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21 March 2023

Book Review: The Worldwide Listening Guide (9th ed.)


UK readers may not be so familiar with this text. The Worldwide Listening Guide was first published back in 1990 and is updated every couple of years. It is a large-format, spiral-bound volume, which is intended to be used next to one’s radios in the shack.

The book comprises of two parts. The first 65 pages are a series of articles, which provide an excellent introduction to radio in the USA. This is, after all, an American publication aimed at a US audience. However, t I felt that there was plenty here to interest global radio enthusiasts. The author is an excellent communicator with sound opinions on the subject of radio.

The book starts off with an account of the main radio platforms in use in the USA: AM/FM, AM/FM/HD (Hybrid-Digital), SW, Sirius XM satellite radio, and Internet radio. The article on AM radio will be of interest to MW DXers in Europe, as it covers stations operating with 50kW, station formats, and the AM band plan in the USA. The SW listener in the USA is not so well served, because there are now only 19 international stations targeting the USA, as opposed to the 58 broadcasting in 2000. 

There is a detailed account of US short wave stations, most of which broadcast religious programming.  These are widely heard but seldom listened to in the UK. There is a good article on US government stations, which once broadcast as VOA but are now broken down into geographical areas such as Radio Farda (Iran) and VOA Studio 7 (Zimbabwe). You will also find a useful chapter on getting started in DXing.

If you are new to short wave, this book provides a very good general introduction to the subject.
But what I really liked about the volume was the critical viewpoint that is missing from many other radio publications. There may be over 15,000 radio stations in the USA, but the author makes the point that “it’s hard to escape an experience that sounds virtually the same from place to place”. 
He likens US radio to fast food restaurants with their predictable quality.  On DRM, he states that there are “serious questions about its market and technical viability.” 

The big difference between the US and the UK is that, in the US, satellite radio has taken off, with over 500 channels and 34 million subscribers. Sirius is a subscription-based service mainly used for car radios.

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The bulk of the book is a 116-page guide, which comprises hour-by-hour schedules of broadcasts from a variety of stations, including the BBC, CBC (Canada), ABC (Australia), China Radio International, Radio New Zealand, and many others.  Because of the paucity of SW broadcasts receivable in the USA, the author lists the web streams of the stations, Sirius channels and, occasionally, SW frequencies.

By John A Figliozzi.

Master Publishing (USA) 2020.

184 pp. spiral bound. 
ISBN 9780945053965. 

This review was featured in the March 2020 issue of Radio User. Purchase your copy here!