Blind Radio 

Reading the newspaper is a morning ritual for many in Maine.That includes those with vision problems.Thanks to a volunteer service in Brewer, they are able to “tune in” to today’s headlines.Joy Hollowell introduces us to Maine AIRS.======(Gene Monahan turning on the receiver)This is how Gene Monahan reads his favorite newspapers.”I listen to it most every day,” says Monahan.Monahan is blind. But with the flick of a switch, he can hear the headlines, courtesy of Maine AIRS.”We are a service for Maine residents who are blind or visually impaired,” says Les Myers, Director of Maine AIRS. It stands for Maine Audio Information and Reading Service. Listeners tune in with a special receiver that’s provided to them.”The first hour is the Bangor Daily News, from 8 until 8:50,” says Myers. “And then we read a little from the Lewiston Sun Journal. At 9 o’clock, we broadcast the Portland Press Herald, the Kennebec Journal and the Waterville Sentinel. And at 11, a program called the weekly shelf has the weekly newspapers.”About 34 newspapers in all, as well as three magazines and a book club. There’s also a program featuring the Shaws and Hannaford weekly specials.(Reader in recording booth)”But first we get a check of the coastal community forecast”All of the readers are volunteers. Most come in once a week, to record an hour show.”We try to put things in that aren’t necessarily going to be able to be accessed by folks any other way, than the newspaper,” says Sara Cox, a retired school teacher whose been reading for the past seven years. “Sometimes you have to edit it for length, or if there’s an awful lot of quoting, which is hard to do on the radio.”There are currently 83 readers between the Brewer and Portland offices, including Mike Dowd, Editor In Chief of the Bangor Daily News. Dowd started volunteering three years ago, following in the footsteps of his father and uncle.”For me, it’s a great way to start my work week,” says Dowd. “I’ve built it into my routine, and it’s just a very positive thing in my life.” “And we thank you for listening.”=======Maine AIRS is run through the Iris Network.Receivers are provided to listeners through Maine AIRS and listeners tune in over the SCA (subcarrier channel authorization) of Maine Public Broadcasting.Programs can also be accessed on the Maine AIRS website.To learn more on how to get a receiver or to become a volunteer reader, you can contact Maine AIRS at 1-800-715-0097 or log onto