A wide area paging system is disclosed in which paging messages input to the system in one local area can be broadcast to a receiver in any other local area without necessarily broadcasting the message in all areas. A local area clearinghouse in each area stores resident subscriber data including current location and receiver serial number. This data is used to transfer messages over a data network to the correct clearinghouse. The system uses a TDM data protocol. The data is encoded and transmitted at a very high rate (e.g., 19,000 baud) in short packets (256 bits/13 milliseconds) via stereo FM sidebands. Receivers are assigned to receive sequentially numbered time slots matching a portion of their address. The addresses of intended receivers are included in the data packets. Battery-powered receivers are deactivated between packets and reactivated in accordance with the sequential time slot number scheme to receive an incoming packet. Messages longer than a packet are segmented and transmitted in two or more packets, linked together by data contained in the packets. A watch pager used in the system employs a wristband antenna which electromagnetically couples to the user's body. The watch pager displays time, telephone numbers and icons representing common types of paging messages.