Jennifer Nigro. Photo by KU Marketing Communications
The author is the board secretary of the International Association of Audio Information Services (IAAIS) and coordinator of volunteers for the Audio-Reader Network in Lawrence, Kan.IAAIS commentaries are featured regularly at radioworld.com.
There’s something about radio that connects people with one another. Some love its immediacy. Others, like poet Billy Collins, appreciate the lack of visual distraction listeners experience while processing the words being spoken. And we who work for audio information services love its usefulness for delivering recordings of printed materials to a visually-impaired audience with relative ease.
As the manager of nearly 400 volunteer readers, I see connections form every day between listeners and volunteers, despite the lack of contact between the two groups. These volunteers have a lot of faith. There are no Nielsen ratings, no measure of their success in the recording studio, aside from the occasional phone call or email from a listener and the daily thank you from the staff. The one question I get asked most is, “Have you heard any feedback about my program from the listeners?” More often than not, the answer is no. Not because people aren’t listening, but because human nature is to pick up the phone to complain when something goes wrong, not congratulate someone on a job well done.
Still, we’ve touched lives in ways we never could have imagined. In July, a new listener, Anne, emailed to tell us that thanks to our readings of Dairy Goat Journal, she was able to share information with a friend that saved a goat’s life. “I never would have known to tell her about it if you guys hadn’t read that issue of Dairy Goat Journal for me!” she wrote. “Thank you! What a wonderful resource this has already proven to be!”
A young father, Travis, who lost his sight in a hunting accident, asked us to read Car Craftmagazine for him so he could stay connected with his young sons by working on cars, something they had done together before his accident. Just a few weeks ago he called because his seven-year-old won an award for building a car at an area car show; Travis also won several awards, including the trophy for best overall car in the show! He was thankful that our service had allowed him to bond with his son as well as maintain a lifelong hobby.
Mary, who lost her sight in a water skiing accident, asked us to read the University of Kansas’ campus newspaper so she could stay connected with the students she works with through her job at the student recreation center. “You don’t really understand until you lose something how you have to learn to do things differently. Audio-Reader has allowed me to be reconnected back to all those social media, communication, technology things that go on in the world today,” she told us at a recent event.
Others have told us how thrilled they are to receive their local newspapers. “Listening to your broadcast has allowed me to keep current on news, enjoy a good book, listen to old time radio, the list just goes on and on. I just can’t thank you enough,” said one listener.
The stories are endless. In this season of giving thanks, we in the audio information industry are thankful to have the opportunity to provide such a needed service, and grateful to have the opportunity to share our many stories with the Radio World readers.