PASSPORT TO WORLDBAND RADIO 2005

AN AUSTRALIAN INFOVIEW

By Bob Padula
Mont Albert, Victoria, Australia

November 2004
ISBN 0-914941-85-2

Publisher and Editor-in-Chief:

Lawrence Magne, Box 300, Penn's Park, PA 18943, USA

Price: US$22.95 (applicable within the USA via Priority Mail)

Web: http://www.passband.com/
E-mail: mktg@passband.com

"Passport to Worldband Radio" (PWBR) describes itself as the "The world's best-selling shortwave guide, trusted by over a million readers since 1984"

The year-2005 edition went on sale in October 2004, offering 592 pages devoted to global shortwave broadcasting, and receiving equipment.

Whilst produced primarily for a North American readership, PWBR is read by a great many people worldwide, and has attracted some worthwhile comments by organisations of influence, such as

  • "Insight Magazine" which said "... Earth's daily newspaper for the ears... programs that simply can't be duplicated on TV".
  • "Harrowsmith" said "A whole new world of listening enjoyment. Passport to Worldband Radio is the perfect primer".
  • "Fast Company" said: "World band radio is a wild non-commercial unregulated frontier. To stay current, check out Passport to World Band Radio."
This Infoview is not intended to give any form of rating about PWBR as compared with other annual publications and products about shortwave radio, all claiming wonderful rights to fame, and it is really up to the user to formulate that sort of judgment prior to (or after!) parting with their money.

COVERAGE

PWBR does not cover mediumwave, longwave, TV, VHF, or utility broadcasting, and it acknowledges that it does NOT include final operative international broadcast schedules for the winter season. In its own words, it says"...to be as useful as possible over the months to come, Passport's schedules consist not just of observed activity, but also that which we have creatively opined will take place during the forthcoming year. This predictive material is based on decades of experience and is original from us. Although inherently not as exact as real-time data, over the years it's been of tangible value to Passport readers..."

I regard PWBR to be is actually several "mini-books", with each being stand-alone treatments of specific areas of interest.

COMPLEAT IDIOT'S GUIDE TO GETTING STARTED
A suite of seven essays:

  • First Tries - Ten Easy Catches A summary of what is regarded as the most easily heard English language international broadcasters, with schedules.
  • Ramping Up - Three World Band "Musts"
  • Setting your World Time Clock
  • Ten of the Best- Top shows for 2005
  • Best Times and Frequencies for 2005 Where to tune, day and night
  • Worldly Words Passport's glossary

CHANNEL BY CHANNEL GUIDE TO SCHEDULES
179 "blue" pages in frequency order from 2310 to 25820 kHz, presented in bar-graphical format, with indications as to actual times monitored, in support of known operational timetables, including a wealth of additional data.

HOW TO CHOOSE A WORLD BAND RADIO
138 pages, with sub-chapters dedicated to in-depth performance evaluations, pricing and availability of portable radios, tabletop radios, portatop receivers, receivers for personal computers, professional receivers, passive antennas, emerbency radios, receivers for PCs,and antennas.

PWBR informs us that there has been a spectacular shift from radios manufactured in North America to China, where there are now better choices and performance among low-cost poprtables, which are being manufactured in vast quantities there. We learn that manufacturers are now starting to export, with the emergence of "pocket portables", similar to mobile phones, with reasonable performance from receivers selling for US$80 or less. PWBR tells us thats some portables are now available for ridiculously low prices of less than US$40!

Two "Emergency Portable Radios" are examined - the Grundig FR-200 (less than US$40) and the Freeplay Summit (US$99.95). Several high-priced tabletop and professional receivers are reviewed. Radios controlled by PCs are looked at, including the latest from WiNRadio. Icom's IC-PCR1000, and the Ten-Tec RX-3210D.

The authors' comments on Digital Radio Mondiale are incisive, suggesting that only time will tell if this new technology will succeed, acknowledging that there are no DRM-capable consumer receivers as yet available, and that limitated experience to date suggests that software updates will need to be obtained as revisions are produced.


ADDRESSES PLUS
80 pages in alphabetical order of country, including extensive contact details of postal and E-mail addresses, QSL policies, personnel, telephone and FAX numbers. My long-time colleague Craig Tyson, in Perth, is the person in charge of Addresses Plus, supported by dedicated monitors worldwide, and I do not envy him his task in assembling and validating such a vast amount of complex information.

WORLDWIDE BROADCASTS IN ENGLISH
22 pages, in alphabetical order of country, with frequencies and target areas.

WHAT'S ON TONIGHT
60 pages, representing an hour by hour guide to English transmissions and programming

VOICES FROM HOME
19 pages arranged by order of country, listing programs from international broadcasters in languages other than English, with frequencies and target zones.

For the various schedules, transmissions which are subject to time-shifts due to daylight time are designated accordingly.

PWBR also gives us a double-page world map showing time zones.


INDO CHINA UPDATE
Major illustrated descriptive stories cover

  • Thailand - Radio Active:
    This describes the history, development and current operations of Thai broadcasting.

  • Laos: Radio Under Fire
    This looks at Laotian broadcasting development, with special emphasis on dissident broadcasting, emphasing broadcasts targeting the country in support of political freedom.


We are also treated to 37 full page and several smaller display advertisements extolling the virtues of communications' radio equipment, manufacturers, distributors and commercial electronics magazines.

Throughout PWBR, we see many photographs of international broadcasters, their personnel, studios, and technical facilities, complimented by candid pictures of many of the book's editorial team and some of its readers.

Other photos link the stories with various exotic places, communities, and ethnic traditions.

SUMMARY
From my perspective as a professional communications engineer, technical journalist, and active monitoring hobbyist, I regard the PWBR as exceptionally good value. If you require mediumwave or utility broadcasting information, or data about actual "current period" schedules for international broadcasters, you must of course look elsewhere.

PWBR is always in front of me, and I consider its production quality, readability, layout, and presentation to be first-class; in particular, the "Blue Pages" provide a convenient and easily-accessible solution to the provision of large amounts of reliable data in a simple, easy-to-use and consistent format.

I met with Larry Magne in New York several years ago, when PWBR was in its formative years. We have corresponded ever since, and I would commend him on his continued dedication in bringing together skilled, talented, and competent people with substantial expertise and knowledge to produce a work of this nature.

As a closing thought, I rarely see any major justifiable public criticism of PWBR, which in my view reinforces its claims of accuracy, consumer acceptance, reliability, and topicality. (BP)


UPDATES
Readers are invited to visit PWBR for useful updating information to the Equipment Review section of the 2005 Edition.


AUSTRALIAN READERS
PWBR is no longer available through Australian commercial booksellers. I can arrange supply for A$50 per copy, which includes postage and packing, sent direct to you from the Pacific-Asia distributor. Please send payment to:
Bob Padula, 404 Mont Albert Road, Mont Albert, Victoria 3127


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