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Letters: Keep Reading Services on the Air

RDS1 isn’t yet functional in all car receivers, is it?

The following are among recent letters to the editor.


As part of a nearly 40-year career in non-commercial broadcasting, I spent three-plus enjoyable years operating the Evergreen Radio Reading Service at the Washington Talking Book & Braille Library in Seattle. Sadly, that service, founded in 1973 and airing on a sub-carrier of public radio station KUOW, is now one of many that have gone silent in recent years.

Caption: Volunteer reader Gregg Porter, right, and WTBBL’s John Pai hold up the autobiography of local musician and Guns N’ Roses bassist Duff McKagan.
Credit: David Junius/WTBBL At the end of 2011, the service lost its funding source, as the State of Washington (which operates WTBBL as part of the secretary of state’s office) dramatically cut funding to library services. My co-operator John Pai and I figured out a way to keep the service on-air with no staff and minimal cost, utilizing a handful of our volunteers along with automated recordings from several other IAAIS members; we went from about 85 percent local programming to about 15 percent. Further cutbacks silenced the operation altogether in mid-2014.

It is truly depressing to see the struggles of so many radio reading services, and your article (“Radio Reading Services Face Obstacles,” Sept. 1)) outlined many of the arguments we were making during our fight to keep ours alive — how the alternatives that many people suggest are not necessarily available to many of those who most rely on such services.

(John has since returned to WTBBL to run their audio-book recording program, where I am now a volunteer reader; I returned to work as an announcer at KUOW, where I have worked off-and-on since 1984.)

Gregg Porter


Just catching up on some reading. The article (“A First Look at RDS2,” July 15 issue) mentions that it is easy to exceed the present RT field length (64 characters) in RDS1. The real problem here is that many car receivers do not even allow all of the 64 characters in the RT field, meaning that the receivers are not designed to the specs. My real point is: How are they going to make the receiver manufacturers adhere to even the present standards, let alone enhanced ones?

Case in point, my GMC Terrain with the upgraded audio system and navigation has a nice display but the RT is nowhere near 64 characters. When the PS scrolling is the same as the RT, the characters that did not appear on the RT line appear in the scrolling PS.

Hal Kneller
VP Global Sales and Business Development
GeoBroadcast Solutions, LLC
Punta Gorda, Fla.


Paul, thanks for the recent From the Editor column (Sept. 1 issue) on the topic of approval for forum posts and letters. This can be hard when emotions are strong, but by posting and following your rules, you keep this as fair as possible.

I would like to emphasize a peripheral point you made in your discussion — that of free speech. Since this is well within the realm of broadcasting, it is worth emphasizing the point you made.

In recent years, we have seen increasing confusion about just what is constitutionally protected free speech, often by those who (should) know better.

However, the issue of public versus private is the most important distinction. Even though broadcasters are tasked with serving the public, they are independent of the government, and are thus under no obligation to air any particular person’s material. Just as a private club can decide who performs and set rules on content, so can the press.

In recent years, I have heard politicians claim that their free speech has been violated, simply because something they said wasn’t reported they way s/he desired. That is a gross misunderstanding of this right, and I was glad to join in your dismissal of this proposition.

Rolf Taylor
Rocket Engineering and Consulting
Annandale, Va.