WRTH Bargraph Frequency Guide
Media Network looks at a new product for the SWL/DXer
Since the demise of Passport to World Band Radio (PWBR), the last edition of which was published in 2009, there has been something missing from the range of materials available to the active shortwave listener and DXer. The unique selling point of PWBR was its ‘blue pages’ showing graphically who was broadcasting on every shortwave frequency. The blue pages were very useful for band scanning, and often saved a lot of time in waiting for a station identification.
But, useful though the blue pages were, the high cost of printing meant that they could not be produced in colour, relying instead on various designs to differentiate between the most common languages. And the rest of the languages were lumped together as ‘other’, so it was sometimes still necessary to check the country-by-country listings to ascertain what the language actually was.
This year, the World Radio TV Handbook (WRTH) has decided to fill the gap in the market caused by the loss of Passport’s blue pages. But because printing is expensive, the publisher took the logical decision to produce the replacement in a PDF file on a Windows-compatible CD, with the immediate advantage of being able to use full colour. The result is the WRTH Bargraph Frequency Guide, the A11 edition of which was published in May 2011. The CD consists 138 pages containing the complete shortwave schedules of both domestic and international broadcasters, plus as a bonus international broadcasts on long- and mediumwave.
The quality of the graphics is much higher than indicated in the above screenshot, which had to be reduced in size to fit the dimensions of this blog. 13 major languages are identified by different colours, and the rest – as with Passport – are grouped together as ‘other’, though the actual language is always mentioned immediately above the bar. We are slightly puzzled by the fact that Chinese and Mandarin are indicated as two separate languages, though both share the same bright yellow colour. Although there are indeed some broadcasts in Chinese dialects other than Mandarin, it’s impossible to distinguish them visually. We think that listing both is more confusing than helpful.
Transmitter sites are indicated using the three-letter codes as published in the WRTH. I initially thought these were not supplied on the CD, but it was pointed out to me that the CD is supplied with a number of addititional files, namely:
- How to Use and Target Area Codes 2011.pdf
- Abbreviations 2011.pdf
- Geographical Area Codes 2011.pdf
- International TX sites A11.pdf
- Read Me 2011.txt
We’d like to see an improvement to the introductory page, which at the moment looks rather amateurish, with a much-too-large blue title block overlaying a low-res screenshot of a page from the finished product. The product itself is of much higher quality and deserves a better first impression. The publisher tells me he is working on an improvement. The CD is certainly a useful tool for the active SWL/DXer and we can recommend it.
There’s a related technical issue worthy of mention. If you don’t already have Adobe Acrobat installed, we strongly recommend that you install one of the numerous PDF viewers, some of them freeware, that take far less memory than the Adobe product. Take a look at this page for some suggestions.
The WRTH Bargraph Frequency Guide is available from the website wrth.com and costs £9.99. If you don’t want to order online you can print out the order form, fill it in and mail it to: WRTH Publications Limited, PO Box 290, Oxford, OX2 7FT, United Kingdom. Enclose credit or debit card details or a Sterling cheque/International Money Order (drawn on a UK bank)/International Postal Giro payable to WRTH Publications Ltd for the total above. Or order by fax to: +44 (0)1865 514405. Remember to fill in your credit card details.