Thanks to an innovative service by the Utah State Library Division, more than 1,200 seeing-impaired Utahns are "hearing" the Deseret News each evening.
A specialized radio station operating on an FM side-band channel supplied by Brigham Young University's KBYU radio in Provo is able to reach the majority of homes along the Wasatch Front. KUSU, the Utah State University radio station, also helps by picking up the signal on its side band and rebroadcasting the service to Cache Valley residents.Dennis Hall, a visually handicapped employee at the division, selects the articles he wishes to read. The articles are clipped and fed into a computer scanner. A technician then reads the copy for accuracy and codes it for printing on a computerized braille printer. The specialized printer writes on both sides of the paper at a rate of one page every four seconds. The remainder of the paper, which is delivered early in the afternoon, is taped by volunteer readers for air play that evening.
When he is not reading the Deseret News on the air, Hall proofreads other braille printings for the division.
The station's success is due largely to the 58 volunteers who have donated 2,250 hours this year alone to keep the station on the air.
A special radio supplied on a loan program through the division is all that is needed. The radio contains a crystal tuner keyed to the side-band channel. FM signals contain three separate modulation waves. Two are used by the station to create the stereo effect and the third goes unused.
Presently, the division's station operates from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. When the station goes off the air, those with the special radios can flip the switch and listen to the regular KBYU programming, which at this time is a classical music format.
The station went on the air in 1976 and was only the 14th such station at that time. Now more than 200 stations operate nationwide.
In addition to reading the Deseret News (6 p.m. to 8 p.m.) live each day with a taped rebroadcast each morning from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m., the narrators also read the Salt Lake Tribune from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. with a taped rebroadcast from noon to 2 p.m.
A potpourri of other offerings is presented at varying times during the week. These include Old Time Radio Programs, The Reader, People Magazine, The American Past, Science World and A Second Opinion (medical advice), among others.
Also offered is a fitness program, Fit and Trim, along with selected articles from Utah Holiday and Success magazines, Science of Our Times (modern technology) and The Market Basket (a listing of weekend grocery specials).
Even articles from TV Guide make it on the air.