edition, though the book is available for a reduced price through some online booksellers.

Apart from its thorough reference sections, for the past 30 years or so the WRTH has also included a section reviewing and testing the latest shortwave receivers. Needless to say, there are far fewer shortwave receivers being produced by the major manufacturers these days, but section editor John Nelson says that “this has been something of a vintage year for new receivers.”

In fact, there is only one new high-end receiver, the AOR AR5001D, which is a combined shortwave receiver and VHF/UHF scanner. There’s also the latest offering from Winradio, the G31DDC Excalibur. The rest of the new offerings are Chinese-made portables, though it’s pointed out that there are no official distributors for these brands in Europe or North America. The balance of the receiver section is made up of classic receivers from the 80s and 90s.

It’s good to see that George Jacobs is still contributing his annual article about high frequency reception conditions expected in the coming year. He is also celebrating his 70th year in the broadcasting business in 2011, and is no doubt looking forward to writing his 50th contribution to WRTH next year.

Schedules in bargraph format
It’s well-known that in the 80s and 90s, WRTH faced serious competition in the shortwave listening market from Passport to World Band Radio (PWBR). Unfortunately, PWBR has ceased to exist, and there have been many requests for WRTH to take over publication of the shortwave schedules in bargraph format that made PWBR so popular. The editors have decided to take up the challenge, but in the form of a CD, which is due to be published in January 2011. It will be available exclusively via the WRTH website. We hope to publish a review of this CD in due course.

Unfortunately, the WRTH also seems to be copying one of the less desirable traits of PWBR, namely to eliminate all mention of international broadcasters that have chosen to discontinue shortwave broadcasts. So in the international broadcasting section, you will find no mention of Radio Sweden or Swissinfo, despite these organisations – both key partners of RNW – remaining active. Another station missing is Radio Moldova International, which continues to produce daily 30-minute programmes in five languages including English.

Radio Prague and Radio Slovakia International have survived the cull this year, but since both will have left shortwave by the end of January, presumably the intention is to delete them next year, though there have been no cuts to programme production and Radio Slovakia International has announced that it will continue to air its programmes on WRN.

Some things that aren't mentioned
RNW is among the broadcasters whose activities are not fully represented in WRTH. We produce material in ten languages, but only the four that we currently broadcast on shortwave are mentioned. The other six, carried on the internet and by partner stations, are not mentioned. The casual reader would have no idea that RNW produces material in French, Arabic, Chinese, Portuguese, Papiamento and Sranan Tongo.

This policy of listing (or not listing) stations according to transmission platform rather than content is fine for a book aimed at hobbyists – as PWBR was- but a significant proportion of WRTH readers are broadcast professionals who need to be informed about the activities of potential partners and competitors. Some of the partnerships with national broadcasters reach much larger audiences than some of the shortwave transmissions that are listed. We hope the editors will review their policy about what should be listed in the international broadcasting section of the book.

Impressive listings
Despite this criticism, the overall accuracy of the WRTH, with its exhaustive listings of domestic broadcasters around the world, remains very high, and we are impressed by how many late changes are now incorporated in the listings. This is supplemented by the availability of updates during the year on the WRTH website, covering both domestic station changes and international broadcast schedules. The publisher has found a good balance between the need for up-to-date information and the continuing need, in some parts of the world, for a printed reference source. As always, we highly recommend the book as excellent value for money, even with the price increase, and a must-have for both the hobby listener and the broadcast professional.

Publisher: Nicholas Hardyman
No of pages: 672
Publisher: WRTH Publications Limited, PO Box 290, Oxford, OX2 7FT, United Kingdom.
Order Fax: +44 (0)1865 514405.
Web (secure online ordering):
E-mail: [email protected]
Cover price: £24.95 including airmail postage worldwide.
ISBN: 978-0-9555481-2-3

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