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Sep 01 2011

RIS future still uncertain

Members of the community and nonprofit leaders met on Wednesday to discuss the future of Radio Information Service – a broadcast reading service for those with vision problems. RIS started out as an independent service operating over WDUQ’s SCA signal to special receivers leased to those who qualified. WDUQ took over RIS’ operations a few years ago when it became apparent that the organization couldn’t continue on its own. It still broadcasts from the Duquesne University studios of WDUQ which await a September 15 ownership transfer to the WYEP studios on the South Side.

“With the sale of the station (WDUQ) in the very near future, we’re trying to find a new home for Radio Information Service,” says outgoing DUQ business manager, Vicky Rumpf

WYEP General Manager Lee Ferraro  says RIS would not require an enourmous space limiting the quarters to “perhaps an 8-by-8 room”. A suggestion was also offered that volunteers might be able to record broadcasts at home and submit them via email or other media. RIS will also need to cover costs of phone service, tech support and salaries.

Long-time RIS supporter and listener Joe Wassermann says that despite technology changes, many of the service’s listeners still rely on the radio. “Out of the 400 potential listeners to RIS, the chances are very good that 75 percent of them or more are 60- or 70-year-old individuals who may still be tied to that little box,” Wassermann claims. 

Carla Hayes, president of the Pennsylvania Council of the Blind’s Washington County Chapter said, “Pittsburgh is the city that pioneered radio. I really think we need to do all we can to save this service.”

PG