Washington State’s Radio Station For The Visually Impaired Fades To Quiet This Week

Aug 15, 2014

You might not have heard of a radio station that broadcasts everyday, all day across Washington State for the “print disabled.” That means people who are visually impaired or unable to hold or turn a page. The “Evergreen Radio Reading Service” has had more-than a 40-year run. But the station fades to quiet Friday, as Correspondent Anna King explains.

Volunteer Richard Berndt will read the Evergreen Radio Reading Service’s last Seattle Times on Friday at noon, 6 and 11 p.m.
Credit David Junius

You have to have a special radio to listen. Each day volunteer readers give voice to regional newspapers, sports commentary and even grocery ads. But that’s all over. One legally blind listener who will miss the station is Frank Cuta, of Benton City in southcentral Washington.

Cuta: “If they are reading the cartoons they describe the cartoons. If you’re reading the grocery ads they describe the grocery ads. And grocery ads are pictures. Even with the internet a blind person can’t go out on the internet and read the grocery ads out of the newspaper – they are pictures, you know. So, there are many things that will just be gone.”

Cuta says he’ll also miss listening to curated shows with local and national news while doing other things around the house. Now, he expects he and others -- including seniors -- will have to search more, or get help, to find the same news and information. Just a few years ago the Evergreen Radio Reading Service had a $150,000 budget, 75 volunteers and two paid employees. State budget cuts curtailed most of that in 2011. But a bit of fudging kept readings of The Seattle Times on the air and volunteers filled in the on-air gaps with reading programs from other states.

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