Volunteers say show goes on for Reading Radio Program

A volunteer for Goodwill Easter Seals Miami Valley reads the Dayton Daily News as part of a service for sight-impaired residents or those who cannot turn a page. Brinkman's readings and those of other reading volunteers are broadcast over special radios 24 hours a day. CONTRIBUTED
A volunteer for Goodwill Easter Seals Miami Valley reads the Dayton Daily News as part of a service for sight-impaired residents or those who cannot turn a page. Brinkman's readings and those of other reading volunteers are broadcast over special radios 24 hours a day. CONTRIBUTED

Credit: HANDOUT

Credit: HANDOUT

A local program that exists to serve the visually impaired was forced to let its 140 volunteers go during the pandemic, but has nevertheless managed to “not miss a beat.”

Since 1982, Radio Reading Service through Goodwill Easter Seals Miami Valley has broadcast readings of local and regional newspapers, magazines and books to people with visual disabilities and other physical impairments.

The radio program is a 24/7 closed circuit channel airing 365 days a year, meaning Radio Reading volunteers can read the copyrighted material verbatim to listeners with the FCC’s blessing. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the program has not missed a day, not even an hour of programming.

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Not long after the program was forced to let go of its volunteer readers because they could not come into the studio, Shelly Hulce, supervisor of the radio reading program, rallied and remotely trained 23 volunteers to set up in-home studios where they could record. The Miami Valley Communications Council and Dayton Access Television loaned USB microphones to support the volunteers’ at-home effort.

A volunteer reads the newspaper ads for the WORDS Radio Reading Service, which is sponsored by Goodwill. The program serves Miami Valley residents with visual disabilities. STAFF FILE PHOTO
A volunteer reads the newspaper ads for the WORDS Radio Reading Service, which is sponsored by Goodwill. The program serves Miami Valley residents with visual disabilities. STAFF FILE PHOTO

Credit: Ed Roberts/Dayton Daily news

Credit: Ed Roberts/Dayton Daily news

“It’s an all-out emergency and people depend on it, so I was really grateful that Goodwill Easter Seals was able to allow me to maintain that,” said RRS manager Hulce said. “Got to keep people connected; that’s the whole purpose.”

Thanks to the work of Hulce and the volunteers, the program was able to fill listeners in, PSA style, to what was discussed during the daily 2 p.m. coronavirus press briefings by Gov. Mike DeWine, for example.

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“She (Hulce) downloads and organizes the reads her volunteers do, creates a schedule from what’s available, programs the station, reads herself as needed, finds suitable archival material to fill in gaps, and makes sure that service is always available to those who need it,” said RRS volunteer of eight years, Larry Lain. “I am awed by what she has managed to do.”

In Hulce’s infrequent spare time, she is also the volunteer general manager of WSWO radio, a non-profit, community-based FM radio station in Huber Heights known as “Oldies 97.3″.

“It’s the DJ in me,” Hulce said. “I cannot stop being a DJ regardless.”

Still, Hulce deflects credit for the program’s endurance back to the enthusiasm of her volunteers.

“I’m just deeply impressed by the incredible effort Shelly has put into maintaining this lifeline to our undeserved community of the blind and disabled,” Lain said.

Anyone in need or who knows someone who would benefit from the RRS can learn more at gesmv.org.