FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Technology exists to read web articles out loud. Books on tape can read novels. But what about a recipe? A grocery store ad?
Welcome to Audio Reading Service at the Allen County Public Library.
“We read the Journal Gazette live every morning,” says Georgean Johnson-Coffey, manager of Audio Reading Service. “That includes a very popular segment, which is obituaries. A lot of our listeners love obituaries. We also do local grocery ads and Sunday ads.”
And much more. The nonstop programming delivers over 73 publications to an estimated 80,000 listeners – better than a number of traditional commercial radio stations.
“It’s anybody who would have difficulty with vision, which is what most people think of if you can’t read printed material” Johnson-Coffey explains. “We also have people who have had stroke or perhaps Parkinson’s, who can’t hold the book anymore. Some of our listeners have Alzheimer’s and they can still cognitively understand but just can’t concentrate on reading.”
Thanks to online streaming, the reach goes far beyond Allen County.
“One of our programs is called “Cook’s Corner” and she reads recipes,” says Johnson-Coffey. “There’s a low vision cooking group in Arizona that gets together and they listen to our programming and they cook together. Once a month we send them recipes. I recently got an email from a gentleman in Egypt who listens to our podcasts and he’s learning English. So it’s a wide range.”
The three fulltime and one part-time employees rely heavily on the 100 or so volunteer readers.
“We always need volunteers,” she adds. “We also engage people as permanent subs, who come in and will volunteer when other regular volunteers can’t come in, but we always can use volunteers, to be honest.”
Audio Reading Service programs can be accessed through the following methods:
- WBOI 89.1 FM HD-3 (HD radios can be loaned out by ACPL.)
- Streaming at www.acpl.info/ars
- Search for “Audio Reading Service” in the TuneIn app on your favorite streaming device
- Sero apps for Apple, Android or Kindle devices
- WFWA PBS 39.4 on its Second Audio Program (SAP) – select “French”
Contact Audio Reading Service at (260) 421-1376 or email@example.com for more information.
Over the Labor Day weekend, ARS listeners will be treated to an audio adaptation of “Ozma of Oz”, based on the book by L. Frank Baum. ARS volunteers served as the voice actors.
“I think we all can appreciate the opportunity just to slip away for a couple hours to a land where some brains, a heart, and some courage—and maybe an entourage with a chicken, an automaton, and some royalty thrown in—are all you need to face down even the worst perils,” said Chad Butterbaugh, Administrative and Audio Production Assistant for ARS. Butterbaugh also served as director for the audio adaptation.
To hear hear Ozma of Oz on demand, visit audioreadingservicepodcast.com/ozma-of-oz beginning on Sep. 6.
The broadcast will air on the following dates and times:
- Sunday, September 6 at Noon & 6:00 p.m.
- Monday, September 7 at 9:00 a.m. 6:00 p.m.