For Immediate Release                                                                                   
Contact: Kristin Tutino, (585) 258-0253

WXXI REACHOUT RADIO CELEBRATES 25 YEARS SERVING THOSE WHO ARE VISUALLY IMPAIRED

(Rochester, New York) September 14, 2009 – WXXI Reachout Radio, a 24-hour reading radio service for people who are print-handicapped, celebrates its 25th anniversary on September 19, 2009. The service went on the air with 50 volunteers reading from two tiny studios in the basement of the Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired on South Clinton Avenue on September 19, 1984. Today, more than 3,700 individual listeners, and residents of eight area nursing homes, hospitals and senior residential facilities rely on daily readings from 30+ local, regional and national newspapers.  More than 100 volunteer readers broadcast from WXXI’s Studios on State Street.

WXXI Reachout Radio, provided in partnership with ABVI-Goodwill Industries of Greater Rochester, is closed-circuit and is accessible through a specially-tuned radio which is provided free of charge to eligible applicants. The service is also made available for people who are temporarily disabled due to surgery or accident. It is broadcast on a subcarrier frequency of 91.5 FM in Rochester, and 90.3 FM in Houghton. Its broadcast reaches listeners in Monroe, Orleans, Wayne, Genesee, Ontario, Wyoming, Livingston, Yates, Seneca and portions of Allegany and Steuben counties. WXXI Reachout Radio is one of more than 120 radio reading services available through the United States that are members of the International Association of Audio Information Services (IAAIS).

In 1979 Rosario Guglielmino, who was an active community leader and the first president of Rochester’s Eye-Bank, saw the need for a radio reading service in Rochester. At that time, legislation had been passed that allowed for public broadcasting stations to make subcarrier frequencies available for new reading services. This was the first step in beginning the plan to develop a service in Rochester. In 1984 WXXI and ABVI Goodwill established Rochester’s Radio Reading Service, which would later be fully incorporated into WXXI and become WXXI Reachout Radio. 

The service began with just 50 community volunteers, but through the years it has benefited from more than 550 generous individuals. Annette Eisenstein, who was one of the original volunteers, remains active today.

Over the years, Reachout Radio listeners have also enjoyed listening to Rochester celebrity readers like Brother Weaze, Tom Golisano, Don Alhart, Virginia Butler, and the late Pinny Cooke.

In addition to readings of local and national newspapers, Reachout Radio produces special programming that highlights the Rochester community including: Enabled, a weekly show that takes a look into services, products and issues affecting people with vision loss; Silver Threads, a weekly program that shares information with listeners on a variety of topics to help listeners make the best of their silver years; and Sound Body, a program that presents information to help listeners manage their overall health.

WXXI Reachout Radio has received numerous awards over the years, including four 2009 International Association of Audio Information Services awards for locally produced programs.

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WXXI is the essential, life-long educational media resource for the Greater Rochester area. WXXI puts the community first with programming that stimulates and expands thought, inspires the spirit, opens cultural horizons and promotes understanding of diverse community issues. Log on to wxxi.org for more information about our services and programs.

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