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August 4, 2020 - 6:02pm

Niagara Frontier Radio Reading Service expands broadcast platform to the Internet

BUFFALO -- The Niagara Frontier Radio Reading Service is proud to announce that -- in addition to broadcasting over the air – its livestream and programs are now available online. The new service debuted July 31.

For people who can see, hold a book or newspaper, and turn a page, reading a printed publication is no big deal. But for thousands of people in Western New York, including Genesee County, who are blind, have low vision, or have other print disabilities, it is.

Over the last 30 years, hundreds of volunteers for the Niagara Frontier Radio Reading Service have been reading local and national newspapers, magazines, books and other publication over a private radio transmission that was available to listeners who were loaned a special radio receiver.

While the broad range of reading material shared by the radio station with its listeners every day was great, the station always struggled to serve more people since every listener needed one of the radios.

And while the Niagara Frontier Radio Reading Service will continue broadcasting over the air, adding an internet broadcast is a game-changer. Listeners will be able to access the programs they want, when they want them, wherever they are, on any internet-connected device – including smart phones and smart speakers, tablets, desktop and laptop computers.

And not only will listeners be able to catch the livestream just like they werelistening to the radio, they’ll be able to download and listen to many of the service’s most popular programs on their favorite podcast platform. Did they the miss the live reading of the morning paper? Pull down the podcast and catch up!

The new online functionality will also allow the organization to round out its reading list by adding new publications to its portfolio.

The Niagara Frontier Radio Reading Service has served tens of thousands of listeners since it was founded in 1987. But that number has always been limited by the number of radios it had available to loan. No longer.

There are an estimated 20,000 people in WNY who are blind or have low vision. There are another 40,000 who have a cognitive impairment or a physical disability that makes reading difficult or impossible. Although its unlikely that every one of them will tune in, many now can.

The new online Podcasts & Streaming Initiative was made possible through a seed grant from the James H. Cummings Foundation that helped open the door to a major grant from the Facebook Journalism Project. Support from the Christos Foundation, the East Hill Foundation, the Erie-Niagara Sunshine Exchange Club, and Ingram Micro rounded out the funding.

Links, feeds and more information for the expanded service can be found on the Niagara Frontier Radio Reading Service’s website at www.nfradioreading.org.

Among the station’s program schedule are live readings of the Buffalo News six days a week and USA Today five days a week. The station also airs the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Niagara Gazette, Dunkirk Observer, weekly newspapers like the local Bees and Business First, a variety of magazines, and books curated from the NY Times Best Seller list.

The broadcast is carried over a subcarrier frequency provided by Buffalo Toronto Public Media through WNED 94.5 FM.

Niagara Frontier Radio Reading is an affiliate of Western New York Independent Living, a community-based nonprofit organization that serves more than 7,000 people with disabilities annually through peer counseling, support for independent living, transitional services, advocacy and information & referrals.

The agency is primarily funded through philanthropic contributions and donations, grants, and special events. The organization currently receives no government funding. Major supporters include the Community Foundation of Greater Buffalo, Nascentia Health, WNY Independent Living, the WNY Lions Clubs, and the United Ways of WNY.

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