Radio reading service to go silent

Dennis Polselli enjoys The Pilot every week, but he’s never once read it.

Every Wednesday for the past 14 years, Polselli is one of many people who tune in every week to WDJM-FM, the radio station at Framingham State College, to listen to Dennis Glinnen, a volunteer at the MetroWest Radio Reading Service, read The Pilot for the blind and visually impaired.

On April 3, that weekly reading will cease.

Polselli, who is himself blind, is the director of the MetroWest Radio Reading Service and the Disability Services Coordinator for Framingham State College. He explained that the Metro West Radio Reading Service is an affiliate of the Talking Information Center Massachusetts Reading Network (TIC).

Based in Marshfield, the TIC is a non-profit reading service that broadcasts newspapers, magazines, books, and special consumer information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to visually-impaired listeners.

According to its website, over 23,000 listeners in Massachusetts rely on TIC so they can hear a variety of periodicals that are not typically accessible to them. It is primarily funded by the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind. Because of the current economic crisis, the funding has been cut, and the Metro West Radio Reading Service is being eliminated.

“April 3 we will broadcast our last edition of The Pilot, then it will go silent,” he said, “which I will be very upset about.”

According to Polselli, the Metro West Radio Reading Service began reading The Pilot, as well as local community newspapers such as the Metro West Daily News, to its listeners beginning in 1995. Over the years three different people have been the readers of The Pilot, including Karen Murray, who is currently the Coordinator of Ministry with Persons with Disabilities for the archdiocese.

“The Pilot has always been one of the most popular components,” he said, noting that unlike other newspapers that often cover stories also available through more accessible media --such as television and radio -- the information found in The Pilot was not readily accessible from other sources.

Four years ago, it even awarded The Pilot for its commitment to providing Catholic news to its listeners.

“There were times when I was making tapes of The Pilot for people outside the listening area,” Polselli said.

Polselli noted that blind and visually impaired listeners will still be able to listen to news, “thanks to the generosity of Framingham State College, which graciously agreed to absorb the costs of connecting consumers to the TIC, what they will lose is all the local programming.”

Included in that programming is the reading of The Pilot, something he hopes the Archdiocese of Boston can continue.

“What the archdiocese needs to do is make The Pilot available in an accessible format to the blind and visually impaired,” he said, noting that even though many blind and visually impaired people use computers, “the bulk of blind people in Massachusetts are over 65, and they often are the ones with the least access and knowledge of computers.”

“If there’s any way to continue to do this, I think it would be vital,” he said. “To be informed is something I think would be very important for all people -- even those visually impaired.”